Teaching kids is fun.
When it sticks.
Whether you’re teaching toddlers or tweens, here are five essentials that will help your teaching stick:
1. Teach Concretely
Kids are literal. Their perspective needs to inform your teaching. For example, when talking about how Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish, use language that paints a picture and engages their senses. Instead of just saying “there were twelve baskets left over,” make it stick by saying “there were twelve baskets left over – that’s enough to feed your family for three months!” Or “Twelve baskets of fish – can you imagine how that smelled?!” Or “Imagine if Jesus went the grocery store with you and filled up twelve shopping carts with your favorite food – and then He said ‘I’ll pay for all of it.’ That would be amazing, right?!”
2. Teach Relationally
The Bible is full of pretty abstract ideas. But concepts like sin, lostness, redemption, and eternity are all based in relationships. Consider sin, for example. We sin because we are sinners – not just because we did something wrong. The fact that we’re sinners prevents a relationship with God. Learn to talk about ideas like sin, lostness, redemption, and eternity using more relational language and not just lofty theological ideas.
3. Teach for Effect
The Bible wraps the most important truths in the most compelling stories and images. There is simply no excuse for your teaching to be boring. Use details. Use objects that crystalize your idea. Basic communication skills (like maintaining good eye contact, vocal inflection, gestures, etc.,) can help. But remember: the Bible is compelling in itself. Your job is to make it come alive.
4. Teach for Affect
Learning can hit three areas: the head (what we know), the heart (what we feel or believe), or the hands (what we do). Rote facts are helpful, and behavioral modification has its place, but you’re after something far deeper – the heart. Before the phrase “born again” was used to describe conversion, believers used to say that someone had been “seized by the power of a great affection.” Affection. With an ‘a.’ The gospel is a matter of the heart. Don’t teach just to share facts. Don’t teach to change behavior. Teach to redirect affections.
5. Teach for Discussion
It’s not enough to just say the gospel. Discussion shares the gospel. One way to tell your engage discussion is by asking questions. Learn to ask open-ended questions. Ask what your students think. Ask what they would do if they were in the story, one of the disciples, or someone in the crowd. Ask them how they would have felt if they were Daniel in the lion’s den, David when he first saw Goliath, or Peter when he started to sink. Let them questions too. Their questions might be unrelated, but do your best to allow time for them, digging into the heart of what they’re asking.