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Preaching to Children
- Anne Krane

FLESH MADE WORD

Children can be the most intimidating and rewarding group to preach to because of the many challenges that come with their age group. Typically, the children have a shorter attention span and a smaller vocabulary. They can be more easily overwhelmed and distracted. However, this age group is very ready to hear the word of God. When preaching to children, it is important to meet them where they are, with a strong confidence that they are open and excited to hear the message that you are bringing to them. 

I strongly advise that preachers begin with a story or a prop, something light and easy to focus on. If nothing else, it will stir their imagination and help them to remember your point. It is important to keep the community engaged. Children along with adults love a a conversation. If there are opportunities to ask the congregation simple questions, do so. Homilies are meant to bring Christ’s message to people in a way that makes it relevant and urgent to their lives. For a younger demographic, use images that anyone can relate to -  family, familiar characters, personal stories with emotional content etc. Even though you may use simple terms, don’t be afraid to raise tough questions. Our tendency as adults is to shield young people from big ideas, but when it comes to the word of God, they often can shoulder these ideas more effectively than adults. 

One of the most important things to remember when talking to children is how smart and capable they are. Don’t dismiss them, and don’t give up and assume they will never get it. The fact is, we are all trying to “get” the Gospel.  Children have a great capacity for faith as well as understanding. Don’t talk down to them or oversimplify the passage, simply challenge them! If the Gospel talks about injustice, figure out what their experience of injustice has been and take it seriously. If the theme is love, commitment, or hope, find a way to bring in their knowledge and understanding. What is trivial to the aduolt, might be very significant to children. These small people have the faith the Christ tells us to emulate. Preaching to children offers adults the opportunity for them to teach us. 

 


 

Preaching to Children 

 



A Conversation with the Children Anne Krane 

 


 

Questions for Reflection

  1. What did you learn from the children’s comments about preaching?
  2. Why do stories appeal to children?
  3. Why do stories that depict real life experiences move children to be involved in the story?
  4. In what ways do children teach adults about lived experience?
  5. How does the context of the classroom influence preaching to children?
  6. How does the preacher incorporate the children’s appreciation of the five senses and personal stories in preaching preparation?
  7. How is drama (costumes, props, change of voice, characterizations) a constitutive part of creating a homily for children?
  8. Because the attention span of children is short, how does the preacher hold their attention though dialogue, questions and answers, and creative engagement?