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Inspiring Ahhh!

Jennifer Hooks

Sensational ways to "wow" kids in your ministry.

Stop for a moment and close your eyes. Think about a time-in ministry, in school, in your life -- when someone or something truly took your breath away. For me, it was a college psychology class when, on the very first day, the professor took roll. No big deal, except that he already knew everyone's names and birthdates -- and for almost all 50 of us, it was the first time we'd ever laid eyes on him. Maybe it was a "slight of hand" trick -- but whatever it was, I still remember it and the feeling of awe it gave me. It was a "wow" experience.

Have you ever looked around your ministry and wondered what affect you're having on kids? How do you wow kids? You can infuse your ministry with awe by tapping kids' senses -- and their sensibilities. Read on for wow success -- from the very smallest to the very largest experience your kids will have in your ministry.

Step By Step

Step into your kids' shoes and take a walk through your classroom and ministry. Think minute-by-minute. What do kids experience each moment? Now that you've taken the tour, use the following "sense-sational" recipe to create awe-inspiring experiences for kids.

Sight

Images produce some of our most profound impressions. So what do kids see when they enter your classroom? your ministry? Besides the obvious -- a clean, fun, inviting, and kid-friendly environment -- how can you wow kids through their eyes?

Here are ways to create a visual sensation that'll stick with kids long after they leave your classroom.

• You and Me -- Make poster-size digital images of your kids and display them around your classroom.

• Gotta See -- Create a focal point in your classroom that draws kids. Whether it's an interactive prayer tree or a Bible times village house kids can play in, make your focal point attractive and high-quality.

• Get Hip -- Bring kids' culture into your classroom with tech tools, cool furnishings, and hot décor.

• Ask a Question -- Use your décor to challenge kids to think. Imagine a WWJD? wall painted top to bottom. Or a wall with 21 questions that'll help kids know God better when answered.

Smell

"I've challenged myself recently to see ways our church can improve, and to look at ourselves through 'new' eyes," says one anonymous church member. "My 'new' eyes were dramatically opened last Sunday when I saw a little boy walking through the hallways holding his nose. He's right -- our church building has an unpleasant odor."

Adults may overlook things such as a stale-smelling room or auditorium -- but kids won't. They'll react in ways only kids can. Generally speaking, unpleasant odors can be eliminated. But challenge yourself to go beyond the antiseptic smell of air deodorizers. What are your favorite smells from childhood? How would kids react if they entered your room to the delicious smell of bubble gum -- or chocolate chip cookies?

How about incorporating smells into your lessons? How much more would letting kids smell the unforgettable scent of nard bring John 12:3 to life for kids?

If you use smells to:

• entice kids,

• arouse curiosity, and

• make kids feel welcome and relaxed,

they're more likely to want to stay.

Even overpowering or offensive smells can be used for specific purposes, as long as they're kid-appropriate and applicable to what you're teaching. A great example: One teacher brought seaweed in a plastic container to give her landlocked kids a whiff of a fisherman's life when they studied Matthew 4:18-19.

Taste

You already know that most kids are bottomless pits when it comes to food. So tap into their tastebuds to give them experiences they'll never forget. Snacks are common -- your task is to make them uncommonly cool.

• Eat What? -- Bring food kids don't normally associate with snacks. Chocolate-covered "bugs" are a surefire way to get a reaction.

• For Thought -- Serve food samples related to what you're studying. Wheat, grapes, olives, olive oil, bread, fish, and more all have direct ties to Scripture. As always, be cautious with foods that can present allergy concerns.

• Mm, Mm -- Do blindfolded taste tests. Choose foods that look alike and have similar textures to challenge kids and drive home Bible points. For instance, did you know it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between small slices of apple, potato, and onion when blindfolded?

• Old Habits -- Follow ancient customs when serving food. For example, have kids wash their hands before and after eating, as was a Bible-times custom.

• This and That -- Compare kids' favorite foods today with favorite foods from biblical times. Give them a taste of barley, figs, and pomegranates.

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