Getting Kids to Talk
by Esther Beasley
Relationships are everything in kids’ ministry. Yet, if you were to walk into a Sunday school classroom, you most likely would see one teacher taking the lead, while all the others stand or sit in the background watching. Kids need you to engage them throughout the entire class session.
In my church, I work with many kids who come from broken homes or have an absent father. It is especially important that I work hard to restore their trust in adults and show them love! Here are some of my favorite ways to get them talking and build relationships:
Sit with the Kids
Instead of grabbing a chair and sitting in the back of the classroom during the lesson. Sit next to some of the kids in your group so that they know you are interested in learning about God too—and that you desire to be with them.
Greet the Kids You Teach Even When You’re Not Serving
Sunday mornings can be crazy, but while you’re walking into church, getting your coffee or greeting friends, keep a look out for the kids that you teach. If you see them, greet them with a high-five or handshake and tell them you’re glad to see them—this helps them see that you know and care about them!
Make the Kids your Priority
Arrive at church early to get set up before the kids come to class. As soon as kids walk into your class, drop everything! Greet the kids, let them know that you’re excited they came and instantly engage them with questions.
It is especially important that I work hard to restore their trust in adults and show them love!
Pick out simple fun questions that help you know more about your kids. Come prepared with three questions that you will ask in your small group that day. Why three? If your questions are the right type, it only takes a few to get that group of kids talking. Once the kids get talking—listen! Most likely you’ll discover what they love. Here is my list of 56 questions you can ask.
Talk Less, Listen More
As you ask questions, it is important to listen fully to the kid’s responses. When the group gets talking don’t walk away—listen to the little things they say.
Use What they Love while Teaching
As you listen to what your kids love, try and incorporate those things into your lessons. For example, if the kids you teach love social media than find ways to challenge them to use it properly. Did you know that just with a swipe of the hand a child on Snapchat can be looking at porn? Is everything on YouTube clean? So, if you are teaching a lesson about making the right choices, or obedience use things like that as practical examples. It is important for you to engage kids in a way that is relevant in their lives. Using these examples does not always have to be from a negative angle. If teaching on creation, show a picture of one of the dinosaur Fortnite skins. You could also add a dab, floss or another popular dance move into your song or memory verse motions. Kids will love having these everyday fun activities incorporated into Sunday School.
Come prepared with three questions that you will ask in your small group that day. Why three? If your questions are the right type, it only takes a few to get that group of kids talking.
Do your research
Google Fortnite or the other topics about which you hear your kids talking. You might have to look up how to do the “Floss.” It takes time, but the return on investment will be invaluable as it helps you better connect and build relationships with the kids you teach. Research also helps you know what is appropriate to be using in your lessons and what would distract from the Gospel.
Although you might only serve on your church’s kid’s team once a month, be sure to follow-up on the questions you ask. One lady I know takes notes about what the kids in her small group tell her. Her notes enable her to be sure she connects with the kids later. How do they feel since their dog died? Did they ever beat that level on Fortnite? Have they had their first basketball game?
You might not feel overly knowledgeable about current childhood trends. To build relationships you just need to know enough to ask questions, listen to their responses, do a little research and follow up with their answer the next time you serve. The time and energy you invest will be worth it!
What have you done to build relationships and get the kids in your class talking to you? Tell us in the comments below.