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Bible passage: Mark 1:1-15

Background: At the start of his Gospel, Mark dives straight in at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. In John the Baptist’s preaching, and in Jesus’ baptism, temptation and words in Galilee, we find many clues about who Jesus is and what he came to do. Throughout the service, try to bring people back to these questions: who is Jesus? And what does that mean to you?

These activities should last around 45 minutes. Use the remaining 15 minutes for sung worship and whatever liturgy your church tradition uses.



5 minutes


OPTION 1: Introductions

As people arrive, or at the start of the service, invite everyone to move around and find someone they don’t know. Ask them to tell that person their name and something about themselves. It could be a hobby, their job or the music they like.


OPTION 2: Identity badges

You will need: large stickers; felt-tip pens

Set out tables with large stickers and plenty of felt-tip pens. As people arrive, encourage them to create badges that describe who they are. They could draw or write about their interests, family, holidays, school or work. As people work they could chat to those around them about what they’re putting on their stickers.



10 minutes

You will need: five volunteers to be Isaiah, John, Jesus, the voice of God and a narrator; suitable costumes (see verse 6 for details on what John looked like); a long piece of blue cloth; a toy dove; easy-to-read Bible translation (such as the Contemporary English Version)

Before the service, practise presenting the Bible story with your volunteers. The narrator should read out the Bible text, with the other volunteers acting out what happens and saying their lines as appropriate:

Isaiah steps forward and delivers his lines from verses 2 and 3 in the manner of a prophet. John should make an impression with his strange appearance. Use the blue cloth to represent the River Jordan as John baptises Jesus, and hold the toy dove over Jesus’ head as the voice of God speaks. As Jesus goes to Galilee he moves through the congregation, animatedly speaking his words from verse 15.

After you have performed the story, thank your volunteers and ask the congregation to think about what it tells them about Jesus.



5 minutes

You will need: Post-it notes; felt-tip pens; Bibles

Break into small groups – made up of one or two families, or different mixed-age groups – and give everyone some Post-it notes and pens. Invite the groups to write down all the things this Bible story tells them about Jesus, with a different thing on each note. Encourage the groups to make sure that everyone has the chance to contribute. Ask the groups to chat about this word picture of Jesus they have created with their notes. Have they discovered anything new? They can stick their notes around them, ready to use in the review section.



You will need: Post-it notes from ‘Small groups’; roving microphone (if you need one)

Bring the congregation back together to review the story and find out what everyone has discovered. Go through the points below, which list key facts the Bible story tells us about Jesus. As you mention each one, ask the groups to wave their Post-it in the air if they wrote it down. Ask someone from one of the groups to explain why they noted it (choose a different group for each point to give a variety of voices).

  • Jesus is the Son of God (verse 1)
  • Jesus is powerful (verse 7)
  • Jesus will baptise with the Holy Spirit (verse 8) • Jesus is God’s Son, and God is pleased with him (verse 11)
  • Jesus has good news about the kingdom of God (verse 15)

After reading out these five points, ask the congregation if they came up with anything else. Give space for the groups to explain what else they wrote down and why.



10 minutes

Set these three activities up in different parts of your meeting space. Explain what each one is and encourage people to go to the one that will help them process what they have discovered most effectively.


OPTION ONE: Painting

You will need: paint; paintbrushes; large sheets of paper; cover-up and clean-up equipment

Set out lots of paint and sheets of paper, and encourage people to create a piece of artwork that reflects what they have discovered about Jesus today. What is God saying to them through the story? What difference will this make in their lives?


OPTION TWO: Reflection



You will need: jugs of water; washing-up bowls; towels

Set out the jugs of water and bowls, then encourage people to pour the water into the bowls. As they do so, they can think about John and Jesus in the River Jordan. Why was John calling people to be baptised? What might it have been like to watch Jesus get baptised? What would you have thought if you had been there? Is there anything you need to say sorry for?


OPTION THREE: Discussion

You will need: volunteers to facilitate discussion; paper and pens

Gather people together in small groups, each with a facilitator, and challenge them to think about how they can tell others the good news about the kingdom of God, just as Jesus did in verses 14 and 15. Who can they tell? What will they say? When can they do it? Provide pens and paper in case they want to make notes.



5 minutes

Bring everyone back together and ask if anyone would like to share what they have done, thought about or discussed during the response time. Thank everyone for taking part and say an appropriate blessing to close the service.



Sing Graham Kendrick’s ‘Make way’, and wave flags and banners as you do so. You could even march around your meeting space.


Supporting documents

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