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BIBLE PASSAGE: Luke 14:15-24
BACKGROUND: We all have preconceived ideas of who would make a good Jesus follower. This parable shows us that God invites everyone, and that actually some are more grateful than others for the invitation. Use this time to allow the Holy Spirit to speak, giving you his own ideas and showing you his heart for other people. Rather than simply thinking about reaching their own friends, encourage the children to think more broadly and to listen to God’s heart for others.
Welcome the children by name and share out any refreshments you have brought. Ask the children about their week, then discuss which famous person they would most like to invite round for tea at their house and why.
You will need: easy-to-make party food (check for allergies); paper plates; party decorations; music and the means to play it; equipment for simple party games; cover-up and clean-up equipment
Divide the children into four groups and explain that today they are to become party planners! Provide each group with the equipment they need to plan their section of the party.
Group one – chefs: Ensure that they have washed their hands. Provide adult supervision as they prepare simple party food, for example homemade pizza pittas, crisps in bowls and decorated biscuits.
Group two – decorators: This group will decorate the room. Show them all the decorations you have brought and help them put everything where they want it.
Group three – DJs: Help this group create a playlist for a party, either using a music streaming service or your own library of music. Encourage them to think about what music would be good for a big feast.
Group four – entertainment: This group will plan some party games. Using the equip- ment you have provided they should put together some suitable games for a party.
You will need: volunteers on standby in different locations with phones to act the part of the invited guests
Gather the children together and say: “So we’ve planned the party, but who are we going to invite?”
Ask the whole group to create a list of people they would like to invite. It could be anyone they want, for example footballers, pop stars or the Queen! Secretly text this list to your standby people.
Put your phone on speaker and choose some of the children to call the guests. The people on standby can pretend to be the famous guests and make ridiculous excuses, for example: “I’m sorry, but I can’t come to your party. My tadpole has to go to the vet.” Each person should have a different excuse.
Then comment that Jesus told a story called a parable, and it went just like this. Tell this story:
Jesus told all the people listening about a big feast. The party planner had told his guests that they were invited. When
everything was ready the planner sent out his helpers to get the guests to come round (that’s how party invites worked in Jesus’ time). At the last minute, none of the people wanted to come and they all made excuses. Some of the excuses weren’t good.
So the party planner told his team to go out into the town and find people who didn’t normally get invited to parties: the poor, the disabled and those who were different from everyone else.
Out the helpers went and brought them all in, but there was still room for more! They went out again, but this time they went to the villages and countryside to find even more people who didn’t normally get invited to parties.
The party planner told his team that none of the people who had originally been invited would be able to taste his yummy party food.
Discuss the story further using these questions. You could eat the party food and use the playlist as background music as you chat:
- How does it feel when people don’t come to a party you’ve planned?
- How do you think it feels to be the person who is never invited to a party?
- What kind of party do you think Jesus is talking about in this story?
- Who could we invite to the party?
- How can we invite them?
- What do you think Jesus is teaching us with this story?
You will need: square pieces of paper; pens
Give each child a piece of paper and make a paper ‘chatterbox’ game. (If you’re not sure how to make it, you’ll be able to find instructions on the internet. Search for ‘paper chatterbox instructions’.)
On the four outer spaces, write the words ‘Come to my party’. In the middle spaces, write or draw different party activities that the children enjoy doing.
In the inner spaces, write down the names of people they would like to invite. As you work, continue chatting about the story. Do they feel like they have been invit- ed to Jesus’ party? What is their answer? You might want to set aside time to talk more about what it means to accept an invitation to this party. Have some booklets available to help: try Scripture Union’s What is Being a Christian All About?
You will need: chatterbox games from ‘Creative response’
Divide the children into pairs and play the chatterbox game in these pairs.
When a name is revealed, pray for that person and pray that the child would have the courage to invite them to meet Jesus. Keep playing the game in pairs until all the people in each chatterbox have been prayed for.
The children can take the chatterbox games home to continue praying for their chosen people.
At the end of the session, play one of the games chosen by the entertainment group.
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