Easy-to-prepare training meetings to equip your
children's ministry volunteer team to teach unforgettable
KNOW THE GOAL
Unite your children's ministry volunteer team with a shared
1. Frustration, Anyone?-(Supplies: toothpicks
and miniature marshmallows.)
Say: Help yourself to these toothpicks and marshmallows, and do
whatever you'd like with them. You've got three minutes.
If teachers press you to be more specific, shrug your shoulders.
Make an excuse to step out of the room and stay away for at least
three minutes. When you return, ask: What did you accomplish while
I was gone? What did you think of the instructions I gave you?
Say: Form groups of four. For the next three minutes, work with
your group to build the tallest tower of marshmallows and
toothpicks you can build.
Call time after three minutes, and ask: Which experience was
more enjoyable? Why? How was the first experience like or unlike
what can happen in our classrooms? How can lack of a clear purpose
harm our efforts with kids?
2. Name That Goal-(Supplies: pencils and small
self-stick notes.) Say: Each of us approaches a class with
different hopes and expectations. On separate notes, write five
goals that are important to you as a teacher.
Call time after three minutes. Say: Decide which of your goals
is the most important. Stick that note to your forehead. Place
goals two and three on your cheeks and goals four and five on your
shoulders. Take a couple of minutes to look at each other's
Allow teachers to mingle. Then ask: What did you learn about
other teachers' goals? What other discoveries did you make?
3. Goal Seekers-(Supplies: Bibles.) Say: For
our children's ministry to be effective, we all need to be working
toward the same goal. And that goal needs to be based in
Form four groups and assign each group one of the following
passages: Psalm 78:1-8; Matthew 18:1-6; Matthew 18:10-14; and 1
Have each group write a simple goal for children's ministry
based on their passage. Work together to synthesize the four goals
into one goal for your ministry.
4. Roll With the Goal-(Supplies: newsprint,
markers, and self-stick notes.)
Draw a large set of goal posts on newsprint. Above the goal
posts, write your group goal from the previous activity. List on
separate notes all the programs and activities planned for the
year. Consider each item in light of your goal. If it fulfills your
goal, place the note between the goal posts. If it doesn't, decide
whether to modify or delete it. Close with prayer asking for God's
help in accomplishing your goal.
Give your children's ministry volunteers the keys to active
1. Teach Me, Reach Me-(Supplies: marker and
newsprint.) As teachers enter, mark their hands with a 1 or 2 and
send the two groups to different sides of your room.
Say: Group One, write "active learning" down the left-hand side
of a sheet of newsprint. Then make an acrostic that describes
active learning, using the letters in these two words. For example,
for "a," you may write adventure. I'll check back with you in 10
Group 2, I have a different activity for you.
2. Hot Means Cold-(Make sure Group 1 can hear
what's going on in Group 2.) Form two groups within Group 2. Have
one group leave the room. Have the other group hide an item, such
as someone's car keys. Tell this group that you're changing the
rules so that "cold" means close and "hot" means far away. Bring
the other group back in and tell them to find the hidden item, but
don't tell them the changed rules. Have the first group guide the
other group by calling out hot or cold. After three minutes of this
or if the group finds the item, stop the game.
Ask: How did you feel during this game? How easy or difficult
was it to find the item? Explain. How did it feel to discover that
the rules had been changed?
Read aloud Isaiah 55:8-9. Ask: How can we get into a rut of
thinking our ways instead of God's ways? What effect can being in a
rut have on the kids we teach?
3. Which Is Better?-Bring Groups 1 and 2
together. Ask: Which group experienced real active learning?
Explain. If you were a child, which group would you rather learn
Say: There are three key elements to an active learning
experience: (1) Active learning evokes an emotion; (2) active
learning is an adventure; and (3) active learning is focused
through debriefing questions.
Ask: What kinds of things have you done in your class that you
think are active learning? Let's call them out and evaluate them
with our three key elements.
After the evaluation time, say: Active learning holds an element
of excitement and joy. Kids don't have a chance to slump in their
chairs and tune out. People learn more when they're having fun
because positive emotions tie into long-term memory banks. Fun is
Close with a dedication prayer for children's ministry
volunteers to teach kids in ways they'll learn best.
Help teachers discover the benefits and delights of interactive
1. Dough It Alone-(Supplies: peanut butter,
powdered sugar, and waxed paper.) Before this meeting, mix equal
amounts of peanut butter and powdered sugar until you have a smooth
dough. Give each participant a small lump of dough on a sheet of
Say: Use your dough to sculpt something that represents an
important event in your life. Allow a couple of minutes for
sculpting, then *say: You may eat your creation.
2. Dough It Together-(Supplies: peanut butter,
powdered sugar, waxed paper, mixing spoons, and small mixing
Say: Let's try a different approach to this activity. Form trios
and stand around a mixing bowl. Work together to mix equal amounts
of peanut butter and powdered sugar to make a smooth dough. You'll
need to cooperate, help each other, and share the ingredients with
When each group has made dough, say: Sit with your trio. Each of
you take a lump of dough and sculpt something that represents an
important event in your life. When you've finished, tell each other
about your sculptures. Then eat.
After groups have shared, ask: Which experience was more
enjoyable-the first or second one? How would your students benefit
from an experience like the second one?
3. Triple Tally-(Supplies: 3X5 cards and
Before this meeting, write the following lists of verses on
three separate 3X5 cards. Place Bibles and the cards in different
corners. Card 1: John 13:34; Romans 12:10; Romans 15:14; Colossians
3:12-13; Hebrews 10:24-25; and 1 Peter 5:5. Card 2: Romans 12:16; 1
Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 4:1-3; and Colossians 3:16. Card 3:
John 13:14; Romans 15:7; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:32; 1
Thessalonians 5:11; and 1 Peter 3:8.
Say: Send each person in your trio to a different corner. Look
up and discuss the verses on the cards. Then return to your trios
and report what you've learned about our responsibilities to one
After trios have re-formed and discussed the verses, ask: How
can interactive learning help us accomplish these commands? What
other benefits can you see to interactive learning?
Say: Interactive learning gets kids working and learning
together. It's a perfect picture of Christ's body-the church.
Close by asking God to help kids grow as they work and learn
Give teachers tools to see the difference they're making in
1. The Right Questions-Say: Let's begin with a
little quiz. What was the name of the giant David faced? What
weapons did the king offer David? What weapons did David choose?
Did David kill the giant?
Say: These are examples of closed-ended questions. Form trios
and think of three open-ended questions about this story-questions
that require deeper thought. Open-ended questions can't be answered
with short answers.
Call time after three minutes and have groups share their
questions. *Say: Here are two questions that'll always get kids
thinking and allow you to see what they've learned. What did you
learn today? and how will that affect your life this week?
2. Faith Hits the Road-Say: Real learning takes
place when we see head knowledge become heart knowledge-when light
bulbs go on and attitudes change.
Read aloud Romans 15:7. Ask: How would you know that your kids
had gained head knowledge of this verse? How would you know that
they had gained heart knowledge?
Say: Show me with your actions that you understand Jesus'
command to love one another.
Have a volunteer read aloud James 1:22. Say: When we allow kids
to become doers of the word in class, we can see growth take place
before our very eyes!
3. Measured-(Supplies: Yardstick and small
Say: Other than asking open-ended questions and observing kids
being doers of the Word, what are ways we can measure kids'
As teachers name ways, write each way on a self-stick note and
attach it to the yardstick. Teachers may say to ask the child, ask
a parent, or use a faith journal.
4. Know Your Kids-(Supplies: gingerbread
patterns and pencils.) Before this meeting, outline a gingerbread
boy cookie cutter onto paper and make photocopies of the
Say: To see growth in our kids, we need to know them well. Take
one gingerbread boy handout for each child in your class. Write
each child's name on a handout; then jot down things you know about
that child's faith life.
After three minutes, say: You can finish these later. Add
comments and use them as you pray for your kids.
Close by asking God to help teachers see the fruit of their
labor in children's' lives.
Lois Keffer is author of the popular Sunday School Specials
series (Group Publishing, Inc.).