This lesson plan is the third in a four-part series for children to encourage them to love God. To learn more about this Bible curriculum, including tips for teaching it, see the introduction page for Discovering the Divine.
This Bible lesson would work for either Sunday School or Children’s Church. It was written for older elementary children, but could be modified for any age group. For younger children, you could also incorporate our free “Covered by Christ” coloring page.
Bible Passage: Philippians 3:2-15
Bible Story Title: The Worth of Knowing God
Target Age Group: 4th – 5th grade
Target Time Frame: 50 minutes
Original Teaching Context: Children’s Church
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Exegetical Idea: The greatness of knowing Christ causes Paul to consider everything else as loss and dung in comparison.
Pedagogical Idea: The greatness and value in knowing Christ should cause us to consider everything else as dung in comparison.
Cognitive Aim: Children will know the greatness and value in knowing Christ and the response that occurs as a result of knowing Him.
Affective Aim: Children will value the knowledge of God as having great worth.
Behavioral Aim: Children will memorize
Memory Verse: Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (NIV).
Lesson Three Overview
- Create Longing (10 minutes) Capture their attention through illustrating the concept of value. Supplies: CD for “Give Me Jesus”, Bag of trash, candle or diamond ring/necklaces.
- God Revealed (15 minutes) Give Paul’s background and read the Scripture. Supplies: Bibles
- Personal Pursuit (15 minutes) Reflection time and discussion, discovering Paul’s response. Supplies: Poster board, markers, Bibles
- Daily Knowing (10 minutes) Worship and memorize Philippians 3:8. Supplies: CD for “Knowing You, Jesus”; cardstock hearts.
1. Create Longing (10 minutes)
Have a bag of stinky trash and a candle with a wonderful scent in the center or in front of your group. Have the candle lit before class begins so the aroma has time to fill the room. Ask the students to describe the difference between the two. They will probably name the smell first, but take it even farther. Help them to see the difference of value. The trash has little value while the candle is a little more valuable. The trash provides no usefulness, while the candle provides light and nice scent. If you would like to take this illustration farther, use a diamond ring or necklace and compare it to the trash or the trash and the candle.
Make sure your students have an understanding of how different the trash is from the diamonds. This is significant to their understanding of how valuable Paul saw knowing Christ to the point that he considered everything else as dung in comparison.
- Remind the students of last week’s lesson on the heart of longing. Have them stand and worship together with the song they learned last week, “Give Me Jesus.”
Explain that in today’s lesson, we are going to see how Paul came to discover the value of knowing God to the point that he considered everything else loss in light of the great gain of knowing Christ. Make sure you tell the children Jesus is God, and as they discover who God is in the Old Testament, they are also learning who Christ is.
- Pray before beginning for God to open your eyes and the eyes of the children to see the value of knowing Him.
2. God Revealed (15 minutes)
- Begin to tell the students about who Paul was. Explain His role in persecuting Christians and his conversion on the road to Damascus. Make it clear that the transformation in Paul was tremendous. Have students turn to Philippians 3. Read verses 2-6 in light of what you just told the children or allow them to read it aloud.*
Verses 2-6 (The Message):
Steer clear of the barking dogs, those religious busybodies, all bark and no bite. All they’re interested in is appearances—knife-happy circumcisers, I call them. The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it. We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it—even though we can list what many might think are impressive credentials. You know my pedigree: a legitimate birth, circumcised on the eighth day; an Israelite from the elite tribe of Benjamin; a strict and devout adherent to God’s law; a fiery defender of the purity of my religion, even to the point of persecuting the church; a meticulous observer of everything set down in God’s law Book.
- Even though Paul did everything in the law and followed every rule, He did not know Christ until after His experience on the road to Damascus. Now we will get to the wonderful transformation that took place in Paul as a result of knowing God. Break up this section in groups of verses and allow the children to read aloud.
Verses 7-15 (NIV):
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ— the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead,
14 I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.
15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
- Using a poster board and markers, write down the response Paul had as a result of knowing Christ. Allow the children to search the Scripture to find out Paul’s response (His desire to become like Christ in His death, forgetting what is behind and looking forward to what is ahead, etc.)
- Paul discovered that everything he used to think was important was nothing in light of knowing Christ. Knowing Christ was of great worth and value to Paul. He considers all things “rubbish” or trash. This word literally means dung (explain if needed)! Just like we saw in the illustration with the trash and the candle, there is a huge difference of value between everything else in Paul’s life and knowing Christ. Everything else is like the trash or dung, and knowing Christ is even greater than the value of a candle or a diamond! Knowing Christ, knowing God, is worth more than all of the money in the world, all of the diamonds of the world, and all of the treasure of the world!
*For students with learning disabilities who still enjoy trying to read aloud, provide great encouragement and encourage the class to cheer the student on. Strive to prevent embarrassment for the child.
3. Personal Pursuit (15 minutes)
- Time of reflection: Ask children to close their eyes.
- Questions: Why is knowing God of so valuable? (Pause between each question, allowing children to dwell on their thoughts and the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts). What about God makes knowing Him valuable? Why would Paul give up everything and even suffer and die for the sake of knowing Christ? Do you think you see knowing God as more valuable than your life?
- Share a personal story and proceed to a time of discussion with the children as to what keeps them from seeing knowing Christ as more valuable than their own lives.
- Pray as a group for the things discussed. Ask God to give you and the children the strength to overcome the things in their lives that they consider greater than knowing Him. Ask Him to give each of you a heart of longing for Him.
- On the same poster board used earlier, have the children brainstorm of what this would look like in their own lives today. How would their lives look if they considered knowing Christ to be worth more than anything and considered everything else as nothing in comparison as Paul did? (This poster can be used in the presentation to the body of believers at the end of the series).
4. Daily Knowing (10 minutes)
- Teach children the song “Knowing You, Jesus.” Allow them to sing it through at least once after learning the words.
- Help the children memorize Philippians 3:8 using motions and allow them to write it on their cardstock hearts as an illustration of hiding God’s word in their hearts. Encourage them to place their heart in a place where they will see it everyday.
- Encourage them to ask their parents or a church member how knowing Christ is valuable in their own lives. Remind them of the need to daily seek to know God. This week they can daily pray for God to reveal the things in their lives that are daily preventing them from yada knowing Him. Remind them that their knowing God goes beyond this room. They can strive to pursue Him like Paul everyday.
- Use any extra time to be preparing for the presentation the children will give at the end of the series to the rest of the church.
**Make sure to include those children with disabilities in the preparation process if they cannot do the things the other children are doing. Give them special jobs and parts, making sure they know how essential they are to the group.