Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids about God’s passion and grace.
Needed: Bibles, boxes or paper bags, cookies or other small prizes, coins, drawing paper, crayons or colored pencils
Intro Game: Promises, Promises
Set a cookie or small prize in individual paper bags or under individual boxes. In this game show type activity, call one student contestant forward. They are the Prize Giver for the round. That student (the Prize Giver) can then choose two more student contestants to come forward. They are the Promisers.
The Prize Giver chooses one of the bags and, without opening it, asks what the Promisers will do for them if they will give one of them the prize inside the bag. The Promisers can make up anything they want, but they can only promise one thing. The Prize Giver then chooses their favorite promise and gives that student the bag with the prize inside.
Play until every student has had a chance to play both roles and every student has won a prize.
Then, ask, What if God was the one giving out the prizes? What do you think He would want?
The main thing God wants is for everyone to believe in Him and go to Heaven when they die.
Ask students, Can any of you think of a time when you thought something wasn’t fair?
Tell me about it. (Allow students to share their stories. Feel free to share a story of your own.)
We like things to be fair, don’t we?
Well, today we’re going to read a story about some people who didn’t think things were fair.
(Read Matthew 20:1-7.)
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’”
So, the farmer is hiring different people to work on his farm. He hired some of the people in the morning, and they worked all day. Then, he hired some more later in the day, and he hired some just an hour before the workday was over.
Let’s act this out. (Have students line up in a row facing you. Tell the students on your left that they worked all morning and all day. The next student or students worked half of the day. The last student or students only worked for one hour.)
(Read Matthew 20:8-12.)
“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’”
(Give each student a coin of the same value, starting with the students on your right, who only worked for one hour, and ending with the students on the left, who worked all day. Let students keep the coins after the lesson.)
The farmer paid everyone the same amount of money.
The person who worked only one hour was paid the same amount as the person who worked all day. Do you think that’s fair?
(Read Matthew 20:13-15.)
“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’”
So, the farmer said that he was paying the people who worked all day exactly what he said he would pay them. He wasn’t cheating them. He was just being nice to the other workers by giving them the same amount.
That’s kind of how God is. There are some people who love God and do the right things for their whole life.
They’re kind of like the people who worked for the farmer the whole day. And they know that when they love God and do the right things for their whole life, then they will go to Heaven when they die. That will be their reward from God.
But other people don’t love God and do the right things their whole life. Maybe they only start to love God when they’re an adult, or when they get old, or maybe even right before they die. But God still lets them go to Heaven the same as the person who loves God and does the right things their whole life.
So, the farmer gave everyone the same pay, no matter how long they worked, and God lets everyone come to Heaven, no matter how long they believed in Him. God wants everyone to go to Heaven, so He always gives everyone as many chances to believe in Him as He can before they die.
Craft: Salvation Stories
Give students drawing supplies and have them draw a picture of someone deciding to believe in Jesus. It can be any type of person of any age and in any circumstance. Have them explain their pictures to the group once everyone is finished.
Game: Disciple Tag
Choose one student to be It. When they tag someone, that person links hands with them and joins their team. They continue adding people to their team, linking hands with each one until all but one student is part of their chain. That remaining student becomes It for the next round.
Play two or three rounds and then, explain that when we tell people about Jesus, we want them to believe in Jesus too. If they do, they become a Christian and join our team. Then, they help us tell more people about Jesus.
Father God, we thank You for giving everyone as many chances to believe in You as You can. Help us to be happy for everyone who believes in You, whether they believe in You when they’re young or when they’re old, at the start of their life or at the end of their life. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, The Parables and Teachings of Jesus Vol. 2.