Since Covid-19 swept across the world in 2020, it seems like everything has been harder. That includes Children’s Ministry and capturing kids’ imaginations with the wonder of God’s Word.
At the time I’m writing this, many churches are still meeting virtually or at least not offering programming for kids. Others of us have reopened, but our environments feel a bit different than they did a year ago. Some of the differences may include:
- A smaller number of kids
- Kids and leaders wearing masks
- Kids and leaders social distancing
- Kids not being able to share props or supplies
- Heightened levels of anxiety for kids and leaders
These are just a few factors you might be facing when you reopen your Children’s Ministry. At the very least it creates a different vibe in the room and can make it more challenging to engage with your kids.
With that in mind, here are a few tips that can help you ramp up your storytelling in this unique season.
- Be intentional. Just know going into every teaching experience you’re going to have to bring your A game. Pray hard, know your story inside and out and be ready to bring the most entertaining version of yourself to the room. You are the thermostat, and it’s to you to set the temperature for your audience. The more you lighten up and have fun, the more it will give the kids the permission to have a blast along with you.
- Engage kids from the beginning. Have upbeat music playing before kids walk into the room so your environment will feel friendly and exciting. Greet kids enthusiastically and tell them how glad you are to see them and how much fun you’re going to have today. Call kids by name.
- Go big in your storytelling. Use big gestures, exaggerated facial expressions (even if you’re wearing a mask, especially if you’re wearing a mask) and use lots of variety in your voice (speed up, slow down, get loud, get quiet) to pull kids into the story.
- Make your lessons HIGHLY interactive. All in all I’ve noticed our kids are quieter and more hesitant. That means if I’m presenting, I need to give them several opportunities to participate in the teaching.
- Motions & response phrases: you could give kids a fun way to respond to an opening game, application game or help tell the story. For example, I once told the story of Gideon where I would hold up one of two signs throughout the lesson. One had a muscular knight on it and the other a cat with its fur standing up. When I held up the knight, kids would say, “Mighty warrior, huh!” and make big muscles, and when I held up the scaredy cat they would put their hands on their faces and yell, “Yikes!” We practiced ahead of time and I peppered it throughout the story to keep kids participating as I highlighted times when Gideon and his enemies were courageous or frightened.
- Repeat prayers: have kids repeat a prayer one phrase at a time so they don’t just tune you out when you pray. For example before the lesson you may pray something like, “God / we love You / Please help to hear / what You have to say / today / Amen.” The slashes represent the chunks I would give kids to repeat before I moved onto the next one.
- Have fun! The more you get into it and have fun, the more your kids will go along for the ride.
The great thing is that all the techniques I just listed really apply just as well to storytelling before, during or after the pandemic. Many of them would also work if you’re teaching kids virtually right now. So no matter what season you and your kids are in these tips will help set you up to win.
As always, it all comes down to doing whatever you can to earn the kids’ attention and draw them into the world of the Bible as you lead them to Jesus. That’s the goal of what we do no matter what other challenges we face.