So far we’ve looked at the first two of our 5 Ps for productive planning. If you haven’t read parts 1, Pray about the Upcoming Session and 2, Prepare your Heart for the Session be sure to read those posts to catch up. Let’s jump in with phase 3:
Plan the Session
After you’ve become familiar with the Bible story and key ideas and sifted through the activities for the ones you believe will work with your group, move on to choosing the activities you will use and in which order you will do them. If you’ve starred any activities, start by going back to those first. Note: curriculum will often have a suggested order for activities and flow, but don’t feel obligated to follow that flow if it doesn’t fit your church schedule or if you believe another flow of activities will work better for your group.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget “early arrival” activities. Teaching begins when the first child arrives. Try to have meaningful ways for kids to be engaged as soon as they enter your room.
Also, consider transitions from activity to activity. Having a plan for how you move from one activity to another will put you at ease during the session. Consider the timing of each activity within the session. The big idea here: Don’t leave these to chance. Have a plan before your session begins.
If possible, use this phase of preparation to gather and organize any needed supplies or, at least, make a plan for when you will gather supplies. It may be to gather supplies later in the week or arrive early on the day of your session. The point is to go ahead and think about it early so it doesn’t sneak up on you later on.
Next, practice telling the Bible story. And practice out loud. I cannot stress the importance of this too much. The Bible story is one of, if not THE most important part of each session, so practice telling the story. The first time you read or tell the story out loud should not be on a Sunday morning in a room full of kids. By spending time practicing telling the Bible story aloud, you will have greater confidence during your session to communicate the truth of Scripture to your kids. In addition, the more you practice telling the story, you will find the best rhythms and tone of voice for different parts of the story.
I know it can be awkward. But practice. Practice while looking in a mirror. Practice sitting in your car on a lunch break at work. Practice telling the Bible story to your spouse, grandkids, or the cat. Just verbalize it and practice. Then, during your session with a group of onlooking kids, you will be more comfortable and your passion for God’s Word will be more clearly heard through the clarity of your storytelling.
Finally, plan follow-up. Follow-up with attendees, parents, visitors, and absentees. More on this later, but if at all possible, lead out on follow-up. Relationships built through activities and reading the Bible together will be a great avenue for meaningful gospel conversations. The kids we serve find deeper appreciation, even if they don’t know how to communicate it if we as their teachers take ownership of follow up instead of leaving that to paid church staff.
Come back tomorrow for the next “P” for productive planning.
Jeremy Carroll is the team leader for LifeWay Kids Discipleship Resources. Before coming to LifeWay, he has been active in local church ministry for nearly 20 years in TN, TX, and AL. Jeremy earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. A Middle Tennessee native, he and his family live in Murfreesboro, TN.