Table of Contents
In our society, the word “anticipation” has been reduced to mean a feeling of expectation. However, the true meaning is “an advanced realization of something to come.” In a sense, this is also how faith works and your goal as a kids minister is to help kids build a relationship with Jesus and to grow their faith.
So, how do you even get started building a program that kids want to be a part of? It all starts with you and your level of commitment and faithfulness to your calling. You and your team are the first points of contact for many kids when it comes to their relationship with God. Being willing to put the work in will jumpstart the plan that God has for your ministry.
Here are a few key ministry-building tools that will help you create a kid’s program that kids want to be a part of.
Think ahead, and stick to the plan
Give the students something to look forward to
- Have a guest speaker. Bring in a firefighter, police officer, military personnel or a whacky dinosaur. Don’t repeat the same thing too often or it will become mundane.
- Make a calendar for the year and highlight all your kids’ events and hang it where the kids can see it.
- Share your “secret plans” with the kids beforehand. Drop little hints about what to expect at your next service or lesson.
Have a plan of execution beforehand so you don’t let them down
- Make of list of how you expect your lesson or service to go. This will keep you on track and allow others to know where you are.
- Be flexible. Don’t be afraid to skip some things if necessary and vice versa if you need to stretch your service or lesson. Activities, songs, and games are the most flexible and can be shortened, skipped, or lengthened if necessary.
“By faith Noah, being warned by God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of righteousness which is by faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)
Ten people gather to pray for rain during a drought. One person brings an umbrella. That’s anticipation!
Anticipation is filled with hope. It is joy, excitement, and a tinge of nervousness. Anticipation involves waiting to see: and the time spent in anticipation seems to be longer than it actually ever is. This is because you are holding on to see what will happen, and until it does, you feel on the brink of bursting- with the anticipation that fills you until it can be released.
Whatever level of excitement you display is the base for the students to jump from
You can get excited by building anticipation. Promote your next kid’s service or event. Be sure to spend a little time dropping hints or sharing a “secret” with the kids about what you have in store for them during your next gathering.
Dress up, act goofy and be prepared to dance, shout and sing at the top of your lungs. As service progresses be sure to switch tempos and the kids.
If you are looking forward to something, it will show and be contagious
- Anticipation builds excitement and the kids will share their excitement with each other, their friends and family and even their classmates. Don’t be afraid to call your kids at home and share with them how you are looking forward to your next event.
- Have a theme and allow the kids to dress up. When they show up in their favorite Superhero outfit, you’ll know you have succeeded in building anticipation.
Don’t drop the ball
Deliver on what you promised
Having a schedule will help you stick to the plan. Use it as a guide to navigating your way through your service or lesson so you can fulfill what the kids have come to expect.
Following through builds trust
Remember that we are living breathing examples of God’s promises to our children. They are anticipating something from us and when we deliver we teach them that can not only trust us but also trust in God and His word.
Keep the wandering mind focused
- Where your eyes go, your feet follow! The basic principle of hand-eye coordination is a great tool to use to keep your students engaged in the class/service. Creating opportunities for them to use their senses actually leads them in the direction you want the class to go.
- Change it up. One week use sight and sound, and the next week use taste-testing of Jacob’s homemade soup to keep them engaged.
- Keeping them focused keeps the “BUTTERFLIES” from hitchhiking to class each week.
Creates sensory memory
Sometimes a smell or sound will trigger a memory. Grab those moments that will facilitate the making of sensory memory. Use a spray bottle with water and pine scent to take the kids into the forest in the story or a citrus scent when hanging out at Martha and Mary’s house while Martha is busy cleaning.
Raise our voices
Call and response keeps their attention
- Repeat after me – one-word answers to a question
- Complete this sentence (God is for me!)
- Every time I say ________
Opinions and viewpoints give the students a sense of value
Your students are full functioning human beings with ideas and opinions and viewpoints that are often overlooked, but a great avenue for them to participate in class.
Find out what they think about the lesson. What is their opinion of the people in the story? Give them opportunities to put their 2-cent in and engage in discussion with you and the class. They just might surprise you with some incredible insight!
Lights, camera, action!
Any physical participation can be a game changer
- You don’t have to be at TOP speed the whole time each week. Any type of physical participation can change the atmosphere in your class/service. Such as – close your eyes– simple yet powerful!
- Sometimes top speed is needed and that’s ok. Kids are built to circle around adults, so let them! Keep it in a timely manner and it should reinforce the theme of your class, not be a random free-for-all. And if you can’t beat them, join them!
Idle hands equal idle hearts
- If your hands aren’t working, your heart’s not in it. Lead by example by showing your students that your commitment to children’s ministry is in your heart because your hands are busy doing whatever it takes to teach, grow, serve and love.
- If you can get your students to participate in class, their hearts will follow. And if their hearts are in it, then you have done your job well.
- Jeremiah 29:13 says – “And ye shall seek me, and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” – Heart participation is the BEST type of participation!
It’s an “Ah-Ha” moment!
Be immersive, everything means something
- From the projects you do, the songs you sing, activities, snacks, and games everything should be geared toward the meaning of your lesson or service. If you are teaching on the Prodigal Son makes the kids a snack mix of cereal, small marshmallows, trail mix, M&M’s, or whatever you can think and have them eat it without using their hands.
- Use words, phrases, or sentences over and over again. Print them out and hang them around the room. Remember that kids all learn differently and the kid staring off into space might just learn something.
- Use visual aids, sounds, music, and smells to trigger the kids’ imagination. They will remember the time you made lemonade in Sunday school.
What is the big reveal?
Everything up to this point was leading somewhere, be sure to finish strong and get to the meaning of the lesson or service. That is the meat and we don’t want to skip over the whole reason we got the kids excited.
It’s for me
Make it personal
- Tell the kids about Noah and the Ark and have them put themselves into the story and ask them how they would feel if they were a big old elephant and had to stay in the ark with those other animals.
- Allow the kids to share their opinions and feelings and encourage them to walk with God.
A take-home item goes where they live
- Have something the kids can take home with them. An item they can personalize. (Share the story of Lend Me an Ear Lesson) used mold to make chocolate ears the kids took home with them.
- Spend the time to make something they can share and shows them that you care.
Sharing is caring
Activating the Word in ourselves and others
Be aware of your time spent preparing for class or service and spend a little time in prayer and fasting.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
What can I do with what I just learned?
Encourage the kids to share with their friends what God is doing in their lives. Teach them to have a daily walk with God, not just a Sunday stroll.
So with all these ways to create an amazing kids ministry what ultimately will bring the kids back again and again? Love. When you do all of this in love, they will feel it, they will be drawn to it and they will show up every week!