MEETING AIM: To explore how Paul and Silas put their faith in God, even in the toughest times.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Acts 16:16-40
BACKGROUND: As we learn about Paul and Silas in prison, we focus on how worship was the key to Paul and Silas’ freedom. Sometimes we feel like things are too big to be overcome, and we lose hope. However, Paul and Silas put their hope in God, which meant that they were truly free…in or out of prison!
Start your time together with some simple refreshments and chat about what your children have found exciting today (or yesterday, if you’re doing this in the morning). For refreshments, you could have breadsticks or strawberry wands (which are dairy and gluten free!); say that you chose them because they are like prison bars!
You will need: a padlocked box full of goodies; a luggage label that says ‘WORSHIP’; sheets of paper, each with a letter of the word ‘WORSHIP’ written on them.
Before the start, attach the label to the key to the box. Hide the letters of the word ‘WORSHIP’ around your house.
Show your children the box, but keep the key hidden. Explain that they have to find the letters, and then use them to spell a word. This is the codeword that will get them the key to their prize! Once they have succeeded, give them the key and share the treats out. Ask what your children think worship is.
You will need: table; cardboard box; scissors; masking tape; play people (such as Playmobil, Duplo or Lego)
Cut the sides of the box and then lightly tape them together so that the walls can come down easily.
Have some fun telling this unusual story, by playing it out in a mini theatre! Have the play people handy to enact the story, using the box as the prison. You will need people to be Paul, Silas, the female slave, the other prisoners, the jailer and Lydia. Depending on the age of your children, they could take part in the re-enactment.
Ask one of your family to read out the passage, making sure they do different voices for the characters, while you or your children move the characters around to act them out. When it comes to the part where Paul and Silas are worshiping, sing a Christian song you all know! Tell the story again, encouraging your family members to do all the elements of the story.
Chat about the story using these questions:
•Why did Paul and Silas end up in prison? Was it fair?
•What were the different things that Paul and Silas did in prison that were not how the other prisoners or the jailer expected them to do? Why did they behave like this?
•Why did the jailer start believing in Jesus?
•How can this story give us hope for today?
You will need: a large padlock cut out of paper or a 3D version made of cardboard – it should be large enough for everyone to write on; felt-tip pens
Extend the discussion about the Bible passage by asking the family to think about how the story of Paul and Silas can give hope for us today about the things that feel too big, bad or powerful to overcome. Sometimes we feel like we’ve got to the end of the story, but we forget that we have a big, good and powerful God!
Ask your children to consider the things that might feel like today’s version of the prison that Paul and Silas were unfairly put in. Generate discussion around different ideas, and encourage everyone to write their thoughts onto the padlock.
You will need: worship music and the means to play it; large keys cut out from big paper; felt-tip pens
Remind your children that it was as they worshiped that the prison walls came down. Paul and Silas had been jailed by the Romans, but the power of their worship meant that they were set free. The big, bad or powerful things you discussed and wrote on the padlock can feel too much to be overcome, but it as we worship God, we discover that we are truly free and the prison walls comedown!
Play a worship song. Chris Tomlin’s ‘Amazing grace (my chains are gone)’would be fitting, or pick a song that is meaningful to your family. Give your children the pens to choose from, and explain that as a reminder that worship sets us free, you’re going to write praise to God on the paper keys as the worship song plays. They can write things that God is (eg creator, wonderful, love) or things that they are grateful for.
When the song finishes, say a prayer of thanks for all that God is, and how worshiping him sets us free.
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