BIG IDEA: I CAN START OVER
AIM: To help children see that they can have a fresh start in Jesus. This session ‘I Can Start Over’ Childrens Lesson on Pauls Conversion (Acts 9) focuses on helping children to see that no matter what they have done Jesus will always love and accept them. They can always have a fresh start in Jesus.
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- Costume Relay Race. Children line up in teams and must see how fast each player can put on a costume and run to the end line and back. Each player must then return to take the costume off and tag the next person in the line to do the same.
- Makeover Madness. A child from each team chooses a leader. They are then given items to makeover the child: hair ties, clips, make up (for women) and any other items. Alternatively you could use face paint.
- Musical Chairs. Children must move around a line of chairs whilst the music plays, then run for a chair when the music stops. Children that do not find a chair before the music has stopped are eliminated from the game. The winner is the last player sat on a chair.
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 9. Explain that Saul was a man that believed in God but did not know God. He did not like Christians
and he was out to arrest them. Yet when he met Jesus everything changed.
SPOT the Simple Meaning:
1) IF SAUL CAN CHANGE, SO CAN I!
Ask (beforehand) some of your leaders/kids to do some of their own cardboard testimonies. Maybe you simply want to show the kids your own cardboard testimony as you share your story alongside Saul’s. All you need is a word to describe what you were like before you met Christ and a word that describes after you met Christ.
Say: Saul was probably one of the meanest men you would ever have met. He was out to get the Christians. In fact, he wanted to arrest and kill them so badly that he wrote letters to the synagogues in Damascus to find out if he could grab any Christians there! He was one scary man!
Suddenly a bright light shone all around Saul (Acts 9:3) and he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (9:4) When he asked who ‘The Lord’ was, the voice boomed ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting!’ (9:5) Saul was blinded for three days. That was a long time to think about what had just happened.
God sent a man named Ananias to heal Saul’s eyes (Acts 9:10-19). After Saul was healed his whole life changed. He stopped hating Christians, but became a follower of Jesus. If Saul can change from being a Christian hating man then we can change too! Perhaps you have been doing things that you don’t want to do, that you know you shouldn’t do. Maybe there is something that you haven’t been able to tell anyone about because you feel so bad about it. Just like Saul, we can change – we can start doing the right things. We can start being the people we were made to be!
2) I CAN’T CHANGE ON MY OWN
Skit: I Can’t Change!
Danny is sat in a corner.
Kate: Hey Danny, what’s wrong?
Danny: Everything. I just can’t seem to change.
Kate: Why would you want to change?
Danny: Well, my mum keeps nagging me… Danny you need to tidy your room. Hey, Danny you need to do your washing. Oh Danny! Do your homework. So I yelled at her. Then my coach (PE teacher) says I can’t play on the football team until my schoolwork gets better. On top of all of that my dad took my XBox [or insert another toy/gadget that is appropriate for your group]. He said that there’s no way I’ll be getting them back until my attitude changes.
Kate: It’ll get better… you’re just having a tough week!
Danny: Yeah, but everyone’s right! I do need to change. I just don’t know how.
Kate: You know Danny, I go to church…. and at church they say that Jesus can help us with anything!
Danny: He’s dead.
Kate: That’s not what I believe. I believe in the bible and the bible says that Jesus died, but He rose again three days later. So He really can do anything! He’s God!
Danny: Do you think God would help me?
Kate: Sure! Come on, let’s pray about it and ask Him to help!
Danny: erm… okay. I guess it couldn’t hurt. But don’t tell anyone I did this, okay!
Kate: Sure Danny, we’ll keep it between us.
[Danny and Kate exit to go pray]
You will need some weighing body Scales to hold up and stand on.
Say: [Hold up and show off the scales as you talk] People change all the time. You see it on TV, someone has a big transformation because they have done a lot of hard work to lose some weight. Maybe they have been swimming or to the gym to lift weights. When they are finished they always look happier and healthier don’t they?! It’s hard work to change. [Stand on the scales and look disappointed that you haven’t lost weight before you step off]
In fact, the man in our story – Saul – knew all too well how difficult it was to change. In a letter he wrote to another church he said this:
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
You see, it’s difficult to change! I might be able to change my outside appearance sometimes but it is much more difficult to change what is going on in my head and in my heart. Yet Jesus wants to help us. We can ask Jesus to come and meet with us – just as Saul met Jesus – and we can be changed to be like Him! How? By asking Jesus to come into our lives and changing our heart. He will come and He will help us to be all we were created to be!
3) I AM A NEW CREATION
You will need a clear plastic Heart Shaped Container, some mud mixed with water and a tub of soapy water and cloth. Cover or fill the container with mud mixed with water. Enter with the muddy container and the tub of soapy water and cloth.
Say:Jesus wants to come in to our lives and get rid of all the yuckiness out of our minds and hearts. All those lies that we believe, you know, like “I’m unlovable” “Nobody likes me” “I’ll never do anything good with my life”, all the bad things that we have thought and said, they clog up our heart and our mind. That’s why King David wrote “Create in Me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) Just like this heart in my hand. It’s all clogged up with dirt.
Do you think God wants us to feel like that? [wait for response] Exactly! God wants us to feel clean and right with Him! When Saul met Jesus his life was changed. His heart was transformed! [Start washing the heart container] Saul knew that Jesus was the Lord and he let Jesus change his heart. Saul became very important to the church and started to preach to everyone he met about Jesus! When Jesus changes our heart and our lives people will be able to see the difference! Not just in how we go to church with the right attitude, or how we read our bibles and pray or don’t do different things that others do. People will notice the difference when we have peace in hard times, or joy when they think we should feel miserable. Just like this heart [hold up the CLEAN heart container] people will see the change in us!
REVIEW TEACHING QUIZ:
- What was the name of the man that met Jesus?
- Who was Saul hurting and arresting?
- What made Saul blind?
- What did the voice from Heaven say to Saul?
- Who was speaking to Saul from Heaven?
SEARCH the Scriptures:
You will need some children’s picture bibles, markers and paper.
Find some children’s picture bibles and split them between the children. It might help to have the children in small groups at this point. Ask the children to find as many people in the bible that were changed by Jesus as they can. Encourage them or their small group leader to write down their answers. See whose team can find the most!
- How were the people changed by Jesus?
- Why did they need to change?
- Would you want to change? Why/ why not?
- Do you believe Jesus can change your heart? Why/why not?
- Do you want Jesus to change your heart? Why/why not?
- If you were to change, how would you want to change?
- Is there someone you want to pray for that needs change in their life?
SENSE How You Feel:
How would you feel if Jesus spoke to you like He spoke to Saul?
Children can think about the above questions as they do one or more of the below activities.
- Create a picture of Saul on the Road to Damascus or color the ones here.
- Mould: the scene of Paul on the road to Damascus with Playdoh or clay.
- Build the road to Damascus out of lego or building blocks.
- Sensory: Place lots of different types of light on a table; twinkling, LED, lamps etc and encourage the children to think about the light on the Damascus road.
- Create a Paul mask using one of our B&W Sad and Happy faces or our Color Sad or Happy Faces. Simply cut them out and attach a popsicle stick on the back of them – you could also stick them back to back and cut out the eyes of the sad faces.
- Write or draw something on the butterfly print out that you would like to change or see God change in your life.
- Create an origami heart and write/draw on the heart instead. Watch and pray as the paper is transformed into a heart!
- [Sensory activity] Bring lots of dirty Heart Containers and tubs. Encourage the children to wash out one of the heart containers as they pray and ask God to come and transform their hearts and minds.