1 Would you like to consistently rock the room when you teach and leave the audience amazed and breathless?
2 Would you like to improve your skills at bringing Bible stories to life?
3 Are you willing to have your teaching evaluated so as to grow and become more dynamic and have more impact than you do right now? (feedback is not failure, the goal is not criticism but development)
4 Are you willing to help others improve their skills and realize their dreams of becoming transformational teachers by evaluating them?
Too often Children’s Ministry teaching focuses on transferring “head knowledge” from teacher to student!! If all we do is impart head knowledge, then we’re only delivering half the message. Traditional teaching techniques transfer “head knowledge” from teacher to student which they experience 5 days a week at school! On the other hand, transformational teaching (transfers knowledge from the mind to the heart – and then to their hands and feet!): Characteristics of transformational teaching:
• E:Emotional connection to kids (heart knowledge)
Kids need to be impacted by the wonderment of the Bible
• C:Bring the Bible to life through creativity (let creativity push/elevate the Bible content)
Compelling and powerful
• E:Involving kids experientially (visual vskinesthetic learning)
Kids participation making it unforgettable
• A:Application that equips kids for the real world (equip kids for Monday thru Saturday)
Sunday’s should modify, change and transform the kids behavior mid-week?
The Bible says not all of us should be teachers, and that teachers will be held accountable for what they teach! Words spoken from the front on a Sunday can impact the choices a child will make during the week. Do they live life differently on a Monday as a result of your time with them on a Sunday???)
Kids learn in primarily three different ways and most kids will have at least one dominant learning style (When planning your story, try and hit all 3 learning styles in every lesson)
• Auditory (hearing) – less than 30% of kids are of this learning style
• Visual (seeing) – need to see to remember
• Kinesthetic (doing)– the kids who need tobe physically involved, experience it
How much do students retain?
• 10% of what they read
• 26% of what they hear
• 30% of what they see
• 50% of what they see and hear
• 70% of what they say
• 90% of what they say as they do something!!!
I hear I forget I see I remember I do I understand
Create an atmosphere of EXCELLENCE:
Kids are not easily impressed but they do respond to excellence. Excellence attracts people. We need to create “can’t-miss” lessons, fun, dynamic, unforgettable and transformational so that kids drag their parents and their friends to Church! Excellence inspires people. Excellence honours God. God wants our best, not perfection.
• Memorize: your story (scripted lesson). It creates intentionality and makes excellence possible. The Holy Spirit honours a prepared teacher; will the Holy Spirit work in spite of you or will He partner with you? Memorization brings POWER to teaching (there are some excellent tips on ways to help memorize your story like compartmentalize, spider diagram, bullet form list, sketch, re-write it, record it…). Memorization does not mean it has to be stiff!
• Practice: we will not drift into transformational teaching; powerful moments are planned and rehearsed (think about your 1st vs. 2nd service versions of the same story – which is normally better?). Practice makes perfect, and the more you practice the better you get). We believe in creating the opportunity for a mid-week rehearsal (run-through) to practice, evaluate each other and fine-tune your stories. Make this time count. Take it seriously. This is your offering you’re bringing to God. A practice session is setting yourself up for success.
• Evaluation (we want to help each other to grow, to get to that place of being a transformational teacher we require regular and consistent feedback from buddies/leaderswho intentionally are looking at specific aspects of your story). We’re on the same team. We want kids to come back and bring their unsaved friends because this is the most exciting place to be on the weekend. We all want the same thing so we need to get over any insecurity that we’re being criticized or we’re being told “we stink”. This is a time of formative feedback, positive criticism. These 2 things you did very well, but work on these few aspects of the story.
Have you ever asked “Great story, but so what? What does it have to do with my life?” This is exactly what the children need to have answered. Bible stories are about you and me and not only about the character in the story (like Goliath – what could be a giant in the kids life, not likely a 3-metre person but maybe a divorce or a bully at school!). This means we should not just tell a history lesson story, but rather bring the application from the story into our children’s daily life. How does God want to use us to prepare the children to live out these stories at school on Monday? God lives where they hurt during the week (those “ouch” situations and feelings they face day in and day out). When you touch a nerve in their daily lives you’re leading towards transformational teaching when you bring our big God into their world.
TECHNIQUES: Tools for your TOOLBELT – Making moments happen
1. Step into the story – rather than talking about it or the character (past tense) you become it or the character (present tense). Hearing about it vs. bringing it to life. Pick moments to slip into the characters – your audience feel like they’re in the moment instead of outside and displaced from the story. Let them feel the story.
2. Use the power of contrast- a sudden and unexpected shift in the tone or pace of your story. You draw attention to the moment. Setting a peak (loud, energy, excited) directly alongside a valley (silence, slow, still) – makes a point really stand out.
3. Use the power of silence – to give emphasis to a point. Waiting out with anticipation. Until they notice you. They’re thinking “what is going to happen next”. Building for the point of application. Don’t overuse silence (you only get one or two moments in a story where you can let it sit in silence not more than that). Wait out busy moments to create anticipation for the application.
4. Handle the Bible. Just hold it as you tell the story-don’t even have to read out of it. The kids need to know that these stories come from the Bible.
5. Contemporize the moment/language- help kids see the story is about them and not some dead dudes living 2,000 years ago. Add some modern lingo,pop-culture references (David took Pizza to the battlefield, Milk and Honey vs. Coco Pops and Milo – put little cultural references into the story)
6. Use your voice- simple adjustments in pace or energy, volume or tone, rhythm can change everything
7. Don’t teach, just talk – Keep your tone conversational “Hey everybody, great to see you this morning, remember last week we took a look at Paul, well today…..”. Bysaying “boys and girls” – you lose the older kids there. Don’t say “what are we learning about” – they feel as though they’re being taught down at like what happens every day at school. Older kids will disconnect and unplug. Let them feel completely relaxed with you.
8. Peaks and valleys – think of your lesson as an amusement park ride (HIGH highs and LOW lows). Don’t let everything sound the same or live in the middle ground (be like a roller coaster not a merry-go-round). Most of us have a natural rhythm that we resort to by default; this is an ongoing process and takes time. Use rhythm to match the moment. Scrutinize your story and look for where the peaks and valleys are in the story. Peaks and valleys pull the kids into the story by raising expectation that something’s going to happen.
9. Softening – the moment you say “shhhh” you yank them out of the story and you give them power (hey I can upstage this dude telling the story, watch me I can do it again). Lure the kids back in by softening your voice (not talking louder!). Don’t do discipline from the front. Engage them! Go and stand next to the rowdy kid, place your hand on his shoulder while you carry on telling the story. Draw them in.
10. Movement must be intentional – diagnosing drift (aimless movement when we’re not sure what to do with your body, you’re roaming around) – aimless wandering (because there hasn’t been purposeful thought given to where you need to move to and from); empty gestures rob your words of their strength and punch; anchor yourself; put hands in pocket. Sometimes move over to a noisy kid, don’t tell them to “sssshh”, but pull up alongside of them and start to whisper-they will begin to calm down. Storyteller should never have to stop the lesson to make the kid be quiet. Use props on various parts of the stage as anchor points and also to move between as different locations in the story.
11. Sit for stress- start your lesson in a chair, even same level as kids
12. Position yourself for strength- different parts of the stage carry different weight in terms of how much power and strength you have with your audience. Upstage, downstage, stage left, stage right.
13. Level out- use scaffolds, or gaps below stage. Stand on a ladder or a boxetc
14. Keep current- what computer/PS2/PSP games are kids playing can you bring in a bit of talk from their world (they’ll be amazed).
15. Tune in – you’ll be able to communicate with kids if you’re in tune with the movies, books, magsetc they’re into (watch Ben10, Spongebob and use snippets from the latest Harry Potter movie and applying it to what the Bible teaches on the exact same subject. Kids listen up when you speak their lingo from their world!)
16. Get commercially connected – watch commercials on TV (what are kids eating, listening to etc. Try and understand what the advertisers are using to speak to the children. What is that gets their attention – colour, music, movement etc)
17. Score big with video games
18. Flip pages – get ideas from kids magazines
19. Be a fly on the wall – go hang out in McDonalds and listen to kids talk. What are they talking about with each other.
Set design, lights, sound, video. These tools communicate tons to a generation of tech-savvy kids. Use them, be creative.
1. Cool flows downhill. Aim your use of these technical effects at older aged kids and the younger ones will pick up on the cool stuff. If you aim at younger kids then you’ll disengage from the older kids.
2. Theme your hall and stage. You could theme for a one-off event or for a whole month as you teach through a series. Scaffolding, rubbish bins, curtaining, fabric, roof hangings, work with décor (often it’s not expensive to create an effect it just means thinking creatively).
3. Use sound effects (ensure timing and training of projectionist)
4. Play with lighting (fluorescent with paint, roving spots, dim lights, coloured lighting for different effects)
NB: Remember that creativity should always prop up the Bible truths we’re teaching. Kids should never get lost in the creativity and miss the transformational Biblical teaching because of all the colour, lights and sound!
20 METHODS to teach the Bible CREATIVELY:
Use the Rule of Three – use at least 3 different creative methods in every lesson.
These methods should be simple, do-able, and they could be done on the grass outside, they should not require lots of money or people,can just have the right person (one, not 50!)
1. Audience participation (small group): hand-picked participants (get them to act on cue; stay in control), tell the kids what they should be doing. Ex: get kids up to be the soldiers in David and Goliath story. You need to be in control. Avoid the trouble kids (get perspective from locals). Give them simple instructions, don’t tell them to wait for this cue at this moment and then do this and don’t do that etc (too complicated).
2. Audience participation (whole room): involve the whole room (you half will be Philistines, you half are Israelites, get them to rub hands for light rain, click fingers for heavy rain, clap when there’s thunder inthe storm, walk around a big box for the walls of Jericho story with someone hiding in the box to crash it down at the right moment).
3. Art attack: As you tell the story you paint a picture (creativity wrapped around the biblical content and lifts it up). Can sketch in light pencil an outline and paint over in real-time. Use paints, brushes, sponges, chalk, spray paint – use variety. You can have someone telling the story while someone else paints and draws separately too. Try and be creative that a verse can be extracted out of the picture. For example a bee for “Be”, a muscle guy for “strong” etc
4. One-man show: use different clothes (jackets, hat, props etc) to be different people. As you change between characters you change your dress. Use a coat rack or a hat rack. Kids love watching the storyteller struggle to become each new character (running around looking for your beard to become Moses!)
5. Visual props: break story into sections and get a prop for each section, then reveal them as you get to that part of the story (broken ruler for Adam and Eve breaking the rules, flippers for the crossing of the Red Sea). Place them in a suitcase and pull them out one by one when you need them. Place them on chairs covered with a handkerchief and uncover them one by one.
6. Special guest demonstration: bring in a lamb to talk about shepherds, or a real sheep dog, or a farmer dressed in his farming clothes, the arm wrestler or body-builder for God’s power, black belt expert to break something. Don’t bring snakes!
7. Game show: Ensure it is targeted toward the content you’re teaching. For example “God’s Hall of Fame Game” – teach a story like Ruth and then go straight into a Game Show Quiz where you have 4 Ruth’s on stage (one real one and 3 imposters). Kids ask pre-scripted questions to ask each “contestant” and each contestant has pre-scripted answers. Based on the story they’ve just heard the kids now need to guess the real Ruth! Loads of fun.
8. Team teaching: Break up the telling of the story between 2 people, each telling different sections at the appropriate moments. Keep the back and forth flowing, not long runs of one voice at a time.
9. Sound effects: Find good ones and execute them well (build up a resource of SFX). Ensure the computer operator has a run-sheet of your story, all pre-loaded and practiced the week before (not crisis on Sunday morning).
10. Soundtracks: Bring music under the scene as a story begins. Familiar sounds trigger emotion and can be used effectively to enhance a story. For example using CSI music for a “investigative” theme or “Game Show” music for a quiz or The Prince of Egypt music in the Garden of Gethsemane, Superman music when “Samson” comes on etc.
11. The voice from beyond: Use pre-recorded voice over sound system. You can use this to interact (seemingly in real-time) with another person over the sound system (could be God speaking, or someone’s thoughts out loud).
12. Showing signs: Non verbal communication using pre-written cards like placards. Timing is critical. Have people bring out specific signs that kids can read. Could be done in tandem with a mime show.
13. Motions and Phrases: break story into sections and use different phrases and motion to each part
14. Simply messy: To drive a point home
15. Moving target: Teachers popping up in different parts of darkened stage telling a part of the story (use spotlights)
16. Around the room: Teach inside the middle of the group (use masking tape to mark out)
17. The live feed fake out: Teacher seemingly communicating real time with character on screen in another location (overseas etc)
18. The Character teach: Bring in Sherlock Shoes to tell story. Animals should not teach a story (maybe puppets)
19. Environments with character: Stage packed with different props (talking chair, maps, ladder,…)
20. Reader’s theater: Write out scripts at different props on stage, have them read out story as move around
• Never start a story with “Once upon a time…” rather say “A long time ago in the early days of the Bible there ….”
• Land the story before the volunteers sit down (build up momentum, use this to create a moment, ride the wave, and makeimportant stuff stick out at the end, the moment of transition). As soon as you dismiss people on stage you lose the moment to apply the story. Get them to sit down or stand still for the last 2 minutes.
• Don’t settle back into your comfort zone. Always go out on a limb and risk. Risk brings growth!
• Snap bad habits like a twig, don’t tryand do them all, take two things and work on those for 2 months, repetition (do it over and over). Short range (stuff you can change before the next meeting) vs Long range changes (months)
• Team – challenge each other all the time
• Make the space your own (own the position), comfortable, define your space on the stage.
Story-TellerEvaluation – Rules of Play
• Take an active role in your evaluation: ask questions, be a willing participant, attitude of hands open, my attitude should be “God help to make me a better storyteller”
• Commit to short-term growth and long-term development: firstly make the 10am service better than the 8am service, make this month better than last month, but also be intentional about improving some specific technique (my bad habit of drifting around on stage)
• Welcome the benefit of accountability and support: we’re a team so its not only about “me” but the whole as well
• Don’t try and please everybody: everyone will have their opinion as to how you could have done better. It’s not your job to make everyone happy. You have a safe and consistent place in your evaluator.
• Be in practitioner mode, have your practitioner lens on (not spectator mode look for tools and techniques in action)
• Be committed to consistently give attention to your role as evaluator: don’t get distracted on the weekend, this is an important vehicle for growth
• Point out the good stuff first: encourage then challenge
• Focus on 2 types of correction: there’s long-term development stuff and “fix-it-before-the-next-service” stuff. Evaluators focus should be long-term development but with multiple services we can reap the rewards of immediate changes too
• Be specific: don’t say “that was good” – it’s too general. You turned toward the audience very well, and your pacing up/down creating tension during final scene; but when you asked the kids that question they unraveled – you’ll need to look at that.
• Create a safe environment for your teacher’s growth: remember the big picture, make them want to try new things, willing to take a risk even though it may fall flat, believe in them.
PERSON BEING EVALUATED: __________________________________ EVALUATOR: _______________________________
1. TECHNIQUES FOR MAKING MOMENTS HAPPEN
□ Stepping into the story
□ Intentional Silence
□ Handling the Bible
□ Contemporizing the Story
2. VERBAL TECHNIQUES
□ Just talking
□ Peaks and valleys
3. MOVING TECHNIQUES
□ Defying drift
□Sitting for stress
□Positioning for strength
4. TODAY’S LESSON
List 2 specific moments or techniques where the story-shower hit a home run.
List a couple of changes that might strengthen the lesson for the next time.
Identify one or two specific moments where skill or technique may need to be developed or strengthened.