Epistle passages can sometimes seem more challenging to teach when working with young children. After all, an instructional letter can have encouraging words, but doesn’t always contain the same excitement or “craft-ability” as a story of miracles or battle victory. However, there is much to learn and to offer when we consider Paul’s letters. The book of Philippians is full of amazing and joyful instruction for our Christian lives. In this passage, it is evident that we rely on one another to be built up and to carry on God’s work.
Lesson focus: This lesson looks at teamwork, focusing on the importance of how God uses relationships and interactions with others to do His work. From it, children will see how essential it is to have friends and helpers in our Christian lives. God does not make us to be isolated, and He gives us people to help along the way.
Passage: Philippians 1:3-11
More Teaching Ideas:
- Compare another Sunday School Lesson on Philippians 1
- Compare this Bible lesson on the Body of Christ
- Try this “Strong Together” Bible Object Lesson for Kids
- Download our free Philippians coloring page
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade
Materials Needed: Construction paper; glue; markers or crayons; tape; scissors; decorative supplies; yarn/string; paper towel tubes; paper plates; Bibles.
Activities to Introduce the Lesson
Lesson Opening: This lesson focuses on working with others as a team, and thanking God for giving us others in ministry. Open with some clever teamwork-inspired games and activities…
- Body challenge: provide a group of kids a simple task, such as carrying an object across the room or putting together a jigsaw puzzle. However, limit the body parts that students can use. For instance, allow one child to use only a left hand, another only legs, etc…have the group work together to complete the job.
- Partner races…team up for some old-fashioned and partner-requiring relay races, such as a three-legged race or (if safe and appropriate variations can be applied) wheelbarrow race. Stress the importance of working alongside partners for help.
- Blindfold partnership… have one partner blindfolded, and allow the other to guide him/her through an obstacle or activity like drawing a picture.
- Who are you thankful for? Have students come up with as many people as possible who help them in their lives or inspire thanksgiving and praise to God.
Explain to students that today they will be looking at a passage from the Bible that reminds us of the importance of partnering with others. God gives us other people to do His work, and we need one another. Friends, family members, and other relationships remind us of the blessings of others. People can build us up and team with us as we go through life and as we share God’s love.
Sunday School Lesson (Philippians 1:3-11) Working Together
This passage is taken from the book of Philippians. You might consider doing a “dramatic reading” of sorts, acting as though reading a letter. With older students, you could take turns reading a verse or two at a time. For younger ones, read the verses while explaining any parts that might be harder to understand. However you communicate it, start off with an explanation of who Paul was, and the context of Philippians. This was a letter written by Paul to a church in another place. Paul was actually in prison while he wrote it, but he thought very highly of the Philippian people. They had helped him a lot, and his words to them are full of joy and thankful memories. He opens up by expressing how much he appreciates these Philippian friends.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Paul is thankful for these people. He says here that every time he remember them, he gives thanks to God, and does I with joy. Even though Paul is far from these people, and in jail, he can still rejoice and give thanks, and he knows that the Philippian church is continuing to do God’s work.
Ask: What might it mean to “partner in the gospel”? (Maybe best geared to older students…this refers to how we can pray for one another and work together to carry out God’s will.)
Who are some people that you want to thank God for every time you think of them? Do you know people like that?
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. -Philippians 1:6-7
Paul continues to emphasize how special the Philippians are and how they have a place in his heart as “partakers of grace.” Here he also talks about how God will continue working in them. Paul is confident that God isn’t finished with them yet! There are good things still to come in the lives of the church people, and they will be able to carry out God’s work as He develops their minds and hearts.
Ask: God has a plan for your life! What do you hope to do to serve Him? How can you serve Him now, and also in the future someday?
Remind students that this attitude of love and longing for others can be ours. We can care about and work with people who are in our church or area, but we can also keep in touch with others who are far away! Other people can work with us even from a distance. We can support them through communication and prayer, and think of people who we don’t see every day. This might be friends, or it might also mean supporting missionaries or others in the church.
For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. -Philippians 1:8-11
Paul has a special prayer for the Philippians. He wants them to continue to love each other and grow in that love. He wants them to grow in love for Christ, also. And he wants them to be wise and discerning. This means making good choices and acting in ways that honor the Lord. God will bless them with “spiritual fruit” so that their lives reflect His. These are wonderful things, but they don’t come from our own power! It’s the work of the Holy Spirit that produces this love and life in our interactions and encounters.
Ask: How can we “grow in love” for others and for God? What can we do to pray for and support people around us? How can we put these great principles in practice this week?
Bible Craft Ideas
Craft: This lesson involves working with other people and exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit. The passage comes from the words of the Apostle Paul in His letter to the Philippians. Consider crafts that involve sharing, spiritual fruit, or even a “scroll” or letter element.
- Make a special homemade card for a friend or family member.
- Create a fun “epistle scroll”, wrapping long paper around an empty paper towel or toilet paper tube and decorating.
- Make a “fruit of the spirit” basket: cut a paper plate in half and decorate like a basket. Add paper cuttings of fruit with the words of Galatians 5 (the fruit of the spirit passage) written on each.
- Make a chart brainstorming ways to help others in ministry. Decorate it and place in a prominently visible place.
Close with prayer, thanking God for those in our lives who can help us do God’s work. Ask the Lord for opportunities to share His love and spread the Gospel with others.