Sunday, June 8, 2014

Using Personal Stories to Connect with Kids

Whether you’re teaching a creative large group program or leading a small group, personal stories can be one of the most effective tools you can use to connect with the kids you lead. 

It’s amazing how a simple story can reel in kids who would otherwise be bouncing off the walls. Kids love stories. Some of their favorite stories are about the childhood adventures of adults just like you.

The great thing about this tool is that we all have a lifetime of stories. Here are three ways you can use them this week to capture kids’ attention:

1. Ice breakers.  Personal stories make a great way to start a lesson or Life Group time. When teaching on God rescuing lost people, I opened with a story about a time I got separated from my mom in a K-Mart.  I started by asking the question, “Who’s ever been lost?”  I had them from the first sentence.

2. Application. Stories about how you learned a lesson and applied it to your life help kids see a practical example of how the Bible truth you’re teaching might play out in their own lives.   After you tell your story, connect the dots by saying, “Okay, that might not ever happen to you, but you might deal with something like that.  Think about how God could you in that kind of situation.”

3. Consequences.  By telling kids of the times you made the wrong choice, you can help them to see the potential consequences of not doing life God’s way. Kids are shocked and awed by stories of the times you acted selfishly and got burned by your own sin.  

Now that you know how you can use your stories, consider these guidelines when busting them out this weekend with your kids.

Make sure it’s relevant.  
Just because it’s a great story doesn’t mean it will help you teach kids God’s truth.  Only use stories that actually tie in to what you’re trying to communicate.  Otherwise, you’re just filling time.

Use common sense.  
The story about the time you broke your brother’s bike is probably a better choice than the story about the college spring break trip where you ended up in jail.  Make sure your stories are age-appropriate.  Save stories with mature themes for PG-13 audiences.  When in doubt, leave it out.

Take advantage of friends, families and photo albums.  
Think you don’t have any stories to use for that lesson on generosity?  Ask those who knew you when you were younger or check out old pictures to help jog your memory.  Try journaling too.  The more stories I write down, the more I remember.

Tell other people’s stories.  
Stories about your own kids or other kids you know can be just as effective if you don’t have one about you that fits the situation.  Just make sure you’re not embarrassing any kids in the room (including your own) by telling their stories without permission.  Stories that are no big deal to you could be mortifying to a seven year-old.

Whatever you’re talking about this week, use your experiences to impact the lives of the kids God sends your way.  Who knows, maybe some day they’ll be telling stories of their own about an amazing leader who told them a story that changed their life.

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