The challenge faced by children’s workers around the world is how to help children internalize a Bible truth.
How can we help children do what God’s Word teaches and become the kind of person God desires?
One of the keys to that life-changing process is experiential teaching. Experiential teaching engages a child with God’s Word in transformational ways. If you want to be God’s tool for life-changing children’s ministry, then experiential teaching is crucial.
Are you ready to create your own experiential teaching activities? That was my goal! Let’s go through the process together.
Creating Your Own Experiential Activity
There are four steps to creating an experiential activity for the Bible truth:
- Lesson Aim
- Feelings Associated with the Lesson Aim
- Bible Connection
Step 1 – Determine the Lesson Aim
The process begins when you choose the Bible passage you’re going to teach. After studying the passage, you must decide what lesson to teach the children.
You can call that lesson the main message, the communication goal, the action step, the main point—whatever works for you. We are going to refer to it as the Lesson Aim.
The Lesson Aim must be:
- Faithful to the original intent of the author
- Developmentally appropriate for the children we are teaching
- Worded in a way that can encourage a child to respond to God.
Here are some examples:
I can be friends with Jesus and with members of His family.
I can ask for God’s forgiveness, and He will always forgive me.
I can be glad and tell everyone that Jesus is alive!
I can always tell God how I feel.
I can follow Jesus and ask Him to help me avoid making bad decisions.
It cannot be overstated that defining the Lesson Aim is absolutely crucial to experiential teaching.
We need to have a clear Lesson Aim, and we have to create an experiential activity that is directly connected to that Lesson Aim.
We aren’t creating an activity just to have an activity. We want to experientially connect the Bible lesson to the child in more than a cognitive way. Focusing on the biblical Lesson Aim is crucial.
In this step, make certain that the Lesson Aim comes clearly and accurately from the Bible passage, is developmentally appropriate, and is relevant to the life of the children.
Step 2 – Identify Feelings
Lesson Aims are usually written in one sentence that contains an action verb (ask, pray, tell, etc., not be, seem, appear, etc.).
- Identify the action-oriented verb in the Lesson Aim
(For example, I can ask Jesus to forgive me, and He always will. The action-oriented verb is ask. In this Lesson Aim, the action is asking for forgiveness.)
Then start thinking about the emotions stimulated or prompted by the action. Create a list of feelings associated with the Lesson Aim.
Use the “Feeling Words Charts” that follow to help identify emotions.
(For example, the decision to ask for forgiveness may mean the person is feeling disappointed, ashamed, afraid, helpless, or burdened… but afterward relieved, hopeful, happy, and free.)
- Focus on the feelings associated with the Lesson Aim’s action-oriented verb, not on the feelings of the people in the Bible passage.
We want to engage the children’s feelings/emotions in regard to the Bible Truth. We are not re-creating the Bible passage or creating a contemporary version of the passage.
Again—and to avoid confusion—we need to focus on identifying feelings and emotions that are associated with the action of the Lesson Aim.
- Include both positive emotions (freedom, thankfulness, joy, etc.) and negative emotions (guilt, shame, and anger, etc.)
Positive Feelings Word Chart
Negative Feelings Word Chart
Step 3 – Create an Activity
Review the list of positive and negative feelings that you compiled. Then create an activity that will stimulate one of those feelings.
Make sure that the activity or game you develop prompts or stimulates at least one of the feelings. When you are thinking about possible activities, remember the following:
- Involve the five senses: Children learn through their senses and by doing. Create an activity that allows them to move, hear, see, touch, smell, and/or taste. Try to involve as many senses as possible.
- Inside and outside: Don’t necessarily stay inside your room. Instead, explore other areas in your church property that are available to you. What can you do outside? In another room? Or in the hallway?
- Think creatively: Can you use a table as a tunnel? What can you do with a spoon? Know that you can use anything and everything in your learning environment to teach. Just look around for inspiration.
- Games/common activities: Many of the best experiential activities are games we played when we were little (Hide-and-Seek, Simon Says, Red Light/Green Light, Four Corners, Duck-Duck Goose). Or use common activities that children experience every day. After all, fishing was Peter’s profession, eating bread is a common activity, and Jesus based experiential teachings on both. Also, a good experiential activity is usually a simple one.
Step 4 – Connect to the Bible Truth
Despite being simple, the experiential activity is usually fun and can even be exciting. It should engage the children.
If we aren’t careful, the activity can become just another fun game or activity with no real meaning. We have to connect the experiential activity to the Bible Truth.
If we don’t do this, the activity was simply a game, and nothing was taught. Here are two ways to connect the activity to the Bible Truth:
- Connection Questions: Lead a very brief discussion about what just happened and how it relates to the Lesson Aim. The goal is to allow children to articulate the emotions they felt during the activity. Ask one or two questions to help the children understand what they felt during the activity and what may have caused that feeling.
- Connecting Statement: Make a short statement about how the activity connects to the actual Bible Truth. (For example: Some of us felt frustrated because we had to wait a long time to get the reward. A certain man in the Bible also had to wait a long time for his reward. Let’s read more about him.)
Experiential teaching has been a hallmark of EGM’s ministry and is one of the keys to life transforming ministry. If you want help creating an experiential activity for your own Bible lesson email me [email protected] and I will help as I am able.