When looking through old pictures or videos, I think we all have those moments we ask ourselves, “Did I REALLY do and say that?!” When I look back at my years of leading children’s ministry, I’m amazed at the kinds of questions I asked. I shudder to think about the time I wasted with generic trivia questions during my lessons. For example, I remember asking my kids what you get when you subtract the number of books in the Bible with the combined number of legs of the animals that spoke in the Bible. (62, if you’re wondering.)
Bible literacy is so important, and having interactive Bible experiences can help passages stick in kids’ minds. But even more important is making sure the Bible’s message sticks in our kids’ hearts. Sometimes we get so focused on making sure our kids know thewordsof the Bible that we forget to make sure they know the meaning.
Take, for example, this wonderful Sunday school leader. She means well, but she makes a mistake that I personally have made many, many times. This video, found at Holy Soup, shows a leader talking about Jesus’ birth. Watch as she tries to get kids to say manger.
All that time was spent on looking for just the right word! In the end, the kids never had a chance to think about how God sent his Son for us.
Good questions start kids thinking about not only the Bible, but also how it relates to their own lives. You know you’ve got a good question when it sparks conversation. We have to spark kids’ imaginations and get them thinking about life application.
Here are seven tips for asking questions to spark conversation.
- Ask questions that don’t have specific answers. You know it’s a good question when you’re not
able to predict what the answers will be. Make your questions surprising!
- Ditch the question mark. Sometimes the best questions aren’t questions at all. Get kids talking by asking them to tell about a time they experienced something, like being left out or being helped by a friend.
- Open Up to Open-Ended Questions. If your question can be answered with a simple “Yes” or “No,” it’s stifling kids’ answers. Let them loose with open-ended questions.
- “Why do you think…” and “What could you do…”
These simple phrases can really turn a question around. Instead of having kids guess what people in the Bible thought, turn the tables and make it personal.
- “What if…” This is another great tool to use when exploring the Bible. Asking kids “What if…” questions makes them really think about the context of the situation.
- Why and How? A general rule of thumb: Questions that start with who, what, when, and where are often simple review questions. Be thinking of how and why questions because they usually help kids make new discoveries.
- Use Kids’ Names. While not a question, this can help you get kids talking. One study showed that you have better luck getting kids to talk when you use their names. Also, sprinkling in facilitators like “uh-huh” and “oh!” when listening to kids encourages them to continue on with their thoughts.
Make sure to check out Children’s Ministry Magazine’s September/October 2013 issue. Ali Thompson, managing editor of Group’s Sunday school curriculum for kids, has a fantastic article on asking great questions. There’s no question about it: Ali has all the answers when it comes to talking with kids!
Look at the lesson you’re leading this week with your kids. Find any great questions? Find some that are less than perfect? Share with us using the comment section below!