We are sometimes saddened because children seem not to be interested in the teaching that is given to them. One could then deduce that they are not thirsty for God’s things. I would say that they are very thirsty, but children do not know that it is god’s things that they are thirsty for.
As long as the human being is not reconciled with his Creator, he lives in dissatisfaction, he feels a lack. He will try to fill this void with all the opportunities the world offers him, to no avail. We know that this thirst is God’s need that is inscribed in his heart, and that only God can respond to it. Children are part of this frustrated humanity and they feel the need to be reconciled with their Creator, even if they do not know that this is what it is all about.
One of the keys to the success of our mission is to know how to reveal the true source in the eyes of children, to lead them there, and to make them taste its water.
How do we do that?
Prepare an argument
First of all, our lesson should not be an imprecise discourse, in which we drop biblical truths or verses, relying on the power of the Lord to accomplish the intended work in the hearts of children. This can “work” for a while, and the Lord, who is good and compassionate, can still give some fruit to this work.
But in the long run, children feel like they are always told the same thing… and after several years, they risk being “vaccinated” against biblical teaching, because they will have perceived it as boring and routine. This is one of the main reasons for the children being removed from the church as soon as they become teenagers. Believing doesn’t set aside our intelligence. Children, who are curious and eager to learn by nature, like to be taught things of God, BUT YES! It is up to us monos to prepare good little spiritual dishes in the manner of God.
So our lesson needs to be thought through, organized as an argument. It should allow us to:
- awakening the child’s interest
- appeal to his reason
- touch his heart
- get him to act
Second, it must be structured, i.e. it must include a plan:
- introduction (hook)
- development (maximum 3 points)
Then, its content, shape and presentation must be adapted to the child’s abilities according to his age (read “The characteristics of the child according to his age).
It is not an option, it is an absolute necessity. The child cannot get to our level; it is up to us to know its limits, its capabilities, its needs and to put our teaching within its reach.
A marker: if, when you prepare a lesson, you do not find application to the child (i.e. what he can put into practice in his life following your teaching), it is because the subject is too high or too complicated for him. This theme represents a “steak”, while the child is still on milk… A study, a theme, that may have done us a lot of good as an adult, can be unaffordable for children. Knowing how to provide children with a teaching that is within their reach is one of the main challenges faced by the instructors. Just like knowing how to stop developing…
Let us not forget that the child is capable of receiving only one biblical truth at a time. We cannot go around a topic in one sitting. It is better to push one nail at a time, rather than typing everywhere without real effectiveness. At the end of the session, the children must be able to tell what truth they were taught. Maybe you’re afraid to get them tired. If you vary enough the activities around the theme taught (singing, games, questions, drawing, mime, etc.), they will not feel any feeling of repetition.
Making it attractive
Finally, as interesting as it is, the lesson must be attractive if we are to win over children; it must be illustrated and convey enthusiasm and joy, faith and recognition. How can we explain that crowds of people, mostly uneducated, could listen to the teaching of the Lord Jesus for hours? The Lord knew how to arouse the interest of his listeners by sticking to their experiences, he knew how to put himself within their reach by using their language, by illustrating by means of parables, examples, and he also knew how to transmit his fervor and joy.
When I started teaching children (I was in my twenties), I quickly encountered an unexpected difficulty: how to clearly state what I believed? Although I was born into a Christian family, having heard the Word of God from a young age, I found it very difficult to explain my faith and justify what I had believed for years.
In fact, I knew by heart (or almost) all biblical stories, but I was ignorant of the concepts, teachings, doctrines contained in the Bible.
These biblical truths are the solid supports on which the Christian, adult or child, builds his faith. Failing to receive these foundations, he advances to the sandstone of his sensations, his impressions, what he hears from one or the other: he remains fragile. What would you think of a math teacher who knows approximately math? And yet, some instructors know the subject they teach only in a very approximate way… If this is your case, it is not too late to go around the main biblical doctrines (browse the shelves of a Christian bookstore and ask your pastor for advice) to verify the accuracy of your teaching.
An idea: children can be helped to assimilate biblical doctrines by asking them, from time to time, to explain what they believe, for example why they are certain to be saved, why they will never be condemned for their sins if they believed in Jesus, etc. Not only will they be strengthened, but when the opportunity to testify comes to them, they will find the words to speak to others about their faith.
Moreover, knowing their Lord, what he has done for them and what he continues to do day after day will give them many reasons to praise him and encourage them in worship.