Leading the singing is for me one of the most enjoyable parts of a childrens meeting. It's a chance to really have some fun with the kids, but also a chance to get the Gospel message across at the same time. Everyone has their own style, but listed below are some things that I do in a childrens meeting to (hopefully) make it an enjoyable time for all.
Start with a well known song
This can be difficult if you are starting a new session or a new work completely, but for the most part there should be a song that is well known by all. Even if it isn't well known by the kids, try and make sure all your leaders know it. If you struggle with the first song you can very quickly find attention drifting off.
- If you can, try and have a few songs that you sing every week. Hopefully as your kids work grows, the regulars will start to teach the newer kids the songs. It gives them a sense of achievement and encourages them to come back in future weeks. Kids love new things, but they also enjoy the comfort of familiarity.
Don't underestimate the power of singing
Don't assume that the singing you do at the start of a meeting is just to fill time as others arrive. It gets kids into the right frame of mind and also has an unexpected benefit. I don't know if you are like me, but there are times when I get a song into my head and for the rest of the day go around humming that tune. I'd like to say that it was always a hymn floating round my head, but more often than not it is a jingle from Radio 2. This happens to kids as well and we have heard stories in the past of kids who have gone to school the next day singing the songs they've learned in the kids club.
- To achieve the "jingle effect" you need to sing a song more than once. Don't draw it out too far, but repetition is still a good way for kids to learn. See the tips below on how to get the best out of individual songs.
Reinforce what they've just sung
It is important to try and reinforce what the kids have just been singing about. Let them know that these songs actually relate to the Bible. It's also a great way of getting kids involved. You don't need to retell the story the song relates to, simply asking a question about what they've just sung can be all that is needed.
If you are singing "He made the stars to shine", you could ask questions like "Who made the stars to shine", "Who made the rolling seas", "Who made the mountains high". The answer to all these is God, and even the youngest child will no doubt realise what is going on and be trying to answer by the end. An excellent question to finish up with is "Why do I love him?" which leads you onto a quick explanation about Christ dying on the cross for them.
Let the kids have fun!
Kids meetings should have a serious note to them, but they should be fun and enjoyable. There is such a multitude of activities out there for kids these days that if we don't make them enjoyable, they will speak with their feet and go elsewhere. There are numerous ways to liven up the singing and keep the interest going.
- Variations in volume: Kids love to make a noise, so channel that into their singing. See who can sing the loudest (without shouting!) or quietest. See who can beat the musical instrument that is accompanying you.
- Variations in speed: There are lots of songs out there where you can start off slow and get faster and faster. "I am a C" is a great one for this.
- Variations in key: Instead of staying in the same key, why not the repeat the song, but go up a key. Songs like "Take my hand and follow me" are great for this.
- Actions: A lot of kids choruses are prime targets for teaching kids actions along with it. Songs like "I may never march with the infantry" is a good example. You can also offer prizes for the best actions.
This applies to any kind of work you are doing with kids. There is a very fine line between letting them have fun, and letting things get out of order. If you are finding that things are descending into chaos you need to very quickly get it back under control before it goes too far.
- Move onto a different song. If you can, a quieter one without any actions.
- Don't be afraid to penalise anyone who is misbehaving. This can range from removal of points/prizes to removing them from the group altogether.
- Get other leaders to go and sit beside / in between the ones that are causing the problem.
The quiz is not just an age old tradition of having a bit of fun with the kids that attend your sunday schools and kids meetings. Quizzes provide an important way of reinforcing the things that you are trying to teach them and also allow you to gauge just how much they are taking in.
Reinforcing the Story
If you are telling the kids a bible story, don't just assume that they are all paying attention. Even the best story tellers in the world can't keep every child interested the whole way through the story. Some will listen intently, others listen for a while, whilst others will be thinking of 101 other things. By playing a quiz with them it not only gets them thinking about what they've been told, but for those who weren't listening, hopefully they will pick up something useful that they hadn't heard the first time round.
- When you are asking a question, don't just get the answer and move on. Instead, take a couple of seconds to repeat the persons answer (correcting slightly if they haven't quite got it right) so that everyone in the room hears what is going on.
Give everyone a chance
Quizzes are an excellent opportunity to get everyone involved. It doesn't always need to be first hand up to answer the question. It is easy to forget about the smaller ones in favour of the older ones. It is important to realise that younger kids take everything in. If they are constantly being overlooked they will soon get fed up and stop trying at all.
- When you are running the quiz, try and remember who has answered a question before. If they've already answered, look for someone else to answer.
- Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there will be some kids who just weren't listening. At times like these it is sometimes good to ask a series of questions, all with the same answer. By the time you've gotten to the third or fourth question they will have realised what is happening.
- Questions based on numbers can also be used to great effect. For example, if you are asking "How many stones did David take out of the brook", you can target a particular person who hasn't answered before and ask them to give you a "Hi Five!". Once they have done that, ask them again. If they still haven't realised, ask them for another "Hi Five". Keep going until they get the answer.
- Having kids in the audience with biblical names is a gift. For example, if you identify a little boy called "David" who isn't taking part, you can start saying things like "David David David, tell me this, can you David tell me who it was who killed a giant".
Create some excitement
Quizzes are great for reinforcing what you have been trying to teach the kids, but they're also meant to be fun! It is a great opportunity to get the kids excited and enthusiastic. It's something that they will look forward to in future weeks and possibly even go home and tell others about. So if you get the chance, add a bit of suspense.
- There are lots of quizzes available on this site, and many will offer the opportunity to create a little suspense. If you are using one like Battleships, as it gets close to the end of your quiz, give the child a chance to change their mind. You can sometimes make it look like you know they are going to lose out and they should change their mind.
Keep it moving!
Quizzes are great fun, but they can very quickly become tiring and tedious. Try as much as you can to keep it moving.
- Unless you are a very very quick thinker, have your questions prepared in advance. It doesn't matter how well you know your subject matter, we all sometimes forget even the basics.
- Don't take ages to choose someone to answer the question. If you struggle trying to do everything then ask another leader to stand up the front with you and their sole job is to chose the person to answer the question.
I've been asked a lot lately for advice about creating websites and in particular, creating good Christian based websites. This in itself is a huge question that depends very much on the type of website you are looking to create. Answers to questions like "who it is directed at", "what kind of content you are going to be displaying" and "how you want users to interact with your site" will all need to be taken into account.
When we talk about creating websites for industry our focus for the most part is on boosting the profit making power of the business in question. That could either be through selling products online, or increasing awareness of brand. However, when we talk about creating Christian websites, our focus is (or should be) completely different.
Over the course of the following articles, I'm going to be looking at some important questions and issues surrounding building a Christian website that will hopefully prove useful to those thinking about creating their own site.