Preaching a gospel message to kids can be intimidating. While adults will at least pretend to pay attention to the preacher (even if their mind is a million miles away), kids won’t. Instead, if kids are bored, they’ll fidget, kick their neighbor, yawn really loudly, or even ask to go to the bathroom.
How can we effectively preach to kids? It requires arresting their attention, feeding them the Word of God, and calling for a specific response.
- Grab Their Attention
“Sit up straight and listen, boys and girls! Today’s message is from the Book of Isaiah. It’s about a king named Uzziah.”
Boring! That is not the way to bring a children’s sermon.
Instead, a dynamic sermon will grab the children’s attention by speaking to them where they are. For instance, a message on fear might begin with the question, “What are you afraid of?” Or you might begin by telling about a time you were frightened.
A message on worship might begin with you making a variety of facial expressions: sad, happy, tired, angry, excited and bored. Then ask, “How did your face look when you woke up and realized it was Sunday – the day to go to church and worship the Lord?”
- Feed Them
Once you have established the subject and have the kids’ attention, it is time to feed them the Word of God. Here are the four guidelines:
1. Don’t preach a principle without concrete examples.
Simply teaching “Cast your burdens on the Lord” is not something kids can grasp – it’s too abstract. You must talk about specific burdens – the death of a loved one, a broken home, a financial need – for kids to get it.
2. Put purpose in your storytelling.
Don’t tell a Bible story simply because stories captivate kids; instead, use a story to convey a focused message. For instance, what single point could you convey in telling about David and Goliath? The crossing of the Red Sea? The resurrection of Lazarus?
3. Stimulate the children’s senses.
Smell, sight, taste, touch – the more your message involves these four senses, the more children will get involved and remember the message. So when you tell the story of the woman washing Jesus’ feet with her hair, let the kids sniff perfume. When you tell about the feeding of the 5,000, let kids eat goldfish crackers. When preaching about the Crucifixion, bring sharp thorns for the kids to touch and large nails for them to see.
4. Maximize your words.
When you’re speaking don’t talk in a monotone. Speak quickly … the slowly … the loudly … the softly, adjusting your sentences to fit the mood. And use simple terminology kids can understand.
- Call for a Response
At the end of your message, challenge the kids to make a specific response. For instance: “Come forward if you want to pray for the salvation of someone you love,” or “kneel at your seat and praise the Lord for the way He is blessing you.”
I’ll never forget the night in Texas when I preached a children’s sermon on true worship. I emphasized that whatever we spend our time, our money, our thoughts and our energies on is the object of our worship. My focus was that Jesus wants to be the Lord of our life – the One we genuinely worship.
During the altar time, I prayed with an 8-year-old boy who was quietly weeping. When I asked him what he was praying about, he said “I’ve been worshiping my baseball cards.”
A simple message had triggered a life-changing response in that little boy! That night he asked Jesus to become the most important love of His life.
- But What Do I Preach About?
Sanctification … the Second Coming … healing …. deliverance … prayer … just about any doctrine that can be preached to adults can be preached to kids. The challenge, of course, is communicating on their level.
Look at it like this: Do the kids to whom you minister need salvation, healing, deliverance or sanctification? Then preach about it! Do they need to pray worship, witness or give offerings? Then preach it!