True or false? Structure is vital to ministering to kids.
Of course that statement is true.
But at the same time, kids’ services are different than Disney Musicals or Nickelodeon shows because the Holy Spirit might want to change the direction of what was planned or completely take over the service…or the Holy Spirit may want to work within the structure we planned.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t just work one way or the other; the Holy Spirit works in many ways.
And regardless, I think we can all agree that the Holy Spirit can do more in kids’ lives in the span of 10 minutes than we could in 10 years of doing services on our own.
It wasn’t until about two months ago that I’d ever thought about the Holy Spirit’s role in lesson planning.
It’s not that I didn’t think the Holy Spirit was in our lessons, I just never thought about it terms of how I can intentionally invite the Holy Spirit into the process.
As I began to think about how I could be more intentional about including the Holy Spirit in lesson planning, here are three things I’ve begun to do:
1. I’ve started doing one large block of time for lesson prep instead of multiple smaller blocks.
I used to fit in lesson prep wherever I could squeeze it.
I always felt time-crunched, which led to me not being super thoughtful about the content or flow of the service.
I just went with what the curriculum said and the order the curriculum recommended because I had to get on to the next thing in my schedule.
Now, I instead set aside a four- to five-hour block once a month (versus 60- to 90-minute blocks every week).
So when I sit down, I know I have at least half the day to work on lesson prep.
It helps me to slow down and think about the stories, object lessons, verses, games and flow that the curriculum recommends.
I feel like I have room to ask the Holy Spirit if He wants to change anything and then actually take some time to listen.
It also helps me get a sense of the flow not just for the week, but the entire upcoming month, since I’m seeing everything side-by-side.
2. Whenever I get stuck or to the main response portion of the lesson, I take a walk.
Whenever I get stuck or get to the main response for a lesson, I go to our sanctuary (it doesn’t have to be the sanctuary) and walk around for a while to simply listen for the Holy Spirit’s direction.
In the past, I would go with the first half-decent idea that came to mind or whatever the curriculum recommended because I didn’t feel like I had time to stop and think for longer than a minute.
Now I pause and ask, “Holy Spirit, what response do you want the kids to have to this lesson? What do you specifically want to do within their lives?”
Sometimes there’s a sense that I should stick with the response the curriculum recommends and sometimes there’s a pull in a different direction.
3. After I complete the prep for a lesson, I review and pray over each element.
I review each element with a listening ear as to 1) whether God wants all the elements to be included, 2) how He wants the elements to be communicated, and 3) the order in which He wants everything to flow.
For example, prayer time could be done many ways: We could have each child share a prayer request with their neighbor, we could ask a couple kids or leaders to pray over the whole group, the large group leader could pray over the whole group, the leaders could pray over each kid, etc.
Or with the elements, we could do worship right before the lesson, right after the lesson, at the end of the service, etc.
As I sense where God wants to take a lesson overall, I make adjustments at this point.
The biggest reason I’ve made these changes to lesson prep is because I want the Holy Spirit to be in our services just as powerfully regardless of whether it’s through the structure of the lesson or going off script.
Application Question: What can you do to include the Holy Spirit in your lesson planning more intentionally (it doesn’t have to be what I do)?
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This article originally appeared here.