Do you use object lessons in your children’s ministry? Have you ever heard of “Secret Sermon” object lessons? I learned about Secret Sermon object lessons from my friend Anne Marie, the creator of Future Flying Saucers. She uses them in their family services each Sunday morning to engage kids and teach them about God’s Word.
Here’s how they work… During a specified time in the family service, the children are invited to the front to sit with Anne Marie. One of them brings a random, surprise object. Anne Marie has to use the object to teach a Bible truth, right on the spot! Anne Marie has posted about a few of her Secret Sermons on Facebook, and I’ve been so intrigued with the idea. It takes a lot of creativity, quick-thinking, and guts to pull this off well, but she does such a great job. She let me ask her a few questions about Secret Sermons, and I’m excited to share them with you!
Brittany: Why do you think using object lessons is important when teaching kids?
Anne Marie: Children have short attention spans, especially preschoolers. When you can use something that piques their curiosity, or do what I call, the Hook, then you can bet you have their whole attention. So many bible teachers desire to teach children, but they don’t think about how to teach in an age-appropriate manner. We need to think about how children learn, how their brains function, and use vocabulary they can understand. We also need to give children credit. They can handle complex ideas when taught age-appropriately.
Object lessons are simple enough for preschoolers to listen to and learn something, and complex enough for older elementary students to truly gain the bible concept and application. And I have had quite a few adult volunteers and parents over the years tell me that they learn more about the Bible, Jesus, and God from my object lessons than they do the preacher on Sunday morning.
Brittany: Have you ever been stumped by the object a child brought up?
Anne Marie: One of the most random objects, and one that made me really think, was when a child brought a DVD of Howdy Doody to me. (Does anyone even know who that is anymore???) In my mind I thought, “Oh no, Lord help me!” I started to describe who Howdy Doody was and by the time I had explained it, I had a message in mind. I described how this particular puppet worked and how it needed a hand and arm inside to make the mouth and eyes move. If it didn’t have that arm, it would flop, or be a pile of material on the table. Not a very exciting puppet to watch. Then I turned to how people need Jesus. We need Him to give us strength to say nice words and do actions that honor God. If we don’t have Jesus inside of us, in our heart, soul, spirit, then we flop. We can’t do anything in our own power.
Brittany: Do you have any tips for leaders who want to do their own secret sermon object lessons or write their own creative lessons while teaching kids?
Anne Marie: I’ve created object lessons two ways. I have started with scripture, and then prayed through it for an engaging object lesson. Or, I started with the object and then found scripture to go with it. I prefer the first way better, but with “Secret Sermons” I don’t have that option. I have used objects, science experiments, lego scenes, pictures, games, and activities as my Hooks. So fun!
When we read the gospels we see that the Master Teacher, Jesus, used object lessons ALL the time to teach spiritual concepts to people of all ages. Why should we teach differently? All Jesus did was choose something tangible the people already knew about and used it to teach an intangible concept.
Church leaders can do the same thing. It just takes courage and practice. Study how Jesus did it… and then start picking out random objects to see if you can come up with a spiritual objective that matches. Not every item works as well as others.
I figure, if I am bored with a bible lesson, then the children will be as well. Therefore I create bible lessons that allow for engagement, interaction, questions, and discussions. Jesus did the same thing. The bible is not boring. It is full of adventure! Let’s teach that way!
Yes, the Bible is full of adventure, and we can invite kids into that adventure when we teach the Bible in engaging, compelling ways that connect to kids’ everyday lives. So how will you use object lessons in your ministry this week, and when can you give “Secret Sermon” object lessons a try?
Have you met my friend, Anne Marie Gosnell? She’s amazing. She’s been in some sort of ministry-related position for the past 30 years, and she created Future Flying Saucers (FFS) in 2012 to share the Bible object lessons she was creating for her church. FFS has since grown worldwide, and she has published 9 books (I’ve shared about 2 of her books here and here). She’s also the founder of the Bible Creative Conference that happens online each February (2021 information here). Most recently, the Lord has called her to be the Family Minister at the church in which her husband grew up, and she’s been on staff for 6 months now. You can connect with Anne Marie on Instagram here, and be sure to check out her YouTube channel full of creative Bible teaching ideas here!
Thank you, Anne Marie, for taking the time to share your wisdom and creativity!
[…] in the week, we shared about Anne Marie Gosnell’s Secret Sermon Object Lesson idea – it’s brilliant, by the way – and she has graciously allowed us to share a free […]