When leading in Children’s Ministry, you’ll find yourself in front of a crowd of kids quite often. When I was cutting my teeth in ministry, I taught Children’s Church just about every week. 15 or so years later, I find myself teaching more on a monthly basis, but it’s critical that I crush it when I communicate because my primary reason for communicating now is to train future communicators. This week I’m going to unpack three essentials when communicating to kids.
Let’s dive into humor.
Although we’re talking about communicating to kids, what we know about humor is true of all age groups. Humor is one of the most effective tools a communicator can use while in the spotlight. Humor has been found to:
- Reduce hostility
- Deflect criticism
- Relieve tension
- Communicate difficult messages
- Builds rapport
- Makes the audience want to listen
- Relaxes the audience
- Makes the content more memorable
Humor is the secret language for kids. Watch any television program targeted to kids and you’ll find one common link between every show. Humor.
When speaking to kids, it’s important to utilize humor throughout your message to keep kids engaged. Sometimes, even when the talk is in an intense and serious moment, the right kind of humor is the perfect opportunity to relieve a little tension to keep the kids engaged for a little longer.
Let’s look practically at what this might look like:
As soon as you step on the stage, you have about 30 seconds to make them laugh before they check out. Often times, in a worship context, kids have been there for 10-20 minutes already and with you just stepping on the stage, they’re already thinking, “how much longer is this going to be.” They’re thinking about what’s next. You have a really great opportunity to distract them from “what’s next” and get them to re-engage to you.
Some people tell really great jokes or engage in some physical humor. I really love to tell stories that take kids to a very funny moment. You have to discover which method of humor works best with you. The first 3-5 minutes of humor in a talk I’m giving may have very little to do with the main point. I see it as critical time to build rapport. In a message where I feel I have to ask something big of them, I need time early on to build their trust. Using humor helps the audience like you and want to hear you out. Do this well in the beginning and it will go a long way.
Through the rest of your talk, it’s important that you pace your humor. Don’t over do it or else you take the chance that kids miss the seriousness of your main point. Use too little humor, and you’ll lose the kids with their limited attention span. Remember, you’ve typically got 4-6 minutes to reconnect with your audience before they lose attention. Pay attention to the length of your points and how you might add humor at just the right moments to re-engage.
When driving the point home… resist the urge to make kids laugh otherwise they may not take the point serious. Kids are okay with seriousness when it’s intentional and they feel the weight of it.
To recap, here are some of the best places to use humor when communicating to kids:
- In openings and introductions – to grab their attentions
- When telling Bible Stories – sometimes to tell the story in a funny way or a humorous commentary along the way
- When giving an example – to make a point relatable, a funny prop, illustration or story goes a long way and connects the audience to the point
- To relieve the tension at the end, helping the audience know that it’s over and they did well listening
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