Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids how to be a real follower of Christ.
Intro Game: Good Fruit Relay
Divide students into two teams and have them line up at one side of the room. Give each team a bowl. At the other end of the room, place a bowl full of fruit mixed with twigs and leaves. One by one, the members of each team run to their bowl and bring back a single piece of fruit, leaving the twigs and leaves in the bowl. They then add their piece of fruit to the team’s bowl. The first team to retrieve all their pieces of fruit wins.
Say, You put all the good fruit in your team’s bowl, but now, we have all of these leaves and twigs leftover. What should we do with them? (Suggest that kids could eat them along with their fruit. Then, let them convince you to throw them away.)
Give students a rotten fruit or show them a picture. Ask them if they would like to eat it. Probably they won’t.
Then, give them a ripe fruit or show them a picture of a ripe fruit and ask them if they would eat it. Probably they would.
Ask, what’s the difference? Why would you eat one but not the other? (One is rotten, and the other is not.)
(Read Matthew 7:15-23.)
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
Just like you would not eat rotten fruit, so God does not want us to do rotten things. When we’re doing wrong things, it’s like we’re trying to give God a rotten piece of fruit and He doesn’t want it. When we do good things, it’s like we’re giving God a good piece of fruit, and He’s happy with us.
What happens to bad fruit? (Help students to understand that bad fruit is thrown away. Then, throw your rotten fruit or your picture away.)
In the same way, if we are not doing good things in life, we are like a bad piece of fruit. When we die, God will throw us away, and we will go to Hell. If we are doing good things, we are like a good piece of fruit, and God will be happy with us and will take us to Heaven when we die.
But it’s not just about doing the right things, is it? We’re not saved, and we don’t go to Heaven because we do good things, are we? How are we saved? What makes us get into Heaven?
We’re saved by believing in God and Jesus. We’re not saved by doing good things, but when we believe in God and Jesus, our faith makes us want to do good things.
Could you tell what fruit was the good fruit and what fruit was the bad fruit? (Yes.)
In the same way, you can usually tell if someone is really following Jesus or not. If you get to know that person and see the kinds of things they do and listen to the kinds of things they say, you can tell if they’re doing the right things or the wrong things. People who are really following Jesus try to do the right things.
Think about what you do and what you say before you do it or before you say it. Always ask yourself if God and Jesus would be happy with what you’re about to do or say. Or would Jesus not be happy and think you just gave Him a piece of rotten fruit because what you did or what you said was rotten?
We want to do and say the right things so that Jesus would be happy with us, just like He would be happy if we gave Him a good piece of fruit.
Game: Hearing the Hypocrite
Students sit or stand in a circle with one student in the middle. Choose another student to be the Hypocrite. The person in the middle closes their eyes or wears a blindfold and tells the group to make a noise like an animal of their choice. The Hypocrite, however, makes a different noise. The person in the middle has to guess who the Hypocrite is.
The Hypocrite then takes the middle spot, and the person who was guessing silently chooses the next Hypocrite.
Play until everyone has had a chance to be in the middle or as long as time permits.
Afterward, explain that the Hypocrite was trying to blend in with the rest of the group, but we could still tell there was something different about them. When real hypocrites say they’re Christians, they’re misusing God’s name and people can tell when they’re not really Christians by how they act or talk.
Game: Think about What You Say
To help students think about what they say before they say it, choose a random object and tell students you want them to tell you something about it using certain a certain criterion. Students have 10 seconds to come up with a statement that meets the criterion. They cannot use the same statement someone else made.
If they can’t come up with a unique description that meets the criterion within the time limit, they’re out.
The criterion be such things as the first word must start with a certain letter, or the third word must start with a certain letter, or you can only use a certain number of words in your description, or you must describe the object in a funny voice, etc.
Play a couple of rounds to show kids how to play. Then, let each student name an object and a criterion.
Remind students that when you think about what you should say or do, we’re giving Jesus the good fruit that He wants from us.
Jesus, we pray that You’ll help us to be real followers of You. Help us to say and do the right things to show that we’re giving You good fruit. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Jesus Teaches on the Mountain.