This lesson is the third lesson in a series of five that explore the Lenten theme “Walk His Ways” using a parable Bible story. This lesson would work for Sunday School or Children’s Church. These are designed to be used during the Lenten season, but they would work well other times of the year. This parable is sometimes called the parable of the great banquet.
Explanation: Lent is a 40 day journey (not counting Sundays!) to focus on God and prepare to remember and celebrate Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the grave to save each of us. Many people decide to “give up” things for Lent to help them remember that Jesus gave his life for us, but you can also “take on” doing good things, just like Jesus did. Through the exploration of parable Bible stories, the “Walk His Ways” Lent lessons help children discover how we can attempt to live and serve as Jesus did in the kind of kingdom he envisioned. Each of the five lessons addresses “walking his ways” with a different parable and theme. This lesson explores including and inviting others with the story of The Parable of the Great Feast.
Bible Story: The Parable of the Great Feast
Scripture: Luke 14:12-24
Target Age Group: Age 3 – 12 (U.S. preschool – 6th Grade)
Time: 45 Minutes
Learning Context: Children’s Church
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Children will experience the story of The Great Feast, exploring how it feels to be left out and included and discovering how Jesus might want us to welcome others.
- Shoe nametags & extra supplies
- Cone Shaped Party Hats
- Decorations (stickers, sequins, feathers, foam pieces, etc.)
- Glue Sticks
- Walk His Ways Kids’ Guide PDF
- 6-8 Hula Hoops
- 4 puppets (2 male, 2 female)
- Party Hats
- Paper Lunch Bags
Name tags: Children find their shoe nametag that they made during the first lesson and put it on. If there are children without a nametag, provide materials and allow them to make one.
Check in about the “Walk His Ways” challenges if you are using the guides
Party Hat Decorating: Provide the necessary materials including cone shaped party hats (plain colors work best) and items for decorating like stickers, sequins, feathers, foam, and markers. Assist the children as they each decorate their own party hat.
Discussion Questions: What do you think these hats are for? Where would Jesus have a party? Who would Jesus want to invite to his party? When was a time you’ve felt left out? Who are people that often are excluded? What should we do for them?
Game “Left Out Welcomed In”
Children play traditional game of musical chairs. Then, play a second time with hula hoops on the floor. When the music stops, children find a hula hoop to stand in. We will keep taking hoops away each time and the kids will have to fit more and more people in each hoop. No one is left out!
Discuss: What does it feel like to be included? Left out? Who should we include? How do we do that? What people often are excluded? How can we help them?
Bible Story “Jesus’ Parable of the Great Feast”
The parable story is taught in this lesson using the following puppet script. You could also act out this script with kids or adult volunteers. You may want to read Luke 14:12-24 from the Bible aloud to reinforce the story. Use these follow-up discussion questions after the puppet show:
Discussion: What happened? How did Billy feel when none of his friends came to his party and made excuses? Then what did he do? Have you ever made excuses or not included people? Who gets left out the most? How can we help them? Who does Jesus want to include? Where will his party be? Are we all invited?
Parable Puppet Show: Everyone’s Invited
An Adaptation of the Parable of the Great Feast
Materials: (two female puppets and two male puppets, streamers, balloons, party hat)
Mom: (tossing balloons over the curtain and straightening the streamers hanging from it) Wow! These decorations look great! Billy is going to have such a great birthday party!
Billy: Hey Mom! Whoa…this is awesome! This is going to be the best birthday ever! Thanks for putting up all the decorations and buying the big Spider Man cake, and getting goody-bags for all of my friends. It’s going to be so great!
Mom: I’m so glad your entire class from school will be coming to celebrate your sixth birthday with you.
Billy: (looks down and up and turns away from Mom) Well, um, ahhhh….I don’t think EVERYBODY in my class is coming.
Mom: What do you mean, you don’t THINK…I thought we talked about that you should invite EVERYBODY if you were going to hand out invitations at school. It should either be everybody or nobody.
Billy: Awww…come on, Mom! I don’t want the smelly kid, and the fat girl here, and Juan can’t even speak English, so what fun would he be?
Mom: (sighs) Well, what’s done is done, but I’m really disappointed in you, Billy.
Jenna: (make noise: knock, knock, knock)
Billy: I’ll get it! (look like opening door/turn to side)
Jenna: Hi Billy! How’s it going?
Billy: Hey Jenna! Thanks for coming. This is going to be the best birthday party ever!
Jenna: Um, actually…I can’t stay. Sorry Billy, but we always have dust bunny hunts at my house on Sunday afternoons. I can’t miss out on the cleaning fun!
Billy: You would rather stay home and clean than come to my party?
Jenna: Yep! Sure would! Sorry about that…seeya at school tomorrow! Bye!
Billy: Bye. (mumbles) Gee…thanks for nothing, Jenna.
Jason: (make noise: knock, knock, knock)
Billy: Hello? Welcome to the best birthday party ever!!!
Jason: Hiya, Billy! Happy Birthday, Buddy! I just came to tell you that I hope you have an awesome party, but I gotta go. I have to clip my toenails tonight. My Mom has the clippers and the nail file and the lotion and everything all ready to go!
Billy: What!??! Ewwww! Is this a joke? You’re going to go clip your toe nails instead of coming to my party? That’s crazy!
Jason: Sorry, Billy! I’m outta here! Catch ya later.
Billy: Awwww, man! This is horrible. First Jenna couldn’t come, and now Jason isn’t staying either. This stinks. My party should have started half an hour ago and nobody is here. I thought they were my friends! It’s NOT going to be the best birthday party ever…it’s the WORST! (begins to cry and sob)
Mom: What’s the matter, Billy? Don’t cry! You are the birthday boy!
Billy: It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to! Nobody is coming to the party. It’s the worst birthday ever. Jason and Jenna were both here, but they gave me lame excuses and left. Now I won’t have a party at all. Everything will be wasted! What are we going to do with the cake and prizes and decorations?
Mom: Well…it would be a shame if it went to waste. Maybe….I have an idea! I could call your teacher and ask if we could bring the party to your classroom at school tomorrow afternoon. It would be a little late…but better late than never! Now EVERYONE can be included and invited to your birthday party after all!
Billy: Um….Ok, Mom. That would be ok…in fact, that would be great. Thanks, Mom. You are the best.
Art Activity “Inviting and Including “
Engage children in a service project or craft that involves inviting and/or including others. One idea would be to help the children create invitations to give to use to invite someone to an event at your church, maybe Easter Sunday activities or worship. A second option would be to decorate paper lunch bags and donate them to a feeding program that provides sack lunches for homeless or hungry people. Use your imagination and feel free to do any activity that is relevant to the life of your church and teaches about inviting and including others in some way.
Closing Prayer: Consider using a “repeat after me prayer” to close each of the Lent lessons. Pause between every few words, allowing the children to echo what you have said. Dear Jesus,/You are/so good./Help us/to walk/your ways/and serve others/as you would serve./Amen.