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Jazzing Up Your Children/Youth Ministry
By: Mimi Bullock

Nothing shakes up a stale kids' ministry like a wacky theme event. Themes allow you to ride the wave of what's already popular with kids, transforming it into a God-anointed message.

For example, one year we had Spongebob Sunday. All the kids wore yellow and we shouted, "I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready… to go to church!" (Anyone who watches the show knows what I'm talking about!) Theme nights also make great pre-crusade or follow-up events.

If you haven't hosted one in awhile or want to try one for the first time, give one of these four a shot. You can easily build your own theme around a specific scripture or Bible principle.

1. Spotted and polka-dotted

Explain what favor is with the story of Laban and Jacob or simply use polka dots as a fun background. Ask everyone, including volunteers, to wear polka dotted shirts. Paint dots on your face and/or tape construction paper dots to the walls of your classroom. It's silly but exciting!

2. Everything is backwards

Mix up the traditional schedule by doing everything backwards. Start with games and end with the praise and worship. Have kids walk backwards (carefully!). You can really think outside the box with this theme idea.

3. Special guest parties

Let children see how varied God's ministries are. Invite special guests to come speak to your group. Missionaries, Christian clowns, musicians, even anointed business leaders consider it an honor to speak to children. Schedule a few special guests, at least one a quarter, to share their story with the class.

4. Church-wide treasure hunt

Ask kids and parents to work together on a treasure hunt. Tape a few plastic coins under the church pews. Hide special prizes in the fellowship hall. Create a fun map or make clues that lead groups to their treasure.

During crusades, I spread the clues out, often in three parts, during the service. At the end of the service, we divide the kids/parents into groups. They must solve the clues to find the treasure. It sounds like a lot of work, but it is so much fun. My kids love treasure-seeking!

Often, I get theme ideas by cruising the clearance aisle at local department stores. Seasonal items work well too, all year long. Take your ministry to the next level. Build some excitement amongst your group with a series of wacky theme events.

Make Your Teaching Style More Interesting

Does the sight of kids nodding off, rolling their eyes or acting up remind you of your recent children's ministry lesson? If so, chances are, you've slipped into a rut…but no worries!

You can easily jazz up your teaching style without enrolling in a refresher course at the local university. Put away the podium. Get the kids out of the desks and make teaching (and learning) fun. God loves a happy teacher! Don't face another children's church or Wednesday night class without using these cool ideas.

1. Be unpredictable.

Okay, I admit it. I love using a schedule, but sometimes a schedule is b-o-r-i-n-g. I always come back to using a schedule, but you have to be unpredictable sometimes. Have kids church under a canopy outdoors. Invite a special guest. Surprise those kids with something out of the ordinary.

2. Be spontaneous!

Don't stick to the plan if it goes awry. Be confident in your spontaneity. For example, you plan to present a lesson on the Golden Rule to your group. (Always a good one.) However, your kids want to talk about something else. A church member's death raises some questions. Kids need comforting. Abandon the lesson and be spontaneous. Go off script when necessary and speak to the needs of the day.

3. Pair teaching with an activity.

I have a friend that teaches in an unusual way, and her kids love it. She wears an oversized vest that is covered with small sections of Velcro. In the vest pockets are characters from her story or paper items. She attaches Velcro to the back of the pictures and puts the characters and items on her vest as she tells the story. I taught a lesson about God's provision using the fishes and loaves story. I distributed goldfish crackers and shared a loaf of bread during the lesson. Activities make lessons exciting!

4. Encourage feedback.

If your teaching style bores kids (and it can at times), then get some feedback. Ask kids to repeat a word you say or to clap whenever they hear a special word. Stop along the story line and ask questions. Give kids a chance to interact with you (in a structured way, of course) during the storytelling.

The bottom line is your teaching styles have to change from time to time, depending on the needs of your group. If you have a class full of hyperactive children, delivering a 20-minute sermon is impossible. You can do it!

Mimi Bullock writes for www.Ministry-To-Children.com, a resource started by Tony Kummer to solve children's ministry problems.

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