The first time I did a children’s talk at our church, I felt sick for weeks in the lead up to it. That day I could barely eat anything. On the night, I sat through the first part of the meeting convinced that I might actually throw up in front of all these people. Needless to say, I was nervous, with a capital N.
I am not by nature a nervous person, but there is something about speaking to children in a big public arena that terrifies me. Since that first time, I’ve had a good amount of practice and I’ve learned a few things. Most of these things I’ve learned have come from watching other, more experienced, children’s workers. In life, sometimes the best way to learn is to watch other people. Learn from their example. This has worked well for me and I want to share what I’ve gleaned with you today.
7 Tips For Taking A Children’s Lesson
- Embrace your nerves. Yes, you read that right. By embracing your nerves and welcoming them as part of our preparation, it reminds us of the importance of what we’re doing. We should feel nervous, because teaching God’s Word is a very important task and if we do it confidently, then we’re relying on ourselves, not the Lord. That sick feeling in my stomach serves as my reminder that I am just a vessel, and I need Heavenly help every time I do this kind of work.
- Prepare ahead of time, so your story has a good amount of time to be processed in your mind. I recently heard speaker Ken Davis say that your message needs to be prepared enough in advance that real life events can add influence to what you’re saying. For example, you might have experiences in your past that could help children relate to the biblical principle you are trying to teach. But if you are just cramming together a story the night before you are due to speak, you’ll not let your mind bring that memory to recollection, because you’re rushing.
- Memorise as much as you can. I find this type of memorising quite easy, it’s how I used to study for exams!lol But I know not everyone likes doing this. The reason I find it helpful, is firstly because it stops my reliance on following notes. I tend to lose my place easily, no matter how many colours of highlighter or what size of font I use. Secondly, memorising is helpful because looking down frequently at notes can distract the children. If you have to continually break eye contact, then the concentration of the children listening can be lost. Which brings me to my next point……
- Make eye contact, as awkward as that sounds. Naturally, we are drawn to listen to other people who are actually looking at us. Children are no different. The trick is to slowly move your head around the room, trying to look at as many children as we can, making eye contact. Not in a hasty way, but carefully, as if we are really trying to let the children know we are speaking directly to them.
- Know your audience and time your lesson accordingly. Children who are used to sitting in church for 45 minute sermon will have no problem sitting for 20 minutes through bible story. However, children whose only experience of sitting still is in your children’s meeting, will struggle to keep listening for lengthy lesson. Adjust what you’re saying accordingly and be realistic about how long you can keep their attention for.
- Be passionate, and even exciting (if you can muster the energy). Exaggerating the way we speak and the events in our story or lesson can feel a bit awkward, there’s no doubt. It can even feel silly. But normally when I listen to a really great children’s lesson, it has captivated the audience because the story teller has given themselves completely to it. They have literally dived right in, holding nothing back. Showing real passion about what they are saying. This is hard to explain, but think of it as ‘dialling up’ your normal speaking tone to 100 times what it is normally. Talking as if this is the most important thing that anyone has ever spoken on. Sounds dramatic, but it works.
- Remember WHY you are doing this. If is it simply a duty or task, then it doesn’t actually matter how well you do it. But as a Christian, my belief is that sharing the gospel, in all sorts of ways, is my privilege and honour. Spending 15 minutes presenting Christ to children is a wonderful opportunity and when we remember this it can help us keep perspective and focus our attention in the right places.
Hope this helps! What are your best tips for taking children’s lessons? I’d love to hear from you!