"I can't teach!" I've heard that from so many church members when the plea goes forth for more children's ministry workers. Their body language is almost humorous. They actually take a step back. I can envision their hands coming up, as if to push away the plea.
Have you said that? Are you one of those who think you can't teach children?
Let me ask you another question. Do you believe that Jesus' Great Commission to "Go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20)" was just for the twelve apostles or for all Christians? Because of the language throughout the rest of the New Testament (look at 2 Timothy 2:2), we can accept those marching orders were for everyone who confesses Christ. But catch the language of the rest of the passage. "Baptizing them." Okay, that means being evangelistic and leading others to the point of salvation which includes baptism. That's what most people think of when they think about the Great Commission. But look at the rest of the verse. Uh oh! " . . .Teaching them to observe all I have commanded you." TEACHING! That means every one of us needs to TEACH younger and newer believers.
Granted, each of us are uniquely gifted to reach one age group better than another. Yet the majority of us have had experience with children through raising our own. Each of us need to be involved in some way in raising up the next generation in the ways of the Lord.
Perhaps the better admission is, "I don't know how to teach. I don't even know what I need to know."
Ah! Now we are on the right track. Let me share with you what you need to know in order to be an effective teacher.
1. KNOW yourself. Know your strengths and gifts. Do what you do best.
2. KNOW your students. Learn about age characteristics and learning styles. Your teaching will be more effective if you pay attention to how they learn best.
3. KNOW your curriculum. How is each lesson organized? Are the activities appropriate for your group? Curriculum is written to meet the needs of a broad audience and cannot possibly fit every situation. What will you need to adapt to fit your group?
4. KNOW your environment. Is your teaching area inviting to today's students? What resources and supplies are available? What technology is available to you? How can you improve your environment to make it more learner-friendly?
5. KNOW your team. Jesus sent his disciples forth two by two. Paul always traveled with an entourage. God expects no one to go it alone. Where you are weak, others are strong. Know the gifts and experience of your other workers. Don't be threatened by what they can do better than you - use it. Remember: your goal is to help children learn about Jesus and you need to do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal.
6. Finally, most importantly, KNOW your God. That sounds almost obvious. Every Christian worker ought to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Sadly, I've seen too many teachers and other Christian workers count on their skills, not their relationship. I would far rather have one teacher dedicated and in love with Jesus Christ who is willing to learn how to be a good teacher than ten competent teachers who are not personally walking the walk. Kids learn more from what you do than what you say.
I probably almost had you hooked and now you are backing off again. Don't be afraid: none of us are perfect, we are all growing. God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7) and the heart is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23). Stay passionate and desperately in love with Jesus, and stay humble, KNOWING you don't KNOW it all. Students want authenticity. They want to see what Jesus has done for you.
Go! Teach! And Jesus promises tobe with you. Always.