Welcome back to another post in the Bringing the Bible to Life Series! If you want to catch up on some old posts, you can find them here:
In my last post (Cooking up a great Children’s Ministry lesson), we talked a bit about the components of a great lesson. I gave a few examples of appetizers, main dishes, and side dishes along with a promise to cover each of these elements in a bit more detail. Today, we’ll take a closer at appetizers.
The most important thing to remember about appetizers is that they should not overshadow the main dish. Appetizers are designed to whet your appetite for more. When presenting an introduction to a lesson, Andy Stanley in his book, Deep and Wide, recommends building a bit of tension. He recommends presenting a problem or situation that the audience can relate to — creating some kind of common ground, but leaving them in the air a bit to wonder, “What’s coming next?” Object lessons are a great way to engage kids from the beginning, especially if the result is surprising or a bit unnerving. Need some more concrete ideas?
- Take the climax of the story and provide a bit of foreshadowing for the kids. For example, if someone dies in the story, begin the class by dabbing your eyes with a Kleenex and explaining you’re very sad. When the kids inquire about your emotional state, begin the day’s lesson.
- Present kids with a choice. If a character in the day’s lesson is faced with a difficult decision, present that same decision to the kids and ask what they would choose. After weighing in on the issue, say, “The person we’re learning about today was faced with a very similar choice. Let’s see what they decided to do.”
- Focus on a specific object from the story. Once, when we were talking about Jesus feeding the 5,000, we opened the night with a fish sandwich eating contest. Once the kids were finished, I explained that the people in our story did a lot of eating fish and bread as well.
Hope that gives you a good idea to get started. Have you used an appetizer in a lesson (maybe without even knowing it?) I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment and share your story!