Children’s Pastor Preparation 101
Preparation is key when it comes to children’s ministry. There’s a drastic difference in the quality of your Sunday school experience between a prepared and well-structured hour vs. a chaotic attempt to simply keep kids from hurting each other or breaking things (although that will probably always be a concern…)
But the difference between those two outcomes relies on the baby-steps you take throughout the week to make sure your prepared for the weekend. It doesn’t require much time, but it does require commitment and diligence to ensure you’ve prepared a lesson that will keep kids engaged and excited during Sunday school.
Creating a Weekly Routine
There’s plenty of different ways to prepare for the weekend, but if you feel like you consistently get distracted and always find yourself doing the stereotypical “Saturday-night-preparation” method, it may be worth it to start establishing a weekly routine of preparation.
Once again, it doesn’t need to take much time at all out of your day, but these small steps can add up to completely transform the quality of your kid’s ministry services.
Monday/Tuesday: Find a Bible Verse or Story
This really doesn’t need to take you any longer than 10-15 minutes. Look online for good Bible stories for kids, a YouTube video, or a verse that you feel kids can understand and apply to their lives.
You can think in terms of stories – David & Goliath, Radshack Meshach and Abednego, Feeding the 5,000 – or in terms of themes – patience, belief, obeying parents, etc.
Find that verse or story, write it down, and then relax. That’s what your weekend lesson will be on, but there’s no need to turn this into a 1-2 hour prep session.
Wednesday/Thursday: Come Up with an Activity
I know this is usually the daunting part of planning, but let’s break it down into some categories for simplicity sake.
Activities don’t always have to be some huge art project – that’s where Children’s Pastors get burnt out. If you’re having your kids build Noah’s ark out of popsicle sticks and Elmer’s glue every week, first of all, you’re amazing, but more importantly, you’re probably getting tired and running out of steam.
A good routine to follow is a 3-1 routine. This essentially means 3 weeks of easy tasks, 1 week of a more intensive task. What’s an easy task?
Easy tasks can be:
– A coloring page printout from online
– A breakout group discussion (asking kids ways they can apply the message like being patient with siblings or how they can obey their parents better, etc.)
– Minute-to-Win-It Games
More intensive tasks could me things like:
– Designing a lesson-based poster
– Popsicle sticks craft activities
– Outdoor games
This rotation can help you to, frankly, maintain your own sanity while also keeping kids engaged and excited about what they’re learning and doing in youth ministry.
Friday/Saturday: Get Supplies and REST
In the last step, we’re just conceptualizing. You’re coming up with an activity you’d like to do and leaving it at that! Come Friday and Saturday, it’s time to get supplies ready for the weekend.
Depending on what you’re doing, you may not even need to get anything. If you’re designing posters or doing a coloring project, chances are the children’s ministry room already has the necessary-colored markers and pencils you need.
Otherwise, if you’re doing a more intense project, find out what you need and get it a couple days before Sunday. Keep in mind – you should be able to buy craft project-related supplies for cheap from any common store like Target or Michael’s. If it’s expensive or intensive, you’re probably over-committing on an activity. Keep it simple and cheap – you don’t need to dig into your budget a ton each month!
And most importantly – find time to rest. The part that can become the most draining about being a children’s pastor is the stress associated with last-minute planning and compiling supplies. If you break out the steps of lesson planning, activity planning, and acquiring supplies in 15-30 minute chunks throughout the week, it should leave you with time to relax.
On Saturday, take a breath of fresh air. Don’t leave the planning for 10:00pm the night before. Find your sabbath, and enjoy time to yourself so you’re well rested for the high-energy weekend kids services!
About the Author
Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as TAYA, Big Daddy Weave, and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the worship music scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris is the Motion Designer at Motion Worship, helping to create motion background collections and countdowns for our subscribers.