May 23, 2018

Using This One Word Will Make You a Better Children's Bible Teacher

Do you want to improve your skills as a Bible teacher?  As a small group leader?  As a parent?

There's one word you can use that has been proven to make a big difference in communicating with children, helping them grasp what you're teaching and seeing them think about the subject on a deeper level. 

Before I share what the word is, let's look at some of the research behind it.

A team of psychologists in California have been trying to find ways to help children learn more effectively.  Their research has helped them uncover a simple, but powerful way to do just that.

The psychologists gave children a set of blocks with different features.  Some of the blocks played music when put in place.  The children were then asked why they thought some of the blocks caused music to play, while other blocks didn't.

Here's what they found.  By simply following up the activity with the word "WHY,"  the kids were able to learn more effectively.  This one word caused the kids to think on a deeper level because they were asking them to elaborate on something they have observed or been told.

The word "why" also causes kids to focus on abstract information, like cause and effect.  The result - kids learn more effectively.

If you want to improve as a teacher, small group leader or parent, start incorporating the word "why" into your lessons and conversations.

We know many kids are walking out of churches with a shallow faith that can't stand the test of humanism and a secular world view.  Perhaps a big reason is because we haven't been using the word "why" enough.

Teachers.  Look at the lesson you're going to be teaching this weekend.  Are there any "why's" in it?

Small group leaders.  Look at your discussion outline.  Are there any "why's" in it?

Parents.  I know you hear the word "why" a lot.  Especially if your children are younger.  As you're reading them a devotion, you'll hear "Why this?" and "Why that?"  Don't look at those "why's" as a bother, but rather as an opportunity to help your child build a strong faith foundation.  In fact, don't wait for them to ask why.  Take the initiative and ask them first.

The truth is, if we'll start lecturing less and start guiding kids through the "why's," we can see a lot more kids develop a faith that will last.  I was very intentional about writing in a lot of "why's" into the curriculum we developed.  You can see samples and get it at this link.   

Think about this.  Jesus asked a lot of questions when He taught, communicated and interacted with people.  And often when asked a question, He would respond with a question.  The Master Teacher knew the power of "why" long before the psychologists in California did.  Here are just a few examples of the Master Teacher using the word "why."
  • Why are you anxious about clothes?  (Matthew 6:28)
  • Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye yet fail to perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? (Matthew 7:2)
  • Why did you doubt? (Matthew 14:31)
  • Why do you make trouble for the woman? (Matthew 26:10)
  • Why do you not judge for yourself what is right? (Luke 12:57)
  • Why do you not understand what I am saying? (John 8:43)
Our goal must move beyond just having kids parrot back Bible facts to us, but to also have them think about the "why's" behind those facts.  We should not be afraid of asking "why?"  Asking the "why's" will lead kids to a deeper faith.

Asking "why?" opens the door to great conversation.

Asking "why?" causes kids to delve into apologetics.

Asking "why?" can help you transition from being an ineffective lecturer to being an effective facilitator.

Asking "why?" can be the tool that helps kids move beyond a surface faith.

Asking "why?" can turn an activity into a learning, thought provoking experience.

Asking "why? can make a review game more meaningful. 

Let's think about a practical example.  You're sharing the story of Noah.  What are some why questions you could ask?  Here are a few...

Why do you think God chose Noah to build the ark?

Why do you think Noah didn't quit building when people laughed at him?

Why do you think God decided to send a flood and start over with Noah and his family?

Do you think it was hard for Noah to trust God?  Why?

Do you think Noah's family was afraid?  Why?

The people laughed at Noah when he was building the ark.  Why?

Do you think you would have been able to trust God if He had asked you to build a giant boat?  Why?

How many "why's" will you ask this weekend?  Hopefully a lot.  If you do,  I promise you it will make you a better teacher, small group leader, parents and all around kid's ministry Ninja extraordinaire. 

Your turn.  Do you use the word "why" in your lessons, discussions, etc.?  What are some tips or insight you have for this?  Share with everyone in the comment section below.

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