One of the reasons I love the elementary age in children’s ministry is because they are so responsive to truth. Did you know that roughly 85% of those who accept Christ as Savior will do so between the ages of 4 and 14? And I would guess that the majority of those are in the middle elementary age years. What we do with these kids is very, very important!
Here are a few tips I’ve learned about teaching elementary age children:
- Truth matters We said this about teaching preschoolers, too. As children get older, sticking to the truth of God’s Word continues to be of utmost importance. We can’t water it down or skirt around it. They still don’t need to know all the details of any given Bible story, but teaching essential truth is critical. Elementary age children and getting their theological and doctrinal foundations in place. Teaching anything less than truth is simply wrong.
- Enthusiasm engages An intern on my staff at one of the churches where I served came on board with no knowledge or experience with children’s ministry. But he was one of the most enthusiastic young men I’ve ever seen. Within weeks he had become a kid magnet! Guidance from me and the rest of our full-time staff, matched with his enthusiasm, and he quickly established himself as a solid teacher of our children.
- Application, application! The stories of the real life Bible heroes are fantastic for elementary age children (seriously, they are every bit as good as today’s movies!). But they are just stories if we don’t add real and relevant application for the kids. The kids should be able to answer the question, “How can I apply this at home/school this week?” If they can’t apply it to their lives, then it is not much more relevant than the movies they’re watching.
- Involvement solidifies Real learning doesn’t happen by just being told. Even showing kids a truth doesn’t make it sink in very well. But teach them through involvement? Yes, this is what will help drive it home very well. And even better, involve them in discovery and they’ll really understand what you’re trying to teach them.
- Fun rules I say this all the time when I do training: “If kids’ aren’t experiencing fun in your ministry, then chances are very good that they aren’t experiencing life-change, either.” God designed kids to laugh and play and have fun. It’s who they are! Why on earth would we try and teach them without that element in our teaching? And here’s another little maxim: “If YOU aren’t having fun, then the kids probably aren’t either.” Minimize the rules and maximize the fun!