It was my turn to teach this Sunday. (I rotate with other volunteers.) I get my lesson plan mid-week and see that my Bible story is David and Goliath. I immediately can hear in my minds eye, “We know this story!”
My Mission: Bring this story to life in a new, fun and interactive way.
The Secret: Use the kids! (And lots of props)
I have always said that children’s ministry is “stuff-intensive” because children are both highly visual and sensory. Their brain engages when they are holding things. If you aren’t bringing a box of stuff with you any time you teach, you may be undermining your effectiveness!
So, as I reviewed the Bible story, I looked for something new. By the way, always review directly from the Bible no matter how well you think you know the story – new insights will always jump from the page, and the familiar will make new things stand out. As I read about David’s father sending him with snacks, I thought of a funny way to communicate that visually. as you will see.
I also made a list of props I would need. Since I couldn’t take pictures during my lesson, and didn’t want to post pictures of individual children, my son Luke helped me re-create the outfits later in the afternoon with our green screen. Obviously, you won’t have the same props I have, but as you read, you think about what you have or what you could get or even make to illustrate that part.
I told the kids we would be recounting a great battle in history and that I needed their help. (Never say, “Today we are learning the story of David and Goliath.” Let the story unfold and allow each kid to start to recognize it on their own. This provides an “Ah-Ha” moment for each child, as well as avoids a mass exclamation of, “We know this!”
I explained their were good guys and bad guys, and we practiced cheering. Then I asked who wanted to be the bad guys? The boys all volunteered, making the girls be the good guys. Next, I declared the boys the Philistines and girls the Israelites, instructing them to cheer or boo, depending on which side they are on, anytime I said Philistines or Israelites during the story. This keeps them engaged and listening the entire time.
Now, it was time for volunteers. First, of course, I needed the biggest boy in the room to play the villain of the story.
Next, we needed armies. I brought a few plastic army hats and used three Viking ones for the bad guys and three knight helmets for the good guys. I choose 3 boys and 3 girls to come up, wear the hats, and lead their armies.
Then, enter the hero. I asked for a girl from the Philistines to play Our Hero. (Don’t say David just yet.) By the way, I often like to let girls play male characters in skits. Since so many of the great historical figures in the Bible were men, if you only let boys play them, your female students miss out on a great learning opportunity. When we act we connect with a character. Don’t say I need a girl to play a boy, say I need a girl to be the hero. Girls never object to playing a hero in the story.
Lastly, I asked a male leader to play a Dad. (David’s dad.) Then I began to tell the story of the great battle that was going on, and how this young boy named David was left behind to take care of his sheep back home while his brothers went off to war. One day, the dad got curious about how the battle was going, so he asked his son to take some cheese to his brothers.
It’s always good to throw in a surprise element when telling a familiar story. Humor engages an audience. When I said that the dad wanted to send a snack to his sons, I said he decided to send them some cheese. I put a cheese hat on another student who David then escorted to the brothers ‘in battle’ up on the stage. When you use humor, you can always correct your accuracy by saying, “OK, maybe it wasn’t cheese; it was loaves of bread. But I would’ve sent cheese.” The girl who wore the cheese hat absolutely loved it, and of course, it engaged her in the story and created a memory for her as well as the other kids.
As I continued the story, explaining how the Philistines were challenging Israelites to present just one warrior to fight him, I had both David and Goliath repeat key lines that I prepped for them. I also just told the story using the kids and allowing the audience to cheer and boo whenever I said their army’s name. The key was to illustrate David’s absolute shock that they were afraid of giants when they serve an awesome God. Show how brave he was as he trusted in God, not in his own strength. As you say actions, you can have the audience participate. For example after Goliath repeated, “Fe Fi Foe Fum,” I had the Israelites all tremble in fear. Anytime the audience participates, they are actively engaged and therefore learning.
For David’s costume, I used a beanie hat to signify that he was a young boy. Of course you give a slingshot to the actor, and when the time comes, let him/her shoot at the light. Of course, do not put anything in the slingshot!
At the end, I brought a king on stage. He told the children that David would one day become king because of his trust in God.
Finally, after Goliath fell and died, I had the entire Israelite army stand up. I pointed and said that they charged the Philistine army and attacked them all. As the girls ran across the room to charge the boys, it was a controlled level of chaos that the children really enjoyed.
Finally, I have them return to their own sides where I have the boys all play dead, since the Philistine army was defeated, and have a girls all party and dance and celebrate that they have won because of David’s faith in God.
In summary, children love to be part of the story. Use props, use the kids, use humor, and make the story as dramatic as exciting as you can. They will go home talking about the Bible story as a result.
The next time you teach, have your box of props ready to go, and the kids will love your story, even if they have heard it a thousand times before.