Last week our church hosted 150 kids from 5-10 years old for Vacation Bible School. This was our third year of VBS and I volunteered to teach. I was assigned to a group of 8 year-olds and it was a fun, tiring week.
Here’s what I learned:
1. Leaders must bring energy. It’s not a secret that kids have energy. Lots of it. So if you want to connect with them relationally, you better bring some energy. Additionally, they respond to and feed off your excitement. This is true in all leadership. Followers feed off the leaders’ energy. It’s why leaders must manage their energy as much as they manage their time. (Here’s a great book on this)
2. Teachers must be engaging. One of the reasons I volunteered was to stretch myself as a communicator. You may ask, “How is teaching kids stretching yourself?” Well, adults are at least polite and self-controlled enough to pretend to listen even when they’re not. But with kids, you can tell instantly whether they’re following you or in la-la land.
Therefore, it’s not enough to teach the material. You have to teach it in an engaging way. You have to ask good questions. You have to use examples they understand and get excited about. You have to adjust your voice inflection to draw them in. You have to tell interesting stories. Otherwise, you might as well not teach it because they won’t get it. Again, this is true in all teaching, just more obvious with kids.
3. Everything’s better with fun. Almost everyone I know likes to have fun, especially kids. When experiences are fun, it makes for better learning and stronger relationships. Sometimes leaders avoid fun because we are so focused on the task at hand or because it feels like a waste of time or money. But I’m leaving this VBS even more committed to making fun part of our leadership culture.
4. Kids know their stuff. It was encouraging to see the kids in my class engage with the story of the gospel. On our last day, we were talking about the crown of righteousness that the Lord will award to those who have loved his appearing (2 Tim 4:8). I asked the kids, “What are some things you would want to do if you thought there was a decent chance Jesus was coming back this afternoon?” Below are their answers.
Honestly, I’m pretty wiped after last week. It was a great experience. Not sure yet whether I’ll do it again next year, but if you’re a leader it’s worth having some experience teaching kids. You’ll grow from it and so will they.