Use this beatitudes Sunday School lesson on the first beatitude Jesus gave to teach kids why we need God in our lives.
Needed: Bible, old clothes, a sign, pennies or other money, a volunteer to play a beggar, an offering plate
Intro Activity: Begging for Change
As you’re starting class, have someone dressed as a poor person come into your class and ask for money. It’s best to disguise this person as much as possible so that kids don’t recognize them. They can also carry a sign that says they’re poor and hungry.
Have a jar of pennies or some other money on hand and tell students that you were going to use the pennies to buy snacks for the Sunday School class but that they can give the person the money if they want to.
If students opt to give the poor person the money, give it to them and let them leave. If students want to keep the money for snacks, tell the poor person that you don’t have any money for them and ask them to leave.
Ask, What was that person doing when they were asking us for money? (Begging.)
Why were they begging? (Because they were poor and didn’t have any money.)
Why couldn’t they go get a job and get money that way?
Some people can’t work because they’re sick or handicapped or they can’t find a job. Maybe all the jobs are taken. So, the only way some people can get money is by begging for it. They have to ask other people.
They know that they’re poor, that they can’t get the money they need on their own, so they have to ask for it.
Do you think God wants us to help people who are poor and need money and can’t find a job? (Yes.)
When someone asks for money because they know they can’t get it on their own, God wants us to help them.
Jesus also talked about being poor in another way when He gave us the beatitudes. This is the first beatitude.
(Read Matthew 5:3. You can help students find it in the Bible and read it together.)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”?
To be poor in spirit means to be poor on the inside of you. You don’t have something inside of you that you need. It’s just like how a poor person doesn’t have something that they need, such as money or food, or clothes, or a house. If you’re poor in spirit, or poor on the inside of you, the only way you can get that thing that you need inside of you is to ask God for it. What do you think you have to ask God for?
We have to ask God to forgive us for our sins, all the wrong thing that we do and all the wrong things that we think about, and we have to ask God to save us from going to Hell for those things.
We know that we can’t save ourselves, so we have to ask God to forgive us and save us.
And do you know what God says He will do if we do ask Him to forgive us and save us from Hell? God promises to bring us to Heaven when we die. In the first of the beatitudes, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” – blessed are the people who know they need to ask God to save and forgive them – “for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” All you have to do is ask God to forgive you and to save you, and you’ll get to go to Heaven!
Game: Give It Away!
Divide students into two teams. Give one team a handful of pennies. Have them keep as much as they think they need, giving a rationale for each cent. Question their decision on what they need to keep their money for and what they don’t. You are trying to get them to see the difference between needs and wants.
Tell them to give away the rest, putting it into an offering plate. The leader takes some of that money, explaining that it’s for the church to pay its bills, and then gives the rest to the other team. Now, ask the second team to keep what they need from what they’ve been given by the first team. Again, they put their extra into the offering.
Then, the Sunday School leader pulls out more money to give to the first team to reward them for their generosity. The more they gave away during their round, the more they receive as a reward from God. They are also given the offering from team two. This is how offering works and how God rewards us for it.
Play three rounds. At the beginning of each round, the money that the teams kept is “spent” on their necessities and recycles back into the leader’s supply.
Explain that God wants us to give away the money we don’t need so that we can help other people.
Game: Poor in Spirit Freeze Tag
Divide students into two teams. Team A is It. They try to tag the members of the other team. When a member of Team B is tagged, they freeze in place. They can then call out for one of their team members to tag and unfreeze them. A teammate cannot tag a frozen member unless that person calls out for help.
The round ends when Team A tags all of the members on Team B or after 5 minutes. Afterward, switch roles and play again.
Remind students that we’re poor in spirit and can’t save ourselves. We need to ask Jesus to save us, just like they need to call on their teammates to unfreeze them.
Jesus, we know that we can’t save ourselves. We’re poor in spirit, and we need You to forgive us and save us. Thank You for coming to do just that. Now, help us to trust You for our whole life. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Jesus Teaches on the Mountain.