BIG IDEA: THE CHURCH NEEDS TO STICK TOGETHER.
AIM: The ‘God Sends the Church’ Sunday school lesson aims to show the children that the Church is a we not a me. It aims to teach the children that the Church is global; there are Christians all around the world and we need to stick together as we are going to go through some tough times. This is the twelfth and last session in the Mission:Possible teaching series or VBS.
1. ‘Build Your Kingdom Here’ by Rend Collective. Why not try making some actions to this fun song?
2. ‘We Will Dance’ by Amber Sky Records
3. ‘We Are Alive’ by Amber Sky Records
4. ‘We Love Jesus’ by High Voltage Kids
1. Pass that Banana! Teams lie down toe to head in straight lines. Their feet are kept a couple of feet away from the next player’s head. The first player starts with a banana between their feet and must roll backwards to pass it to pass it to the player behind them, who must receive it with their feet. The banana is passed along like this until it reaches the person at the back of the line. Once that person has received it with their feet they can use their hands to unwrap the banana and eat it. That player then runs back and sits down at the front of the team. The first team to do this is the winning team!
2. I’m Thirsty! Teams compete to drink the most of a large container of juice or water. Each player is given a straw and at the whistle the first player runs to a table where their drink is. They slurp up as much as they can before the whistle is blown again and the next player runs. This is done until one of the teams has drank their drink or the time is up.
3. Human Knot. Players work in teams of 6-12 people. Everyone stands in a circle, closes their eyes and grabs the nearest hand they can find. Then the process is repeated until everyone is holding two hands. The job of the team is to unravel themselves without letting go of each other’s hands. In this way they should finish in a complete circle. The team to finish first is the winning team!
BIG VERSE: Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27.
SET the Scene:
Read Acts 12:1-17. Peter is locked away in prison for preaching the gospel. His friends begin to pray for him and soon an angel arrives to release him. Upon his release Peter goes to find his friends. This is what the church looks like – a group of people praying and caring for one another! Try using one of the following videos to communicate the story:
1. ‘Kidmo: Johnny Rogers: Peter is Freed Bible Story’ This funny video makes a great link into the power of prayer and is a reminder that God’s people can make a big impact when they pray!
2. ‘Peter in Prison’ A simple video that communicates the story effectively.
3. ‘Peter Freed from Prison.’ This video would work well in a small group context.
SPOT the Simple Meaning:
1) OBJECT LESSON: WE ARE THE CHURCH.
You will need to prepare a mini video of Christians in small groups saying “we are the Church.”
Many people believe that the Church is a building. They think they just simply go to church… or maybe they don’t go and they look at the building and think that’s all it is. But did you know the Bible says that we are the Church (1 Corinthians 12:27). That means you and me! That means the church is not a building but it is the people! It is not a ‘me’, but a ‘we’.
Peter knew that the people were the church. The church were the ones who loved him and prayed for him while he was in prison… a building couldn’t do that! Paul wrote that the church is like a body, there are different parts to the body and every part is important. Peter was important because he shared about Jesus. But his friends were important in the church too as they prayed and saw him get released. They might not have gone with Peter physically, but their prayers went with him wherever he went. Peter was part of the church just like you and I are; that means that God sends you and me to tell people about Jesus too! We are the church and we are called to do all that
God wants us to do! What are the things God wants you and I to do as part of God’s church? [get feedback]
2) OBJECT LESSON: THE CHURCH IS GOING TO GO THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES
You will need access to this story of how the hymn ‘It is well’ was written and photos of the Author Horatio and his wife Anna.
Just as Peter went through some difficult times we will also go through some difficult times. Jesus told us that we would not be saved from tough times but that He would always be with us through them (John 15:18, John 16:33). Sometimes those tough times are caused by our enemy, the devil. We must remember that he is our enemy, yet Jesus that lives in us is much greater!
Over 100 years ago there was a man named Horatio Spafford. He wrote a very beautiful hymn that helps many Christians today, but it came out of his very sad story. You see, he and his wife Anna were both Christians and loved Jesus. One day they had a little baby boy. But the baby got ill and died. Some time later all of their businesses stopped making money and Horatio Spafford and his wife became a lot poorer. The family decided to go and do some traveling, but Horatio had to stay behind and help his business. So he sent his wife and his four daughters on a ship. The ship crashed into another boat. Horatio got the message from his wife. It is now a very famous message which simply said: “Saved alone.” On his way to meet his wife Anna, he began to write the words to this hymn down, “It is well, it is well with my soul.” Even though his children were gone he was still able to praise and worship God. WOW!
Amidst all of these tough things we can remember that God calls us overcomers. So even though as the church we have been through some tough times, we are still going strong. The church today is bigger and stronger than ever! Jesus is with us and He will face any tough situation with us!
[You could finish this by teaching and singing ‘It is Well’ or watching this video]
3) OBJECT LESSON: GOD WANTS HIS CHURCH TO STICK TOGETHER
You will need to use pictures of the Persecuted Church (pictures of people behind bars) and prayers. Try looking on the Open Doors websites for images and great tools for speaking to children about the Persecuted Church.
The story of Peter getting out of jail shows us that God wants us to stick together just as they did. Peter was freed by the prayers of the Church. God heard their cries joining with Peter’s. The Church did not leave Peter to fight for himself, but they fought in prayer for him. They loved him and they wanted him to be set free just as much as he himself wanted to be free!
Do we care for the church in the same way? Do we stick together with the church like they did with Peter? In some countries people are still put in prison for being a Christian – even today! We have been learning about some of those places all week – like the North Koreans that cannot even own a Bible! It is illegal for children to learn about Jesus!
The church can stick together by remembering each other. We can stick together by saying good things about one another and encouraging each other. We can stick together by not gossiping or calling each other’s names behind our backs but showing each other we care. Most importantly we can stick together by praying for each other.
Did you realize that there are still people that get put in prison for believing in Jesus today? We can help those people by praying for them and even writing letters to tell them that we are praying for them.
SEARCH the Scriptures:
Have children look at the list of the times in the bible when the church has or has not stuck together. Using bibles, ask the children to work together in pairs to see if they can find each story. Hide the list and see how many of them the children can remember. Make sure you have read the passages and can explain and discuss them with ease with the children.
The Church had to stick together to survive tough times…
1) Paul and Silas (Acts 16:16-40)
2) Hebrews 11:35-38 – Christians in the early church
3) Stephen – stoned to death (Acts 9)
4) Dorcas/Tabitha- dies and is revived (Acts 9:32-43)
5) Paul and Barnabas disagree – (Acts 15:36-41)
6) A Riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41)
7) Paul is arrested (again!) (Acts 21:27-36)
8) The plot to kill Paul (Acts 23:12-35)
Discuss and ask the children to think about how they can stick together as the church.
SENSE How You Feel:
You will need card, ribbon or string and markers. Use stickers, sequins and glue for extras on your designs.
How does it feel to know that you are the Church and that God wants us to stick together?
Using card and string or ribbon make bunting using a bunting template. Children should be encouraged to either draw members of their church, or members of the wider church, or flags from countries around the world to remember Christians around the world.
To make the bunting:
1. Print off a bunting template (as many times as you need them) and draw, color or create a design on each piece using markers, stickers and sequins
2. Cut out the bunting pieces
3. Punch two holes at the top of each piece of bunting
4. Thread your ribbon or string through the holes in each piece of the bunting
There are a number of ways to help the children seek God with this session; here are a couple:
1. Have children write prayers on paper chains to pray for children that are being persecuted for being Christians.
a) Cut strips of paper and write names on them.
b) Stick the ends of one piece together.
c) Thread another strip through the first.
d) Stick the ends of the second piece together.
e) Repeat the process until you have a long paper chain.
2. String Prayers. Pray in a group with wool or twine by holding onto the wool as you pray and then throwing it to someone else to pray. Keep throwing it until you have a big prayer web. Prayers should be focussed on the global church sticking together. Then remind the children that our prayers pull us together as a whole, as you get them to focus on the big web.