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Ezekiel 17.22-24; Psalm 92.1-4,12-15; 2 Corinthians 5.6-10(11-13)14-17; Mark 4.26-34

Children's session

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus shares two parables about growth, patience and hope. As Jesus continues to draw crowds who gather to listen to his teaching, these parables speak about how this teaching is heard and received. The adventure of discipleship is how faith can grow from a small seed to a colossal plant with far-reaching branches if the right environment is provided.

This week we explore the environment in which God's kingdom values flourish.

Extra ideas including resources for very young children can be found by using the Jump to this week's menu on the right.

Prepare
Childrens Session

Read Bible notes on Mark 4.26-34

As disciples and especially as children’s leaders we cannot force a child to grow in faith, but how might you create the right environment and provide helpful resources to encourage growth? How are you seeing God’s kingdom values flourish in your local area and church?

Keep in mind, as you prepare and lead the sessions, that growth in faith can be an adventure, where fruitfulness is the ultimate goal, and that even seeds sown together sprout at different rates. Allow space and time for the children to consider their own growing adventure. Have fun with the metaphor and – like the gardener – have patience with sowing, nurturing and harvesting! 

Provide the following play materials for very young children throughout the session: a tray of pulses and seeds, with containers and spoons to scoop and pour.

Gather

Use the song, prayer and activity to gather the group and introduce the theme. (5 mins)

Childrens Session
Very young childrens Session

 Gathering song

Sing to the tune: Baby shark

Parables: do, do, do, do, do, do.
Jesus tells…
To teach us…
How to live.

Seeds and vines…
Masters, slaves…
Missing sheep…
Helping all.

Do your best…
Serve the Lord…
Be a friend…
Grow with God.

Childrens Session

A prayer of thanksgiving for children

Creator God,
thank you that you have planted us here.
Thank you for roots of friendship,
and the fruit of the Spirit.
Amen.

Think about the conditions seeds need to grow  W E S

 You will need: a small pot of soil, seeds, water, a light source.

  • Pass around the items to hold, and ask what conditions a seed needs in order to grow well.
  • Explain that today’s story is about seeds growing and becoming fruitful, and that God’s values can flourish within us if we create the right conditions

Share the Word
Childrens Session

Read the story and pause at the  to share these points with the children (see Stop and share below). Then use the activity to explore the passage together. (10 mins)

Click on the image to view a PDF. 

 

Stop and share

  • It’s worth noting here that while we are involved in sowing, tending and nurturing growth, it is ultimately God who makes it happen.
  • Explain what is meant by harvest: to gather in ripe crops ready to eat or use.
  • Jesus was a great storyteller who used parables – stories to help people learn more about God, explaining things that are sometimes hard to understand using things we see around us.

 

Story scrolls                                            W E

You will need: a tray of soil; sections of the story written on scrolls of paper.

  • Place the scrolls into the soil, standing up, like shoots of new growth.
  • Ask a few children to remove the scrolls. Ask them to read their scrolls to the group in any order, then work together to try and assemble the story in the right order. Be prepared to assist as needed.
Explore and respond

Use these ideas to help the children make connections between the Bible passage and their lives. (20 mins)

Childrens Session

Create the right environment                        W E

Think about what it is that helps you to grow

You will need: pictures and examples of scenarios (see below).

  • Divide the children into two teams. Explain that you will give them a scenario and ask each team to go and choose what they need to help them grow from the selection of pictures on the other side of the room. For each scenario, they can only choose two pictures.
  • Call out a range of scenarios and invite one player from each team to race to collect what they need.
  • After each scenario, discuss what else they might need to create the right environment for growth.

Examples of scenarios

  • learning a musical instrument
  • sitting exams
  • developing cooking skills
  • gardening
  • playing a sport
  • reading

 

Paint ‘God’s kingdom’ rocks!                      E S A

Share God’s values in your community

You will need: large stones, acrylic paint, brushes, varnish.

  • Invite the children to think about what some of God’s values are and what values might be needed in the local community.
  • Ask them to paint messages and pictures on stones, e.g. ‘Care for others’, ‘Be generous’. If you have a church social media presence, paint the name on the back of the rocks for people to post and/or include the phrase ‘God’s kingdom rocks’.
  • Varnish the rocks after your session and leave them to dry.
  • Give the children their rocks to take away and hide somewhere in the local community.

 

Sing

Preview song, then buy online and download.

My Number One, Hillsong Kids on Tell the World

Find more suggestions on the Hymns, songs & music page.

 

Talk together and talk to God

Use these questions to discuss the Bible passage and then bring your thoughts together by praying to God.

Talk together

  • When have you felt like you have really grown in something?
  • What do you think Jesus wanted people to understand about growth?
  • How can you create the right environment for God’s values to grow in your life?

 

Talk to God: Plant nature labels                 E S

Pray about different stages of faith

You will need: large wooden lolly sticks, a tray of soil, pens.

  • Discuss how everyone is at different stages of growth in life and faith. Show the lolly sticks and explain that growers write the names of plants and vegetables on sticks like these and push them into the soil to remember what is planted.
  • Ask the children to write on a lolly stick a kingdom value they would like to show, e.g. gentleness, thoughtfulness, or write a prayer asking God to help them grow in faith, then push their stick into the tray of soil.

 

Childrens Session

Activity sheet 

Go with God

Consider together what you have explored, what that means for each of you and how it might influence your daily lives. (10 mins)

Childrens Session
  • Invite the children to hold a symbol you have used during your session (perhaps a pot of soil, a wooden lolly stick or a seed), and consider:
    - how God helps them to grow and develop
    - how God’s values can grow in them
    - how they might help others to grow.

 

A sending out prayer for children

Creator God, send us out to be
ready to learn from your words,
ready to grow in faith and
ready to sow the seeds of your love.
Amen.

Go with God 24/7

Encourage the children to put their faith into action

Plant some seeds this week. As you watch them grow, think about how you are growing in faith.  E S

 

Before you finish, give out the ROOTS at home resource to encourage faith at home.

Childrens Session
Very young childrens Session

Sing

To the tune: Jesus’ hands were kind hands, doing good to all

Jesus tells us stories, guiding us to live.
Parables are stories, teaching us to give.
Help me be like Jesus, till I’m loving too.
Jesus tell us stories, till I’m kind like you.

Spiritual styles abbreviations
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Read our Spiritual Styles articles
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