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Teaching Preschoolers with a Flannelgraph

Teaching Preschoolers with a Flannelgraph

For preschool classes using the He Established a Testimony or He Has Spoken by His Son curricula, we recommend using felt visuals with a flannel board for the presentation of the Bible lesson. One source of these visuals is through Betty Lukens.

With young children, it is very important to use visuals to hold their attention and help them visualize things that are unfamiliar. For example, showing a picture or felt figures of Abram on a camel in a caravan will help children understand the unusual mode of transportation and the barren conditions of the slow journey Abram faced.

Tips for Teaching with a Flannelgraph

Less is more when using a flannelgraph. Sometimes spiritual truths can get lost in the busyness of illustrating the story. For example, using enough male figures to show all of Joseph’s brothers takes more time than their role warrants. A single group of men can represent the “brothers,” even if it only shows a few. You may discover that you cannot show Pharaoh’s chariots following Israel into the Red Sea because the chariot faces the wrong direction and is four inches taller than the parted walls of water. But, you can use the chariot piece to show what a chariot is. (more…)

Practical Tips and Resources for Worship Leaders

Practical Tips and Resources for Worship Leaders

Read Part 1 of this post: A Vision for Leading Children in Worship

Leading children in worship is different than leading adults in worship because children differ in their ability to:

  • Understand God, themselves, and their relationship to Him.
  • Understand language, ideas and how to talk about God.

So worship leaders must lead in ways that are developmentally age appropriate. Make sure to check out the curriculum introduction because the authors often give insights into what would be age appropriate. And leaders must take into account children who are not yet believers, as well as give thought how to nurture the faith of the children by example and introduce children to a language by which they may learn to worship rightly now and in the future.

So how do we plan a time of worship with children?

  1. Pray for guidance and help by the Holy Spirit (Psalm 127:1, John 14:26)
  2. Be well acquainted with the overall scope of the curriculum and specific lesson for the day.
  3. Determine the focus of the worship time (reflective, repentant, responsive to the lesson, rejoicing in our great God…)
  4. Know what the lyrics express and consider:
    1. Do they fit well with the lesson, curriculum, and focus of worship?
    2. Are they filled with big and glorious truths, while still being understandable to the children?
    3. Do they build faith in our amazing God and the wonders of redemption?
    4. Will they benefit the children if they sing them over and over during the week? During the next year? During the next 10 years? Are they worth memorizing?

What kinds of songs should be considered?

  1. Favorite Sunday school songs of substance
  2. New, fresh worship songs written specifically for children (Psalm 96:1)
  3. Scripture songs (check out the Fighter Verses songs and the Let the Little Children Sing Scripture songbook)
  4. Traditional hymns
  5. Songs from your all-church gatherings
  6. Songs from other cultures (perhaps have missionaries teach a song)

Remember, words are important, so take time to help them understand what they are singing.

A Sample Format for Planning Worship

  • Call to Worship: Helps us draw near and vertically focus on God
  • Praise and Adoration: Songs directed to God or about His character
  • Teaching: Teach new songs, share hymn story, lyric explanations, hand motions, etc.
  • Response: Songs of commitment, blessing, witness, and prayer

Sample Worship Format

Don’t forget to include prayer and Scripture (either read or recited) in your plan.

Be intentional in your planning. Determine to plan and lead worship in a way that helps the children grow in their knowledge, love, and trust of God.

If you have a large age range in your class, you might consider songs that echo or repeat phrases (e.g., This is the Day, Rejoice in the Lord Always, Humble Yourself in the Sight of the Lord…) You could have the older children help lead hand motions, hold visuals, or use rhythm or accompaniment instruments. It is a great opportunity to teach them about what worship teams do and why.

Make sure to prepare lyric sheets/overheads or visuals for younger children (following copyright laws) ahead of time. Show up early. Have instruments ready and tuned prior to the worship time. Open and close with prayer. Let students see you with an open Bible. That communicates more than you might think.

Learn More

To learn more about worship leading, I encourage you to listen to my seminar, Leading Children in God-Centered Worship, where I share more examples and practical suggestions. For specific song sources, check the end of the seminar handout.

Seminar Audio: Leading Children in God-Centered Worship

Seminar Handout: Leading Children in God-Centered Worship

Special thanks to Pam Grano for developing many of the original ideas shared here.

Read Part 1 of this post: A Vision for Leading Children in Worship

A Vision for Leading Children in Worship

A Vision for Leading Children in Worship

Read Part 2 of this post: Practical Tips and Resources for Worship Leaders

Have you ever wondered why we sing in Sunday school? Is it a time-filler or a way to keep the kids occupied? Or is there purpose behind it?

We lead children in worship, first and foremost, because God is worthy of worship.

  • I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised…—Psalm 18:3
  • Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.—Psalm 145:3-4
  • Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.—Philippians 2:9-11

Secondly, we were created to worship and we are training children to be worshippers of God.

  • But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.—1 Peter 2:9
  • After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes…crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”—Revelation 7:9-10

“Worship” is the term we use to cover all the acts of the heart, mind and body that intentionally express the infinite worth of God. This is what we were created for, as God says in Isaiah 43:7, “Everyone who is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory…” That means that we were all created for the purpose of expressing the infinite worth of God’s glory. We were created to worship.
—John Piper (“Meditations on Daily Worship,” at desiringGod.org)

How we worship our great God will vary greatly, but it is important that we remember some basics, and the rest should fall into place as we seek God on the specific “hows” of worship. We must worship in spirit and truth by engaging both the heart and the head, the emotions and the mind. And our affections for God must be rooted in truth for worship to be biblical.

Another thing to remember is to talk and sing to God, not just about Him. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to teach songs about God to help our children learn about Him and to equip them to preach to their own souls, but we must be careful to remember that true worship is communion with God, not just learning about him. (See “Talk to God, Not Just About Him” by John Piper, desiringGod.org)

Read Part 2 of this post: Practical Tips and Resources for Worship Leaders

 

Small Group Leading 101

Small Group Leading 101

The first few weeks of a new Sunday school year can seem overwhelming, but I found several things that have helped me over the years to be well prepared and have a smooth running Sunday morning.

At the Beginning of the Year

I read the curriculum introduction and found very practical suggestions. I checked out the appendices that provided even more help. And I printed out the scope and sequence of the curriculum so that I could see where the curriculum was heading.

As I prepared for my role as small group leader it was good to remember that my job was not to re-teach the lesson that the teacher teaches but to:

  1. Guide the children
  2. Help them discover answers
  3. Bring them to application truths they have been taught
  4. Make connections with previous lessons’ themes or chronology
  5. Work on Scripture memory
  6. Pray for concerns on their hearts

…all for the purpose of their growth in Christ-likeness and the glory of God.

Small Group Leading 101

During the Week

It helps tremendously to read the Scripture text on Sunday night so my mind can mull over the next week’s lesson and ask the Lord for personal application. Reading it multiple times prior to actually looking at the lesson enables my heart to be impacted with the truth we hope to communicate to the students. Then I read the teaching material and the application section to know the content and possible applications I can help the children apply to their own lives. Looking at the student workbook (or journal) helps me know what we will work on during our small group time and how it connects with the application questions. Writing out the specific questions I want to ask the children keeps me on task. Finally, an essential part of preparation is praying for the volunteer team, students and their parents. After all, only God can change hearts and empower the ministry.

May the Lord bless your preparations and interactions with the students He has placed in your sphere of influence, for His glory and their good (and yours as well)!

Sunday Morning

I make a habit of getting to the classroom early which makes a huge difference. A great way to start the morning is to spend time in prayer as a team. Then I could look at the classroom space and think about how I might:

  1. Minimize distractions to help the kids focus
  2. Make sure all needed materials were easily accessible (Student Workbooks or Journals, crayons/markers, pencils/pens, a notebook to record prayer requests…)

This allows me to focus on the kids as soon as they show up BECAUSE…Sunday school begins when the first child arrives! Greet the children with a smile and use their names—it truly makes a difference and they notice. Engage in conversation as soon as they come in. Sit with your small group during the worship and teaching time. Model the behavior you expect. Be alert for distracting or inappropriate behavior and support the teacher by intervening if necessary. Take notes on the lesson as it is taught so you can adjust questions you have planned to line up with what has been shared.

In Your Small Group

  1. Open in prayer.
  2. Introduce new children.
  3. State your expectations (especially at the beginning of the year and as a periodic reminder).
  4. Try to involve each child as you work through what you have prepared.
  5. Work on Workbook/Journal pages. This is key to applying what they have learned.
  6. Practice the memory verse and teach age appropriate Bible skills (i.e., Books of the Bible), as time permits.
  7. Take time to pray with your group at the end of your time together and encourage children to pray aloud.
  8. Make sure to record the prayer requests and follow up later on possible answers.
  9. Thank God for His help and ask Him to work in the students’ hearts.
  10. Have students help clean up your area and be sure to send home the GIFT page for parents to review.

As a small group leader I love connecting with “my” children on a regular basis. I get to know them, hear their thoughts and learn what is important to them. I pray for them and with them about their understanding of God and the concerns on their hearts. It is a privilege and joy to be used by the Lord in their lives. May your experience be so!