Yesterday I Volunteered in Children's Ministry at Church...7 Things I Was Intentional About

When I am not traveling to a church or conference on weekends, I volunteer at my home church.  

Yesterday, I had the privilege of leading the elementary kids' service. 

This was the first time I led the children's ministry service at my home church (been there just a few months).  

There were 7 things I focused on.  7 things I was very intentional about doing.

1. I spent time with the kids before service started.  I talked with one boy about his video game system and what his favorite game was.  I played a game of corn hole with a kid (you can get a smaller version of the game for indoor use.)  I talked with another kid about a computer game he liked.  I talked with some other kids about their pets (dogs, cats, gerbils, etc.).  

I knew if I was going to get them to listen to me, I needed to first build a relationship with them.  When you spend time just hanging with the kids, they will open their hearts to hear what you have to say. 

One key to success in this is to have everything set up ahead of time so you can spend the time with the kids before service starts instead of running around trying to finish up your preparation. 

Here's the deal.  The kids yesterday didn't care that I have served in children's ministry for over 32 years.  They could care less that I have led several large children's ministries with thousands of kids.  

They just saw this new dude and were wandering what I was all about.  Getting kids to listen to you teach the Bible to them must start with building relationships with them.  The old saying still rings true...

"Kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

It will take time for them to trust me.  But every week I am with them, I will be intentional about building relationships.  Over the course of time, they will begin to see that I care about them and will begin to listen to what I am sharing with them. 

2. I called them by their name.   Name tags are obviously a big help when it comes to calling kids by their name.  I was very intentional about every child hearing their name mentioned at least once. When you call a child by their name, it suddenly makes the room shrink and they feel like you care enough to know their name.  Friends call each other by name.  It makes the service not seem like a group experience but a personal experience. 

3. I let them be kids.  Kids love to move.  Kids love to talk among themselves.  Kids love to play games.  Kids are wired to have fun.  Rather than resisting this and telling them to sit still and be quiet, I used a lesson plan that lets kids be kids.  I was intentional about having games we played. I was intentional about giving them time to talk in their groups.  I was intentional about giving them time to move around.  

There were no ssssshhhhhhh's.  There were no "sit still and be quiet." In fact, I told them I want them to talk and move alot during the times that are designated for that. 

4. Each child was prayed for by name.  We took prayer requests in our groups.  We then prayed for every child by name.  

Large group prayers are a good thing.  But small group prayers where every child is prayed for by name is a great thing. 

5. I honored their attention span.  I used to say that the attention span of today's kids is about 5 minutes tops.  But the truth is their attention span now is just for a few seconds.  They have so much info coming at them that they have to quickly scan what they are going to give their attention to for a few minutes.  Don't try to fight against their attention span by trying to make them sit still while you are teaching.  Keep the class moving and change things up every few minutes.  Use active learning.  Do this and most of your behavioral issues will go away.

p.s. The curriculum I was using yesterday is written to honor the attention spans of today's kids. You can see the curriculum and learn more about it at this link.

6. I had them repeat the key truth of the lesson at least 10 times.  My goal was to move the key truth into their long-term memory.  Repetition is one of the key ways you can do this.  When kids hear something one time, they will remember about 10% of it.  But when a child hears something 6 times, their retention rate goes to up to 90%. 

7. I said "thank you for serving and making a difference " to every single volunteer.  I didn't say this to them as a group. Rather, I looked every volunteer in the eyes when I said this.  Did you know that 65% of volunteers say they have never heard the words "thank you?"  Don't be that leader. Be intentional about thanking volunteers every single week. 

There's nothing like getting to serve in children's ministry.  It is not a is a blessing.  It is not about serving for the income...rather it's about serving for the outcome.  It is serving in the most strategic ministry in the church (in my opinion).  

Sunday is coming back in just a few days.  Know why you are walking into that room and be intentional about reaching and teaching the precious children God is giving you the opportunity to influence for Him.