Teaching the essentials to reach children of all abilities at church

As those entrusted with the role of teacher, we need to know that essence of what we’re teaching. In other words, how would you answer this question:

If children and students at our church only grasp one thing today, what should it be?

(I don’t mean for that to be hypothetical. Please take a moment to think about your ministry as a whole. How would you answer that for your next Bible study or Sunday school class? How would you answer that if I were to ask what one thing you hope that children and students grasp before they reach adulthood? Take a moment, and think about that if you don’t have an answer already.)

Answering those questions can add clarity to your teaching for every child and student, but it becomes even more crucial for those with special needs. If a child has intellectual, emotional, or behavioral difficulties, then odds are good that you don’t really have the full class time to teach a plethora of points. You might just have five minutes.

Let me give you an example from a couple weeks ago: I was working one-on-one in one of our preschool classes with a little boy – who I’ll call Jack – who loves balls and blocks and who also happens to have Down syndrome. He sometimes has trouble understanding what he should be doing during the Bible story time, and this particular Sunday I couldn’t coax him out from under a table while the other kids sat in a circle around the teacher. Because I had reviewed our curriculum for that day and because I know what our overall goals are for children in our ministry, I was able to ask simple questions about why Jesus cared about Zaccheus and how Jack knew that Jesus cared about him.

Did Jack get every bit of the story that day? No.

Did he get the essentials? Yes.

I could tell you more stories, like that of another boy with special needs who is comforted by watching the cars in the parking lot from the window in his class and whose one-on-one buddy talks to him about Jesus’ love for him and love for each person in those cars as he calls out the color of each car. If we know the core message and truth we intend to share, then we can redirect what could become lost moments into ones that emphasize the essentials.

To minister to all kids of all abilities in purposeful and intentional ways, we must know what the most important thing is. And then we must be ready to share the essential truth with a child – to loosely paraphrase from Deuteronomy 6 – as we sit with a child who is lying under a table or as we watch cars out the window.

***********************************************************************************************************

Key for Families has launched our first seven Facebook communities for families of kids with disabilities. We have communities for…

  • Adoption and Foster Care
  • Autism and Asperger’s Disorder
  • Homeschooling parents
  • Mental health
  • Ministry families
  • Parents of adult children
  • PTSD and trauma

Key for Families Facebook communities are free, but registration is required. Sign up for one or more communities today, and share the invitation with friends who might want to join.