Here’s my adapted version of session 1 from the Winchester Lent course on The Kingdom of God (Matthew 4:1-11) for 6-11 year olds:
Mission Outcome: We commit to living the mission of Jesus, working with him to reveal the kingdom.
We are going to spend the next few weeks discovering and learning more about what it means to love and follow Jesus with lots of different churches near and far will be!
Ensure each team has a chair. One person is picked from the team. A person from one team stands on a chair, facing away from the other team. They then bend over, put their hands on their knees and move their legs and hips to ‘spell’ a word with their bottom. The other team has to guess what the word is and gets a point if they guess it correctly. Vary the length of the words to make it interesting. Give a prize to the team with the most points.
Equipment required: Drinking straws for everyone, a packet of Polo mints for each team and some bowls.
Description: Split the group into equal teams. Each team needs to stand in a line. Give each person a straw, which they need to put in their mouth. At one end, give someone a Polo to thread onto their straw. To make the game longer you could give each team a packet of Polo mints with the winning team being the team who successfully pass all polos down the line.
When the leader gives the go ahead, the teams can start passing the polo on to next person in their team, threading the polo using the straws. Once the Polo has reached the end of the line, the last player needs to place the mint in a bowl.
1. What do you think God might be saying to us through this passage?
Read ‘Jesus in the desert’ from The Big Bible Storybook. Talk with the children about the idea that making choices is something God has allowed us to do. God wants us to choose to follow him, and to know his love in a special way.
2. What do Jesus’ choices reveal about the kingdom of God?
Ask the children to make a note of the temptations Jesus was given and how he responded each time. Ask if they have noticed one thing that was the same each time Jesus spoke to the devil. (If necessary, explain that Satan and the devil are the same person.) Draw out the observation that he quoted the Scriptures, which would have been the Old Testament section of our Bibles. Ask them why they think Jesus quoted the Bible each time. What does this tell us about the Bible and about Jesus’ attitude and the importance Jesus put on God’s Word?
Ask the children: ‘Why do you think the devil choose those three temptations in particular? What do you think he was trying to get Jesus to do?’ Explain that the devil wanted Jesus to rely less on God, saying: ‘Make your own food!’
Also, that his temptations offered Jesus short cuts to becoming ‘famous’. At this time, Jesus was not well known. He had not started telling people about God and no one had heard of him. If he did a publicity stunt, such as being saved from death during a fall from the Temple, he would be instantly famous, without the hassle of teaching and healing or building up a reputation. If he bowed down to Satan and received all the kingdoms of the world, then he would have everything straightaway! However, that would not be God’s way of doing things (as we have found out). God’s way are better and his kingdom is something God wants to build with his followers.
3. How can we use Lent to help us live the mission of Jesus?
Use this animation from the WordLive website to help your group think about the impact that a sacrifice can have.
You will need: a tray of dry sand. Talk together about what Jesus did when he was in the desert – what can everyone remember from all that you’ve looked at so far? As you talk, bring out the tray of sand.
Invite the children to put their hands in the sand. Encourage them to think about what they may like to change/give up over Lent to help them develop a greater love for and understanding of Jesus. Possibly share what you are going to do yourself. Maybe build in some time each week to update each other on how you are all getting on. Help them to see this is something they can make a real difference about in their own lives … it’s proactive.
After a time of chatting, pray for the children, yourself and the team helping you, for God to be at work in your lives over the coming weeks of Lent.
4.How will these words change the things we think, do and pray this week?
Finish your session with this reflective video clip as a response to the Bible passage. It may be important for the children to have their own space to watch and listen to it. You will find that your children will understand what it is about, even if they can’t articulate it in words. It’s a great way to draw together all that you have talked about, and discovered throughout the rest of the session:
[youtube id=”O5bfxGNMY9c” width=”580″ height=”337″]
Conclude your time together with a prayer, thanking God for what you have just watched and for your time together in this session.