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How we do — Weekly Christian ed lesson

In this lesson, children will explore Romans 12:9-21, noticing and wondering about all the ways Paul calls the church to live out its beliefs.

Lesson background

Ask 100 Christians what it means to be a follower of Christ and you’ll likely get at least 100 answers. This can partly be attributed to human beings not being able to completely agree on anything. (Faith is no exception!) But it also points to the complexity of our lives of faith. While there may be a few beliefs we say are “essentials,” putting them into action is complicated. In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman church, he outlines his beliefs, including a detailed list of ways we live into discipleship. It is almost a “how to” guide to “how we do” our faith. In this lesson, children will explore Romans 12:9-21, noticing and wondering about all the ways Paul calls the church to live out its beliefs.

You will need:

  • A Bible, preferably The Message translation or Celebrate Wonder Bible Storybook
  • Chart paper and a marker
  • Photocopies of Romans 12:9-21 in whatever translation you read aloud to the children and highlighters (optional)
  • Photocopies of Romans 12:9-21 in whatever translation you read aloud to the children, 8 ½” x 11” sheets of cardboard or cardstock, markers or paint pens, and masking tape (optional)

Starting out

Greet the children as they arrive.

Hang the sheet of chart paper on the wall. Have the children sit so they can see the paper. Write “Tips for Living Your Best Life” on the top of the paper.

Have the children brainstorm advice they would give someone wanting to live their best life. Record their responses on the paper.

After children have shared their suggestions, ask:

  • Which of these is most important for living your best life? Why?
  • Could we remove any of these suggestions from the list? Why or why not?
  • Would all your friends and family members agree with the items on this list? Why or why not?

Exploring the passage

Say a prayer.

Provide context for the lectionary reading (Romans 12:9-21):

  • This reading comes from a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome.
  • If the group studied Romans 12:1-8 last week, ask them to share what they remember about the Apostle Paul and his letter to the Roman church, as well as what they recall about the scripture passage. Note that Paul continues to share his beliefs about how the church can live out its faith in today’s reading.
  • If the group did not read Romans 12:1-8 last week, share this information with them:
    • A few thousand years ago, Paul helped many of the first churches get started and/or work through difficulties they were having. Sometimes churches reached out to Paul asking for his advice about a particular problem they were having. Sometimes Paul would write to a church he had a relationship with to encourage its members to continue their good work.
    • This reading comes from a letter that Paul wrote to the church in Rome. Paul had not previously connected to the Roman church. In this letter, Paul introduces himself and asks to come visit this church, so he can share his beliefs. Parts of the letter describe what Paul believes about Jesus and about the ways Jesus’ followers can live out their faith in this letter. Our reading comes from this part of the letter.

Read aloud Romans 12:9-21. Because the vocabulary in this passage can be a bit challenging for young children to understand, it is recommended that you offer the passage in The Message translation or in a children’s Bible. Celebrate Wonder Bible Storybook offers a succinct, child-friendly retelling of the reading titled “Love in Action.”

After reading, ask:

  • What are some of the ways Paul suggests that followers of Christ live?
  • Which of these seems easy? Why?
  • Which seems difficult? Why?

Relating the passage to our lives

Help the children connect the scripture reading to their own lives through one or more of these activities.

  • Moving in faith: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: photocopies of Romans 12:9-21 in whatever translation you read aloud to the children and highlighters. Divide the children into pairs. If you have any non-readers or emerging readers, pair them with strong readers. Hand each pair a copy of the Scripture reading and a highlighter. Ask them to read the passage aloud and then highlight verses that are interesting or seem important to them. Then ask each group to select one verse they highlighted and to create a set of movements that go with the verse. You can offer an example to help them. “Rejoice in hope” (verse 12a) could be accompanied by someone holding their arms up in the air and jumping while smiling. Give the groups time to come up with their movements. Then, ask each group to share their verse and movements with the rest of the group.
  • Paul’s wall hangings: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: photocopies of Romans 12:9-21 in whatever translation you read aloud to the children, 8 ½” x 11” sheets of cardboard or cardstock, markers or paint pens, and masking tape. Show the children several examples of stereotypical “life message” wall hangings that people have in their homes (such as “Live, laugh, love”). Ask the children why they think people hang words like these in their homes. Note that they often want to remind themselves and let others know these statements are true for their family. They are words that they live by. Paul offers several “words to live by” in today’s Scripture reading. Hand out copies of the reading. Ask the children to read it and to note which verse feels most interesting or important to them. Then provide each child with a sheet of cardboard/cardstock and markers. Ask them to create a wall hanging that shares the verse they chose. Encourage them to write the verse clearly and to decorate the wall hanging. You may need to assist emergent writers as they write the verse. Hang the “wall hangings” using masking tape.

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