Lenten Program with Children
Will your church be using Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John for Lent? Meeting Jesus is a six week program for small groups, teenaged and older. But what about younger children?
3 ideas for using Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John with children:
At home with the family:
Meeting Jesus is fundamentally about building small groups – and families are small groups! Like the questions and activities for adults, each week Meeting Jesus' Faith at Home offers a home prayer, questions and an activity for children and the adults who care for them. All 6 weeks of the curriculum can be found at the Meeting Jesus website, under "Faith at Home." (You will have to log in as a facilitator to access the curriculum.) Making these weekly prayers available for the whole parish is a way to connect the entire community.
In a small group setting:
If your small groups are meeting at church, and there is childcare available, you can mix the activities for children in the At Home curriculum with ideas and activities from the curriculum adults will be following. An adult session of Meeting Jesus is 90 minutes long; children will need a variety of activities, not all of which need to tie-in directly with the week's scripture. We invite church formation leaders to look through the weekly curricula written for adults and youth and create their own programming for children. Each week is rich in scripture and prayer and many ideas and activities can be adapted for children. Keep in mind that the purpose of the questions and activities, regardless of age, is to deepen connections between people and between us and Jesus.
Godly play stories for each week:
Godly Play is a great way to delve deeper into Johannine scripture for all ages. Adult sessions are 90 minutes long, offering the opportunity to really engage children in the Godly Play story and response - far longer than most churches are able to utilize on Sunday morning. Connecting the weekly questions that parents will be asked and/or what families will be asking at home with "I wonder" questions will tie together the work of children and parents. See below for stories that correspond with Meeting Jesus.
6 Week Lent Series for Children Using Godly Play Stories
Special thanks to Sarah Bentley Allred for compiling this series, which matches up with Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John.
Week One: God is Love
Godly Play Story: Parable of the Good Shepherd
Description: In the Parable of the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd shows deep loving care for the sheep. The shepherd knows them by name, leads them, provides for them, and keeps them safe. He searches for them when they are lost and is even willing to give his own life for theirs.
Additional Wondering: I wonder how the Good Shepherd feels about the sheep. I wonder how the sheep feel about the Good Shepherd. I wonder if anyone loves you like the Good Shepherd loves the sheep. I wonder if you love anyone this way. I wonder where you see this kind of love in the world. I wonder what would help this type of love to spread.
Week Two: The Word Became Flesh
Godly Play Story: The Holy Family
Description: Description: The Holy Family describes the story of Jesus’s birth. It emphasizes those who were present at the birth and those who arrived soon after the birth. This story provides an opportunity to discuss how God became human, why God was born as a baby, and why this matters.
Additional Wondering: I wonder if the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, and the Magi knew that Jesus was God. I wonder what Jesus was like as a baby. I wonder if all God became the human Jesus or just part of God. I wonder what parts of being a person God liked. I wonder what parts God did not like.
Week Three: Close to the Father’s Heart
Godly Play Story: One of the saint stories from Volume 7
Description: Many of the Godly Play stories use the phrase “____ came close to God.” Saints are people who have been especially closeness to God for many years. Saints are people who have been especially closeness to God for many years.
Additional Wondering: I wonder when Saint ____ first came close to God. I wonder how Saint ____ stayed close to God. I wonder what it is like to be close to God. I wonder if you have ever come close to God. I wonder what Saint ____ can teach us about living close to God.
Week Four: I Have Called You Friends
Godly Play Story: Parable of the Good Samaritan
Description: The Parable of the Good Samaritan opens way for a discussion of how we are to love each other broadly. It can be used to discuss how we are to love our friends and even those who we do not consider friends. Furthermore, in caring for people in the way the Samaritan did, we care for Jesus himself. When we show love and friendship to others, we are friends of Jesus (John 15:12-14).
Additional Wondering: I wonder how Jesus feels when we treat people like our neighbor. I wonder how treating other people as our neighbor could bring us close to God and Jesus. I wonder what you could do to be a friend and neighbor to someone you know. I wonder what you could do to be a friend and neighbor to Jesus.
Week Five: Abide in Me
Godly Play Story: The Good Shepherd and World Communion
Description: The Good Shepherd and World Communion connects God’s loving care for us as the Good Shepherd to our worship and participation in Eucharist. God abides in us no matter what. Worship is one way to remember this, give thanks, and open ourselves to that abiding love.
Additional Wondering: I wonder who the Good Shepherd could really be. I wonder if God/Jesus is a part of you. I wonder if you can feel God alive within you. I wonder when you can feel this. I wonder if there is anything that helps you feel that. I wonder how you thank God for being with you. I wonder what helps you remember that God is always with you.
Week Six: We Declare to You
Godly Play Story: Parable of the Sower
Description: The Parable of the Sower can be seen as a metaphor for sharing the Good News of God’s love. As with any evangelism, it is not a linear process but requires perseverance.
Additional Wondering: I wonder what the seeds in this story could represent. I wonder if you have ever tried to spread something, maybe you tried to spread plants or maybe something like love. I wonder what grows other than plants. I wonder if love grows. I wonder if you have to plant a lot of love in a lot of places to see it grow.