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 #3

Teach 1 Thing
Tip #3 – Teach 1 Thing

My third tip in this series on tips for leading application time is this: Teach One Thing!

I talk about this concept a lot. It is really important for teachers to teach one thing during a lesson. This concept should transfer to application time as well.

It would confuse the students to hear a lesson that focuses clearly on one theme and then to join an application discussion that focuses on something else entirely.

The central theme should be your jumping off point for application time. Do the application questions in the lessons use the central theme?

For example, the main theme of the lesson is ‘God always keeps His promises.’

First, you want to find out if your students heard and understood that main point.

Second, you want to help them see how they can apply it to their lives.

The fact that God always keeps His promises means that He is trustworthy. Talk about that with your students.

Then make it personal by asking, “What does it look like to put your trust in God?”

Teach one thing during application time. Use the central theme of the lesson as a jumping off point for starting a discussion with your students.

Tips for Leading Application Time #2

#2 – Make Prayer a Significant Part of Application Time

childrens-ministry-application-time-prayerMy second tip in this series on leading application time is this – make prayer a significant part of application time.

During application, time should be spent asking good questions and encouraging your students to think carefully about how they can apply the Biblical truth taught during the lesson to their lives. A good portion of your application time should also be spent praying about the truth taught and asking God to transform us and give us opportunity to live His truth in our daily lives.

In order to make prayer a significant part of application time, you as a teacher/small group leader need to be praying out loud for your students and your students need to be praying for themselves and each other.

Leaders should be praying out loud for their students.

As you pray for your students you will be teaching them they we depend on God for everything – for the grace to live our lives His way, for the strength to make the right choices.

Pray for your students that God would provide opportunities that week where the truth they have learned will be applied.

Pray specifically and praise God when you see answers to prayer.

Leaders should be teaching their students to pray for each other and themselves.

Give your students the opportunity to pray (out loud or privately) for each other and for themselves. Remember, kids need to be taught how to pray. Show them through specific teaching, praying out loud yourself, and keeping a prayer journal how to talk with God through prayer.

Encourage the kids to pray about specific, appropriate responses to the Biblical truth that was taught that morning. Also, encourage them to pray that God would give them ideas of how to put into practice in the upcoming week what they learned. And encourage them to pray that God would give them strength and tools to remember the truth and obey it.

Finally, give the kids the opportunity to share about how God has helped them apply truth and then thank God for it. Start your prayer time with the chance to share about how God has worked in their lives during the previous week.

Keep a prayer journal and let the kids see that God hears and answers prayer. Then take the time to praise God for listening and answering their prayers.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

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.


Application Time – Free Resource to Help Small Group Leaders

Children's Ministry Small Group Application TimeThe 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.

Gauge Understanding

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.

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