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Bible passage: Luke 18:18-30
Background: This month, we’re looking at people Jesus met. In this session it’s the rich ruler. Younger children haven’t yet developed an understanding of the value of money, though they may be aware that it’s necessary to buy the things we need. Even so, they won’t fully appreciate what the rich man refuses to give up for Jesus. So this session explores the idea that following Jesus is the most important thing we can do with our lives.
As the children arrive, welcome each one by name and invite them to join your circle and share in the snacks you have brought. Chat about what has happened since you last met. Ask the children what they know about Jesus. Do they want to be friends with Jesus? If so, why? If possible, share an appropriate example from your own life.
You will need: shop-play and money-play equipment
Set out the shop and money-play equipment and invite the children to play at being shopkeepers and customers. Help them set up their shops with whatever play equipment you have, and join in their play once their shops are ready. As you play, discuss what the children know about money. How much will they charge for what they’re selling in their shops?
You will need: biblical dressing-up clothes (or blankets, sheets, towels etc)
Before the session, ask one of the leaders to be the rich ruler. It would be good if they could learn their words. Show the children the dressing-up clothes you have provided and encourage them to dress up. Give them some guidance as to how people dressed at the time of Jesus, but allow them to do what they like. It doesn’t really matter if they’re not accurate! Once everyone (including the leaders) is dressed up, gather the group together and tell the following story.
One day, a very rich man came to see Jesus. The leader playing the rich man walks up to the group of children and says: “Teacher, what must I do to have eternal life?”
Jesus looked at the man. He said: “You know the commandments. Those rules God gave his people long ago.”
Your rich man says these words: “I’ve obeyed all of them ever since I was young.”
Jesus said: “There’s just one more thing. Give away all your money to the poor. Then come and follow me.”
When the rich man heard this, he was very sad. Your rich man looks sad. He had lots of money and he loved being rich. He didn’t want to give it away. He wanted to keep his nice clothes. He wanted to keep his gold cups and plates. He wanted to keep his lovely house. He didn’t want to give everything away. Then he would have nothing! The rich man turned and walked away. Your rich man turns and walks away.
Jesus said to the people: “Being my friend is the most important thing in the world. It is more important than lovely clothes. It is more important than an expensive house. It is more important than having lots of money.”
One of Jesus’ friends, Peter, said: “We have given everything up to follow you!”
Jesus told them: “Don’t worry. You’ll get to be with me for ever!”
Still wearing your biblical costumes, chat about the Bible story using these questions. Try to involve all the children in your discussion:
- What was your favourite part of the story?
- Is there anything you didn’t like? Why?
- What did you think about the rich man?
- What would you like to say to Jesus?
You will need: art and craft materials; A3 paper; playdough or clay; cover-up and clean-up equipment
Before the session, gather together plenty of resources to help the children respond to the story. Encourage them to think about what they might like to do to think more about the story. They could draw a picture, make a model from playdough or re-enact the story wearing their costume from ‘Bible story’. You might need to help them make their decision, then assist them in getting all the materials they need. Make sure the children know they should share resources if someone else wants to use them.
As the children work, join in with them. Continue to discuss the story and what they think about Jesus. Share your story about why you follow Jesus. Why is it so important to you? If you have given something up to follow Jesus, tell the children about it if it’s appropriate to do so.
You will need: play money from ‘Free play’; large bowl
Give out some of the play coins and notes and ask the children to hold them in their hands. Ask them to put a few coins into the large bowl and then say this prayer:
“Jesus, thank you that we can be your friend.”
Ask them to put a few more coins into the large bowl and then say this prayer:
“Jesus, help us to be your friend all the time, even when there are things that stop us.”
Ask the children to put the rest of their coins into the large bowl and then say this prayer:
“Jesus, please help me this week to be your friend.”
Finally, jump around and shout “Thank you!” to Jesus for all that he has done for you.
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