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Running a Childrens Club
Whether it is a Sunday School, or a midweek kids meeting, there is nothing more daunting than trying to run a kids club. It may be that you have a well established club that has been going for many years, or you may be starting one from scratch. Whichever it is, I've tried below to offer some helpful information on how to get the most out of your time with the kids.
This may seem obvious, but prayer is hugely important in a childrens work. Without it, you might as well shut the doors. Praying for it yourself is an excellent place to start. If you can get other people to pray with you, or pray for the work on their own themselves, so much the better. If you haven't been along to a prayer meeting in a while, then get along there and join with others to pray for the kids work (and other things as well!).
Before a child sets foot inside your club you should already have at least a couple of weeks, if not months, of preparation under your belt. Things will only happen correctly on the night if that has taken place. Here's a summary of just some of the things you'll need to prepare.
Who is going to help you run the kids club. Whilst you may be in the situation where you have to run it yourself, try and get others involved, even if it's just to sit at the back and boost the numbers. If there are others who are going to be involved, then it's important that you all sit down together and decide what each person is going to do. Every person should have a role, even if it's just sitting at the back and praying for the meeting.
What is going to happen every week? Are you going to do the same thing every week, or are you going to vary it? Whilst variety is the spice of life, remember that kids do like the comfort of routine, so try not to change what you do every week.
It is often best if the topic for each week is prepaed in advance. Whilst there is nothing wrong with leaving it up to each person responsible for the story to decide what they will speak on, advanced planning can bring everything together.
- Look and see if you can not only tie each weeks activities together, but also the entire sessions activities together. This might take the form of looking at people Jesus met every week, or taking a different parable every week. The benefit of this way of working is that as the weeks go on, you can build on what was covered the previous week.
- There are a multitude of childrens songs out there that cover a wide range of stories. See if you can't have a theme song for every story. For the kids that can't remember the story, perhaps the song will stick in their head longer.
There is nothing better than seeing kids coming back week after week having memorised a passage from the Bible. Again, this is a good opportunity to tie it back to the story. You may decide that you want a different one each day/week, or you may decide that you just have one verse that is learned throughout a session to back up a central point.
- It's all very well teaching kids a verse during the meeting, but you can be sure that as soon as they walk out the door they'll have forgotten it. Write the verse out on a piece of paper to give them home with them. One thing we have found particularly helpful is to give all the kids keyrings at the start of the session and each week give them another tag to add to the keyring. It keeps all the verses together, and as they get points for bringing it each week, you can be sure it isn't just lost.
This doesn't need to involve you handing out cold hard cash to bribe the little darlings to stay quiet for the duration of the meeting, but it should be something that rewards good behaviour and participation. Some will want to just hand out sweets, some will have some kind of points system. You will need to decide in advance exactly what you want to give points out for. Is it just for the quiz, or is it for good singing / actions? Do they get points for attending and bringing others? Whatever you decide make sure that everyone (yes, that includes the kids) knows exactly what is getting rewarded and what the reward is.
- See "Points Card"
During the Children's Club
As I stated above, everyone should have a role during the meeting, even if it's just sitting with the kids, or praying at the back. Here are a list of some of the roles you'll want to identify.
This sounds very formal, but at its most basic, the Chairman simply tries to make sure everything is running on time. They should try to start the meeting as close to the intended starting point as possible, and finish it when it is supposed to finish. For kids who will be picked up at the end of the meeting by parents/guardians, it creates a bad impression if you are constantly keeping them waiting.
The Musician / Singer
This may be the same person, it may be two different people. Whatever the situation, they are responsible for leading the singing and trying to get the most out of the kids.
- See "Leading the Singing"
The Quiz Master
No surprise here, this is the person responsible for the quiz.
The Story Teller
Yup, you guessed it, the person responsible for telling the story to the children.
- See "Telling a story"
You will probably want to have someone who is responsible for noting which children are attending that week. Depending on how you work your rewards system, this person might also take note of them as well.
The Background People
Not everyone that's involved in kids work will be up the front. Many, if not most, will be working in the background. These kind of people are great for sitting in amongsty the kids and helping them out, keeping control, and also engaging with the mums and dads that will bring the kids.
Hopefully the above notes will help some people who are thinking about starting a kids work. If you are already involved in a kids work, hopefully it will give you some extra ideas. As with all things, the above tips are things that I have learnt work in the environments I have worked in. They may not work in all cases and should be changed to suit individual needs. If you have any hints or tips that you would like to share with others, please use the comments below to leave a message.