Lessons Learned from Ten Years of Giving Children’s Messages
1. Know your material, but don’t memorize all of it. Internalize it. It’s good to memorize your opening, the rest will fall into place if you’ve truly internalized it. Know more than you need to share because you will forget pieces, but no one has to know. Memorize a pertinent scripture passage or two but not your portion.
2. Don’t strive to be perfect because you aren’t. Christ is. You are a sinner.
3. Don’t dwell on the bad things that can happen; like nerves, dry throat, shaking hands, etc. Focus on doing the job well.
4. Pray before the worship service. This will calm your nerves and the Lord will be with you.
5. Don’t make your talk too complicated. You are dealing with children. One central theme or idea is enough. Use stories to build on the main theme.
6. Practice. Practice. Practice. I go over my children’s messages silently in my mind as I fall asleep. I also practice while driving alone in the car. Practice from conceptual ideas and not memorized phrases. Practice your opening and closing. These are important. The opening needs to peak the children’s interest and invite them into your story. The closing will be remembered most.
7. Look at the children’s faces. Make eye contact. Know when you are loosing their attention and change things up to turn their attention around. Never ever read from a script. Never. Your story needs to come from your heart.
8. Be friends with your audience. Talk to the children outside of the messages. Bond with them.
9. Stand tall with good posture. Smile.
10. Be passionate. Be yourself. Be real. Have a great story to tell. Use personal stories whenever possible to support your topic. People relate to personal stories. We think in stories. Stories captivate us and touch our emotions. Don’t forget using your body, facial expressions and hand gestures in telling the story. The kids will relate better.
11. Completely believe in every item of your story.
12. If you ask the children questions, know which children answer in ways that can throw you off, and avoid them. Questions are often helpful. Sometimes I like to open with a question. It invites them in and causes them to think. It lets them know that they are more than passive listeners.
13. Talk to one child at a time for a sentence or two then move to someone else. This will really keep them connected.
14. If you write down your speech, figure about 140 words per minute for the delivery. So if you plan a five minute talk, you need about 700 words. As a reference, this article has about 550 words.
15. Have a title and a main sentence in mind. Everything you say should be related to these thoughts.
16. Use pictures. Children love these and relate to them. I save the paper and use my IPAD to show pictures.
17. Enjoy your message to the children and what you are doing. They are the future of the church.
If you do this well, the adults in your congregation will also get something out of your talk.