Peter is well-known among Jesus’ disciples as being an outspoken leader, and God used him to lead many people into a relationship with Christ. However, Peter was also an imperfect person who sinned and denied Christ. In, “A New Beginning,” children will learn that God desires repentance and the acceptance of his forgiveness so we can continue serving him. The Lord used Peter in spite of his faults, and he wants to use us as well!
TARGET AGES: 10-14
OBJECTIVE: By using the Apostle Peter as an example, the students will learn that our God is a God of second chances who wants to use us in spite of our mistakes.
MAIN IDEA: Even Christians mess up! By looking at Peter’s life, we will understand that God doesn’t want us to wallow in our failures but to accept his forgiveness so we can continue serving him.
OPTIONAL SCRIPTURE (REVIEW): Matthew 4:18-20, Matthew 14:29, Luke 9:28-31, Matthew 26:36-37
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: Luke 22:34 & 54-62, Matthew 16:18, John 21:15-19, Acts 2:38-41, Romans 8:1-2
MATERIAL(S): “A New Beginning” Activity Sheets (download here), writing utensils, blank sheets of paper, markers, crayons, or colored pencils
Introduction (10 minutes)
ICE BREAKER QUESTIONS: Ask, “Have you ever messed up? Like really messed up? How did it make you feel? How did it affect others? Did anything good come from your mistake?” Candidly discuss these questions as a class by including an example from your own life. Be sure to include how God reconciled your sin through forgiveness and gave you the confidence to continue serving.
OPENING PRAYER: “God, we make so many mistakes, but we know you offer a new beginning every time we seek forgiveness. Thank you for loving us and helping us become more like you. Amen.”
Lesson and Activity Sheets (see “New Beginning” attachment)
- Pass out the Activity Sheets and writing utensils and help the students complete the questions as the lesson is taught. Say, “Today we are going to discuss how the Apostle Peter messed up in a big way and how the Lord reestablished him into ministry. But, before we get started, let’s review what we already know about Peter.” Allow the students to state any facts or stories they know about Peter, and give guidance as needed. Be sure to address his calling into the ministry (Matthew 4:18-20), walking on water (Matthew 14:29), the transfiguration (Luke 9:28-31), his presence at the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-37), and any other event you feel is pivotal in reviewing his life. Ask, “What is evident about Peter according to these events (that he was faithful, trusted by Jesus, a leader among the disciples, etc)? Well, now we are going to see how Peter made a big mistake even among all the amazing things he had experienced.”
- Explain that before Jesus was crucified he warned Peter of an upcoming sin. Read Luke 22:34, 54-62. Ask, “What sin did Jesus tell Peter he would commit (denial of him, lying)? What was Peter’s reaction when it happened (he wept bitterly)?” Emphasize that Jesus had a special promise for Peter even though he knew Peter would deny him. Read Matthew 16:18. Ask, “What promises did Jesus make to Peter (that he would lead the church and it would be successful/not overcome by hell)? What does this teach us about Jesus’ character (that he is forgiving, merciful, loving, wise, etc)?” Add that Jesus reinstated Peter into ministry through a series of questions and commands. Read John 21:15-19. Help the students realize that having a repentant heart is the first step in overcoming shame from past failures.
- Say, “After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, Peter was the leader of the infant church. Let’s read about his leadership after the believers received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.” Read Acts 2:38-41 and emphasize that God used Peter’s leadership to draw 3,000 people into a relationship with Christ. Comment, “God used Peter to draw others into a relationship with Jesus, and the same is true for us! Jesus’ sacrifice means we can repent of our sins, be forgiven by God, and continue serving according to his will.” Read Romans 8:1-2. Emphasize that regrets and shame should certainly bring us back into a right relationship with the Lord, but we should never let them control our lives. Say, “God is about new beginnings. Let’s challenge ourselves to learn from our mistakes and move forward in Christian maturity just like Peter.”
Creative Project (10 minutes)
Pass out the blank sheets of paper and ask the class to brainstorm an activity they would love to do for God. Have each student write, “A New Beginning,” at the top of the paper and then draw a picture of their chosen activity. Say, “This creative project will remind us to keep looking forward as God’s servants instead of dwelling on our past failures. Take it home and put it somewhere to remind you that God is about new beginnings!”
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: Quickly repenting of our sins and accepting God’s forgiveness will enable our continued service. God knows we are imperfect, but he wants to use us anyway!
CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, thank you for loving us and equipping us in spite of our mistakes. Help us move forward and accept a new beginning. Amen.”