The application time is when the kids make the connection between God’s Word and their own lives. Your job is to help kids see the connection between Bible truth and their own life. By the end you want the kids to respond to what they have learned by applying Biblical truth to their everyday life.
This is done best through questions and discussion. Ask questions that will lead to better understanding and the desire to apply Biblical truth to life.
There are 2 main types of questions during application time. Questions that help you gauge children’s understanding and questions that help kids apply truth to life.
Start with questions that reveal your students level of understanding. Ask students to summarize the main point of the lesson. What do you think was the most important thing from today’s lesson? Find out what they heard and what they understood about what they heard.
The answer to these questions will help you as a small group leader to clarify concepts, and to help kids understand words used during the lesson. You want to make sure that the kids got the main point of the lesson.
To help you figure this out, ask questions like, “If you had to tell a 5 yr. old what the most important thing in today’s lesson was, what would you tell them?” “On your way home today, if your parents ask you what you learned, what would you tell them?”
Resist the temptation to re-teach the lesson. During application time, the kids should do most of the talking.
Avoid yes and no questions – these kinds of questions provide little learning and little interest for the child and only reinforce what the child already knows. Yes and no questions do little to encourage discussion.
Apply Truth to Life
Once you have gauged your students understanding of the main point of the lesson, it’s time to transition to questions that will help kids see how they can apply the truth to their own lives.
The application is about making the truth usable. By the time the kids leave the classroom, they should know how to act on the truth they have heard. The questions offered on these cards will help the kids get there.
When preparing for application time, ask God to show you how this lesson applies to your life. Then ask how it might apply to the lives of your students. How should the students respond to the truth taught in this lesson? Then pray and ask the Holy Spirit to be at work in the lives of your students. Rely on the Holy Spirit to produce change in your class.
Application should be rooted in the central principle taught in the text. Be careful not to make the passage say what it does not say.
“The teacher’s task in application is to recognize and communicate Scripture’s relevance, rather than to make it relevant.” (Walton, Bailey, and Williford; Teach the Text)
Apply the Bible as God intended. Your job as a small group leader is to recognize Scripture’s relevance to the lives of your students and to communicate that relevance to them.
Focus on Biblical answers to common issues. Encourage your students to think about their attitude, conduct, character.
Write good questions before class. Discussion grows out of questions that ask for opinions, ideas, reactions, etc., not just repeating factual answers. You want to ask questions that will make your students think. What did God want you to learn about Him today?
A good question will help to focus the discussion on the theme taught in the lesson. Good questions will also encourage students to express their thoughts and ideas in their own words. Good questions will also help the students see practical applications of biblical truth. Why do you think God wanted you to hear this Bible lesson today?
Ask follow up questions. “Why did you say that?” “Do you agree with what she said?” One question can lead to another.
Take the memory verse for the lesson and ask, “What situation might you face this week where this verse will help you?” Here you are helping the kids take Bible truth and use it during the week. You are encouraging them to respond Biblically to a situation.
Remember, application discussion is hard and it takes time. Kids won’t automatically understand how to think about and respond to the questions being asked. As a teacher, you need to guide them. Kids also don’t have a lot of experience to draw on. This takes time. It may not be until the end of year before you have a significant spiritual discussion with kids, but don’t give up! Make the effort to bridge the gap between Bible knowledge and heart response. Then pray that the Holy Spirit will bring an opportunity in the child’s life during the week where that truth can be applied.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
To make this really practical, I have created application question cards. These cards are just the right size to tuck into your Bible.
You can download a set of Gauge Understanding Question cards and a set of Apply Truth to Life Question cards. Also available for you to download is the Teacher Instruction Sheet.
Print these cards out on cardstock and use them regularly!
Stay tuned for posts about more creative ways to use these cards and leading small group application time.