Tips for a Kids' Church Takeover Service

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If you’ve been asked to participate in a kids’ church takeover service — rejoice! How wonderful to participate in a church that welcomes children in the “big church” and allows kids to serve in ministry. For the children’s pastor faced with leading this service, it may seem like a daunting task.
During my tenure as a children’s pastor, I’ve been there. I had many concerns about meeting adult expectations, having the ability to minister to everyone, etc. Happily, I saw tears — happy tears, not from kids but adults. I had the opportunity to pray and lead many adults back to their childhood faith. It refreshed me!
Before you get there, you need to  develop some good mechanics for ministry. It’s true that a kids’ church takeover service should highlight young leadership but it should also minister to adults. So how do you walk that fine line?
Build kids confidence by sticking to your normal schedule but be prepared to make the sections longer. For example, I love using the Minute Rule. The average age of my students is 10-years old, therefor, I keep sections shorter than 10 minutes. At the takeover service, you might need to extend the sections a bit but not too much. Here’s an example of the breakdown I use:
Greeting/5 minutes: Kids shake adults’ hands, hand out programs and help everyone find a seat. Music plays softly in the background.
Praise and Worship/15 minutes: Kids take the front rows so they can worship without worrying about anyone watching them. We keep the beachballs moving through the air during the upbeat praise song. I collect the balls for the second song and give kids and adults praise ribbons. For the last song, there are no ribbons, just music and worship.
Introduce the Scripture/5 minutes: Here, you establish the overall theme of your message. My kids like creating posters to display the verses, sometimes one poster per word. Let kids walk the posters out to spell out the verse.
Main Teaching Part One/10 to 15 minutes: Here’s where you bring the message! At least part one of the message. I use a storytelling type of teaching. I read the passage a few verses at a time and use descriptive language to help kids immerse themselves in the story. For example, when talking about David playing his music for the sheep before God called him to be king, I talk about the green grass, petting his favorite sheep, spending time alone. Have kids act out the scenes — it’s a good way to get them involved!
Object Lesson/ 5 to 10 minutes: I use wacky experiments or demonstrations to support the verse. I’ve been known to drop bubble wrapped eggs, (to demonstrate the power of faith) or pour bleach into water filled with food coloring (to demonstrate the cleansing power of Jesus.) The object lesson is like a commercial break. Kid helpers help me present the object lesson.
Main Teaching Part Two/10 to 15 minutes: I finish the story and get the audience to participate by repeating words after me or by asking them questions.
Review the scripture verse: Here’s another opportunity to bring the verse back to the memory of the audience.
Altar time/ ? minutes: Some churches don’t have an altar service per say, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a good conclusion. Here’s where you invite children and adults to receive Christ, to come for prayer, to worship the Lord in light of their new understanding. Play worship music, a song that is familiar to children and adults if possible so everyone can worship.
The most important thing to remember is you are a bringer of the Message, a carrier of the Good News! Enjoy the experience! Your demonstration will not only bless families but you could inspire others to do the same!
Read Mimi’s book, The Young Boy and the Great Mountain, a Christian parable for children’s teachers.

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