I’ve been a teacher for 15 years and taught children from aged 5 to age 11. I’ve also ‘taught’ in Sunday Schools, evening church groups and All-Age services. In this article I hope to get across some tips and techniques for getting your point across to children and adults in a Worship For Everyone service.
A good teacher knows that at the start of each lesson it’s vital to explain clearly to the children what exactly they’ll be learning in the lesson. Most children need the big picture up front and will find it difficult to follow if they have to work out what they’re learning as they go along. A sure fire way to lose children. So tell the children up front what the focus of the service is. Put it across in easy to understand terms. In school we are encouraged to write it on the board to help those visual learners – this may not be necessary in church but using symbols or images may help.
After explaining the point of the lesson a teacher goes straight into trying to make the learning clear to the children; giving them examples, allowing them to try things for themselves, answering questions, stopping the lesson and re-explaining if necessary. All the time checking the children ‘get it’! In a Worship For Everyone service this can be done by singing relevant songs, telling stories, playing games, focused prayer activities and a short talk linking them all together.
A teacher will end most lessons with a plenary session – a chance to review the lesson, recap the learning and maybe check which children have ‘got it’ and which haven’t. It’s also an opportunity to tell the children where they go next – hopefully getting them excited about coming back! So why not end an All-Age service the same way? Ask children what they’ve learned (scary and possibly embarrassing if they’ve learned something slightly different to what you wanted – but better to know?), remind them of what they should have learned – and maybe tell them what they’ll be learning next time (if you’ve planned that far ahead!) and send them out looking forward to coming back.
I do believe this method of teaching will help children understand what you want them to get out of every service – and if you’ve explained it clearly so that all the children understand it, then most adults will get it too!
What are your thoughts? What is your experience? Here’s some questions to start:
- What do you think of this as a structure? Does it ‘spoil the surprise’ for adults?
- Do ‘All-Age’ services need a structure like this? Will it inhibit the working of the Holy Spirit?
- A lot of children and adults prefer learning by ‘doing’ (kinaesthetic learners) – how can we include these types of learners in church services?
Continue the discussion by posting your comments below.