Tips for Leading Application Time #7

Childen's Ministry Sunday School BehaviorInvolve all the kids

All groups of kids are different! In your group you may have kids that love to talk…and talk and talk! You may have kids who prefer to keep quiet or are really shy. You may have kids who seem to only want to talk with their best friend. There will be all kinds of kids in your small group/class. Do your best to involve all of them during application time.

Set up an environment that makes kids comfortable and is a place where they can share. If you can, have application time in a different place from the lesson. That can mean simply moving from the table to a circle on the floor. Let your group know from the beginning that during application time you want them to talk!

It’s important to have ground rules for application time. For example, we don’t interrupt when someone is talking; we don’t make fun of people; we show respect for everyone in the group.

Try not to let certain kids dominate the conversation. Let your talkative kids talk, but remind them that everyone gets a chance to share during application time. If necessary, have a word with them privately. Ask them to help you by sharing and then letting other kids share as well. Ask if they would help keep the conversation going by saying after they have shared, “What do you think?” to another person in the group.

Encourage quiet or shy kids to contribute. In one Sunday School class I taught I had a student who was excessively shy. She could go for an entire class without saying anything. But she was engaged and interested and wanted to be more involved. So we worked out a system. She would usually sit by me and if she had something she wanted to share, she would whisper in my ear. Then I would ask if I could share it with the rest of the group. If she said yes, then I would. If not, then I would just thank her for sharing and move on.

If you have kids in your group that are more interested in talking to each other than participating in the group discussion, there are couple of options. Talk with them privately. Remind them of the importance of application time and let them know that you want them to participate. Tell them that if what they are talking about with their friend can’t be shared with the entire group then it is something they will need to save to talk about until after Sunday School. Also, let them know what will happen if they persist in talking only to each other during application time. The best option is probably to just separate them. Tell them that it will be for one Sunday. The next Sunday is a new day and they have a new chance to participate in the group discussion. Another way to tell with this without focusing on certain kids is to assign places for application time.This way you can choose ahead of time where kids will sit. You can separate best friends or put kids you want to keep an eye on close to you.

Application time is such an important part of Sunday School. We want our kids to respond to the truth taught in the lesson. We pray for the Holy Spirit to work change and transformation in the lives of our students. This is why it is so important to involve all your students in the application time discussion.

Tips for Leading Application Time #6

job search - womanKeep it focused on the lesson

During application time you want the kids to be actively involved. You want them to talk; to answer questions and think deeply and choose to respond biblically to the truth in the lesson.

It will be your job to keep application time focused on the lesson. It can be easy for a discussion to stray off course. Kids want to share stories and talk about life; you need to do your best to keep the discussion from straying into tangents.

Keep it focused with good questions and by guiding the discussion. I’ve talked about preparing and asking good questions in a previous post.

You want the kids to be involved in the discussion. How do you keep them focused? Have a stash of good questions ready to go. Also, be prepared to help guide the conversation. Be ready to ask follow up questions. Be ready to allow for and encourage silence as kids think about a question asked or the topic being discussed.

If the discussion does start to stray off track, interrupt and re-direct the conversation before it gets too far off track.

Say something like, “That sounds interesting, but we will have to talk about it later. Tell me what you think God wanted you to learn about Him today?” Or, “Oh, off-topic! Let’s get back to our Bible point. Tell me about a person in the Bible who has faced a similar situation?”

There are a couple of things you can do when the discussion gets off track.

Use a prearranged signal – talk with your small group about a signal to use that will help everyone to re-focus. It could be something like saying, “Off-topic!” or maybe using a pair of binoculars. When you hold them up, the groups knows it’s time to focus.

Refocus with the central Bible verse or key theme – When the discussion gets off track, help your group re-focus by highlighting the key theme of the lesson or reading again the central Bible verse from the lesson. Focus their attention and then continue the discussion.

* Note: There may be times when something happens that takes the discussion in a whole other direction. The Holy Spirit may be at work directing the conversation. Be sensitive to those possibilities and be ready to go with it. For example, you may unexpectedly have a child open up and share. If the Holy Spirit prompts you to drop the questions you have prepared and take the discussion in that new direction, then do it.

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