BIG IDEA: JESUS BRINGS FREEDOM
AIM: The ‘I Can Live Freely’ Childrens Lesson on Paul and Silus (Acts 16:16-40) session is all about helping children to see what they have been set free from, and what they have been set free to do!
- Stuck in the Mud. Someone is chosen to be ‘it’ and must run around trying to tag other children. Once tagged a child must stand with their arms and legs open to show that they are stuck in the mud. To be set free from being stuck another child must run underneath one of their arms.
- Balloon Pop! Tie an inflated balloon on to a piece of string and then onto a child’s leg. Do this for each player. Then tell the children they must try and stamp and pop the other player’s balloons whilst defending their own. The last player with an inflated balloon is the winner.
- Three Legged Race. Children pair up and stand side by side. Wrap fabric or some kind of tie around the inside ankles of the two children, tying them both together. Then each pair must try and walk together to the end of the line. The fastest pair is the winning team.
BIG VERSE: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
SET the Scene:
Read Acts 16:16-40. Explain that Paul and Silus were both followers of Jesus. They set a little girl free from evil power over her life. Yet because of this, they were thrown in jail themselves! Paul and Silus did not fear or worry, they trusted in God. Although they were in prison, they felt free and so they sang praises to God!
You could read or act out the story from this ‘Jail Break’ story outline.
- ‘Paul and Silus in Jail’ by Saddleback Kids
- ‘Gods Story: Paul and Silus’
- ‘Paul and Silus in Prison’ by LifeTV
- ‘Slapstick Theatre: Paul and Silus’ by Saddleback Kids
- ‘Paul and Silus’ by New Vintage Church
SPOT the Simple Meaning:
1) JESUS SETS US FREE
Have a couple of pre-wrapped presents that are wrapped in cellophane. Choose two children to come and unravel the presents. See who can set the present free first! Allow them to keep the presents.
Say: Just like the presents were wrapped up tightly, sometimes we can feel like we are trapped. I mean, we might wrap a present up like that… but can you imagine if I tried to wrap an animal up like that?! It would not be good for the animal! In fact, it would be really cruel and even illegal!
Animals have been made to be free to move and so are we. God created you to live freely!
Sometimes we can feel trapped inside by lots of things – a bad situation at school or at home, feelings of worry and anxiety, or sadness. God doesn’t want us to feel trapped. He wants us to be free in every way! We can come to Him and tell Him our problems and He can help us to feel free from worry. Yet just as Paul and Silus praised God in prison, when we praise God it helps to set us free from those feelings. Why? Because it helps us to see that God is greater than any problem and He is in control!
[You could use a praise song at this point to help children to get their focus on God and to think about His greatness!]
2) WE CAN LIVE FREELY WITH JESUS
Use one of the Toy Story 3 videos where Woody must try and escape Sunnyside or when all the toys escape (if you own the DVD). Alternatively you could use the scene from Monsters University when Sulley and Mikey escape the humans world [if you own the DVD].
Say: If I have accepted Jesus as my Savior then the Bible says that I am free! I am free from the power of sin and death! Free from the need to please everyone around me. I am free from trying to be someone else. As a new creation in Christ I am 100% completely free! And if I am free, I can help others to become free too!
I am free to praise, free to worship, free to love, free to be me! Why? Because Jesus sets me free!
When Paul and Silus were praising, there became a great earthquake and their prison doors flew open and their chains came loose. WOW! Jesus sets us free! Jesus is able to do ANYTHING!
3) FREE TO FORGIVE
You will need a roll of tape [masking tape might work best.]
Say: In our story today, Paul and Silus didn’t get angry with the guard and they didn’t try to hurt him- even though they hadn’t done anything wrong. Paul and Silus praised God – and when they were set free they helped the guard by not running away – even though they were free to do so.
You see, I can move in whatever ways I want when I am free. [Show the children your best dance/gymnastic moves – cartwheel would suffice!]
Paul and Silus were able to forgive because they may have been trapped in the prison, but their hearts were free! They felt free because they had such a love and a joy from Jesus! Jesus was helping them to love and forgive those that were hurting and trapping them. When we accept Jesus into our lives, he forgives us from all the wrong we have done. He sets us free from the power of sin and death. That means that we don’t need to feel hurt or trapped but we are set free by his forgiveness and we want to help set others free too by forgiving them also.
[As you are now talking have a leader come in and tape your arms together so that they are behind your back. Then they should tape your feet together. The tape needs to be weak enough for you to break – try masking tape.]
Can you imagine if Paul and Silus were angry and sad towards the guard? They could have said some nasty words, or run away. They could have beat up the guard. Yet they didn’t
Yet they stayed in the jail. Their attitude and actions meant that the guard wanted to know more about Jesus – and make Jesus his Lord and Savior.
[Break out of the tape]
When we live free from anger, bitterness and unforgiveness we can see others get saved just as Paul and Silus did, if we ask God to use us!
- Who did Paul and Silus set free?
- How did Paul and Silus end up in jail?
- What were Paul and Silus doing in jail?
- Why do you think they were singing and praying?
- What happened when they began to sing?
- Did Paul and Silus run away from the jail?
- What did the jailer decide?
SEARCH the Scriptures:
Children run around and find the strips of paper with the bible verses on them. They must tape them together to form a bible verse chain. The team that finds all the bible verses first is the winning team.
Bible Verses about Being Set Free:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1.
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12.
I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. Psalm 119:45.
Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 1 Peter 2:16.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free. Luke 4:18.
- Why is it good to be free?
- What does Jesus want to free us from?
- Do you know what Jesus wants to free you into?
- Do you feel free? Why/why not?
- What does it look like for someone to be free?
SENSE How You Feel:
How do you think it felt for the young girl, and then for Paul and Silus, to be free?
As the children think about their answer to the above question, encourage them to do one or more of the below activities before you come back together to discuss their thoughts.
- Draw someone that looks completely free. Does this person look like you? Why/why not?
- Create a dance that shows how Jesus frees us. You could use flags and ribbons.
- Write a poem about God’s freedom.
- As a small group write a song about freedom and show it to your church.
- Come up with a rap about freedom.
- Play with a ball or some like of sports equipment and think about what it means to be free (think about how the ball moves with freedom in the air)
- Draw a symbol that makes you think of freedom and talk about why.
- Color and fill in some of the Paul and Silus sheets found here.
Thank You For Giving me Freedom Prayers:
- Create empty flags for the children to draw or write their prayer of thanks on.
- Make a hand print prayer by putting paint on your hand and printing it onto paper. Ask the children to thank God that their hands are not in chains and they have freedom to praise and worship God!
Free to Forgive/Free from Worry Prayers:
- Buy a helium canister, some balloons, string, markers and paper. Have children write or draw things that they need freedom from: worries, anxieties, unforgiveness etc. Then blow up a helium balloon, attach some string and wrap it around their prayer. Encourage the children to go outside, and when they are ready, to release the balloons.
Pray for those Not Free Prayers:
- Prayer Paper Chains: write the names or people groups that are not free on the paper chains.
- Use Operation: World website and resources to pray specifically for a country that you know is not free – or Christians in a certain country.
Please Set me Free Prayers:
- Write ‘Help me’ prayers on cut out butterflies. Thread ribbon through the template. and hang them up or let the child take it home to remind them of their prayer.
- Often it is good to pray one-on-one for a child that wants freedom from something or wants to know Jesus for themselves. Put some soft worship music on in the background while you give children the opportunity to respond.