AGE APPROPRIATE: ELEMENTARY (5-11s)
BIG IDEA: GOD CAN DO ANYTHING
AIM: To help the children learn that no matter what, they can always return to God and He will help them turn their lives around for the better.
INTRO QUESTION: What is a U-Turn?
2. ‘Amazing Grace’ by Bethel Kids
1. Blindfold Find. Place cars all around the room. Can the pairs of children find them whilst one of them is blindfolded?
2. Gunge Gauge. Can children retrieve the toy cars from the gunge made of custard and food coloring using their feet?
3. Corners. Give each corner a colored car name. Children run to a corner when the music stops. A leader calls out a color (without looking) and those children are eliminated from the game.
Say: [only if using whole ‘Fast Track’ teaching series] In our last session we looked a little at what it means to have a U-Turn and to have our lives turned around by Jesus. We can be going the wrong way – doing wrong things – and then Jesus can help us to do the right things as we listen to His voice. In this session we are going to hear about somebody that needed to turn around too! His name was Jonah and God chose him to be a Prophet – a messenger – to some very scary people.
BIG VERSE: I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14
(Why not use the JumpStart3 version of the song here)
Say: Today we’re looking at how God can help us to press towards the goal that He has for us – by going the right way – the way He wants us to go!
SET the Scene:
Read the Book of Jonah and then pick out some of the key passages within the book, such as Jonah 2.
1. ‘Jonah’ stop animation by PowerSurgeKids
2. ‘Jonah and the Whale’ by Kids Bible History (for 8-11s who know the story)
3. ‘God’s Story: Jonah’ by Crossroads Kids Club
4. ‘Overboard – the story of Jonah’ by Central Films
5. ‘The story of Jonah with Sound Effects’ by Kids on the Move Live
Another way to share the story is to use balloon modelling. To do this, first watch the story being told here. Then watch and listen carefully to how to perform the trick here. You may need to listen and practice this story a few times so that you know you can perform this trick without any problems.
“Direction is so much more important than speed. Many are going nowhere fast.”
SPOT the Simple Meaning:
1) GOD CAN HELP US GO THE RIGHT WAY
Derek: Where you going Bob?
Bob: To the police station, I need to hand something in.
Derek: You’re going the wrong way.
Bob: Am I? Oh well….
Derek: If you keep going this way, you’ll never make it.
Bob: I’m sure I will… at some point.
Derek: Nope. I’m pretty sure you will need to travel around the whole world until you get to the poice station.
Bob: Well, there you go then. I told you I’d get there eventually!
Derek: You know, it would be easier if you just turned around. You would be
there in just two minutes!
Bob: No, I’m okay, thanks though Derek. I think I’ll just keep going this way.
You could also watch this video of a truck doing a U-Turn.
Say: When we go the wrong in our journey in life; doing things or saying things that we know are wrong, we might be tempted to keep going in the wrong direction. Maybe we feel like God is angry with us. Perhaps we think that God doesn’t care. Yet God is in a good mood – He loves us and wants nothing more than for us to turn around and run to Him!
Did you think Bob did the right thing by going the wrong way? Why/why not? [Get feedback] You’re right! Bob should have just turned around… but maybe he was too proud and was worried what Derek thought of him. Perhaps he didn’t want to look like he had gone the wrong way. Bob looked even more silly because he kept going the wrong way instead of turning around.
Jonah had a similar problem. He had disobeyed God and decided to go his own way. Yet now he was stuck in the belly of a big fish. He had a choice to make. Would he decide to stay in the fish and keep doing his own thing or would he return to God? Would he stay or would he do a U-Turn and turn around?
Inside the fish’s smelly belly Jonah decided to fall on his knees and pray. He decided to turn around and obey God. He decided to do what God had asked and go to Ninevah. He realised that God can do anything! God could change his heart – and God could change the hearts of the Ninevites – even if Jonah didn’t want him to. God is able to do absolutely ANYTHING!
When Jonah started travelling the right way he found that the Ninevites weren’t as scary as he had thought. They all turned to God. So not only did Jonah start going the right way, but the Ninevites did too! The Ninevites repented (said sorry and decided to do the right things) and followed God.
To follow God today is to believe that He is who He says He is- to believe that He sent His only Son Jesus to live a perfect life and to die a perfect death for all the wrong that we have done. He died so that we might know God. Jesus makes the way for us to return to God!
John 3:16 in the Bible says:
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
So, will you return to God today? Will you turn your heart towards Him? Will you turn from the wrong direction and start chasing after God?
SEARCH the Scriptures:
Have the bible verses in a bible on one side of the room. Encourage team players to hold onto each others shoulders to make a sort of car or train. Then players should go and pick up one of the bible verses at a time. Each time returning to their original starting position. The first team to fetch all of the bible verses is the winning team.
Bible verses about how God calls us to return to Him:
Tearing your clothes is not enough to show you are sad. Let your heart be broken. Come back to the Lord your God. He is kind and shows mercy. He doesn’t become angry quickly. He has great love. He would rather forgive than punish. Joel 2:13.
Israel, return to the Lord your God. Your sins have caused your ruin. Hosea 14:1.
So tell the people: This is what the Lord of heaven’s armies says: ‘Return to me, and I will return to you.’ Zechariah 1:3.
But if you come back to me and obey my commands, I will gather your people. I will gather them from the far ends of the earth. And I will bring them from captivity to where I have chosen to be worshiped.’ Nehemiah 1:9.
If you return to God All-Powerful, you will be blessed again. Remove evil from your house. Job 22:23.
I will make them want to know me. They will know that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God. This is because they will return to me with their whole hearts. Jeremiah 24:7.
Like Jacob you must return to him. You must be loyal and true to him. You must do what is honest and just. You must always trust in him as your God. Hosea12:6.
Come near to God, and God will come near to you. You are sinners. So clean sin out of your lives. You are trying to follow God and the world at the same time. Make your thinking pure. James 4:8.
1. Do you think God can do anything? Why/ why not?
2. What does it mean to ‘return’ to God?
3.. Is there something that you have not told God or that you are holding back from Him?
4. How might someone ‘return’ to God if they have been doing the wrong things in their life?
5. Have you ‘returned’ to God or do you still need to commit your life to Him?
6. If God can do anything, why would you not want to turn to Him?
SENSE How You Feel:
How does it feel to know God can turn your life around?
How does it feel to know God can do anything?
1. Create the fish clothespin craft using a clothespin, card, glue, scissors, markers and curling tape
2. Make the origami whales with blue paper.
3. Create a hanging fish with three types of colored paper, scissors, glue, markers, curling tape and glitter glue.
4. Crate a moving fish using different colored paper, scissors and googly eyes.
5. Make an origami hanging fish using colored paper, scissors, glue, curling tape, a hole punch and markers.
6. Create a CD fish using old CDs, markers, a hole punch, glue, googly eyes, scissors and colored card or foam.
7. Role play Jonah being thrown into the sea and being stuck inside the belly of the fish. Ask each child to portray how they would feel and what they would want to do. Why would they now decide to things God’s way?
Preparation: Cut out some fish shapes out of paper.
Do you or someone you know need to have your lives turned around?
Say: The people of Ninevah desperately needed God to come and turn their lives around. They cried and wailed when they realised how bad they had been and how they needed God’s help. Perhaps you know somebody that needs to turn to Jesus today. You can pray for them now by writing their name on a fish. While in the belly of the fish Jonah’s heart changed. We can ask God to change the heart of those that we know need His help. If we need to change, we can write our own name.
Remember, God can do ANYTHING – sometimes He takes time and we don’t understand, but He always has a plan and knows what He is doing.
Pray: Jesus, please help me and those around me to follow You and to listen to Your voice. I want to follow You. I believe that Jesus came and that He rose again and that I can be forgiven and have new life in Him. I pray that You would help me to tell my friends and family. I pray they would know You too. Amen.