MEETING AIM: To discover that God keeps us safe.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Ephesians 6:10-20
BACKGROUND: This is the third in a series this month on imagery in the epistles in the New Testament. Letters don’t usually form part of a curriculum for younger children, but there is lots for them to explore and begin to understand, so don’t shy away from passages like this one!
In this picture, Paul talks about taking up armour of God when we fight spiritual enemies. In the lives of younger children, they might not experience such spiritual warfare and expect to fight it on their own. At this time in their development, it might be enough to focus on protection offered by armour, rather than the fight.
Be aware that talking about being safe might be difficult for children whose home lives are not as safe as they could be. If you need to, follow your church’s safeguarding procedure. Or, if appropriate, mobilise your church to help improve any child’s situation that is less than ideal.
Gather the children together and share out any refreshments you have brought. Chat together about what has happened this week. What events did they enjoy? Did anything make them sad this week? Ask the children where they feel the safest. Try to draw out what helps them to feel safe.
You will need: dressing-up free-play equipment
Set out all the dressing-up free-play equipment you have. Try to have a large variety of clothes available, and include some items of armour if you have them (these could be made from stiff card if you have the time).
Let the children lead the play, exploring what it is like to dress up in different clothes. Join in the children’s play, allowing them to direct you in what you should do. Ask the children how safe all these pieces of clothing make them feel.
You will need: large sheets of paper (lining paper is ideal); art and collage materials; Bible; card versions of a shield and sword Spread out your large sheets of paper
and invite volunteers to lie down on them. Draw around your volunteers to produce an outline of a person. If you have a small group, all work together on one outline;
if you have lots of children, invite smaller groups to work together. Encourage the children to decorate the person with clothing that will protect them in some way
– a helmet, knee pads, big gloves etc.
Show your Bible to the children and explain that, in the New Testament, there are lots of letters written to Jesus’ friends to help them to follow God’s way and tell others about how wonderful Jesus is! Show the children Ephesians and say that this letter was written by a man called Paul to his friends in a city called Ephesus, part of modern-day Turkey. Read Ephesians 6:10-20. Look at all the protective clothing your person is wearing. Does the person have any of the armour that Paul talks about to his friends?
Place your card shield onto the picture and ask the children if they know what it is. Explain that Paul isn’t Paul was telling his friends to wear actual armour. He was saying that God will keep them safe in difficult times. Place the sword onto your picture. Say that sometimes we have to stand up for Jesus when others are unkind or say bad things about him. Reassure the children that when we feel scared we can ask for his help and he will be with us.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns in contributing:
- What is your favourite part of this story from the Bible?
- What is the most important part of this story?
- How can God help us to feel safe?
- How can we talk to God about what worries or scares us?
- Who else has God given us to help us?
You will need: different coloured card; child-safe scissors; felt-tip pens or crayons; Bible; volunteers from your church leader- ship (if you did session one and two, try to get different volunteers if possible)
Give out the card and invite the children to draw one of the pieces of armour from Ephesians 6:10-20 (have a Bible handy so you can remind the group of what Paul writes about). Create some simple
templates before the session if that would help the children. Encourage the group to cut out their armour and decorate it how they wish. As you work, chat about times when the children feel like they need to wear God’s armour. Reassure any children who seem particularly worried and follow these up with parents, carers or through your safeguarding policy.
Invite your volunteers to share some- thing about their own story, concerning a time when they stood up for Jesus and had to rely on God to protect them. Encourage them before the session to think about how they might talk about this with the youngest members of the church family.
You will need: card armour and volunteers from ‘Creative response’
Invite everyone to stand in a circle and to wave their armour in the air. Say a simple prayer thanking God for protecting us and keeping us safe. Pray specifically for any of the issues the children raised in ‘Creative response’. Ask the children to wave their armour in the air and to pray for themselves quietly as they do so.
Ask the volunteers from your church leadership to pray for the children too. Having those who lead your church pray for them can be a powerful experience for the children – it shows that they are valued and important in the life of the church. Invite them to pray for the children; they could ask God to help them be brave and tell someone about Jesus this week.
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