Children are important, because the Church is always only one generation from disappearing. As church leaders, we have to communicate the Gospel to the youth in our community. It’s our responsibility to steward our faith into the future.
Jesus modeled this when he said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14, NIV) Christ knew the importance of children and starting their relationship with their Heavenly Father as soon as possible.
But kids will be kids. They have short attention spans. And lots of energy. And sticky hands. How do you get them to sit still long enough to finish quoting that passage from Lamentations? Why do they seem to care more about texting than tithing?
The key to influencing the next generation is by using relevant biblical lessons that kids can actually understand and enjoy. Thankfully, you don’t have to be childish, to appeal to children. And there are a few places you can look to find such resources.
In our society, where is the first place we all turn to look for answers? Google. And that’s not a bad place to start looking for some children’s lessons for your church. Type ‘children’s church lesson’ into the search engine and you get back plenty of results. Maybe too many.
The one issue with the online search method is the overwhelming volume. Finding a Bible lesson on Google is quick and easy. Finding the right Bible lesson on Google can be more time-consuming and complicated. Be sure to pick out the right content that will resonate with your audience.
To speed up this process, try to narrow down the scope of your search. Trying to find relevant messages about a specific Bible story can help cut down on your time. What Bible stories should you be searching for? It can often help to have your children’s lessons mirror those being taught in adult worship. So when it’s relevant, match up the content of your children’s church with the main service.
This is the DIY (Do It Yourself) style of children’s lesson. Meaning that you’ll have to do the work to make everything work together. You may save money by searching online, but it will likely cost you some time. So this all depends on your situation and what you’re looking for.
2. Subscription Services
Investing in the next generation should be something your church takes literally. This means you should be willing to invest both time and money into our children’s ministry. Children are literally our future—so you shouldn’t be afraid to make them a financial priority.
I know this because I happen to work for a company that creates children’s curriculum—it’s called Orange. We’ve got separate curriculum for preschool, elementary school, middle and high school, parenting, and marriage. But there are plenty of examples of other similar services like Disciplr.
Like you would expect, subscription services deliver monthly content to your church. That way, you don’t have to worry about tracking down the lessons yourself or making sure they’re relevant and appropriate. Now you can focus on building relationships with the kids and making sure they understand the lessons you’re sharing.
Opposite of the DIY method, buying lessons from a subscription will save you loads of time, but will cost you money. It doesn’t have to break your budget because most services, including Orange, charge you based on the size of your church. The more kids you’re teaching, the more you can afford. Hopefully, investing money will also help you to grow the size of your church.
3. Other Churches
I’m a big believer in connecting with other local churches to learn from one another. Odds are, each of the churches in your area have a children and youth ministry. They’ll likely look different from yours—and that’s a good thing. But it doesn’t mean we can’t team up to improve together.
Connect with the leaders at these churches. Ask them what they do for children’s lessons. Share a little bit about what you know. Try out some of their suggestions. Stay in contact regularly to keep each other updated on what’s new. This will help you save time and effort because other churches will likely have tried out plenty of different methods and know which works best.
You don’t even have to be limited to the churches in your area. You can network and learn from churches across the country and around the world. Join online communities and Facebook groups for like minded leaders. Attend conferences to meet other church leaders. Some larger churches around the country, like Life Church Open, even share some of their resources for free online.
This process isn’t exactly quick. But building relationships will allow you to contact other church leaders when you need answers or suggestions fast.
4. Your Volunteers
You don’t have to look outside the walls of your church for good children’s lessons. Some of the best ideas and suggestions live in the heads of your volunteers. They work with kids every week and know what will be relevant and interesting for that audience.
Don’t expect your volunteers to volunteer that information unsolicited. Ask them. Take the time to see what ideas they have. See if they have suggestions for lesson sources or topics. After all, these are usually the people teaching this content each Sunday, so they might as well have a part in it.
Your volunteers also give you the opportunity to have immediate and more informal children’s lessons. If you want to teach a lesson on a certain subject, but can’t find any resources on that topic, see if your volunteers couldn’t create one themselves from their experience. Have them tell stories from their own life to give kids an example of how to practically apply it to their own lives.
If you’re looking for ways to train your volunteers on how to present these messages, TrainedUp has great resources for getting your team on the same page. Remember, to impact the next generation, you’re going to have to invest in great volunteers.
5. The Children
Do you know who knows your kid’s audience better than your volunteers? The kids themselves. So why not involve them in the process of finding their lessons?
No, this doesn’t mean you should have them research which subscription service company your church should select. It doesn’t mean you should have them write their own Bible studies. But it does mean you can have them test out which lessons they like best. Or give you feedback on which ones they find boring.
Impacting the next generation means getting the local youth to enjoy coming to your church. This may look like putting arcade games in the youth area. Or taking them on cool retreats with ziplining. Or hiring a hip youth pastor with skinny jeans. Appealing to kids is important.
But including biblically-based teaching is important, too. Not because it’s cool, but because it has the potential to make a real difference in the kids’ lives. And when they realize that what you’re teaching them helps them deal with the issues they face, they’ll want to keep coming back.
6. The Bible
Believe it or not, most biblical teaching comes from one place. No, not Google. It’s the Bible.
That’s right. The Bible is another great source of lessons for your children’s ministry. Teaching straight from the Bible to kids takes some creativity. It takes great volunteers, teamwork, and preparation. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Even if you’re using a few of the other resources I’ve mentioned above, it can’t hurt to throw some Bible teaching in on occasion. This develops the habit of reading from God’s word in kids early on. It helps them get more familiar with Scripture. And it shows how it’s relevant to their lives.
Whether you’re getting children’s lessons from Google or the Bible, make sure you’re teaching things that matter to your kids. This depends on where they are in life and what issues they face. And knowing those things means you have to know the kids you’re teaching. Relationships must be at the core of what you do for all children’s ministry.