Do you remember Sunday School? What kinds of images does that phrase conjure up in your mind? I don’t know about you, but my memories of Sunday School aren’t particularly great. For starters, it was far from cool. It just didn’t have that “I’ve gotta tell my friends about this” quality.
Kids love a good video presentation. It’s not always the most effective way of teaching them timeless truths, but it has its benefits.
What I’ve tried to do (both successfully and unsuccessfully) is incorporate a relatively rudimentary media presentation in the lessons. No amount of technology can replace interactivity, but technology can be a platform for creating high levels of interactivity.
Prior to Liquid, my exposure to children’s ministry had always been extremely low-tech. The most advanced form of technology was flannelgraph, which was only as effective as the person using it.
No matter how low- or high-tech the environment, one thing remains the same. The platform (video, flannelgraph, picture books) is only as good as the user.
I’ve been mulling over this for a while. The Liquid Kids program is, at its core, a Sunday School program (the dreaded phrase!). But when you take a look at what we’re aiming for, you’ll find there’s something much deeper than that.
Ultimately we strive to leverage the short time we spend with the children against the many hours that their parents spend with them. In methodology, we want to have as much interaction with the children as much as possible. But that doesn’t mean we can’t employ “cutting edge” technology in doing so.
While it may be tempting to put the kids in front of a video screen and let them sit there, bear in mind that it’s more important that children need personal attention and guidance. No amount of environment or media can replace interacting with children.
At Liquid Kids, we trade in the classroom environment that comes from a Sunday School mentality for a more interactive and exciting atmosphere. We’ve discovered that giving children the opportunity to play, interact, and have fun goes a long way to helping them understand the lesson.
You may want to follow this basic flow of activity for a children’s program:
1. As the children enter the environment, engage them in a “preview” activity. This could be anything from a crossword puzzle to a game of “Telephone.” Gain some familiarity with the lesson (if you’re facilitating the preview activity but not teaching the lesson) so that your activity pairs with the lesson well. After this initial activity, lead the kids into the lesson environment.
2. Teach the large group lesson or play the lesson video. If you’re teaching a lesson, allow children to be involved.
3. Break into smaller groups for activities and games that review the lesson and help the kids remember what they’ve learned.
Just remember that the effectiveness of your program is not based on the technology you use, but on how you use the technology you have.