The Kids’ Talk
Some churches have a slot for the children in the first part of their Sunday service. But how do you use it? Adrian Reynolds reviews a resource which might offer some creative answers for the coming year.
I’m never quite sure what’s best to do with the children’s slot in church. Even if you are convinced that concurrent Sunday School is the best model for the morning of a Lord’s Day (which not all of us are), then the idea of a talk for kids is still rather abstract.
After all, they are about to get taught in their classes, so adding a second teaching slot in the service could easily risk undermining confidence in the teachers themselves. Adults don’t, after all, get a second slot.
Lots of churches think about this carefully and I appreciate the time and effort that goes into making the ‘traditional’ first half of the service accessible to all those who are there, including wise and appropriate use of a teaching slot. However, a couple of years ago we decided to have a go at doing something more creative with that five-minute slot and made a set of church history cards with a picture on the front and some biographical detail on the back.
We had them printed like baseball cards and called the series 50 Christians. Our morning slot then became a little Christian biography, useful for both adults and children, and with a set of cards to collect. Some children in the congregation even bought albums to collect their set. You can have a lot of instructive fun talking about Augustine of Hippo!
The idea was good, but it’s not easy teaching church history in a way that is accessible to kids. It can be done – as is evidenced by the Captain Pete slots in the excellent DVD resource Buck Denver asks… What’s in the Bible? However, the truth is some of our biography slots were better than others – perhaps inevitably – and some history characters were easier to relate to the children than others.
But despite all that, I think it’s great news that a Christian publisher has run with the idea. The cards and accompanying book written by Clare Heath-Whyte and illustrated by Jenny Brake are produced with a level of professionalism and carefulness that we could only dream of doing on the cheap. Everyone a child should know is a quality hardback book and the set of cards can be purchased separately.
To avoid copyright issues, and introduce an element of fun, the cards have caricatures of the history figures rather than photos or paintings. I love Brake’s drawings, though it occasionally seems a shame not to see the real deal. The biography information on the back of the card is a little brief for me, but that is mitigated by the excellent text in the accompanying book.
You could certainly use these at home in a family time around the table, learning about Christian history characters together and lessons we can draw today (something that would benefit both parents and children). I still like the idea of using them in church, but my experience is that short kids’ talks on Christian history characters – whilst having the potential for excellence – could easily become as dull as dishwater.
We should not be afraid, however, of trying difficult things if they are ultimately rewarding. The truth is that learning how to communicate to children about history will bring benefits in many other areas of church life. Why not get your regular children’s communicators to sit down together and think how it could be done in your setting?
The cards come in a set of 52 – that’s the coming year’s services sorted if you’re brave enough! I’d love to see them available as unsorted cards – 50 sets unboxed for example. No doubt if you wanted to order enough that could be done. Notwithstanding that, it’s an excellent resource for kids to learn from. There’s also going to be a download of the cards available so that you can use the pictures in PowerPoint presentations or make larger flash cards to use in a church service.
You know what adults say about children’s talks? It’s probably the most disheartening thing a preacher can hear. “Well, I really enjoyed the kids slot.” Now here’s a way to make sure that kind of comment doesn’t matter at all.
- Buck Denver asks… What’s in the Bible? by Phil Vischer, RRP £11.99, 13 volumes covering the whole Bible
- Everyone a child should know by Clare Heath-Whyte and Jenny Brake, 10ofThose, RRP £9.99
- Everyone a child should know accompanying cards, 10ofThose, RRP £4.99