Tell me a Jesus story!
Whether you are sharing a gospel story during the children’s Liturgy of the Word or in a faith formation session, you want the story to be alive and have an impact on your learners. Try these eight simple tips.
“Tell me a story.” What catechist or parent has not heard these words from a child? What greater stories could a child hear than those from the gospel of Jesus Christ? Stories about the life and miracles of Jesus are an excellent means of catechesis, since Jesus should always be the center of our ministry.
Whether you are a catechist presenting a lesson in a faith formation session or an adult volunteering to facilitate the understanding of the Word of God for children, here are some insights and helpful hints.
1. Be Prepared
Pray that the Holy Spirit will speak through you as you share with the children.
Read and reflect on the gospel over and over again so that the meaning becomes clearer and clearer. Apply it to your own life. New insights will surprise even those who have heard the same Scripture “a million times.”
2. Pray with the Children
Incorporate spontaneous prayer at the beginning and end of the session. “Dear God, help us listen carefully to what Jesus wants us to hear in his Word today.” “Jesus, today we heard the story of the ten lepers. Help us remember to say thank you, and not ignore others but be kind to everyone.”
3. Wait for Quiet
Insist on quiet when you are reading or telling a story from the gospel. Explain that this shows respect for the Word of God. Wait for the children to quiet down.
4. Proclaim the Gospel
During the children’s celebration of the Word of God, remember to concentrate on the readings and the gospel for that particular Sunday. Proclaim them with feeling. The few minutes you have with the children should not be spent teaching or explaining anything not related to the readings.
If you are reading the gospel during your religion session, make it the center of your lesson.
5. Discuss the Story
Involve the children as much as possible in discussing and sharing the story. You might begin with simple questions. For example, suppose you have read the story of the cure of the ten lepers, in which one of whom comes back to say thank you. You might ask questions such as: How many lepers were there? How many came back to say thank you?
Then ask the children to reflect. Why did the one come back? Why didn’t the others? (Maybe they were just too excited.) Why did Jesus tell this story? What does it mean to you? What is Jesus (God) trying to tell you? Do you remember to say thank you?
6. Be Patient
If a child says, “I forgot” after having raised a hand to answer a question, don’t move on right away. You could say something like, “That’s okay, we’ll wait a minute. You might remember.” Move on only if the child wants you to.
7. Use Drama
Children love to act out stories. They will remember the gospel story more easily if they act it out, even if only a few are the actors. The observers will enjoy the drama also! Or you might have the children take turns acting out the parts.
8. Reread the Story
Make a game by rereading the gospel and leaving out some words. Ask the children to fill in each word as you read. Or you might have one of the children reread the story or retell it in her or his own words.
Proclaiming the word to our learners is our main role as catechists. These simple ideas will help make your sessions more effective and enjoyable for you and those you teach.
Tips for “Telling” the Gospel Stories
• Be prepared
• Pray with the children
• Wait for quiet
• Proclaim the gospel
• Discuss the story
• Be patient
• Use drama