How to Peel a Bible Story

women-peeling-orange-lgYour Bible story is like an orange.  You can had it off to a kid and expect him to tear into it and eat it.  Or you can peel it yourself and hand it in slices to the kid.  It is easier for the kid to eat if you hand it to him in bite-sized pieces that are already peeled.  Bible stories are easier for kids to understand and apply if you break them down and serve them in small parts.

“How do I peel apart a Bible story to get out of it something I can teach kids?”  This is not the same as explaining how I teach a lesson.  This is not about skits, object lessons, games, or other teaching methods.  This is about digging into the Bible story for the points that make the story important and applicable.  What’s cool about this story?

As you prepare for your lesson, read the story, pretending that it just occurred.  See it through a fresh perspective.  Imagine that it just happened yesterday.  Jericho’s walls fell down yesterday.  Moses divided the Red Sea this morning.  David killed Goliath last night.  That will help you FEEL the story.  Then it will be easier to see what’s cool about the story that makes it alive.  I want to see the story in a way that makes the characters real, displays the conflict in the story, and makes the story compelling to hear.

What did the people in the story feel?  Put yourself in the story.  What do you think you would have felt? Or done?  Make it real.  Keep it honest.  Don’t get religious.

How would you have felt if Moses made a highway through the sea and it was your turn to march between the walls of water?  I, for one, am not sure I would have done it.  If I did, I would have run with everything I had before those walls of water collapsed!  I feel creepy when I walk through the glass tunnel at one of those aquarium theme parks and watch the fish swim over my head.  Take the glass away, and I’ll just wait in the parking lot.

What is in the story that I can relate to today?  I seldom see a giant standing in my neighborhood shouting insults at God.  It has been awhile since a snake offered me anything to eat.  But, I can relate to problems that seem bigger than life, and I know what it is to be tempted to do something wrong.  Make a list.  What threatening problems do kids face today?  What are they tempted to do?  What is the transferable action?  What did someone in the story do that we can do today?  Can we follow an example in the story?  What is it?  Be careful with this one.

Make sure the action is consistent with the Gospel of God’s grace.  There is a difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament.  In the Old Testament, the emphasis is God’s law–what we do for God.  In the New Testament, the emphasis is God’s grace–what God did for us through Jesus.  Both are about faith, so we can draw from the whole Bible, but do not leave the impression that our daily actions determine our acceptance by God. Make sure the Gospel is clear.  Jesus died for our sins and rose again to give us His perfect life so that we could have assurance of our destiny with Him in heaven.  Prayer, worship, Bible reading, loving one another, giving, etc., are relevant truths that impact our lives.  Look for them in the story, but do not confuse kids by making it seem like the actions earn our salvation.

David had the courage to take on Goliath because he believed God would be faithful to His covenant, the deal He made with His people to protect them.  We can trust God to be true to His promises today.

Joshua and the people had to be quiet as they marched around Jericho   We would often be better off if we kept our mouths shut instead of complaining all the time.

Look for the relevant action and milk it.  Make it relevant and easy.  If it is irrelevant to life today, then you missed the point of the story.  If it is too hard to live up to, then you are making it harder than God intended.

What does the story tell us about God?  This is the most important step.  Ask what the story reveals about God that we might not know otherwise.  How does the story tell us what God is like?  Nothing is more important in the spiritual development of kids than for them to have a basic understanding of what God is like.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue”  (2 Peter 1:2-3 NKJV).

I have a simple interpretation of this verse.  To me, it means that God’s grace, peace and power for living flow from our knowledge of what God is like.  If we have a distorted view of what God is like, then we can expect a lack of grace, peace and power.  If we have a correct view of what God is like, we can expect grace, peace and power in our lives.

What do some of the familiar Bible stories tell us about God?  The story of David and Goliath tell me that God enjoys seeing the weak win in life.  Remember that David could hardly stand up under Saul’s armor.  The story of Jericho tells me that God likes doing great things against big odds.  That is a reoccurring theme in the Bible.  The story of Paul on the road to Damascus tells me that God sometimes chooses mean people so He can turn them around and do cool things through them.  That is the kind of God we have.  That’s what He is like.

Most of us agree that we want to promote kids having a personal relationship with the Lord.  If so, then there is no better place to start than by painting an accurate picture of God, showing what He is like.  Far from the distant, mean, uninvolved God conveyed in today’s world, the real God has a magnetic personality.  With His unconditional love, limitless knowledge and observable power, He becomes irresistible to people who learn what He is like.  And kids can grow up being attracted to a God like that.



How to Get into Kidmin Trouble

stressed teacher_0_0There are lots of ways children’s pastors can get into hot water.  Any that have been leading a children’s ministry for very long can attest to this.  Here are some great ways to get into BIG trouble:

1. Spend money you don’t have.  Nothing is more exciting than facing the administrator after you just obligated the church to pay for something that is not in the budget.  You probably won’t do it again.

2. Injure a kid.  You might want to make sure you don’t send any kids home with scrapes or scratches that weren’t there before church.  Not good.  Make sure your games/activities are safe and well-supervised.

3. Let a kid escape.  There is nothing fun about a parent showing up to collect their kid and he is no where to be found.  Secure the premises.  Don’t let anyone out until the parent shows up.  (Don’t ask me how I know about this one!)

4. Baptize a kid without notifying the parents.  Funny thing about parents.  They really like to be present when their kid takes a big step in life.  Make a phone call.

5.  Say something critical of a kid or his family.  Kids have amazing talent for repeating stuff you never should have said.  Never say ANYTHING that you don’t want kids repeating in the car on their way home.

It’s not easy leading a children’s ministry.  The responsibilities are enormous and the rist of doing something stupid always looms overhead.  Be careful out there!


How to Include Shy Kids

86311225.sZKduHIxBe careful how you get shy kids involved.  Breaking the shy/fun barrier is not about kids merely having a lot of fun.  It’s about breaking down the walls that will allow them to have fun and receive from God!  Breaking the fun barrier is when you can help a hesitant child participate in something fun that nudges them out of their comfort…and they like it.


Lots of kids want to participate, but they are too shy to raise their hand and take the step to volunteer.  Some have experienced failure in the past.  Some are told they are not skilled at anything.  Some are shy by nature.  And some are self-conscious.


Kids need your help to break past this barrier.  It is critical to their development that they learn to try something new.  They need to build a mental bank account of successes (when something goes right) and good failures (when something goes wrong but is still OK).  These concepts are applicable in large groups, small groups, or one-on-one.  The best stime to put these ideas to good use is from the moment kids enter your kids ministry area.


Here are some suggestions for helping kids break the shy/fun barrier in your children’s ministry.

  • Allow shy kids the space to not participate at first.  Give them a couple of weeks to assess what your children’s ministry is all about.
  • Make eye contact with him in fun ways.  Make a face.  Smile.  Let him know he is not invisible.
  • Talk to her.  Without asking questions, have a conversation offering your thoughts on the fun that’s going on in the group or her purple shoes.
  • Let him hold something.  Holding an object is a safe way for shy kids to participate.  It helps them take a next step out of their shells even if they are only holding something in their seats.
  • Use a shy kid’s name as an example from the stage without asking them to do anything.
  • Compliment or praise a shy kid when others can hear you.

Here are some things you NEVER do to manipulate a child into participating:

  • Never ask her to answer a question out loud.
  • Never ask him to pray out loud.
  • Never make him the center of attention.
  • Never exclude her as a ploy to participate or as punishment.


Part of a full spectrum ministry to kids requires that you help kids grow in their confidence and social skills.  Sometimes small, simple steps can go a long way.