Most people know me as the preteen guy. That is an area of ministry that I feel really comfortable in. I love working with that age group. I get them. They are in the middle of this huge change in their life. Changing bodies, changing schools, changing friends, and changing values are just some of the few things that preteens are facing. I don’t think I was the "best" at going through my preteen years. I wasn’t bad or anything, I was just terribly unpopular. I think that is why I get them the best. I want all preteens to have a great experience with these years.
Recently, though, my job has changed here at LifeWay. I am now the team leader for Bible Teaching for Kids ages birth through sixth grade. Wow! My range really just widened. I still love preteens, but I am so excited about the new opportunity that I have to lead an awesome team to create amazing Sunday School lessons for kids.
Sensing the need to understand the product a little better, I chose to step out of my comfort zone of pretty much only working with preteens. I asked if I could teach second graders at my church. That was a big step out of my norm.
Here is what I have learned in the past two months from teaching second graders:
1. They LOVE crafts! Personally, I don’t, but they love them. The boys and girls always ask to do a craft. In fact, some kids ask first thing on Sunday morning if we are going to make a craft. I was a little surprised that boys love making the crafts too. I have rarely had good experiences making crafts in preteen land, with the exception of VBX crafts. I think the difference is that younger kids love creating and older kids don’t mind creating, but they really want to create something useful. Younger kids don’t seem to care.
2. I don’t love waiting on parents to arrive. One of the things I didn’t realize I enjoyed so much about preteens is that I could let them leave at the end of the session. With second graders I wait … and wait … and wait on their parents to arrive. I have never been more tempted to walk around to the adult Sunday School rooms and remind them that class ended 20 minutes ago, as I have been since teaching second graders. I’m ready to talk to our education minister !
3. They already segregate themselves by gender. In our class, all of the boys go to the right side of the room and the girls go to the left side of the room. They are all sweet, but they do not care for each other even at second grade.
4. They enjoy the Bible story. Every week, I’m amazed that the kids sit quietly and listen as I tell the Bible story. With preteens, they always wanted to be the ones talking.
5. They need very detailed directions. Last week, I discovered just how detailed of directions they needed. We were making greeting cards and I had to demonstrate each step and some kids still didn’t get it.
So, I’ve been out of my comfort zone this year. It’s a lot of fun. I love my class of kids. They are so much fun. How do you step out of your comfort zone?