Sometimes church can become too rote, just going through motions and reciting songs and phrases, tuning out through a sermon. Or it can be a social hour and not a time of true genuine worship. This lesson aims to draw kids back to the heart of the church and discuss why it is important to our Christian efforts. The activities and discussions here involve two main components. One emphasizes the importance of prayer as part of church and worship services. The other element involves how to approach propriety in church, including roles of women. This component is one that could easily be a lesson on its own, and might bring up controversy…but it is important to discuss.
*Warning: this lesson contains some hot button issues and may be somewhat incendiary in ways…younger audiences can simply focus on the prayer components.
Lesson focus: God wants us to devote our lives to worship of Him, and church can be an important part of that. We need to make sure that our efforts and attitudes towards church are appropriate, and we need to make sure to incorporate prayer at all times.
Passage: 1 Timothy 2:1-15
Key Verse: Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. -1 Timothy 2:8
Target Audience: Pre-k through sixth grade (adaptable)
Materials Needed: Pictures of shepherds, cotton balls, yarn, dark paper cut-outs, clothespins, markers, scissors, marshmallows, Bibles.
Lesson Opening: Two are better than one…start with an activity to emphasize how important it is to use one another in corporate worship and prayer. Provide every other student with a paper clip and cup…start by telling students they must place the paper clip into the cup, but they may only use one finger. After struggling for a bit, invite students to use a partner and work together to accomplish the goal. Explain why it is important to work with one another, and tell students how today we will talk about praying for each other and using church for support and prayer.
On another note, warn students that they will also be talking in this lesson about some things that might be conflicting in approach…open up with a brief “debate” of sorts. Choosing a simple or challenging topic, invite students to stand or raise hands according to opinion. Have them provide justification behind beliefs. Possible topics include chocolate vs. vanilla, morning vs. night, homework requirements, significant historical figures, best movies…adjust according to students and age. Launch into Bible lesson from there.
Start off asking students what they think are the most important elements of church attendance. Is it necessary to go to church? What should be the purpose of it? Explain that we will take a look at some things Paul says about church. Bear in mind the background: Paul is writing to advise Timothy, a young pastor, and to tell him some things about his church. Some elements of this letter might be specific to that time and place, but we can definitely learn from all of it. Invite students to examine 1 Timothy 2…
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. -1 Timothy 2:1-4
What does it mean to pray for ALL people? As we think of authority figures, how can and should we be praying for our leaders?
Take a few moments to brainstorm specific people in our lives who might need prayer. Pass out note cards and have students write down when, how, and for whom they will pray throughout the week. Emphasize praying not just for people we like, but for some we may not know as well. Continue on…
Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. -1 Timothy 2:8-11
What does “propriety” mean? And why is it important? Why do you think that Paul here encourages women to dress modestly?
Take a moment to discuss the difference between dressing decently and over-adorning…the exact language might be confusing as to “gold or pearls…” make sure young students understand that this is not an outlaw of jewelry, but an encouragement to focus on inner beauty rather than impressing people with looks. It can be distracting to some people when we dress or act a certain way. Church is meant to serve and to worship God. Talk with students about the kinds of things they find distracting in worship.
Also, this passage cannot be visited without touching on the key contentious issue…the roles of women. We can’t ignore verse twelve (or the following closing verses), but how literally should we take them? Are women really supposed to keep quiet, or is this just an outdated part of the Bible? Allow (old enough) students to share their genuine opinions on this topic. Feel free to impart your own, as well…but bear in mind certain Biblical and practical truths…
-Having distinct roles and responsibilities does not mean men and women are not equal.
-God clearly created male and female with unique characteristics; both genders have strengths and weaknesses that need one another.
-Women play very important roles throughout the Bible (think of Rahab, Ruth, Esther, Hannah, Elizabeth, Lydia, Mary, Eunice, etc.)… they have special jobs as well as men.
-Nurturing and domestic responsibilities are Biblical callings just as much as preaching and teaching…
In spite of potential disagreement, close by bringing all students back to the main point of why church is important and how we can best build up one another and serve God. Remind children that prayer and working together are essential!
Prayer cards…coming back to the notecards made earlier, have students identify someone who might need extra prayer or encouragement. It could be a leader in the church, someone in family or friend circle, or someone within the community. Have students make cards letting them know they are loved and thought of.
Close with prayer and thank God for all He gives us. Ask for wisdom and discernment in how we act and how we work with one another as body of Christ.