Here are some ways to make your ministry to children more effective. I have seen over the years the effectiveness of a team approach to children's ministry, whether it be Sunday School, Children's Church or Mid Week Kids Programs. Most churches are dividing their classes based on an age level or school grade level. Occasionally I have seen the division made based on the program design, where a particular program is aimed at Boys or Girls, this sometimes has its advantages in ministering to specific needs among those groups.
I am really addressing the integrated model, where the boys and girls are together but classes are based on age or grade level. Here is where a team can be extremely effective. By having more than one teacher on the floor in the same class hour, you can share the lesson and activities that go with it. This reduces the tedium of One Face and One Voice for the hour of the class.
You as a teacher get to do less preparation, and the children find the change of presenter a time to refocus on what it being taught. Depending on the size of your group, you can rotate your duty days. For example, if you have three teachers for one class, you can have each teacher take a day off every third session. Two on the floor and one 'out the door!' is the way I express this. A & B share the teaching and C gets to go to Church with the adults. Next week A gets off, and B & C share the class. Week three, A & C do the work and B takes the day off.
When your class numbers increase above 20 in attendance, then you may need to have four teachers or more on the roster for that class. This brings up an interesting and very positive opportunity.
You can have a husband and wife team become part of your teaching group.
There are benefits for everyone in so doing.
First on one day off, the married team take off together. You still have enough people to run you class. Second the presence of Men in Children's meetings is extremely good from the Children's perspective. Many children do not know how to interact with a father figure, and the role model of a caring Christian Man gives the children a new view of Christianity. So many times young men and teens have said 'Church is for women and kids'. Where did they learn that nonsense?
It was not said, but taught through the absence of men in the children's ministry.
Another benefit of having a male presence among the teachers is the instinctive understanding that kids have of authority. The presence of a man can help the children grasp that this is not just a play time.
As Director of a large children's ministry in Los Angeles, I was privileged to have three married couples as part of my ministry team. They worked together, teaching and modeling by their actions and attitudes what Christian Men and Women can be like, and how they can work and play together. In an age when so many homes are dysfunctional, we really need to involve men as well as women in ministry to Kids.
During the last couple of years that I directed the Children's ministry in LA I found that the older boys, going into 7th grade were reluctant to leave their class to go into the Adult church. They wanted to be involved in working alongside our men, and several became assistant teachers, helping with skits, object lessons, and even working the sound system and video projector.
After I left that post, and began traveling in Evangelism, I saw that churches that had men involved in working with the Children's ministry, usually had a couple of young male teens who were very much committed to stay with the children's ministry. These older teens became a very stabilizing factor influencing the younger boys to become more serious about their commitment to the Lord.
Perhaps you have never thought of restructuring your class, or working with a team.
When I first introduced the idea at the Church it was met with some strong skepticism, for it was a church that had been in existence for 65 years, and had always had multiple small classes with each having one teacher who did it all.
By bringing several small classes together we were able to use Multi-media, and team teaching, giving much more variety to the program.
"The Kids did not want to miss the programs."
Within a few months we noticed a drop in the absentee rate, and some parents told me personally, that proposed family trips to the sea or the lake were postponed until after church, or moved to Saturday! The Kids did not want to miss the programs, that were so exciting and this brought a new interest from the parents in attending church themselves.
One of the things that I did was to plan a once a mid-month teacher's meeting.
Usually on a Tuesday night, I would present the teachers with the outline of what each meeting in the next calendar month would contain. They got to see what the lesson would be, what skits would be presented that day, what songs were to be used, and the object lessons that would reinforce the lesson.
Every item was themed to point to the lesson goal for that week. Then I allowed the teachers to volunteer for the part they wanted to do for each week. I said if you take the lesson in week one, then you must do something else in week two. This keeps the program from getting to be 'stale'.
The kids did not know who is doing what, and we would juggle the program some so that it never had the same identical events happening in the same order. It also enabled the teachers to become experienced in areas they had ministered in before.
We made a roster of who had volunteered for each item and the dates,and gave each teacher a copy.
Everyone knew what they would be doing and when. The real success of this teacher's meeting was that the volunteers felt they "owned" their part, they became creative about how they presented it; and the rest of the team on the floor learned new ways of presenting their work from each other.
The synergy that occurred, made the later teacher's meetings more like an auction with furious bidding for the parts! It was fun to watch the enthusiasm that developed among the teachers. I met recently with one couple who worked on my team 25 years ago, and they reminisced on what they called 'the good old days'. Certainly those teachers carried on the format I instituted back in 1980 and found it was still working more than 20 years later!
There is one area that I feel is worth mentioning here; that is the way we divided our age groups.
We found that the Grade school numbers worked well for us. We started with a mix of Grades 1 thru 6, and found it really did not work well, as the lower grades have a different learning style to the higher grades.
We split the Children's Church into two groups, First to Third grade and Fourth to Sixth grade. Some of my teachers were more comfortable working with the smaller kids, others could do better with the bigger ones.
Finally we instituted a Pre-School Children's Church.
The set up here was somewhat different, due to the very limited attention span of the pre-schoolers, but it was a great success. While I do not have the time to go into all three learning styles, I must say that play times, and creating two groups of preschoolers were the key to success. We had one group of about 20 attend the Story/Lesson in one room, while the other group had teachers doing songs and object lessons etc. then they all joined together for play and a snack.
Next we swapped the groups, so the lesson teachers had a new group to hear the story, and the other teachers had the second group for their songs and object lessons. The final time was group play until Adult Church came out.
You can access many free Teacher Training ideas at BigContact/FSM where Jim Cole-Rous' 10 minute audio podcasts are posted.