Some people are all about surprises. Maybe you’re one of them. For these bold souls, not knowing what might happen next provides an exhilarating thrill. For others, however, the same surprise can induce equally lofty levels of anxiety. The secret to success is to know your audience so you do not surprise the wrong person in the wrong way at the wrong time!
Spontaneity and the element of surprise can be great things in many settings. In children’s ministry, however, it is usually wise to keep surprises small, and infrequent. We all gain comfort and confidence from known routines and processes; this is especially true of children. Children are most relaxed, attentive, and at ease (and therefore most open to learning and processing new concepts and ideas) when they are in familiar, comfortable settings and surroundings, and when they can function on predictable schedules. Generally speaking, sudden unexpected changes to your program flow, teachers, class location and typical activities should be proportionately fewer with kids of younger ages.
Many children who do not know what to expect from one week to the next week may function on high alert; spending the bulk of their mental and emotional energy processing the new events, activities, and environments with which they are confronted. This can cause them to be more easily distracted and create greater difficulty in sitting still and listening attentively to a lesson.
It’s important to have fun, but it’s also important to keep the flow of your program as predictable as possible. Set your kids ministry team up for success by creating an environment of structure and comfortable routine that limits dramatic, unannounced changes. Following a schedule that your kids can anticipate and become familiar with will help reduce their stress and put everyone at ease so you can concentrate on communicating the truth of God’s Word to the kids in your ministry with the greatest possible effectiveness for their good and His glory.
Chuck Peters is Manager of Marketing & Media Production for Lifeway Kids. A graduate of Columbia Bible College, Chuck, and his wife, Cris, have served vocationally & voluntarily in Student and Children’s Ministry for many years. They have four amazing children.