Creating windows as teaching tools
How can we use the creating windows tool in our sessions with kids and teens?
One of my favourite ways to teach is to create a window into my own experience. Creating a window is just a way of giving the children or youth in your group, a glimpse into your relationship with God and how it affects your everyday life.This is powerful because it gives the kids a chance to see what a real relationship with God in the real world looks like. You’ll hear preachers do it all the time!
I don’t have as much time or influence over them as their parents or primary carers but I can be a significant adult in their life who shows them something different about God and life with him. Whatever the topic or Bible story there is probably some emotion or parallel experience that I can share or one of my other leaders can.
Here are a few pointers to help you do this in your children’s and youth groups too:
- You don’t have to have experienced the exact same situation, for example, I’ve never been thrown into prison like Joseph but I do know what it feels like to be accused of something that I haven’t done.
- Get stories from different leaders. One of the joys of being a team is that people will have different life experiences and ways of connecting with God. Showing a breadth of experience is really powerful because it gives kids lots of ideas and options of what their version of relationship with God might look like. Your other leaders may not feel confident to do this initially, so model it for them and encourage them to have a go, when you feel they are ready. You could offer to help them practise their story beforehand and you can give encouragement and pointers on how to make it engaging and helpful for the children and young people in the group. If you have a team time before the service, that can be a good time to spot if someone has an experience it would be helpful to share.
- Tell stories of other people. Your examples don’t have to be limited to just you and your team. Get other people from your congregation to come in and share, or with their permission tell some of their story. You can also look to Christians throughout history and see where they experienced something that might be relevant.
- Use some recent examples. If every story and example is from 10 years ago it can lose some of its punch and authenticity. If something is particularly raw, I would recommend waiting a while and then debriefing the situation with the group weeks or months later. We want to be real but also mindful of not putting ourselves in a difficult position or sharing before we are ready.
- Don’t worry if they are not entirely relatable to their day-to-day life. Some of the challenges and triumphs that you face in your day-to-day life with God might involve topics like work, caring for elderly parents, marriage or parenting which aren’t relevant to the children in your group yet. You can still use those examples just focus on how you connected with God through it rather than the details of the situation itself. If you had a relationship with God when you were experiencing some of the things that they are, you can use examples from that time of your life too.
- Frame and explain as much as you feel able. Whilst it creates a window to say ‘I prayed and then God told me this’, what’s more helpful to a child developing their own relationship with God is to say ‘I was so upset, I just didn’t know how to talk to God about it so I started writing down how I was feeling and asking him in my head to come close. I saw a picture in my mind/ a Bible verse popped into my head / I felt a sense of peace like a warm hug wrapping me up’.
- Create windows even during the session. Leave out your planning where the children can see it and share how you prayed and prepared the session. When it’s chaos and you want some wisdom from God to know what to do next, ask him out loud. When you’re not sure what God wants to do next and are asking him, verbalise that too, so the kids know that’s what’s happening.
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