Fifty years ago, The Children’s Defense Fund, an advocacy organization drawing attention to problems in the world affecting children, established Children’s Sabbaths. This annual event encourages faith communities to join in the organization’s mission. In this lesson, children will explore Jesus’ message of care for children and will consider the problems children are facing today.
You will need:
- A Bible
- Chart paper and markers
- A computer with Internet access connected to a television or data projector, videos: “Children and Families Around the World,” “Bedrooms of Children Around the World,” and “Scenes from Schools Around the World” (optional)
- Chart paper or a whiteboard, markers, notebook paper and pencils (optional)
Greet the children as they arrive.
Have the children sit so they are facing a wall or easel where you have hung two sheets of chart paper.
Ask the children:
- What is great about being a kid?
Write their responses on one sheet of chart paper.
Then ask the children:
- What is challenging about being a kid?
Write their responses on the other sheet of chart paper.
Exploring the passage
Say a prayer.
Provide context for the readings (Mark 9:33-37 and Mark 10:13-16):
- These passages come from the New Testament Gospel of Mark.
- Jesus doesn’t often talk about children, but he addresses young people in these two passages.
- In Jesus’ culture, children were not viewed the same way that they are today. Children weren’t able to contribute to the work of a family until they were older, so they were often seen as “future people” rather than whole younger people. Also, there were not hospitals and health care as there is today, so not all children lived. Children would not have been seen as important enough to have a religious leader’s full attention.
Read aloud Mark 9:33-37 and Mark 10:13-16. After reading, ask:
- How does Jesus treat children in these passages?
- What does Jesus say about children in these passages?
- Why do you think Jesus blesses the children he encounters?
Relating the passage to our lives
Help the children connect the Scripture reading to their own lives through one or more of these activities.
- Connecting with children across the world: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: a computer with Internet access connected to a television or data projector, videos: “Children and Families Around the World,” “Bedrooms of Children Around the World,” and “Scenes from Schools Around the World.” Ask the children if they think children across the world are more alike or more different than one another. Encourage them to explain their thinking. Show each of the videos listed above. After each video, have the children reflect on and wonder about the lives of the children depicted.
- Listen Up! : Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: Chart paper or a whiteboard, markers, notebook paper and pencils. Ask the group to brainstorm a list of challenges that children in their community face. Encourage them to not only think of individual problems (like conflicts with friends) but also larger issues (such as hunger, homelessness, etc.). Write their responses on a sheet of chart paper hung on the wall or on a whiteboard. After they have created a list, ask the children to select one or two of the most pressing issues. Circle these. On another sheet of chart paper or on the whiteboard, brainstorm actions that the congregation can take to support children experiencing these challenges. Finally, have the children write letters to your session or outreach committee encouraging the church leaders to respond to the challenges children in the community are facing. Be sure to have them include some of the actions they brainstormed. Alternatively, you could make a video of the children talking about the issue and email it to church leaders.