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 #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.

Nursery Tip-Teach 1 Thing

I have written about teaching one thing elsewhere on my website. I talk about it in training seminars. It’s an important concept for teachers to understand and to practice.

Those of you who serve in the nursery may feel that you are simply babysitting. You may even wonder what kind of training or support is available to you since you just look after babies.

Let me encourage you! You are not just babysitters! You are vital members of the children’s ministry team and deserve just as much support and training as other volunteers.

teach one thing nurserySo, in this post, I want to talk about teaching 1 thing in the nursery.

First, the concept of teach one thing is simple. When planning and teaching your lesson, plan and teach one central truth. Deciding ahead of time what central truth you want to focus on helps you plan activities, teach a succinct, focused lesson, and helps you with the direction to take application time discussion.

Now, obviously you don’t teach lessons in the nursery, but the concept of teaching one thing still works really well.

Get together with other nursery volunteers and brainstorm 12 key Biblical truths. These will be your central themes.

Having 12 key Biblical truths allows you to focus on one per month. Repetition is important, especially with younger children. So, choose one per month and focus on that theme every Sunday for that month.

Some examples of key Biblical themes are “God made everything,” “God loves you,” “Jesus is God’s Son,” “Jesus saves us.”

Once you have chosen 12 key Biblical themes, schedule them for the year and then build some activities, ideas, and prayer requests around it.

Make a poster with the theme of the month in big letters and pictures that highlight that theme. Hang the poster of the month at a crawling babies level and let them interact with the poster. As you notice a baby looking at the poster, point to it and read it out loud.

Here’s an example – for the month of November your key theme is “God is big!”

A song you can sing in the nursery is “My God is so Big.”

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God cannot do!
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God cannot do!
The mountains are His, the rivers are His. The stars are His handiwork too!
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God cannot do!

An activity idea could be playing blocks. Build a big tower and say, “That is big! Wow! God is bigger! God is big!”
Pray with the children, “God, You are a big God. You are big enough to take care of us. Thank you for taking care of us. Amen.”

Throughout the morning in the nursery, find ways to talk about your key theme with the children. Read the poster, sing songs, pray with the children, talk about it as they play.

Use the opportunity you have when serving in the nursery to help the children in your care build a Biblical vocabulary and build a strong foundation of Biblical truth.

4 Tips for Teaching a Multi-Age Class

Many Sunday School teachers have the responsibility of teaching one class with children of all ages. This is not an easy responsibility, but it can be done.

Here are 4 tips for teachers of multi-age classes:

1. Teach to the middle

For the Bible lesson portion of your Sunday School class, plan and teach for the middle of your age range. If your class is children in grades 1-6, then teach to the grade 3 level. The younger children may find the lesson a bit above their level and the older children may find it does not challenge them enough, but teaching to the middle is the best way to reach all the children in your class. No matter how big of an age gap you have between the kids in your class, teach to the middle of the age range. The other activities you plan will help bring it all together for the kids in your class.

2. Plan application & activities for specific ages

The application and other activities you plan for the Sunday School class will be where you can challenge each age group specifically and make sure that everyone understands the main point of the class.

Application – Split the kids into 2 or 3 age groups for the application time. Give the older kids an assignment that will help them to discover the application in a group. While they are busy, you can discuss the application with the younger kids. You may encourage each group to choose a presenter that will tell the whole group what they discovered during application time. When you have finished with the younger children, get them involved in an activity and then join the older children to find out what they have discovered and encourage them in the right direction if necessary.

Bible memory verse – The younger kids can be given a portion of the verse and the older kids can be challenged to memorize all of it. For example, the younger kids in your class can be given James 1:17a “Every good and perfect gift is from above,” and the older kids can be given the entire verse to memorize, “Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Games & Crafts – Plan games and crafts that are appropriate for the different age groups. While the younger kids are working on a coloring picture or simple craft, the older kids can be working on a group assignment. Make sure all games and crafts that you plan are related to the lesson and specifically to the theme of the lesson.

3. Give the older kids responsibility

Giving the older kids some responsibility in your class will challenge them and help them to feel like vital parts of the Sunday School class.

There are many ways the older kids can help with the younger kids:

  • Ask them to sit with the younger kids during the Bible lesson. The big kids can be an example for the younger children of expected behavior.
  • The older kids can also help the younger kids look up the Bible passage. If the younger kids have storybook Bibles, the older kids can help them find the story. Then the older kids can show the younger kids where it is found in their Bibles. This is especially helpful as not all Bible stories will be found in storybook Bibles.
  • Ask the older kids to read Bible passages out loud. Another idea is to have the older kids act out the Bible story.
  • The older kids could help lead a game or craft you have planned for the younger kids. They can also help the younger kids with the memory verse. Encourage them to explain the verse to the younger kids. This will help them in memorizing as well.

4. Teach 1 thing

I have written about teaching one thing before. It is just as important to teach one thing in a mulit-age class as it is in a single-age classroom.

As you are teaching your multi-age class, find different ways to state your theme that will relate to the different age groups.

For example, your theme is “God is the sovereign ruler of all.” The Bible lesson, activities, and memory verse all support and highlight this theme. Repeat it often. If you have preschoolers in your class you could say, “God is the boss,” or “God is the King of everything.” For children in grades 1-3 you could say, “God is sovereign – that means He is in charge of everything. No one is His boss.”

By restating in a few times, you are making sure that all age groups understand and you are explaining the meaning of difficult or new words. All the kids in your class will benefit from that.


It is not easy to teach a class with children of all different ages. As a teacher, you want to make sure that all the children in your class are engaged, learning, and being challenged. These tips should help you as you seek to teach children of any age.

Good Friday – Jesus is our Mighty Savior!

On Friday, I am leading a preschool program for the Good Friday service. The program is for children ages 2-6. A number of churches get together to remember the death of Jesus and to celebrate the gift of salvation together.

I love serving with children’s ministry volunteers from other churches! I love getting to know the kids from other churches as well.

Our theme for the morning is “Jesus is our Mighty Savior!”

Through activities, games, crafts, songs, and Bible stories, we are helping the kids discover what it means that Jesus is our mighty Savior.

As they kids arrive, they will be encouraged to join an activity station. We planned activities that will get the kids thinking about our theme.

For example, one of the activities is called “Spicy Scents.” We will give each child a clump of play dough and put a few drops of lemon or peppermint extract on children’s dough, and let children knead it in. As children are working the extract into the dough, we will explain that in Bible times, people put fragrant spices on people’s bodies when they died. I love this activity because it is very hands-on and uses the sense of smell (one we don’t use very often.)

During story and singing time, we will tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, highlighting the theme that Jesus is our mighty Savior. Through the stories and the songs, we will explain what the word mighty means and what it means to be a Savior. One song we are singing is called, “Mighty, Mighty Savior!” It is a song of praise to Jesus our Savior and it does a good job of explaining what a Savior is and why we so desperately need one.

After storytime, we have planned a game and some crafts. Again, each was picked purposefully to continue highlighting our theme.

For a game, we are playing “hide the cross,” a simple hide and seek game. As the children play we will encourage them to remember that crosses help use to remember that Jesus is our mighty Savior.

When planning a special event, remember to use every opportunity to highlight the theme of the event. If you can’t explain how an activity highlights the chosen theme, then it probably should be used for this occasion.

I have mentioned before the importance of teaching 1 thing. This is true in Sunday School and in special events. Plan everything around your one theme and the children who attend your event will remember it!

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