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

Do Not Be Anxious

childrens ministry don't be anxiousI have found that there are plenty of things to be anxious about when you’re involved in children’s ministry.

There is the constant recruiting – will there be enough teachers for Sunday School? Will we be able to run our club program this year? Do we have enough subs in case teachers or volunteers get ill?

There is the worry about discipline issues and whether the kids are really learning and falling in love with Jesus.

It can be too easy to feel anxious about whether your volunteers are getting the training and support they need. Or if you are a volunteer, you may be feeling anxious that you are not skilled enough for the role you are playing.

Then there is the mess of relationships. Are you able to help, support, and encourage those volunteers in your children’s ministry or your fellow volunteers? What about when something happens with a  child in your class or their family?

Being involved in children’s ministry can cause a lot of anxiety. So, let me encourage you.

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

The Bible has encouragement for those of us feeling anxious and maybe even overwhelmed. And an action plan.

First, don’t be anxious.

Instead pray about everything with a thankful heart. Bringing everything that is causing anxiety to the throne of God means that you are trusting Him to handle the things that you can’t. And doing it with thanksgiving shows a faith that He can and will listen to you.

As we bring our requests to God with thankful hearts, the peace of God takes over. Peace that doesn’t make any sense to us. How we can have peace in the situation we are currently facing is baffling. But that’s why Paul writes that this peace from God transcends all understanding. To transcend means to go beyond or exceed. This peace from God goes beyond our understanding and it will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

The peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds from overwhelming anxiety.

There is a 3 step action plan in these verses. 1. Don’t be anxious. 2. Pray about everything with thanksgiving. 3. Accept the peace of God that exceeds our understanding and let it guard your heart and your mind.

So we have a choice. We can live lives filled with anxiety or we can choose to take everything to God and let His peace which goes beyond our understanding to fill us and guard us.

4 Things To Do In Your Own Spiritual Life To Be A Better Children’s Ministry Volunteer

1. Read your Bible

This sounds obvious, I know. All believers need to be spending time in the Word. Why?

“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)

Scripture is inspired by God; it is God’s Word to us. If we want to get to know God and build our relationship with Him, we read the Bible.

All Scripture is useful for teaching us, rebuking us, correcting us, and training us in righteousness. When we read the Bible, we need to read it as God speaking to us. It can be tempting to be thinking of our children’s ministry kids or even our volunteers when we read Scripture. But God’s Word says that Scripture is useful for training us in righteousness. Take the time to read God’s Word and consider what God is saying to you.

Finally, Scripture is useful so the believer may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Do you wish you had more training as a children’s ministry volunteer? Your training starts in the Word of God. Scripture will equip you for the work God has gifted you to do. As you read your Bible, you will grow and become equipped to teach and influence the children in your care.

2. Study your Bible

Reading the Bible and studying the Bible are 2 different things. I have read the Bible in the past and at the end of the day realized that I don’t really remember much of what I read. Studying your Bible is about digging deeper, seeking to gain a better understanding.

Learning to study your Bible means that you don’t need to depend on what other people say the passage means. Learning to study your Bible means that you become a better children’s ministry volunteer because you will recognize wrong thinking, wrong application of a Bible passage, and you can pass on the habit of Bible study to the kids in your care.

Bible study sounds daunting. There are some great resources to help you. I highly recommend Kay Arthur’s How to Study Your Bible and Discover the Bible for Yourself.

3. Pray

This also sounds obvious. But it is much more difficult in practice. Prayer is talking with God. Prayer is such a vital part of building our relationship with God. Prayer is talking and listening. The amazing thing is that the God of the universe hears us, cares for us, and speaks to us!

It’s not wrong to practice praying. Praying is not easy and it takes determination and perseverance. Read about prayer in the Bible; look at how people prayed in the Bible; pray Scripture as worship.

As you practice prayer, it will start to affect your life and your ministry. Kids will see you and learn from you.

4. Learn theology

Don’t be scared! You don’t need to be a scholar. I will give you some easy tips to help you study theology.

Theology is the study of God.  So when I say learn theology, what I mean is study God’s attributes and characteristics. Take time to learn about God’s holiness, goodness, all-powerfulness, omniscience, omnipresence.

This is important in the life of a believer. It’s important to be able to discern truth and not be swayed by incorrect thinking.

There are many books and resources available, but be discerning. Ask your pastor for a recommendation, or choose recommendations from already trusted authors.

There are a lot of theology texts out there and most of them are huge! If you want to jump right in, then go for it! If you want to start with something a little less daunting, I recommend Bruce Ware’s Big Truths for Young Hearts. Dr. Ware is a theology professor who wrote the book because he wanted to teach his children what he was teaching his students. This is theology for kids, but it is still theology. This is a great place to start. It is easy to read and yet still challenging.

Learning theology will help you to be a better children’s ministry volunteer. It will help you teach children big truths about God and show them how to discern truth and lies.

Growing up to be like Jesus

I was outside today doing some gardening. While I was weeding and checking on the growth of my favorite plants I started to think about how we as Christ-followers are to grow to be more and more like Jesus.

We can’t make the children we work with be more like Jesus – that is the work of the Holy Spirit. We can, however, pray for our kids.

We can pray that they will come to know and love Jesus. We can pray that they will choose to follow Jesus. We can pray that they will live for Jesus everyday and that they will grow to be more and more like Him! Pray that they will grow in their knowledge and depth of understanding. Pray that they will recognize truth and not be deceived. Pray that they will make choices that are pleasing to God. Pray for them to want to be like Jesus.

Jesus called us to make disciples. The Holy Spirit transforms lives and does that great work of growing us up to more like Jesus. So pray for the kids in your church.

Ephesians 4: 14-15 says “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”