Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids to control what they say.
Needed: Bibles, various items, rotten food, candy, dirt
Intro Game: Don’t Say It
Have the students pair up. They take turns asking each other questions. The person answering, however, can’t use certain letters. For the first round, they might not be able to use words with the letter “s.” If they do, their partner gets a point. Continue for a couple of minutes and then, change the letter they’re not supposed to use. The student with the most points (caught their partner using disallowed letters the most times) wins.
Afterward, tell students that God wants us to think about what we say before we say it and to control what comes out of our mouths.
You can up the challenge level by naming two letters that the students aren’t allowed to use, or change it so that the person asking the question isn’t allowed to use those letters, either.
Intro Activity: Wrong Purpose
Divide students into groups of three. Hand each group a common object and tell them that they have to come up with a skit that shows them using that object in a different way than it was made for.
Give the groups a few minutes to think of something and then let each group perform their skit. As each group finishes, ask them why their object wouldn’t work very well for the purpose they showed?
Explain that God made our mouths to say good things, but a lot of times, we use it the wrong way when we say bad things.
Summarize Matthew 15:1-20 with the following object lesson and discussion.
Show students a piece of rotten food. Ask, Should anyone eat something like this? (No.)
What would happen if you ate it? (You would get sick.)
Would it make you a bad person if you ate it? (No, it would just be gross.)
(Show students a piece of candy and then drop it in the dirt.)
Should I eat this dirty piece of candy? (No.)
It would be gross if I ate that, right? But would it make me a bad person if I ate it? (No.)
(Read Matthew 15:10-11.)
“Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.’”
Jesus said it’s usually not a sin to eat something, because it’s not what goes into your mouth that makes you a bad person, even if what you’re eating is gross.
It’s what comes out of your mouth that might be a sin.
Jesus says that the things that we say sometimes are not very good.
What types of things might we say that God wouldn’t be happy with? (Lying, calling names, saying bad words, being rude to people, telling dirty jokes, etc.)
Jesus says that when we say those bad things, we are sinning. So, let’s remember to always think about what we’re about to say, and before we say it, ask ourselves if God would like what we’re about to say or not. If what we’re about to say is bad, let’s try really hard to think of something else to say instead, or else not say anything.
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 can 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 control our mouths so that we don’t say anything sinful. Help us to say only things that help people and lift them up, not lying to them or tearing them down or saying inappropriate things to them. Help us to say only things that make You proud of us. Amen.
(Give students a piece of candy that you didn’t drop in the dirt.)
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, The Parables and Teachings of Jesus Vol. 1.