Welcome to ROOTS at home for families
You are welcome to copy this material for use in your own resources e.g. printed sheets or web pages including audio/video recordings. If you do so, please include this acknowledgement to ROOTS:
© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020.
Reproduced with permission.
Read our article ROOTS at home - support for nurturing faith at home (www.rootsontheweb.com/faithathome)
Stories are a really important part of our lives: they may be how we settle down ready to sleep; how we pass on memories; or the way we share our faith.
Jesus often uses parables – a story with a hidden meaning – to share a key message and this week we think about how and why he might have done this.
See Bible notes for more information on the passages for today.
Use this prayer as you begin your time of worship together. Nominate a leader or all join in together.
Lord Jesus, as we gather today,
may we have eyes to see
and ears to hear
what you are saying to us.
Make us ready to learn
from your stories.
Share the Bible story using the idea below to help you explore it together.
Open the Bible at Matthew 13.1-9,18-23: Jesus tells simple stories, called parables, to help people understand an important message.
Words and pictures
Use this poem, substituting these words for pictures: farmer, seed, birds, thorns (see template). Then tell the story using the pictures.
A farmer went, his seed to sow, he did not know if they would grow.
Some seed fell on stony ground, some the hungry birds soon found.
Some fell among the thorns so tall, they stood no chance to grow at all!
But some seed fell on fertile ground, and soon the crops grew all around.
So many people wanted to see Jesus and hear what he had to say, that he had to sit in a boat and teach the people standing on the shore. He told them many things through parables.
‘Listen!’ Jesus said. ‘A farmer went out to sow his seeds. As he scattered them, some of the seeds fell on the path and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell onto rocky ground. At first they grew quickly, but when the sun came out they got all burnt up because they had no roots in the shallow soil. Other seeds fell among thorns, which grew up around them and choked them. Other seed fell on good soil and they grew into thirty, sixty, a hundred times more wheat. Listen!’ Jesus said again. ‘If you’ve got ears, listen!’
Jesus explained the parable of the sower to the crowd. ‘What did I mean by the seed on the path being eaten up?’ he said. ‘Well, that’s like when the good things that God has planted in our hearts get snatched away by the devil. And the seed on the rocky path? That’s like when someone hears God’s word and loves it and is full of joy, but their enthusiasm disappears as soon as trouble comes their way. And the seed among thorns? Well, that’s like when someone hears God’s word but worry and greed take over. But the seed planted in good soil – ah, the seed in the good soil is like the person who hears God’s word, loves it and lives it, so it produces thirty, sixty, a hundred times more goodness in their lives.’
devil a personification of evil, also called Satan or ‘the evil one’.
Spend time reflecting on the Bible passage, using the questions below as appropriate.
Talk together with children
- Farmers used to sow their seeds by ‘broadcasting’ (throwing the seed as they went). Do you think the seed would land where the farmer wanted it to?
- What makes a good listener to a story?
- In the story, what helped the seeds to grow? What helps us to grow as followers of Jesus?
Talk together with young people
- Why might people not understand the word of God or want to listen to those who share it?
- What do you think of parables as a way of teaching others?
- Can you relate to any of what happens to the seeds? (The young people don’t have to answer this out loud.)
Activities, songs and prayers
Choose from the activities below and do any or all of them in any order you wish. Some are designed for younger children and some for young people. However we hope using a mix will work for any ages in your household.
I’m going to tell you a story…
Build a story as a group
- Gather your group into a circle and explain that you’re going to take it in turns to tell part of a story – one sentence each, and that you’ll start. The sentences don’t have to be complicated, but it helps the story if they follow on from the last sentence.
- Start the story with a sentence that should be easy to continue, for example, ‘One day, Jesus went to the seaside with his friends.’
- Finish the story when everyone has had a turn, or you come to a natural conclusion.
Make a story catcher
Explore another way of telling a story
You will need: a square of plain paper (about 20cm square) and pens or pencils for each person.
Spend some quiet time reflecting on the passage, as well as what you have been doing in the activities you chose.
Come up with a snapchat or a tweet (max. 280 characters) – a picture with a caption – that would get across the message of the parable of the sower. Discuss how today we only have quick snippets of things to share information with people:
- Do people think we spend less time reading/watching stories now?
- How easy is it to share information quickly?
- Do we get across everything that we need to?
Finish your time of worship by praying together in any way you choose (there are more prayers on our Prayers page).
Provide a selection of a few different seeds. Invite everyone to hold some in their hands. Look at how different they each are and what they may grow into. Play one of the Listen tracks and invite everyone to pray that God will show them something of what he wants them to grow into.
Gather the group as if to hear a story e.g. on a mat or round a ‘campfire’ and play The story of your life (Matthew West on The story of your life) while you pray together:
Once upon a time…
Lord Jesus, you are always ready
to share your story with us.
As we go into the week ahead,
may we all have ears to hear
so that we might grow.
You may wish to use the additional resources below to worship together and/or the activity sheets for children.
Sing and listen
Preview songs on YouTube, buy online and download.
The farmer comes to scatter the seed (RSJ 289)
The parables of Jesus, Diana Dow
Rocky wocky song, Fischy Music on It’s a noisy world
Tell me the stories of Jesus (KS 322)
Christ taught us, Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
You are called to tell the story (CH4 680)
Nobody, Casting crowns feat. Matthew West on Only Jesus
The potter’s hand, Hillsong worship on Ultimate worship
See also Same Boat @ HOME
Live your faith
When you are worried, sad or just very busy this week, find a pebble or small stone and put it in a safe place. Remember that Jesus can share our worries.
(Links to the PDFs for these can also be found at the end of the page.)
Notes on the Bible story for parents and carers
- The telling of parables was a very common method of teaching for Jesus to use. Parables consist of short stories to illustrate a point; sometimes the elements in the narrative are explicitly identified as pictures of, or metaphors for, something that helps us to understand the meaning.
- In this particular passage, we hear Jesus telling us the ‘parable of the sower’ and then afterwards taking the time to explain the message to the disciples. Sometimes Jesus explains his meaning while at other times it is not spelt out. In the Gospels, Jesus often uses illustrations that would have had a particular resonance with his agricultural audience.
- This method of teaching is particularly powerful. We use pictures to communicate ideas all the time. Both the Old Testament writers here make use of pictures to speak of abstract concepts, such as God’s word. Paul uses metaphors of walking and dwelling to speak of the ways in which believers’ lives are bound up with the Spirit of God. Jesus, the master storyteller, conjures up pictures to communicate deep truths about people and the work of God.
- In this parable, the sower was ‘broadcasting’ the seeds, meaning to ‘throw them out’. This is what we are called to do with the word of God as disciples of Jesus, as Jesus himself ‘broadcasts’ when he is sharing his parables with the crowds. In what ways can we share the story of Jesus with those we meet?