7 Ways To Help Kids Connect With God
Last week I talked about how often times our lessons are geared towards teaching kids about God, but fail to connect kids with God. (If you missed it, you can read it here.)
How do you fix that?
For elementary aged kids who can read, one of the best ways I've found is through Response Stations. The Response Stations are small stations you set up around the room. Each one serves a different purpose.
After the large group lesson is over, explain to the kids what stations are available. (See below for a list of 7 ideas.) Remind them that this is a time to talk to God, not their friends. Ask them to move about the stations very quietly so they don’t disturb other people. Finally, say a calming prayer, then quietly release them to choose whichever station they want. They can even visit multiple stations if time allows.
And here's a pro tip: play some soft instrumental music during the response station time. Also, it helps to have a leader directing the kids and reminding them to work quietly.
Depending on the age of your kids, I've found that 4-5 minutes is a good amount of time, but you can adjust according the needs and abilities of your group.
If you're like me, you might be surprised how quickly your kids embrace the experience. Even my 4th and 5th grade boys were quietly engaging with the stations. But don't be discouraged if it takes time for it to catch on with some of them. Remember, sometimes spiritual growth is messy, and that's okay!
If you want to dive even deeper into how we do Response Stations in GO! Curriculum, watch the video below. I'll personally walk you through how GO! incorporates station prompts that direct kids when they need help deciding what to pray about, write about, read or draw.
List of Response Stations
With that said, here's a list of possible response stations, but it’s by no means comprehensive. Be creative! If you think of another station that helps bring kids into a relationship with God—go for it!
Prayer Station: This station provides an opportunity for kids to respond to God through prayer. You can keep is simple or you can find all kinds of great prayer wall ideas on Pinterest. If possible, make a leader available at this station to pray for and with kids and to assist younger kids with writing. It’s also good to remind younger kids that it’s okay if they don’t know how to spell something, God knows what they’re trying to write.
Journal Station: At this station, kids will have an opportunity to record their thoughts or to write a letter to God. As with the Prayer Station, provide markers or pens at the Journal Station for kids to write with. It might be helpful to provide a flat, hard surface for kids to write on such as a table or clip board. For kids who don’t know what to write, a Journal Station prompt that corresponds with the day’s lesson is helpful.
Bible Reading Station: For the kids who didn’t bring their own Bible, provide a handful of Bibles at the station for them to use. You may want to include bean bags, pod chairs, or other comfortable seating as well as a lamp for reading. Kids should be able to explore any part of Scripture they would like, but the Bible Reading prompt will direct them toward the story or passage that was covered during the lesson. If your kids struggle to find the designated story in the Bible, as a part of the prompt you may want to include the page number for where the story is found in the Bibles you provide.
Art Station: God is a creative God! So it only makes sense that He would be delighted when we use the creativity He gave us to glorify Him. That’s what the Art Station is all about. This station is where kids can use their creative abilities to respond to God. Provide the kids at this station with various artistic mediums such as markers, crayons, colored pencils, and water color paints. You might want to rotate the artistic medium from week to week.
Poetry and Song Writing Station: This is a chance for the kids to use and develop some of their creative writing skills for God’s glory. Create a space for kids to sit quietly and write a poem or song to God. Allow them to quietly share their poem or song with each other or a leader when finished. If any of your young song writers show promise, you may even want to connect them with a worship leader who can help put their lyrics to music.
Giving Station: If your ministry encourages your kids to tithe, you may want to include this as one of your stations. Decorate a shoe box, jar, or other receptacle and place it at the giving station. Encourage kids to discreetly and quietly place their offering in the container.
Salvation Station: The most important decision a kid could make is to give his life to Christ and become one of His followers. The Salvation Station can be a place for kids to ask questions about that decision and to surrender their lives to God. If there's a week where you have a "salvation lesson," this would be a good station to include to pray with kids, to help them process their decision, and to celebrate their commitment. (GO! Curriculum includes 4 "salvation lessons" each year.)