Summer is finally here – more or less! Hopefully, you will have some vacation time or just a few “lazy” afternoons or evenings. Why not read a book that will help you be a better volunteer serving kids and teens as you teach them about God? Our list of favorites includes books on educational best practices, empathy building, leadership and more. Enjoy!
As summer approaches, Christian kids and teens all over the country begin preparing for mission opportunities their churches provide for them. Unfortunately, most young people don’t experience the lasting spiritual growth hoped for by participating in these experiences. What’s even worse is that many missionaries will tell you off the record that mission teams can cause more trouble than they help.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. With a little more intentional preparation, your students can grown spiritually and make a meaningful positive influence on those they serve.
It’s essential before you take young people into the mission field that you actually train them to do what they will be doing. They need to be able to do it well. “Playing with kids” and “loving them like Jesus” sounds like it wouldn’t take any training, but it does. A missed safety step and a child you are going to serve could be physically hurt. A missed empathy moment may cause a child you serve to no longer want to attend any church. And on and on.
Did you ever visit a Sunday School class when you were younger? Whether the experience is positive or negative can have a huge impact on whether or not a child wants to attend Church again. Some children have such scarring experiences, they are still reluctant to attend church years later as adults.
The really sad part is that the majority of those negative experiences could have been easily avoided with some changes in how things were done where they visited. Every story is different, but here are the comments about scarring experiences we hear the most and the ways you can keep these things from happening to your visitors and students.
Teach One Reach One Ministries provides lots of free resources on the best questions to ask your students. What we probably haven’t shared nearly enough is our thoughts on the questions your students may ask you.
Some people are terrified of teaching Bible classes for teens and even kids, because they are afraid they won’t be able to handle student questions. Others may do things to almost discourage students from asking questions, or basically ignore them when asked.
It may not seem like it’s important to handle student questions well. Unfortunately, we are losing many young people for that very reason. They may not actually say that’s why they are leaving God and the Church, but if you read between the lines this is what they are communicating.
Helping children and teens understand the Bible and what God wants them to do with the commands and principles in it are crucial tasks of Bible class volunteer teachers. Yet, we do little to train them on how children learn best. It’s important to understand the human brain and what we can do to insure our young people are not only learning, but also retaining and using the information we teach them from the Bible.
Most of the books I suggest you read are meant for consumers. They are helpful, but not particularly difficult to read or understand. Today, I really want to encourage you to read what is basically a college textbook. While it may be a little more dry and complex than our normal suggestions, the information in it is crucial for Christian teachers to consider.