Children’s Ministry Volunteer Training – Teach One Thing

Here’s a segment from a Children’s Ministry training seminar I gave about the importance of focusing on just one point in your lesson.

 Main Points:

Focus Your Teaching to One Biblical Theme

  • When preparing your Sunday School lesson choose one main point that you want to focus on. Pray, read through the lesson, look at the themes listed in the lesson and consider the needs of your students.
  • Write your main point in a single sentence.
  • Once you have chosen your main point, go back through the lesson and get rid of anything that doesn’t relate to that point. Then insert your main point throughout the lesson.

Teach one thing!


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.


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