by Steve Brown
I’ve been leading children’s messages on a monthly rotation with four other gentlemen in our congregation for almost four years now. These messages are enjoyed by all, not just the children. Why? I’m sure that the Holy Spirit has a lot to do with this, but here’s some pointers based on lessons we’ve learned through the years:
We do these messages every Sunday, in the middle of worship, and right in the main sanctuary, so everyone can watch and listen.
- The children come up to a reserved row of front pews for the message. Depending on the message, they are sometimes invited to sit on the floor in front of the presenter.
- Don’t always rely on the Pastor for this. Give your children some variety. Get a monthly rotation going with four or five volunteers, one of which is the Pastor.
- Pray for help as you prepare and right before you deliver the message.
- Start off on the right foot. Be positive, smile, say “good morning children” or “how’s everybody doing?” If it’s a small group, you might even want to walk in front of each of them and give each one a “high five.” Have an “ice breaker” moment before getting into God’s word.
- We always base the message on one of the day’s scripture readings.
- Keep the message short; no longer than 5 minutes.
- Use props, signs, pictures, gestures, singing, computer images, anything you can to make an impression and to grab their attention. Once for Transfiguration Sunday, I brought in one of my son’s Transformer toys to help describe the change that Jesus went through.
- Refrain from reading to them. Memorize passages if necessary. Maintain eye contact with them as much as possible. Don’t rely on anything written on paper. Have everything in your head. “Internalize” the story that you are telling.
- Use language and words that they understand. Define big “churchy” words if you have to use them.
- Involve them. Ask questions of them, ask for volunteers when needed to help with a skit, talk to them by name.
- They will get bored quickly if you just talk to them. At least be animated. Let the text drive your spirit; talk slowly or fast, loud or soft, high pitched or low pitched and use facial expressions.
- Act out the story as much as possible. If Elijah is using his cloak to part the Jordan River in your story, then wear your coat, take it off in front of them and slap the ground with it, swinging it way up over your head as you tell the story.
- Involve other people when needed. For example, at Pentecost, I had a volunteer play a wind sound WAV file on our sanctuary PC sound system when the sound of wind was discussed in the Acts 2 account.
- And lastly, here are two WEB resources to give you some ideas for most of the popular lectionary texts: