This Sunday School lesson is based on Acts 6 where the church chose seven men to serve. This is often considered the beginning of the office of deacon in the New Testament church. In this lesson plan, children will learn that every believer has a responsibility to serve. This lesson was first prepared for an older elementary Sunday School class but can be modified to fit your ministry context.
Bible Story: Seven Men are Chosen to Minister
Scripture: Acts 6:1-7
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: A picture/poster that can be cut into a puzzle. Bibles, Names of leaders in your church, note cards, paper to draw/color a picture on.
Learning Goal: Students will learn that every believer has a responsibility to serve so that God’s Word can continue to be shared with other.
Learning Indicator: Students will demonstrate their comprehension of the lesson by being able to answer the review questions.
Learning Activity #1: An activity for the memory verse to help teach the importance of each person’s service in the church: Give each student a puzzle piece. Recite the verse together and have each student come and place their puzzle piece to assemble the picture. As each piece is placed talk about how we are better able to see what the picture is. It’s the same as each one of us serves other believers. God’s plans and power are more clearly seen to those who do not believe in Jesus as we serve and help each other in the Body of Christ.
Learning Activity #2: While students are arriving direct them to the note cards/paper. Talk about how God has given our church leaders to serve in different ways. As a way to thank them for serving Jesus in our church have the students write a thank you note. For artistic students they can draw a picture for the leader they choose to show their appreciation to them. Encourage students to each choose a different leader so all the leaders will receive a card/picture of appreciation.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: Galatians 6:10 (NIV) “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Choose the best time to teach the lesson. It can be introduced before the Bible Lesson, in the middle or after the review questions.)
Bible Lesson: Seven Men are Chosen to Minister
(Make sure each student has a Bible to follow along during the lesson.)
Would you say a growing body is a good thing? At your age your body is still growing. Having a body that is growing and becoming stronger is a good thing. Can you think of anything that might be negative about growing? (Allow students to think about this and respond.) While growing is a good thing what happens when you get too tall for your favorite jeans or your favorite dress? It is kind of sad to have to put that dress or jeans with the clothes that you can’t fit in any more. The good news is that you can replace that pair of jeans or dress with one that fits your growing body.
We have been learning about the early church from the Book of Acts. As the Good News about Jesus is being preached in Jerusalem many people are being saved. Each time a person is saved the Body of Christ or the Church (family of believers) grows. Just like our growing body a growing Church is a good thing. The Body of Christ doesn’t have the same problem of outgrowing a pair of jeans or dress but does face other problems as a result of growth.
Before we get into our lesson for today let’s refresh our memories about what has been happening so far in our study of Acts 1-5. Allow students to share facts and lessons they remember. If they are having difficulty or your class has many students who haven’t been there consistently state some important facts that have been taught in the past lessons.
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Acts 6. Let’s read Acts 6:1 and find out what difficulty the church in Jerusalem faced. To understand what is happening here we need to know who the two groups of people are. Who remembers who the Jews are? (God’s people, Israelites or Hebrews). The Hebraic Jews are the Jews who spoke the original language of the Jewish people. The original language for the Jewish people is Hebrew or Aramaic. The Hebraic Jews tried to preserve the customs and traditions of the Jewish culture. The Grecian Jews lived outside of Jerusalem and did not speak the Hebrew language. They spoke the common language of the day which was Greek.
In verse one we see that the two groups of people have widows. What is a widow (a woman whose husband died)? God’s people knew that it was important to make sure the widows’ needs were taken care of.
Last week we saw how the believers took care of each other and made sure everyone’s needs were met. Who remembers what people did to help provide for those who had needs? (They sold their property and brought the money to the apostles to give to those in need.) In our passage today the Grecian Jews feel like their widows were not being taken care of as well as the Hebraic Jews. The Grecian Jews began to complain because they felt that their widows were being overlooked.
What does it mean to be overlooked? Have you ever felt overlooked? Sometimes what we feel isn’t the truth of the situation. It is very possible that because the believers were in Jerusalem the majority of the believers probably spoke Hebrew. You may remember that many Jews (this would be the Grecian Jews) had traveled from different countries to celebrate the Day of Pentecost. Many of the Grecian Jews were saved the day God sent the gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s possible that because of the language barrier (explain) it was more difficult to know what the needs of the Grecian Jews were. Most likely the widows were not intentionally overlooked. Unfortunately there was a belief that they were and it caused a problem.
When a problem arises in the Body of Christ it is wise to take care of the problem. Just like with our physical body if we are sick we go to a doctor to have him/her treat the problem so we can be well again.
When the apostles heard that there was a problem with the believers they addressed it. They gathered the believers together and came up with a solution to the problem. Let’s read Acts 6:2-4.
Let’s try to put what is happening in this passage in a situation we could relate to. First, what was the most important thing the apostles needed to be focused on (verses 2 and 4)? Preaching and praying.
At your age one of the most important things you need to be focused on is school. (For students that are believers the most important thing they need to be focused on in their life is their relationship with God. That will be addressed at the close of the lesson. The example of being a student is used to help them to identify with how the apostles might have felt if they had to do all the work in the church.) Suppose that your life completely changed overnight and now you needed to get a job to help pay the bills for your family. You needed to grocery shop and fix your own meals to eat because both your parents were busy at work. You had to do all the housework and also keep up with all your schoolwork. How well do you think your grades in school would be if you had to do all these other things? Most likely your grades would suffer because you wouldn’t have the time to study and do the things you normally do to get good grades. Thankfully as a child you can focus on the importance of getting a good education so that one day you can get a job and take care of your household responsibilities.
The apostles’ most important job to be focused on was to preach and pray. They also knew it was important to feed people. They knew money needed to be taken to the families in need. The apostles needed wisdom to deal with this difficulty in the growing church. Because believers have the Holy Spirit living inside of them He gives them wisdom and guidance when facing difficulties.
The Holy Spirit gave the apostles wisdom to know how to deal with this problem. They told the believers to choose seven men. They weren’t to choose just anyone. They were to look for certain character traits in these men. What were those character traits? (Full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom) Why do you think it would be important for God’s servants to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom? These seven men would be leaders in the Body of Christ and would have to know how to best serve others. A person who is not full of the Holy Spirit is not going to be a powerful leader and servant of God’s people. A person full of the Holy Spirit would have Him to guide him and give him wisdom how to serve others in a way that pleased God.
What the apostles said to do was pleasing to the believers in the church of Jerusalem. The passage doesn’t tell us this but in order to know who the seven men God wanted it seems as though the believers needed to pray. As they prayed the Holy Spirit would bring to their mind seven men who fit the description of men being filled with the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom.
Let’s read the names of the seven men who were chosen. Acts 6:5-6. (Stephen, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas) These seven men could speak the Greek language. This would be helpful to be able to know the needs of the Grecian Jews.
Later in the letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 3:8-13) Paul talks about deacons. Some believe these seven men were the very first deacons to serve in the early church. The deacons’ job was to serve Jesus by helping people in the church who had needs. If someone was hungry, they made sure the person got food. If someone needed clothes, they made sure they had money to buy clothes. These men served the Body of Christ, the family of believers by helping others and allowing the apostles to do the very important job of teaching the Good News to others.
Because the apostles took care of the situation immediately the believers in the Jerusalem church were being taken care of. As a result let’s see how God’s work was able to continue through the power of the Holy Spirit working through the apostles. Let’s read Acts 6:7. As believers serve each other and help in ways they can, God’s work continues and others are saved causing the Body of Christ to continue to grow.
We have deacons in our church. Do you know the names of any deacons in our church? How do they serve the believers in the church? How does their job help the pastor be able to focus on preaching God’s Word and prayer? If the pastor had to do everything in the church his time studying God’s Word and praying would be affected. Not being able to spend a proper amount of time praying and study would keep him from preaching with power so others could hear and respond to the preaching of God’s Word.
This passage was about deacons and how they served others so the apostles could focus on praying and preaching. What about us? Do we have a responsibility to serve believers? I am not a deacon are you? Even though we are not deacons if we are believers we have a responsibility to serve other believers with the gifts and talents that God has given us. As we serve each other we help the Body of Christ grow and the power of the Holy Spirit is evident in the life of the Church. Another way to say this is that you can serve Jesus by doing things to help others. One example could be, suppose your mom or dad is a Sunday School teacher. They have had a busy week and need some quiet time to work on their lesson. You see them trying to clean up the house or wash dishes. That is something you can do so they can go and study and pray. You will be serving Jesus by doing this act of service. Can you think of other ways you could serve others at your age? (Allow responses) Prayer, letters of encouragement to pastors, teachers etc. are some ideas.
Earlier I said that at your age the most important focus in your life right now is being a student. If you are a believer that means you have been saved by trusting Jesus as your Savior. In order to be the best student you can you need to keep your main focus on God. By keeping Jesus your main focus you will be able to serve Him well and really help others. If you and I get busy doing too many activities and skip our time with God we will not be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and will not easily hear God’s voice when He shows us a way to help others.
If you aren’t a believer is God speaking to your heart about turning away from your sins and believing in Jesus? Jesus died on the cross for your sins, was buried and rose again the third day. He died so you could be cleansed of all your sins and be a part of God’s family. It’s our prayer that you will say yes to Jesus. If you have any questions please talk to us after the lesson.
This week as we pray each day let’s ask God to show us how we can better serve other believers so the Body of Christ can be powerful and effective in sharing the Good News to a lost world.
Close in prayer.
- As the church in Jerusalem was growing what problem came up? (Grecian Jews felt their widows were overlooked)
- What did the apostles say the believers should do? (Choose 7 men)
- What were the apostles supposed to be focused on? (Prayer and preaching)
- What character traits did the seven men need to have? (Full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom)
- Name the seven men chosen. (Stephen, Philip, Procurus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas)
- How did choosing the seven men help God’s Work? (God’s Word spread and many more people believed in Jesus)
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