- When Your Kids Can’t Sleep
- When Your Kids Want Control
- When Your Kids Keep Whining
- When Your Kids Get Sick
- When Your Kids Scratch the Neighbor’s Car
- When Your Kids Disobey You (Again!)
- When Your Kids Have a Meltdown in Public
- When Your Kids Get Overly Emotional
- When Your Kids Ask About Death
- When Your Kids Ask About Earthquakes
- When You’re Stuck in the Basement
- When You’re Just There.
Stephanie Carmichael, writing for Matthias Media: Teach all the time: Young children live in the moment. Help them to learn in the moment by making the most of opportunities as they arise. Talk about God in the day-to-day things you are doing.
Teach at a special time: Try to set aside a special time to read about God. Prepare for this time. If you are going to read the Bible, think about what you will read and how to simplify and explain it.
Questions and answers: Listen to your children's questions, and give quality time to answering them. But also ask them questions about what you've been trying to teach to check they have understood.
Teach through your life: You are a living example (or visual aid) of someone who loves God. Set a faithful example of dependence on God and let them see you reading the Bible for yourself.
Be prayerful: Like adults, children need God's help to grow in Christ and they can learn to pray. So pray for them and pray simple prayers with them (e.g. "sorry God that we...", "thank you God for...", "God, please help...").
Be simple: Young children are not abstract thinkers so be literal and concrete. Use real examples where possible (eg. God made this flower). Use simple vocabulary that they can understand. Avoid jargon.
Be specific: Move from the specific (God loves Ben) to the general (God loves everyone). Use lots of familiar examples so that they can understand.
Repeat and repeat again: You might get tired of saying it, but remember young children thrive on repetition.
Be thankful: Approach God with thankfulness. Model to your children how we can thank God in various situations and what we can thank God for.
Be visual: Young children learn through their eyes as well as their ears. Use pictures, visual aids, picture books etc.
Over at ministry-to-children.com, you can check out a children’s bible lesson I wrote awhile back based on J.C. Ryle’s sermon for children called, No More Crying. This sermon and other addresses to children can be found in the book, The Two Bears, (Grace and Truth Books, 2004). The lesson is shaped around “3 places” which kids (and parents) will easily remember:
I've really enjoyed partnering with my buddy Cam in our ministry to high school students called InsideOut. Our desire is that our students would be changed by the renewing of their minds. With that in mind (pun intended) we are currently making our way through a series called The 4G's taken from Tim Chester's excellent book called, You Can Change. These are the 4 Truths about God that can set us free to live in light of the gospel: 1. God is great, so we don't have to be in control. 2. God is glorious, so we don't have to fear others. 3. God is good, so we don't have to look elsewhere. 4. God is gracious, so we don't have to prove ourselves.
The best preachers and teachers take profound, meaty truths and break them up into little, understandable bites so their listeners can "get it" and do something with it. I love what John Stott says in his well-known book, Between Two Worlds: To preach instead over people's heads, is to forget who they are. As Spurgeon once commented, 'Christ said, "Feed my sheep ... Feed my lambs." Some preachers, however, put the food so high that neither lambs nor sheep can reach it. They seem to have read the text, "Feed my giraffes" ' (p. 147).
Parents and teachers, here is a Thanksgiving lesson I wrote awhile back for children - probably best suited for elementary age. It presents the story of Jesus and the Ten Lepers from Luke 17:11-19 with the main point being, "All gifts from God should point us back to God and cause us to give thanks to God!"
A couple weeks ago at our Wed. night ministry to families (called SEEDS), I shared the gospel using giant silly bands! I got the idea from this great website and made it my own. The basic outline: God is the King (Gold Crown), We are Sinners (Black Heart), Jesus is the Savior (Red Cross), and Turn, Trust and Follow (Green Foot), is an easy way for kids to remember the gospel visually. Special thanks to Connie Homola for making these silly bands out of PVC pipe!
Kevin Larson, lead pastor of Karis Community Church, explains:
Jesus taught us that the kingdom belongs to children. We are to receive him with the faith of a child (Luke 18:16-17). What’s the answer to monsters under the bed? God is in control. How are we comforted when someone teases us on the playground? He loves us, and that’s what counts. What do we do if we find ourselves sad? We reflect upon our joy in Christ. Our need is not for better answers. It’s for our hearts to embrace the right ones. Gospel truths are not simplistic. They are rich and deep. But they’re simple. I remember a skit, back in my college ministry days, where three Christians were competing in a game show. One girl, trying to play the airhead, kept answering “Jesus,” with much enthusiasm, to every question. Everyone laughed. But maybe it was our Enemy who was truly laughing. If he can get us to assume gospel truths, he’s won most of the battle. If he can get us to mock God’s word, that’s success for him. In our counseling, in our preaching, and in our evangelism, is “Jesus” our answer? Are the promises of Scripture our comfort? If not, we might just need to go back to Sunday School. (Read the whole thing ...)
(HT: Eric Schumacher)
Ten years ago I taught 6th graders at Grace Christian School in Deephaven, Minnesota. I loved it. Pouring my life into young people was (and still is) a passion of mine. After all those years, I recently heard from one of my former students. It was so encouraging to hear about what God is doing in her life and how she remembers 6th grade as the year she started making a habit of reading the Bible on her own. She is now a junior at Bethel University in Minnesota with a burden to share her faith in Christ. I was so blessed to read this article and to be a small part of the story God is writing in her life.
So, if you're a teacher, be encouraged. You're making a difference. Many times you won't get to see the fruit of your labor, but God is at work! BTW ... if you're a former 6th grade student of mine, I'd love to hear from you!
Recently I started a discipleship (pilot) program for kids and parents called Next Steps. The purpose of Next Steps is to assist parents in guiding their children through the first steps of faith. As a pastor I want to join with parents in what God is doing in the hearts of their children. With that in mind, I've developed a simple discipleship plan as a way of intentionally teaching children the basic biblical truths to stand on as they step forward in their faith. Each “step” is intended to guide children on their journey with Jesus by applying these truths to their lives so that one day they will step into adulthood firm in their faith. Here are the 5 S.T.E.P.S.:
Salvation: Can I Be Sure That I’m Saved?
1. Wrong ways/Right ways to know you are saved
2. What to do when you have doubts
3. Salvation & Sanctification: Trusting Jesus & Becoming More Like Jesus
Time with God: The Basics of Bible Study
1. What is the main point of the Bible? Why should I study the Bible?
2. How to study the Bible on my own
3. Making a plan to study my Bible
Evangelism: Telling Others About Jesus
1. What is the gospel?
2. How can I share my faith? - Tools to help
3. Becoming a Christian on mission with Christ
Prayer: Talking to God
1. What is prayer and why should I pray?
2. How do I pray?
3. Will God answer my prayers?
Service & Fellowship: Why We Need Each Other
1. What is perseverance? What is fellowship? How do they relate?
2. Choosing my friends wisely
3. Using my gifts to serve others
How this Works:
I meet with both the child and the parent(s) for about 30 minutes to talk and discuss the first step. Then I give the child some homework that includes a short devotion and fun reinforcement activity they can do together as a family. A couple weeks later we meet again and review the first step and go on to the next. This process is intended to target the child, but all the while I'm giving the parent tools they can take with them to disciple their children at home with just a little help from me. I hope to develop this into a full-fledged curriculum some day.
In his follow up post to 5 Dangers Facing Over-Churched Kids, Tony Kummer gives 9 strategies for reaching them. Here they are: 1. Empower them to teach 2. Teach for heart change 3. Use creative story-telling 4. Pray for every child 5. Teach the bad news 6. Model repentance 7. Make it relevant 8. Go deeper 9. Get them on mission
See how he fleshes each of these points out here ... I think point #6 is particularly important and I'll copy what he says about it below:
Model Repentance: With over-churched kids, we can’t pretend that Christians are always the good guys. They see behind our Sunday morning smiles and know that we’re not perfect people. When we are honest about our failings, and confess our sins, it points them to the Gospel. When teaching, use examples of Christian repentance and be transparent about your own struggles. This is a key to parenting, but it’s also a great strategy for kids ministry.
Brent Thomas has a thought-provoking post on whether our preaching should aim at application or implication. I used to be a big promoter of teaching for application (so your sermon should include lots of application), but Jonathan Dodson's thoughts (as well as Brent's) helped show me that perhaps the goal is Spirit-empowered, heart-focused preaching with life change as a result. Still wrestling if it's an either/or or both/and? Thoughts?
All of us grew up in less-than-perfect families. As a result, we pass on the negative emotional atmosphere of our family-of-origin in both direct and indirect ways. All this makes Christian parenting very challenging! With that in mind, Dr. Eric Johnson provides some valuable wisdom for parents in this message entitled: How We Pass on the Emotional Atmosphere of Our Family of Origin. It was given at our SEEDS Parent Chat and can be streamed or downloaded below: How We Pass on the Emotional Atmosphere of Our Family of Origin Listen | Download To download this message, right click “Download” and select “Save Target As…”
To learn more about our SEEDS Family Ministry, check out the videos below or peruse our website.
Twice a year I teach a discipleship class for children and their parents called First Step. My goal is to partner with parents in their God-given role as faith nurturers in the home. To that end this class aims to be a catalyst for more gospel conversations between the parent and child outside of class. My last First Step class, held on January 31st, can be streamed or downloaded below:
Tony Kummer, at Ministry-to-Children.com, posted a children's lesson for Thanksgiving that I wrote awhile back. The main point I tried to draw from Luke 17:11-19 (The Story of the 10 Lepers) is that All Gifts from God Should Point Us Back to God and Cause Us to Give Thanks to God. The lesson is best suited for older elementary kids (preteens), but could be adapted for your family or ministry context. If you work with children and families, you will want to check out this helpful site.
Recently I started something new for our family devotions. Instead of reading from the Jesus StoryBook Bible, I got out a real Bible and opened up to the book of Mark. I told my girls to go get their Magna Doodles and sit with me on the floor. They were excited as I explained to them that as I read from the Bible they could draw pictures of what they hear. So I started reading about John the Baptist and Jesus getting baptized. I stopped after this section and asked them to tell me what they drew. Then we talked briefly about John the Baptist and the reason why he came and why Jesus was baptized. After that I told them to erase their pictures (which was really easy on their Magna Doodles) and start a new picture as I read some more. So I continued on and read about Jesus being tempted by Satan and then Jesus calling his first disciples to himself. Once again I stopped after this section and asked them about their pictures as we discussed together about how we can be tempted to sin and how Jesus wants us to follow him just like his original disciples. I've only been doing these "Magna Doodle Devotions" for a short time but they have proven to be fruitful for our family. As a former teacher and Christian Ed guy, I'm always looking for ways to make the truth stick into my kids' lives. I know that only God can ultimately bridge the gap between head knowledge and heart change, but he uses means. And one of those means is employing the various senses in the learning process. I have one girl that is more of an auditory learner. She began reading at an early age and hears something once and doesn't forget it. My other girl is more of a visual and kinesthetic learner. She likes to see it and do it. So hands-on activities are best for her. My little boy is only 1 1/2 so he's all over the place! All that to say, these Magna Doodle Devotions have provided a way for my kids to be engaged in the stories of the Bible. Plus it's fun to see their creative side come out as children made in the image of a creative, Creator God.
One more thing. My girls will often take their Magna Doodles to the worship service with them on Sunday. I encourage them to draw pictures of what they hear during the sermon. Sometimes they end up doodling, but that's okay... they're kids! Plus these Magna Doodles are less messy than the pens in the pew and you never have to worry about them dropping and rolling all the way to the front of the sanctuary!
Good teachers ask good questions. Why? Because they have been humbled by this simple point:
People learn more from what they say than from what they hear. ~ Josh Hunt
Think about it. If I can lead you in a series of questions that end with you talking about the truth I'm teaching, most often this truth will stick. Jesus knew this. That's one reason why he asked so many questions. He knew that if his listeners voiced the truth with their own lips instead of him telling them, their minds would be affected and they would remember.
Here's a few familiar examples:
"Who do people say that I am?" - Mark 8:27
"Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor of the man who fell among the robbers?" - Luke 10:36
"When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?" - Luke 22:35
These examples show how Jesus used questions to draw out from his listeners the correct answer he sought. Robert Stein, in his book, The Message and Methods of Jesus' Teachings, says, "By drawing out the correct answer from his listeners rather than simply declaring it, Jesus impressed the point more convincingly upon their minds."
In other words, Jesus asked good questions to make his teaching stick. So should we.
Are you looking for tips to become a better teacher? Whether you teach in a church or school (or even at home), the following is a collection of posts that I think will be helpful to you. These teaching tips below come from an online book discussion that I conducted a couple years ago over the book, Teaching to Change Lives, by Howard Hendricks. I trust they will challenge you to become a better teacher and life-long learner. Law of the Teacher
- In addition, here's John Piper's essential characteristics of a good teacher. Very helpful!