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1 Kings 3.5-12; Psalm 119.129-136; Romans 8.26-39; Matthew 13.31-33,44-52

Children's session

Jesus tells parables that seek to convey what the kingdom of heaven is ‘like’ or ‘similar to’. Some are about the way it grows and spreads; others stress its value compared to anything else in life.

This week we explore waiting and trusting.

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

Prepare

Prepare and reflect

Childrens Session

Read Bible notes on Matthew 13:31-33,44-52

We live in a world of instant access and we often crave immediate gratification. These parables remind us that the people of Jesus’ day had similar instincts. Jesus challenged their thinking and expectations. The kingdom is both here and coming, and we too must wait and trust to see its fulfilment. What is it that we are waiting for?

The well-known ‘marshmallow test’ film shows that children with good impulse control can resist the temptation to eat one sweet and are rewarded with a bigger prize. There is a lesson to learn in waiting, saving up for, counting down to receive something precious that many children will relate to. Here we discover that God’s big prize comes to those who wait and trust.

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: If you’re happy and you know it

If you’re waiting and you’re trusting, clap your hands.
If you’re waiting and you’re trusting, clap your hands.
If you’re waiting and you’re hoping and you’re trusting,
God will answer,
if you’re waiting and you’re trusting, clap your hands.
(Repeat with ‘nod your head’, ‘stamp your feet’)

 

Treasure hunt 10 mins  E

You will need: prizes such as chocolate coins or plastic gems.

  • Before the session, hide a large quantity of ‘treasures’ around the venue. Explain the rules of play and challenge the children to set off and find the treasure!

Childrens Session

A gathering prayer for children

Loving Lord,
help us to hear your word
and see your work today.
Amen.

Storytelling circle W E

  • Gather the children together in a circle, facing inwards.
  • Explain that everyone will take turns to say one word and create a story together. Appoint a child to start the story. If the story collapses, you can restart with a new first word. Explain that Jesus told surprising stories.

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

  • The yeast is tiny and doesn't look like much, but holds much power and potential, helping the dough to rise.
  • The kingdom of God is the most precious prize. The merchant recognised the true value of this pearl.
  • We want instant results, we want fairness now, but we must trust God’s timing.

 

Repeat and crescendo W E

  • Read out the first four parables. As you do this, invite the children to suggest actions for the group to join in with. Read the passages again and encourage everyone to repeat the key phrases after you. Ask the children to whisper the words when the parable is about something waiting to grow or be found, and then build up to a shout when something grows or is discovered.
Explore and respond

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

Childrens Session
Very young childrens Session

Treasure chests E S

Create a reminder of Jesus’ parable of the hidden treasure

You will need: basic card or wooden treasure box forms (or empty shoeboxes), assorted materials to decorate with.

  • Provide a treasure box for the children to paint and decorate as they wish, sticking on sequins and gems, for instance. If you prefer, you could work together to create a large cardboard box treasure chest for display.
  • Talk about the precious things you can keep in your chests, and the treasures in God’s kingdom.

 

Childrens Session

Yeast balloon experiment E S

See how God’s kingdom is like yeast

You will need: balloon, yeast sachet, plastic bottle, balloon, 1tsp sugar, warm water.

  • Demonstrate the experiment: Inflate and deflate the balloon a few times to soften it. Part-fill the bottle with about 1-inch warm water. Add the sachet of yeast and stir. Add the sugar and stir again, explaining that this is the food for the yeast to get to work. Stretch the deflated balloon over the neck of the bottle and place the bottle in a warm place.
  • Wait to see the balloon begin to inflate. Look back together at the parable and ask what this shows about God’s kingdom.

 

 

Sing

Preview song(s), then buy online and download. 

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

  This little light of mine

Childrens Session

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

  • What makes something precious?
  • Where do you see God’s kingdom growing in the world?
  • How might we take God’s kingdom into the world with us?

 

Talk to God: Precious prayers W S A

Consider the treasure in God’s kingdom

You will need: coloured paper, gem shapes, pens, treasure chest.

  • Set out the treasure chest in front of the children and distribute the paper gem shapes and pens.
  • Invite the children to think about the ‘treasures’ of God’s kingdom that they see or that we are waiting for. Discuss further as appropriate, helping the children to think of real-life examples, such as a loved one being healed, people coming to know Jesus, kindness being shown in surprising places, a community being cared for.
  • When they are ready, ask the children to write something down on the gem before adding it to the treasure chest. You can pray together about these things, as appropriate.

 

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
  • Provide plant pots, seeds and compost for the children to plant a seed to nurture at home. Talk about what they will need to do to care for the plant. Suggest that, as they tend to the plant, they could think about where they are noticing God’s kingdom growing around them.

 

A sending out prayer for children

God of the good harvest,
as we see your hand in the flowers of summer gardens
and the fruits of the season,
help us to trust you in the times of growing as well as the
times of harvest.
Amen.

Go with God 24/7

Encourage the children to put their faith into action

This week, when you find yourself having to wait in line, see if you can spend a moment praying ‘your kingdom come,’ from the Lord’s Prayer. 
W S

 

Thrive

Before you finish,
give out the Thrive
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.

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Read our Spiritual Styles articles
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