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How Reinforcement Builds Retention in Children’s Ministry

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May 30, 2012 by eric echols

Have you ever finished teaching a lesson to the kids at your church and thought, “are they really getting it”? Do you ever get the feeling that week in and week out the kids in your children’s ministry aren’t remembering a thing you’re teaching them?

Believe me, I’ve been there. I’ve asked review questions…only to have one or two hands go up…and to make things worse the answers weren’t even close to what I taught the week before. Then I discovered that the only way we can guide our children to love God and put Him first is through persistent reinforcement. (See yesterday’s post for parents to learn more on Moses’ instructions from Deuteronomy 6)

Why reinforcement works in Children’s Ministry:

Reinforcement And Retention. A recent study found that when we expose kids to a concept once in 30 days there is a 10% retention level. For example, if you’re only teaching a Biblical truth once in 30 days, your kids are only remembering 10% of what you teach them. On the other hand, the study found that if we review that material six times within a 30-day period kids will likely retain 90% of what we teach them.

How to use reinforcement in Children’s Ministry:

Stick To The Theme. A few years ago we started teaching the same theme for an entire month in our children’s ministry but approaching it using different Bible stories, songs, and activities each week. As you can imagine the practice of persistent reinforcement radically changed the way we do children’s ministry. We use to concentrate on totally new material every week and then move on to something different. Now once we teach a lesson we come back again a week later from a different angle, and back again another week, and back again another week for the entire month. The end result has been amazing! Our kids are remembering who God is and what God is like. They are learning to love God and give Him first place in their lives.

Begin to practice persistent reinforcement with your kids. According to Moses, our goal is not to impress children with a new Bible story each week, but rather it is to impress on them a love for God.

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