While we are called to reach all unsaved with the Gospel, there are always people groups or subcultures who have a greater need to hear the good news of Christ. The kind of mission fields that everyone is willing to pray about or give towards, but are never actually interested in going reach themselves, the Lord while serving in Melbourne led me to one of those mission fields.
I have been called to reach one of the most frightening people groups in the world. It’s not cannibals, tribesmen from a remote village in Africa, or intellectual atheists (those would be too easy). Instead God has given me a burden for Kindergarten children.
Since teaching my first Sunday School class to Junior age boys during College I knew that the Lord had given me a gift to work with young children (editors note: it helps that our maturity level is about the same).
This eventually led me to search for ministry opportunities with children in Australia, and God in his goodness provided many opportunities to work with them while sharing the Gospel: volunteer teachers aid at an elementary school, religious education teacher for eighteen kindergarteners, and homework tutor for children (many of whom were Muslim). Don’t get me wrong, working with small children is an incredibly exhausting experience, but it’s also one of the most rewarding ministries you will ever be a part of.
Knowing the great need for small children to hear the Gospel I wanted to share some lessons I learned over the years (some the hard way)…it’s my prayer that they can encourage others to reach children for Christ.
1. If one child becomes sick then all of the others will magically become sick as well, this also is directly connected to letting one go use the bathroom
2. When two boys go by themselves into the bathroom a soap dispenser will come off the wall without them having done anything to it
3. Be prepared to use the words “what did I just say?” roughly fifty times in an hour
4. Have a word reserved that is meant to get the children’s attention: I prefer the Australian word “oi” which literally means “hey” but has the same affect in America as in Australia because the kids stop what they are doing
5. Do not under any circumstances pull out a phone or tablet when children are nearby, unless of course you need them for tech support
6. Never underestimate the power of a king size candy bar
7. Don’t stop talking while teaching if children are being loud expecting them to become quiet…they won’t
8. Father Abraham still works (and it always will!)
9. Competition is a HUGE motivational tool: I get third graders to do their math homework after telling them I could finish it faster
10. Discipline isn’t done physically but that doesn’t mean you cannot punish those who are acting up; one of the best ways to do this is separate them from the group when they are doing something fun
11. When separated from the others get down on one knee, look the child in the eye, and explain to them why they are there…once ten minutes have passed the can come back to the group
12. You MUST have lots of energy when teaching children! I used to rest up before the religious education class because children that young have very short attention spans
13. Drawing is an awesome activity (especially if they can draw better than Mr. John)
14. Fist bumps or high fives are a great way to greet kids (please note that after giving one child a fist bump you MUST do it for EVERY CHILD IN THE ROOM)
15. Play active games with the kids-I had teenagers playing steal the bacon and red rover a few weeks ago….still fun
16. Some of them will fall asleep and thats okay
17. Let the best kids do something special in front of the class