Leader Joe (a sixth-grade teacher) stumbles through a Large Group lesson on creation. He had planned to prepare the night before, but the Steelers were on Monday Night Football and … well, time sped by. Now he can’t remember what God created on the second day.
Twenty miles away, Sam is also giving a Large Group lesson on creation. He’s not a dynamic speaker, but he has a real concern for the boys in his group. This particular night he brings pictures of his summer mountain-climbing adventure. He passionately explains how he felt as he viewed God’s creation stretched out before him. Every boy in the room listens intently.
We know that, as an effective leader, you should pray about your message. We know that, as an effective leader, you check what you say with God’s Word. But what other unique elements are part of being an effective Large Group lesson leader?
1. As an effective leader, you are observant. You watch and listen to your clubbers. What questions do they have about the Bible? What’s happening in their families? What’s going on at school? Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:22 that he became all things to all men. Sometimes our clubbers’ concerns might “stretch us” into areas with which we aren’t familiar. We might have to do research about something about which we have little knowledge. For instance, one leader noticed many of the clubbers wearing jewelry decorated with Satanic symbols. She cared enough about the girls to spend the time necessary to get the facts and present them during a Large Group lesson. The result? Many of the girls thanked her for caring and for explaining. They had no idea what the jewelry represented.
2. As an effective leader, you encourage clubbers. You give opportunity for clubbers to answer questions, read a verse or take part in a discussion. When a clubber does participate, you respond with a “Great!” or “Thanks a lot.” Clubbers feel good about their contributions. The clubbers will remember your encouragement long after they forget the lesson. Paul wrote that we are to encourage and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Do the clubbers feel encouraged by your words and attitude?
3. As an effective leader, you use visuals. Visuals represent a wide-range of teaching tools – everything from a fast-paced video to an “artifact” from your childhood. Be creative. Bring pictures of the grade-school you to illustrate your testimony. Bring your comic book collection to illustrate the word “value.” Bring candy for everyone to illustrate the concept of sharing. Do a “clubber on the street.” With your smart phone, video kids answering a question and play it to illustrate your lesson. (Don’t make it public without parental permission.)
4. As an effective leader, you provide opportunities for clubber participation. The Lord said children should be taught when they’re sitting, walking, lying down and standing up (Deuteronomy 6:7). Children learn by doing. Clubbers can write on whiteboards, do a PowerPoint, do role-plays, write skits, create a video, make cookies, make a digital flier about parents’ night and do a hundred other things to take part.
What questions do your clubbers want answered in Large Group? How do they best learn? In Children’s Ministry That Works (Group Publishing), it is reported that 66 percent of churches say they have never asked the children for their opinions as to what and how they want to learn.
5. As an effective leader, you are flexible. You don’t panic when your object lesson doesn’t work, when a clubber blurts out the rest of the story, when the kids proudly announce that they KNOW how you did the trick. (And, of course, you have a prepared back-up lesson for that night when the scheduled speaker comes down with the flu.
6. As an effective leader, you are creative. You think up new ways to present old and sometimes familiar truths. Instead of rattling off facts about Noah, you “become” Noah and talk about how it felt to build the ark and what kind of wood you used and how long it took. Sing a song in the middle of the lesson. Challenge the clubbers to write an online news story about the parting of the Red Sea. Give them opportunity to imagine “tweeting” the debate between Pharaoh and Moses.
7. As an effective leader, you “live out” your lessons. With enough preparation, most people can give an adequate Large Group lesson, but as an effective leader, you consistently live what you teach. The clubbers respond to your message about kindness because you are kind. The clubbers respond to your message about redemption because they can see that you’re excited about your own faith. Paul wrote, You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men (2 Corinthians 3:2).
You are the letter your clubbers are reading – be effective.