This coming week, I will be teaching at a children’s ministry training seminar, so I’ve been working on my presentation, which is not material I have written, but material from our mission board. This is a course I haven’t taught yet, so I’m busy practicing, but looking forward to the day.
The course I’m set to teach is “Knowing and Meeting Student Needs.” As I was practicing the other day, I was struck by not only how critical this information is, but how relevant it is to my own children’s ministries.
In another post, I talked about being all here and reaching the children in this area and focusing on them more. Their needs are great and truly do threaten to overwhelm my team at times. We have children:
- …from single parent homes.
- …from homes in the middle of nasty divorces.
- …from abusive situations.
- …whose home has been foreclosed on.
- ….whose father is in jail.
- …who have never held a Bible before.
- …who have no idea what “prayer” is.
- …who come from such chaos, they aren’t sure what “order” and “rules” are.
- …who are relying on their parents’ faith to get by.
- …who have loads of head knowledge and not an ounce of heart faith.
- …who can answer every question correctly, but act like the world.
- …who normally attend Catholic catechism classes and Seventh Day Adventist church services.
The needs are staggering in our relatively small group of children.
If you’re involved in children’s ministry and know your children at all, you are probably faced with some of the same needs we are. Are you overwhelmed? Here’s some help, taken from BCM’s program In Step with the Master Teacher:
- Don’t try to meet their needs – that’s impossible.
- Instead, identify their needs and then teach to the need and introduce them to the One Who CAN meet all their needs.
- Show you care: Even in our marriage, I tell my man frequently, “I don’t want you to fix the problem. I don’t even want advice. I just want you to listen to me and show you care!” Kids need that, too. Someone they can trust, someone who truly cares about what is going on in their lives. You may not be able to fix a thing – but you cared enough to listen.
- Adapt to the needs you can: Learning disability? Teach differently. Inattentive children? Shorter, more active lessons. Hearing or sight problem? Move them closer, speak louder, use larger visuals. No man in their home? Recruit male leaders. Do what you can to adapt. Again, it’s not about fixing.
- Know your students so you can teach appropriately. Lately, we’ve had to nix our curriculum and start over in some areas. For example, our older students were not memorizing their verses – or even caring if they did or not. The younger ones were memorizing out of necessity, not because they knew what they were doing or cared they were doing it. So, we nixed the idea of a verse per week and decided to do one collective verse per month. We use this verse in our materials as often as we can, we memorize it together – including the leaders – and we refer to it often. We are showing them how it applies to every area of their life and praying this will make a big enough difference that memorization will become more of a priority in the years to come. In the same token, if you see a specific need or theme in your class, but your curriculum doesn’t touch it – ditch the curriculum! Write your own and teach to your audience. You know them better than the book you bought does. Teach to their needs and let Jesus meet the needs.
- Pray for them. I ask my volunteers to come at least 15 minutes early so we have time to pray. It’s crucial. Vital. The only way we can continue. If I talk with a student and they share something with me, I ask if I can pray for them right at that moment. They have yet to turn me down. 🙂 If they mention something during a lesson, stop and pray for them. Show them that prayer is important and rejoice with them – make a BIG deal out of it – when God answers prayers for them. Prayer works.
Work on one need at a time. If you tackle everything all at once, you’ll get overwhelmed.
Love on these kids. You might be the only one who does.
If you think your children’s ministry could benefit from some training, contact me – we’d love to help you out! Check this out for more information.