Children’s Church is what we often call the program for kids during the adult worship service.
Varying opinions exist for whether churches should have a separate program for children or be included in the corporate worship service.
If you do have children’s church program, what should be the cut off age? Should you have it for the entire service or only for the sermon? And, what should happen in children’s church? These are great questions we should all think and pray about rather than just doing something out of convenience or tradition. The answers to these questions could be unique to your particular setting. What does God want you to do?
Because this blog is about teacher training, we will not even attempt to discuss these questions but rather assume you are reading this post because you have a children’s church program and want to train your teachers. Many of the topics and issues related to Bible teaching apply to children’s church teachers but there are a few ways you can specifically help teachers in this kind of setting.
1) Make sure children’s church teachers know the purpose of your particular program.
Some use Children’s Church as an extension of Sunday School, carrying through with the same theme. Others make it an entity to itself. And still others use it as a training ground for preparing children to join the corporate worship service … teaching them what worship is, how to lead worship, etc. … like an apprenticeship or a starting ground for fanning into flame the spiritual gifts within the children.
So, the first thing to do is to narrow down the purpose of your Children’s Church and make sure your teachers understand it along with what that might mean for the way they teach.
If more of an extension of Sunday School, then some of what was written in a previous post about Sunday School Teachers Training should apply. But keep in mind that you will possibly have children who come to Children’s Church who were not in Sunday School. Make sure teachers are aware of this possibility and know how to provide some kind of recap for those who weren’t in Sunday School without boring those who were there. The curriculum you use might have this built into it in which case teachers should be helped to understand its importance so they do not skip over it.
If more of an entity to itself, teachers will not have these kinds of concerns for students who were not in Sunday School. The lessons can stand alone without prior knowledge being necessary. Teachers still need to know how to make visitors and those not in Sunday School feel welcomed and a part of the group already together for an hour or so.
If more of a training ground for joining the corporate worship service, the teacher’s role will be quite different from that of a Sunday School teacher. To be most effective, the teacher will work with individual children as mentors and guides so they understand their parts. Help teachers know how to be a good trainer.
2) Help children’s church teachers know what to expect when teaching in this kind of setting.
They could possibly have more visitors in attendance, sometimes children who are not accustomed to “church life.” Consequently they could face certain discipline situations, especially if they do not take time to make these children feel welcomed and instruct them on how to be a part.
They could possibly be expected to teach a broader range of ages than what is typically found in a graded Sunday School program. That can bring some challenges for them to know how to keep older children from boredom but yet not be over the heads of the younger ones.
They could possibly be using a curriculum that moves children from large group instruction / worship to small groups. Small groups can be more intimate and relational. Help teachers know how to make the transitions from one grouping to the next as well as how to best utilize these different group sizes.
3) Help children’s church teachers be prepared.
Some churches will have children’s church for the length of the entire adult worship service whereas others will dismiss children only during the sermon. Teachers need to be prepared for the amount of time children’s church will generally last. Yet, there will be times, more in some churches than others, that their time is shortened or lengthened. Children’s church can be a setting where teachers do not have control over the time element. Teachers will need to be prepared for the possibility of a longer session. And, they should learn how to cut the session without losing flow or important connections. They need to know how to extend or shorten the lesson in the moment.
Help teachers understand the challenges of teaching in this setting and you will tend to have less frustrated teachers.