Sunday School Lessons


Let me start by saying that there’s no right way to build and structure your children’s ministry. I simply want to give you some ideas here based on what’s worked for me in various areas of children’s ministry. I’ll share my thoughts on Sunday School, Junior Church, Sunday evening, and midweek church ministries as well as homeschool Bible teaching and family devotions. I’ve also included a section for the emerging home church / full church movement.

Not every church will be able to implement all of these ideas, so I encourage you to pray about which ones will be the most successful for you. If you’re a teacher or volunteer chaperone, I’d especially encourage you to be proactive in your use of time with the children.

Ministry to Children

Making the Most of Your Time

As children’s workers, we have so little time to teach children the most important lessons of their life. We might meet with them for an hour or two each week, and sometimes, we don’t see a child for weeks at a time because of other activities that might be competing for their family’s time. That’s why we need to make the most of the time we have with them.

Setting Priorities

The best way I’ve found to maximize the effectiveness of the time I spend with the children in my ministry is to set clear priorities for each session. I’ll talk more about this further down, but for now, the point to remember is that your priorities will probably be slightly different for each block of time you have with the kids. Your priorities for the Sunday School hour will be different from your priorities for Junior Church or an outreach event.

So, to start, ask yourself what your primary goal for each session is. Are you trying to teach the Bible? Are you trying to attract new children to your ministry? Are you showing them to apply their faith to life?

When you have the answers to what your primary goal for each block of time is, you can set your priorities for that session. Your priorities will then determine how you structure your time in that session. You can make sure you put your most important activities first, or you can give yourself the freedom to cut less important activities if you need to get to the meat of the session.

Your activities for each session could include any of the following, depending on your priorities and strategy. I’ve listed how I think of these activities in alphabetical order.

Bible lesson – teach kids an important lesson from Scripture

Crafts or activity sheets – encourage children to express their creativity related to a Bible-inspired project

Drama – set the stage for kids to act out a Bible story or a real-life situation pertinent to Christian living

Free time – let children play in your facility and build fellowship with one another

Games – connect with kids or illustrate a faith principle through the use of structured games

Illustration – show a movie, read a book, or perform a puppet show that illustrates a Bible passage or faith lesson

Journaling - give students time to write their notes on a Bible lesson and take it with them

Listening – allow children to listen to and participate in adult (full-church) teaching and conversations

Memorizing Scripture - take time to memorize a key verse of Scripture from your Bible lesson or start a Bible quizzing program for your own church or to compete in a league .

Music – reinforce messages of faith by singing and moving to children’s Bible songs or Christian music for kids

Prayer requests – ask children if they have anything they would like to pray for

Service projects – show kids how to apply their faith through a helpful activity

Sharing – allow children to share what’s happening in their life

Addressing the Needs of the Children

But even when you prayerfully set your priorities for each session, God might reveal other opportunities during your time.

“Teacher, I have a question!” - If a child has a question about God, the Bible, or anything pertaining to the faith, never hesitate to answer it for the good of the group. Giving them a real answer to what’s concerning or puzzling them will build their faith more than anything else you have planned. Take as much time as you need to resolve the conversation. If they or another student have follow-up questions, answer them. Some of the best teaching I ever did was simply answering questions. I also always let the group know that any question was safe in our sessions. Nothing was too sensitive or inappropriate if the student was sincerely asking a question and not simply trying to get a reaction.

”Something happened…” - Sometimes, children will want to share with you about something happening in their life. This is your opportunity to truly care for one of your students. Show them what the church is supposed to be by allowing them to share anything they need to. If you feel the matter is too sensitive for the group, you can pull them aside and talk to them privately. Your other leaders can keep the activities going well enough. Don’t worry if the session deviates from what you had planned. Allowing a child to unburden themselves is more important than any other priority you might have had in mind.

Dealing with Children who Need Special Attention

These are not the questions or the sharing needs. These are the kids who are simply having a hard time controlling themselves. Inevitably, you’ll have one child whose antics will try to derail your entire session. Telling them not to do things and to “focus, please” can suck up all your time for the more important activities you planned.

So, what do you do to keep the session on track?

Negative reinforcement - You could enforce negative consequences, but I found that punishing children only has an effect for a limited time. Kids who are acting out usually start acting out again fairly quickly. Besides, we don’t want kids to feel negative about their time at church.

Positive reinforcement - You could reward kids with positive reinforcement. But, again, this can get out of hand. If you give prizes to “problem” kids for behaving well, you have to give prizes to all of them. And your ministry doesn’t need to be spending money to keep kids acting as they should.

Ignoring the problem - Another option would be to ignore the problem and keep going. This can be an effective solution depending on the situation. You could allow the child to play by themselves if they don’t want to participate in the group activity. You could talk over them and continue with your lesson or activity if your group is large enough. This can be an acceptable course of action as long the child isn’t being too disruptive to others. Most children will want to pay attention and participate with the group and will ignore the antics of the misbehaving child if you make it clear that you plan to do the same.

Separating the child - Sometimes, one of your students will be too disruptive to stay in the group. You can’t allow one child to keep the others from learning. If you have enough adult leaders, you can ask one or two to take the child to another part of the room or another part of your facility. If you don’t have enough adults to maintain your standards of accountability (no child should ever be alone with an adult who isn’t their family member), you’ll need to ask their parent or guardian to remove the child from the class for that session. You might need to call the parent if they’re not immediately available. This is usually a last resort, but an effective one for setting the tone of future dealings with that child. I usually gave students one warning that I was going to call or send them back to their parents. After that, I did it but made it clear that I would like to see them back at our next session.

Being a Teacher, not a Babysitter

Whatever priorities you set for your sessions, remember that you’re not a babysitter. You’re not there simply to monitor children and enforce the rules. You’re there to teach them. And you’re there not only to teach them the Bible but to teach them Christianity. They need to see you as an authentic example of the faith who cares for them.

Interact with the kids as much as possible. Get to know them personally. Show an interest in them. And let them get to know you. If you do, they’ll want to hear what else you have to teach them.

How to Structure Your Children’s Sunday School Hour

Sharing - This is the first time you’re seeing children for the week. I usually started by asking the kids to sit in a circle on the floor with me (or around a table if the room wasn’t big enough to have floor space). Then, we had a sharing time. The best way to lead a successful sharing time is to structure so that kids don’t have a choice of whether they answer or not. Some kids are more outspoken and ready to share; others need to be drawn out.

I liked using two different sharing techniques. One is called High and Low. You go around the circle asking kids to share one good (high) thing that happened to them during the past week. Then, you do the same asking for one bad (low) thing. Another idea is to hand out pieces of colored candy randomly. The color of the candy determines what the child has to share. For example, orange could mean that they have to share something about their home life, or blue could mean they have to share about something that happened at school. Whatever technique you use, make sure that you and your adults share as well.

Bible lesson - It’s usually best to introduce the lesson with games, a movie, or a drama skit. Then, you can tell a Bible story. When you do, make sure to involve the kids by asking questions. Your questions will keep them thinking about the story. After you finish the story, ask them some application questions.

Prayer - You can take prayer requests if you have time. Otherwise, say a prayer or ask one of the children to pray to close your lesson time. It’s important to teach children to talk to God about the lesson so that they understand they can have a relationship with Him, and not just learn about Him.

Craft or activity sheets – If you have time, lead the children in creating something related to the Bible lesson. You can also give them activity sheets that cover the story or send a packet of activity pages home with them.

How to Give a Children’s Sermon

If you’re running a traditional children’s ministry, the next step is the children’s sermon during the worship service. The pastor might like to do this part of the children’s ministry, or the church might like the children’s pastor or other volunteers to do it. The opportunity here is to introduce both the sermon and the Junior Church activities at the same time. Though separating by different ages, you show that you’re one church by studying the same Scripture passage.

When you have a children’s sermon, it’s best to call the children up to the front and have them sit facing the congregation. Then, to give the sermon, you could tell a Bible story, tell a fictional story, talk about a real life story that happened, or read a children’s book to Illustrate your message. Ask the children questions about your topic and also incorporate Listening by asking the congregation some questions too. The best children’s sermons become a dialogue that you facilitate between the children and the teens and adults.

Pray to close the children’s sermon and then dismiss the kids to Junior Church.

How to Teach Junior Church

If your church has a Children’s Sermon, you’re Junior Church period is probably starting halfway through the service time. In that case, the kids have already been in service for singing and prayer. They might already have been to Sunday School as well. In that case, it’s time to move around and be active.

Music - Unless your kids are all sung out from the service, this is a great time to teach them through song and dance. Choose songs that deal with the topic of the children’s sermon and point out how they connect. If you don’t have a children’s sermon, point out aspects of the song that you want kids to remember for your Bible lesson.

Bible lesson - If the kids already had a Children’s Sermon, you might want to skip this section. The Children’s Sermon serves as the Bible lesson. Otherwise, you can give a short lesson based on the passage the congregation is studying in the service. Again, this should be an active time, so try to use Drama or interactive stories. Then, ask a few questions about the story to help kids apply the lessons God wants them to learn.

Games or Service project - Finish your Junior Church time with some structured games that reinforce the lesson. You could also play some favorite Bible games that your ministry used for previous lessons. If applicable and if time allows, consider leading the kids on a quick service project in the church or on the property. They could clean something, organize something, or help prepare for another church activity.

How to Structure Sunday Evening Activities

Not many churches hold Sunday evening activities anymore. If yours does, this can be a great opportunity for outreach. Make it a fun time that kids can invite their friends to.

Free time - For the first half of your time, simply visit with kids as they play games around your facility. I used to set up video games, air hockey, foosball, bowling, shuffleboard, corn hole, basketball, and board games for the kids to play. You can also serve some snacks if you want to budget for it.

Games - To bring the group back together, play a structured game or two.

Bible lesson - I’ve found that the best format for Sunday night lessons is Christian children’s movies or TV shows. They’re entertaining for newcomers and not too complicated while still being educational. (I’ll give specific recommendations for what I used in the individual lessons.) You can watch one movie or series over several weeks. End by asking the kids questions about what they watched, and then pray to close. Allow the kids to have more Free time if you have any time left.

How to Use Midweek Sessions

It’s been a few days since you met with the kids. It’s also the middle of the school week during most of the year and your students have already been learning and doing homework before they came to your activity. That means they’re probably not in the best frame of mind for any more learning and they might be tired as well.

Games - Shake off the sluggishness with a couple of games. I like to use an active game followed by a quiet game. You could break your group up into trios or fours to play board games with a leader.

Bible lesson - Give a relaxed talk about something related to the faith. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about a Bible story. It could be a story illustrating how to apply Biblical principles to kids’ lives. It will give them something practical to think about as they’re in the midst of their week.

Prayer requests - Close by asking for prayer requests. Go around the circle or your seating area, asking each child if they have anything to share. Some kids won’t share anything unless you ask them directly. Close by saying a prayer for the requests they mentioned and as a closing response to your lesson.

Free time - If you have any time left, give students time to visit with their friends.

Service project - Alternatively, you could lead the group on a midweek Service project. Your evening session might be the most time you have with the kids, therefore being your best opportunity to do an off-campus activity.

How to Make the Most of Outreach and Special Events

The Special events that your ministry holds are another opportunity to bring new kids into the fold. You want to make children and families feel welcome without too much “church talk.” But, at the same time, you are wanting to invite them to be a part of your church and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to tell them what they need to hear.

So, no matter what your event, you should give a brief Bible lesson. Make it simple. Make it applicable to everyone. Make it about Jesus. Make it optional.

What I mean is that you should give the Bible lesson toward the end of the event. Call everyone together and tell them that you are a church and that you want to tell them a short story about Jesus. At that point, if someone wants to leave early, they can decide to do so. Most, however, will appreciate the fun they had at the event you held and won’t feel pressure about simply listening to a story. Your story can then give them something to think about and a lingering invitation to learn more about Jesus as they leave the event.

As people leave, thank them for coming and give them a brochure highlighting all the ministries at your church. Keep in touch with them in the same way you invited them to your event. Don’t push them to sign up for your mailing list or to give you any more contact information. You don’t want them to feel as if you’re trying to pull them in if they’re not ready to come.

How to Do Children’s Ministry in a Home Church

A home church is very intimate. You probably have only a handful of families that meet together. That gives you the opportunity to engage in intergenerational learning. That also gives you a lot of freedom for scheduling your children’s ministry times. Here are some thoughts.

Listening - Keep your children with you as you meet for your weekly church sessions. They can sing with you, pray with you, learn from your conversations with one another, and get to know you as authentic Christian adults, not just as their parents. I would encourage you to share everything you normally would in a small group. Teach your kids through your real struggles and failures, even when those struggles and failures relate to them. Of course, you’ll want to enforce that church time isn’t a family meeting. It should be a time to share about the family without making the session all about one family.

As effective as intergenerational learning is, though, there should still be a time dedicated to the kids. Perhaps the children can meet together at a separate time for their own games and Bible lesson. If your house church takes a meal together, you could have your church meeting before the meal and the kids time after while the other adults clean up and visit.

Your group could engage in Service projects together whenever convenient for the most members. In short, a children’s ministry at a home church can do all of the activities that a larger church would but on a smaller scale and in a more close-knit setting.

How to Use Your Home Bible Teaching Time Best

Here’s your opportunity for deep discipleship. You can accomplish at home what the children’s ministry doesn’t have time for at church.

If you have a Bible teaching as part of your homeschooling day or as a regular part of your child’s daily routine, you’re already doing a great job emphasizing your Christian faith. Here are just a few suggestions for you to consider if you’re not already doing them.

Memorizing Scripture - Create a course of study for your child to work their way through the Bible. Identify one verse per week for them to memorize. You can select key verses from the passages they’re studying or start with this list of 100 Scripture Verses to Memorize .

Memorizing isn’t as difficult as it sounds, especially after your child gets into the habit of doing so. Their memory will become sharper, and they’ll thank you for all the Scripture you lodged in their minds early on. To keep the verses fresh in their memory, have the repeat each verse from previous weeks before they start memorizing the new verse for the week.

Journaling - As your child reads their Scripture passages, have them keep a journal – either handwritten or typed. As adults, writing down our thoughts is an invaluable learning experience. It engages our minds on a deeper level and helps us to think through ideas more thoroughly. It’s the same for children. In fact, journaling is the best way to keep kids focused as they think about a passage.

You can assign them to write down anything they find interesting or any questions they have about the passage. Their next assignment could be doing some research to answer those questions. You and they might both learn something!

Prayer - Praying with your children is an important aspect of teaching them to put God first in their lives. Some times to pray could be before they go to school, as you start your homeschooling session, or as they start their Bible study time.

How to Have the Most Effective Family Devotions

This is an opportunity to connect as a whole family. It could be a follow-up to your child’s Bible study time or a replacement for individual study if you’re pressed for time. If it’s a follow-up, read the same passage that your child did and allow them to share anything they learned. Otherwise, you can follow an independent reading plan or use a family devotional book . Whatever you use, the time spent in God’s Word and discussing your faith will be worth it.

Listening - The key is to involve your whole family and encourage everyone to share on a personal level. Ask questions to illicit responses from parents, older siblings, and children. Each passage relates to everyone, so no one should feel that a family devotion isn’t for them. And when we listen to how a passage relates to everyone else, we learn even more.

Prayer requests - After you talk about the Bible passage, have a family sharing time and pray for one another. It’s especially important to have family members take turns praying for each other’s concerns and lifting up each other’s praises. When you pray for another, you’ll bond not only as a family, but as Christian brothers and sisters.

I hope these ideas for prioritizing your time and organizing your teaching sessions both at church and at home have been helpful.

May God’s Spirit be with your spirit as you teach in whatever capacity God has given you! - Steve

About the Author

Steve and Mindy

Steve has a Master's of Divinity and has served as an associate pastor for about 7 years. Steve is passionate about passing on his devotion and does so in a variety of ways. Check out his Patreon or the About page to find out how you can help support his efforts.


  • Ministry to Children
    Sunday School Lessons

    How to build your children’s ministry with free resources for your children’s ministry or family time. Includes children’s Sunday School lessons and children’s sermons on the entire Bible!

Recent Articles


  • Ministry to Children
    Sunday School Lessons

    How to build your children’s ministry with free resources for your children’s ministry or family time. Includes children’s Sunday School lessons and children’s sermons on the entire Bible!

Recent Posts