Did you ever have that ultra boring college professor that chose to lecture for three hours every week in that same monotone voice? When I look back through my old college notes I may not remember the professor very well but I can tell you how boring the course was based on the drawings and doodles all over my page. No one likes a boring class or lecture The younger the audience, the more difficult it is to make things interesting. I know first hand from multiple years of teaching and kids ministry.
If we get bored with that monotone lecture, why do we sometimes assume that kids will love what we say and hang on our every word? With media and technology, kids have a much shorter attention span than I did as a kid, and gone forever are the days when Beaver Cleaver sat quietly and respectfully, paying close attention.
So knowing this, what can we do to help kids pay attention? At the end of the day, the one measurable ‘win’ is that kids learn. We want them to learn, but we need to be intentional about the methods we use.
While I am not an expert, I can tell you what works for me. Please remember that there are several different learning styles. We often teach the way we learn best. The more of the different learning styles we can use in a given lesson, the more kids you will reach.
Using Different Learning Styles in Kids Ministry
Music (aural): We use a combination of CD and DVD music for our song and worship time. We typically do three songs, but we do not do them all at the same time. The faster songs are an opportunity for the kids to sing, clap, jump or otherwise move around. The worship time is also a time to move, but in a quieter worshipful way.
Acting (physical, visual, social): Sometimes it is fun to get the kids involved, rather than just read a Bible story. Why not have soe kids act it out as you read? Provide a few props and instructions and the kids will be able to watch as Jesus heals a blind man or Lazarus come back from the dead.
Games (social, physical): The truth is the more fun kids have the more likely they are to want to return. (don’t believe me? Just think Chuck E Cheese or Disney World!) Games can add an element of fun and also break up the other elements of your morning. It takes some effort, but make the games match with the morning theme. Play a version of Simon Says if you are talking about obedience. Do a relay if your passage is about Paul running the good race. Play animal charades if the animals are getting onto Noah’s Ark. I think you get the idea.
Tell a story (aural, verbal): A dramatic reading of your passage will be much more effective than just normal reading.
Object lesson (visual): Kids of all ages love a good science experiment or magic trick. When your visual aid matches with your topic, you just connected with all of your visual learners.
Comedy (visual, verbal, aural): Sometimes you can teach kids and they do not even know they are learning. Maybe you have a character enter your service and has a conversation about your topic with you or with the kids. Kids will pay attention because it is funny but they will be learning as well.
If you notice, I have given several methods, or teaching ideas. Each of these different examples targets a different learning style, among them being: auditory, visual, physical, and social. I have said nothing about the material. At the end of the day, Jesus needs to be at the center of all we do. The method is not sacred, but the message is. The how is important, but nowhere near as important as the what and the why. Our focus is Jesus, but we have liberty with the method of presentation.
When Jesus is at the center, we can’t go wrong. We can do our best at creating a quaity environment and service that helps kids see Jesus.
I am interested to know what you do to keep Jesus #1 in your ministry? What other creative ways do you teach Jesus? What do you think of the ideas I shared? Leave a comment and continue the conversation.