Tips for Leading Application Time #5

If Possible Use Small Groups

Children's Ministry Small Group Application TimeIf you can, divide your class into smaller groups for application time. For large classes, a small group of 6-8 kids works. For small classes, a small group of 4-6 kids would work.

Some classes are already small and so breaking into smaller groups isn’t feasible. That’s okay! Your class is your small group! Some classrooms only have one teacher and therefore can’t break up into small groups. That’s okay too! Do something to indicate to the kids the transition to application time. Consider having it in a different part of your classroom. If you use tables for the lesson, move to a circle on the floor. It is helpful for the kids to have an obvious transition from lesson time to application time.

1. Teach children behavior expectations for small group application time.

Kids will not automatically know how to behave in this setting. Make sure you take the time to teach them.

Some behavior expectations will be the same as the rest of the class. So first let them know that the class rules apply during application time.

Next, get specific about small group expectations.

Their chance to talk – tell them that during application time, you want all of them to feel free to talk and to have the chance to talk. This is their time to share their thoughts, feelings, questions. This is the time to figure out together how to respond to the Biblical truth taught during the lesson.

Confidences – talk to your small group about keeping confidences. Hopefully the kids in your small group will share their thoughts and feeling and stories. Let your kids know that the things shared in small group are not to be talked about outside of small group.

Letting everybody talk – Tell your kids that application time is a chance for everyone to talk. Some kids are really talkative and some kids aren’t. Let your kids know that you will do your best to give everyone who wants to share a chance to talk.

Respecting others – Another important behavior expectation is to show respect to everyone in your small group. Tell your kids that you expect them respect each other. You expect them to speak kindly, to let others share if they want to, to not tease or belittle others in the group.

2. A small group may encourage kids to talk more freely.

Having a smaller group during application may make it easier for kids to open up and share.

I had a girl in one of my small groups who was excessively shy. It was easier for her when the group was smaller, but she still didn’t often want to share. She would whisper in my ear if she had something she wanted to share with the group. I don’t think she would have even done that if we were in a large group setting.

When the group for application time is smaller, you as the leader have a better opportunity to help individual kids get the most out of application time.

Remember, the goal is for kids to discover ways to respond that week to the truth taught in the lesson.

Tips for Leading Application Time #4

keep it secret#4 – Resist the urge to do most of the talking

Application time is when students are encouraged to personally respond to God’s Word. They need to be given time to think carefully about what the Bible says and about how they can apply that truth to their own lives. They need to be guided to Biblical responses. Through good questions, leaders help students apply the truth of God’s Word to their lives.

For this reason, kids should do most of the talking during application time. The role of the application time leader is to get the kids talking.

Temptations Application Leaders Face:

  • It can be tempting to re-teach the lesson.
  • It can also be tempting to simply tell the kids how the Bible can be applied to their lives that week.
  • Sometimes teachers talk too much because they feel the need to fill the silence. If this is a temptation you face, read tip #1 in this series “Be Okay with Silence.


Leaders need to prepare questions ahead of time that will engage the student’s interest and get them thinking and talking. Then, leaders need to keep the discussion going while allowing the kids to do most of the talking.

Tips for Leading Application Time #1

#1 – Be Okay with Silence

Children's Ministry Application Time Silence

My first tip for those who lead application time is this: be okay with silence!

Often silence makes us uncomfortable so we try to fill it. But silence can be an important part of application time.

Research shows that teachers typically wait 1 second for students to respond to a question. 1 second!

Students need longer than 1 second to process and answer a question. Especially if the questions asked require a personal response.

It is important to give students a chance to think carefully before answering a question. We want application time to be a time where students choose to respond personally to the Biblical truth taught during the lesson. To help them understand what that response could be, we need to ask good questions. Good questions usually take time to answer.

As teachers we need to teach ourselves to give our students time to think carefully before they answer. We also need to teach our students how to think carefully before they respond.

Here is one way to accomplish both of those goals.

Tell your students that you are going to try something new during application time. When you ask a question, you want them to really think about the answer before they put their hands up. So, you are going to show them a picture. The picture is a boy thinking. This is to help them remember to think (and for you as a teacher, it’s to help you to remember to increase your wait time!)

Tell them that you are going to wait about 5 seconds (I know this doesn’t sound like very long, but it is longer than 1 second!) When the time is up, turn the picture around. The other side is a picture of 3 students, one of whom is raising his hand. When your students see this picture, they can also raise their hand and share their answers.

This resource is called the Application Time Answer Prompt. Please download it and print it on card stock. Fold it in half. If you use card stock it will be sturdy enough to stand on its own on the table or floor.

This simple resource should help you remember to give your students time to consider before they respond to a question and help you train your students to take the time to think deeper before responding.


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