Introduction by Ruth Gilmore

Excerpted from the Kidsermons books by Ruth Gilmore © 2002 – 2011 All Rights Reserved


“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14 niv). Jesus’ words remind us to see a child through the eyes of God—not as a noisy distraction from business at hand, but as an honored inheritor of God’s kingdom and a model of humility. Children, dancing their way through life, not yet filled with pride and self, still delightfully saturated with the joy of living—they embrace the kingdom. They live in the moment of grace.

These books offer weekly chances to interact with children during worship services. Children’s time is a magical moment in the church service. When young ones are invited forward, many will spring from their seats and gallop to the front of the church, thrilled to sit next to you and have the attention of the whole congregation. And the idea of hearing a good story told just for them, or the chance to unravel the meaning of an intriguing object lesson—well, these are opportunities just too good to pass up.

So, right from the start, all the advantages belong to you.

Stories have power

Even as you capture the children’s attention, adults in the congregation will be drawn into the story, hearing Bible truths told in a new way, appreciating the simplicity you bring to the message. We are — all of us — children, the sons and daughters of our heavenly Parent. Jesus reaches out to the child in each of us, teaching through stories and parables, because children love a good story.

The sermons in this book ask you to be a storyteller. Each one is self-contained and ready to use. But before you begin, here are tips to sharpen your storytelling skills and make these children’s sermons the most effective they can be.

Use sermons that work for you

If you are following the Revised Common Lectionary, you will find that each sermon is based on one of the texts for the day. There are 59 sermons in the lectionary-based books — a year’s worth, plus seven extras (for non-Sunday events or festivals). If you are not following a lectionary, you can search the contents list by theme or topic to find applicable sermons. You may use the Index list included on the website (kidsermons.com) to assist you or simply use the “Find” functions in the ebook version.

Build relationships

Many sermons in this book make use of a personal anecdote or illustration. Children love to hear real-life stories about their elders, especially if they like the elders who are telling the stories. The relationship with your listeners has a lot to do with the connection you build in your first moments with them. It is important to be on their level — physically as well as intellectually. Sit with the children and recognize the importance of each child with your gestures and eye contact. Make it clear that you are eager to travel into the story with them.

And it’s good to remember that our preconceived ideas about teaching and learning may be wrong. Even though we might really want our listeners to sit quietly and keep their eyes glued on us, some children learn best while in motion. Some of my most active listeners often turn out to be ones who most fully understand the point I am trying to make.

Keep it simple, brief, concrete

I have tried to keep the language of these sermons simple and direct, easily understandable to a child. Most sermons will take five minutes or less to deliver. A child’s attention is a tenuous and precious thing. Children are intent on soaking in every miracle of the world around them, and to concentrate on one thing at a time is a considerable challenge.

Many sermons make use of a simple object to illustrate a lesson. (A brief note at the beginning of each sermon will alert you to any special preparations or props.) Children will understand and retain more as more of their five senses are engaged. Their sense of touch or smell or taste will draw them back into the sermon and remind them of the truth that was taught. And with God’s grace, they will learn that truth by heart.

Make the sermons your own

As was noted earlier, these sermons can be used just as they are — read directly from the page. But they will be even better with a bit of preparation and personalization. Customize each sermon for the most appropriate delivery in your situation, to your audience. Add or substitute your own interesting, relevant stories wherever possible. Build in anecdotes, illustrations, and names from your congregation, city, or community.

Prepare

It’s always better to tell your sermon than to read it. The more familiar you are with the sermon, the easier it will be to talk to your listeners. In a well-rehearsed play, the trappings of the performance fade into the background while the emotion and meaning of the play come into focus. A performer who knows the part well is able to ad-lib if occasion demands.

And while you are sharing your sermons, don’t be surprised if a kid puts his oar in. That may shift your direction slightly; but if you’re prepared, you can go with the flow while continuing to steer gently. The bank you end up traveling to may be more interesting and important than the place you were headed.

Visit our Web site, too!

If you have a Web browser, helpful information and resources about children’s sermons are available at kidsermons.com. There you’ll be able to contact the author, read anecdotes, download scripts for puppet shows, find information about other books in the series, and access links to other helpful sites on the Internet. The Web site has an on-line index of all currently available kids sermons by Ruth Gilmore. They are listed by biblical reference in order from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

Finally, enjoy the rewards

God has generously blessed me through the children who have sat with me on the steps of the altar. I marvel to see how a very young child can catch the meaning behind a story before I’ve even gotten to the explanation. I rejoice in the delightful insights of my young audience. I suspect that, through the years, they have taught me far more than I have taught them.

May God bless you as you teach the children — and, in teaching them, welcome the Lord Jesus himself into your midst.