by Jamie Doyle
Bend – v. – To change an average experience into an unforgettable moment by applying unrelenting effort.
EXPERIENCES …kids remember them!
You cannot remember everything – but, I guarantee that you remember experiences that you have had through your life. And as you recall them, details come together that you never would have thought of without visiting that past moment.
There are moments in your life that are unforgettable. You can recall them, visualize them and go back to those experiences when you are met with a certain sight, sound, smell or taste. Sometimes those experiences were positive and pleasant; you deliberately go back to them by seeking out the sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Other times, you avoid going back to past experiences because there were negative and unpleasant in every way possible.
Consider children’s ministries and what kids learn and remember. It really has to do with creating experiences. Experiences that are fun, amazing, memorable and at times, unexplained. Children are visual creatures and have a tendency to be impressed, intrigued and interested in the when something is interpreted as FUN. I cannot think of a better method to use when teaching children about Jesus, His love and His promises then to create an experience – in other words: to “bend” their world.
Let me say something kind of controversial: kids will not remember everything that you teach them. But they will remember the experiences that they had while with you. And our hope is that by remembering the experience, it will transport them to a spiritual concept, Biblical principle, Biblical command or godly example they saw in you when you were in their presence.
Kids really see stuff in two ways:
1. This is either FUN
2. This is really BORING
Yep – That is really the mindset of a kid.
Now let me bring some definition to the information above…
These two viewpoints of the world are really interpretations of the world around them. For instance: an activity or experience that is exciting, engaging, delicious, funny, intriguing, inclusive or tailored to their wants and needs will be interpreted as “FUN.”
On the other hand… any activity or experience that is uncomfortable, uninteresting, over their heads, too predictable, non-engaging, unfamiliar, not welcoming or negative will most likely be interpreted as “BORING.”
Now here is what you have wanted to hear all day: children will react differently to each of the two ways that they see the world.
- If they interpret the world around them as being “FUN,” they will engage, participate and have a positive attitude about that activity or experience. With this experience, you can harness that energy and help guide it into a moment of learning, and experiencing God. This, in my vocabulary is called: “CONTROLLED FUN.” Please note that, “CONTROLLED FUN” is GOOD.
So, If they remember a fun experience there is a good chance that he/she will start to remember some of the details about the principles of God, His promises and His commands. And they will have a much more positive view of God and His people.
- If they interpret the world around them as being “BORING,” they will disengage from the activity, despise the adult who is initiating the “BORING” activity or experience and ultimately make an attempt to create their own “FUN.” When a child attempts to create their own “FUN” in defiance of the “BORING” activity or simply a non-existent activity, this, in my vocabulary is called “UNCONTROLLED FUN.” Please note that “UNCONTROLLED FUN” is NOT good.
If they recall a boring experience they had with you, while in church, while learning something from the Bible, they will most-likely have a negative view of God and His people or quite possibly no memory of God and His people at all
People Who Were “World Benders”
Many inventors, entertainers, teachers, mentors and ministers have come and gone. But one thing sets certain ones apart from their contemporaries: They knew how to create experiences.
Personalities like Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Tim Burton, Charles Schulz, Erno Rubik, Michael Jordan, J. R. R. Tolkien and even the fictional Willie Wonka as well as magicians like Harry Houdini, David Copperfield and David Blaine are “world benders.” And it is because they became masters of creating experiences. Experiences that have changed the way we look at everyday life and experiences that have changed the way we do everyday things.
Own This Concept
This, in essence is your job as a KidMin Leader; “Kid World Bender” could be the newest job title – catchy huh? It is your job to create experiences that will burn into our audiences’ memories forever. Why is this important? Because, the next time they hear a certain song, smell a certain scent, see a certain object, watch a televsion show, go to school or really see anything related to you and the things you did in their presence; they will automatically be transported back in time to the moment they had an EXPERIENCE with YOU.
Fine Tune Your Ability to Create the Experiences
There are some things you should be doing in any creative presentation method that will help you to create an experience with your class or audience:
As you tweak your lessons and skills, or put the finishing touches on a prop; ask yourself:
- How am I creating an experience for my audience?
- What else can I do to add that little extra ‘whoa’ in the moments that I am with them?
- What will these kids talk about when they leave?
- What am I doing to advance my skills as a presenter or ‘world bender’ so my program stands out from the last experience?
These are vital questions – and they need to be answered if you plan on succeeding as a performer/presenter.
Be Willing To Face Evaluation From Others
No question about it, you are going to have to subject yourself to criticism and evaluation. Find a coach or several coaches whom you will allow to freely comment on your presentation. Record yourself on video and invite those who are already successful in the realm of children’s ministry presentation to view your presentation(s). They can help you.
You Have The Potential To Be Amazing
If you love what you do, kids will love you, you will feel fulfilled in what you are doing. Put that all together and you will be at your best as a presenter. And when you are at your best it will show up in your presentations and it will help you to create an unforgettable moment!
16 Things To Remember when Teaching Kids the Word
Perhaps this will inspire you for the next opportunity to give kids the Word.
Here they are in no particular order:
- Study so you will know what you are talking about
- Have a plan. When you do not – they do.
- Make the stories come alive
- Meet their level of intensity and then, go beyond it a bit (or – a lot)
- Be animated with your body
- Be animated with your words
- Be animated with your voice
- Make eye-contact
- Get kids to respond verbally
- Use multi-media
- Use kid-volunteers to help you
- Use visual aids
- Teach like Jesus (like one who has authority)
- Expect results – ask the kids for a response in prayer, worship or making a commitment with you.
- Say “thanks” to God for the victory won.
Jamie Doyle is the Children’s Pastor at Radiant Church in Colorado Springs. You can read more of his writing at http://jamiedoyle.com