MEETING AIM: To encounter the death of Jesus and think about what it means.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Mark 15:16-41
BACKGROUND: This story can be incredibly sad for children. We spend much of our time with them talking about how wonderful Jesus is and how much he loves them (all of which is true), but here we see him die on the cross through no fault of his own. Be ready for all kinds of reactions as you explore this story with children, particularly from those who have never heard it before.
As the children arrive, welcome them by name and share out any refreshments you have brought. Ask the group about their week; share in their triumphs and drawbacks, and share something from your own week if appropriate.
You will need: a large sheet of paper; a marker pen
Ask the children to think about different things that people do wrong. Don’t go too serious here: try to stick to things that children encounter in their own lives. Write their ideas on one side of the paper. Then work together to think of suitable punishments for those things. For example, if someone is rude to you, they should spend five minutes telling you how amazing you are.
Once you have finished, chat about whether the punishment fits the crime. Finally, see if you can rank the things people do wrong in order of seriousness.
You will need: video of the story of the crucifixion and the means to show it; a Bible; a cross
Gather the children together and explain that you are going to watch a film clip that tells the story of Good Friday – the day on which Jesus died. Ask the children what they know about the story. Get some ideas from the group.
Play the video from the start to 4:05. Then read Mark 15:16-41. Show the children the cross and explain that this represents the kind of cross Jesus died on; crucified means put to death on a cross. Ask them what they think about this story. What is really happening here? Why did Jesus have to die?
If the children are sad about what happens, then show the remainder of the film clip, which tells the story of Jesus’ resurrection.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute:
- What is the most important part of the story?
- What do you think Jesus’ friends thought about what happened to him? How do you think they felt?
- Why do you think Jesus died on the cross?
- What does this story tell you about Jesus?
- What does this story mean to you today?
You will need: art and craft materials; building blocks; Bibles; Bible storybooks; playdough
Before the session, gather together any resource you can find that will help children respond to the Bible story.
What you provide is only limited by what you have access to. Set out everything you have collected and encourage the children to choose anything they might like to use to respond to what they have heard. They might want to create a picture or a model, play with the building blocks or read the story again in the Bible or a Bible storybook. They might just want to sit and reflect.
Facilitate whatever the children would like to do, making sure they can access the resources they want to and be available if the children want to chat or ask you questions. This activity is set at ten minutes, but you can spend as long as you would like to. This is time for children to listen to God and process what he is saying to them.
You will need: a volunteer from the church leadership; a cross
Invite someone from your church leadership to come and speak with the children about the story of Good Friday. (Make sure that they have thought about how they might explain this story to the children in your group in an appropriate way.) Once they have done so, invite the children to ask any questions that they would like to about the story or what your visitor has said. Remember, what might appear silly questions to us might have a real importance for the child. Think around the question to try and understand what is happening in a child’s head as they think about these issues.
At the end of your question time, invite the visitor to pray for the children. To be prayed for by someone ‘in authority’ in your church can be a formative experience for the group – that someone in charge cares enough to spend time with them and pray for them sends a powerful message to them about their value, particularly as part of a session where children are exploring the idea that Jesus died for them. Make sure you leave enough time for this at the end of your session.
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