Having been involved in children’s ministry all of my adult life I can probably guess (with some degree of certainty) what passages or stories you might be teaching in the next few weeks. Many of us seem to follow a similar schedule. At Easter we teach the resurrection, then the next week we might teach about Jesus appearing to the disciples and then we quite regularly focus on the ‘great commission’ or the call for the disciples to go out and make more disciples.
If you happen to be teaching on the great commission, this is an activity designed for ages 5-9 to get them thinking about (1) what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, (2) the role of repentance and faith in the life of a disciple and (3) the job of disciples to go and make more disciples.
WHAT YOU NEED: Bibles, a piece of paper and something to write with
Have one of the kids in the group reread Matthew 28:19-20. Ask the kids what they think it means to make a disciple.
Ask: (1) who were the first disciples? (2) how the first disciples became disciples… (Jesus called them to follow Him and they followed, or someone else told them about Jesus and they started following).
To help kids make sense of this, explain that a disciple is anyone who is following Jesus.
Ask the kids in the group to identify some people that they would call disciples or followers of Jesus. Ask them how they know that these people are disciples of Jesus. (You might want to write the word disciple on a piece of paper and then write names of people who are disciples around the word).
Use this time to remind kids that just because someone comes to church or just because they read their Bible or do good things that doesn’t make them a disciple – that a disciple of Jesus is someone who has repented (turned away) from their sin and who believes that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for their sin. Explain to the kids that if they are following Jesus then that would make them a disciple as well.
To illustrate what happens in the life of someone when they become a disciple and to enforce the concept of repentance & faith working together to make someone a disciple, try the following illustration.
Have 2 kids stand up a few meters apart with their backs to each other. Have a 3rd kid stand between them. Introduce one of the kids as “the world.” Explain that before becoming a disciple of Jesus everyone is following the world. Tell the kid who is representing “the world” to do something for the kid in the middle to copy. Have the rest of the group tell you who the kid in the middle is following. Then, introduce the other kid as “God” and have that kid do something different for the kid in the middle to follow.
Ask if the kid in the middle can follow “the world” and “God” at the same time. No, because they are complete opposites and if you’re following one your back is to the other one. Read Romans 3:10-12 and talk about how everyone is following the world and no one is seeking after God, how they’ve all turned their backs and gone astray. Explain that in order to follow God you have to turn your back on the world; it’s one or the other- there’s no middle ground! That’s what the word repent means – turning away from your sin and the world and turning to Jesus.
Read the following verses with the group and discuss what it means to be a disciple and how disciples are made….
- Matthew 4:19-20 – -disciples are those who follow Jesus when He calls them
- Matthew 16:24 – – a disciple is one who denies himself, takes up his cross and follows Jesus
- Acts 2:38 – -a disciple is someone who repents of their sin and is baptized
- John 14:15 – -a disciple is one who shows He loves God by obeying His commands
SAY: “We’ve heard today that Jesus sends His disciples to tell people about Him. As Jesus’ first disciples were sent out, they were told to make other disciples. As they went they called out for people to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus. The message that those men preached 2000 years ago is the same message that each of us needs to hear and respond to….in order to be a disciple or follower of Jesus we need to turn away from our sin and turn to Jesus and follow Him.”