MEETING AIM: To discover how Lydia became a follower of Jesus and to think about doing the same.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Acts 16:11-15,40
BACKGROUND: Paul has had a dream calling him to visit Macedonia, a region in northern Greece. This is his first trip to mainland Europe and Lydia is one of the first people he meets there. She is from Asia Minor, and is a follower of God, but readily accepts the message of Jesus. She and her family are baptised and then she invites them to stay with her. A church eventually grows in her house.
Gather the children together and share out any refreshments you have brought with you. Chat together about what has happened this week. What events did they enjoy? Did anything make them sad this week? Ask the group if they have met anyone amazing this week.
You will need: shop-play equipment, including pieces of cloth for a fabric shop Show the children the shop-play equipment you have brought. Let the children lead the play and explore the equipment, but make sure you set up a fabric shop for the children to play with. Include some purple cloth in the samples you provide. Join in with the play if the children ask you to. Chat about which shops the children prefer and when they last went to the shops.
You will need: child-friendly Bible translation; your fabric stall from ‘Intro activity’; a fancy piece of purple material (saree material would be ideal); large sheet of paper; marker pen
Explain that you’re going to hear a story about God’s people. Show the children the book of Acts in the Bible. Acts comes after all the stories of Jesus – called the Gospels – and is the story of Jesus’ friends going out into the world and telling everyone about him. Two of Jesus’ friends were called Paul and Silas. God told them to go to a place called Philippi in Greece.
Say that they met a woman called Lydia. She sold beautiful and expensive purple cloth. Show the children your fancy purple material and take turns in dressing the children in the cloth. Explain that purple cloth was very expensive as the colours needed to make the cloth purple were rare and difficult to find.
It was usually only worn by rich and powerful people. Let the children who are wearing the purple cloth parade up and down.
Say that Lydia already knew about God and spread out a large sheet of paper in front of the children. Ask them to tell you what they know about God. They might say things like “God is kind”, “God loves us” or “God keeps us safe”.
Explain that Paul and Silas told Lydia all about Jesus. List some of the major events in Jesus’ life that the children might know: birth, baptism, feeding the
5,000, meeting Zacchaeus, dying on the cross and coming alive again.
Read Acts 16:14-15 to the children. Lydia believed in Jesus, her family were baptised and she invited Paul and Silas to stay with her.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns in contributing:
- How would you describe Lydia?
- What do you know about God?
- Lydia listened to Paul and Silas and believed in Jesus. Do you believe in Jesus? Why?
- Why do you think Lydia invited Paul and Silas to stay with her?
You will need: water; plastic bowls and jugs; dolls (of different ages if possible); towels; church leader to talk to the children
Before the session, fill the bowls with water. Show the children the water, towels and dolls and remind them that when Lydia believed in Jesus, she and her whole family were baptised.
Introduce your church leader volunteer to the children; ask them how they started to believe in Jesus and when they were baptised. Let the children ask your volunteer any questions they would like to.
Ask the church leader to explain baptism to the children, according to your church’s tradition. Let them use a doll and water to demonstrate what happens. Ask them what it means with regards to faith, rather than just ‘this is what happens’. They will need to think about how to explain this simply so that the children can start to understand.
Let the children have a go at baptising the dolls themselves, reminding them of what it means as they do so.
You will need: praise music and the means to play it
Play the music and enjoy dancing around. Every few seconds, shout something linked to the story today. For example, you might say: “Thank you God that you give us people to tell us about you!” or simply: “Hooray for Jesus!” Encourage the children to cheer after each thing you shout, before dancing again.
After a few moments of dancing and cheering, say this prayer:
“Thank you, Jesus, that we can believe in you like Lydia did. Thank you that you bring us people like [say the name of your visitor] to help us know more about you. Amen.”
If any of the children want to know more about following Jesus, just as Lydia did, then use a booklet such as The Biggest Surprise (Scripture Union) to help them find out more about it.
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