There’s one thing that most of us know will grab and hold a kid’s (or even a room full of children’s) interest like no other.
A real story.
They love them. And if you capture their imagination, tickle their funny bone or surprise them by your antics, they will ask to hear it over and over or beg for another. It’s like you’ve given them a tiny window into your past and they just can’t get enough.
Especially if you share stories about things that happened to you when you were their age. It practically blows their mind as they try to picture it.
My go-to story involves the time my sister and I got up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons and were joined by a scared squirrel that came in by way of the chimney. But that’s not their favorite part—they love hearing how my parents tried to team up and catch it with a broom and dustpan!
Probably you already know the power of story. But did you know, across several different studies of interviews with kids who say they have a relationship with Jesus, that they just plain run out of words?
They really struggle to explain what it means to love God beyond the very basics.
And it gets even harder if they’re asked about how their parents or other important people in their lives came to faith—what they believe. They just don’t know!
I think it comes down to this—we assume that they can connect the dots for themselves. That they will understand why it’s important to go to church, or give back some of the money we earn or to help others in need. That we don’t need to spell it out for them.
Maybe we feel strange or unsure about how to explain it or when is really the best time, so we just hope they’ll catch on. Or someone else will unpack it for them later.
These findings—that Christian kids lack the language to really express their faith—is one of the main reasons that we do a couple of things in our curriculum.
Every week, in the Small Group activities there is a “Personalize” prompt for leaders to share something age appropriate and relevant with the kids from their own faith journeys—how a biblical truth or idea played out in their lives in a real way.
Many times in the Large Group scripts, we encourage the Host or the Storyteller to also share something from their own life and learning with their captive audience.
Some say it this way—instead of being a Sage on the Stage—with it all figured out, like you’ve arrived, but it’s a real mystery to the kids on how you got there, we want to be a Guide on the Side—walking in the same direction as the kids you lead, with a similar goal (despite your age differences) of becoming more like Jesus every day.
And there’s a real side benefit for us as adults when we get in the habit of not only sharing biblical stories, but how God is personally active in our lives today—we are more aware and thankful of all that He’s done and is still doing. Of His love.
So, as you are editing your curriculum each month, keep an eye out and leave in those teachable and timely moments to give kids a glimpse into the faith journeys of the adults all around them. Maybe even add in a few more!
I’d love to hear what you think and any stories of how this has looked in your ministry. Comment below.