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BFFs in Christ — Weekly Christian ed lesson

In this lesson, children will explore Jesus’ definition of friendship and will consider how it might play out in their lives.

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

Lesson background

Parents and caregivers know it’s difficult to keep up with the ever-evolving list of our children’s friends. Just when you think you’ve learned the names and faces of all your child’s friends, a new one pops up. There are school friends, church friends, sports friends, neighborhood friends … the list goes on. But not all of these friendships are the same. They vary in depth of connection and action. What we might do for one friend is very different than what we would do for another. Jesus recognizes the type of friendship he calls us to have with him and with our fellow disciples is quite different than any other. In this lesson, children will explore Jesus’ definition of friendship and will consider how it might play out in their lives.

What you will need

  • A Bible
  • Chart paper or a whiteboard and a marker
  • Bound in love activity: blank white paper, pencils, scissors, markers or crayons, glue sticks, and a large sheet of roll paper (optional)
  • The effects of friendship activity: a computer with Internet access connected to a television or data projector and video “How friendship affects your brain” (optional)
  • Radical friendship activity: a computer with Internet access connected to a television or data projector and video “Local man surprises friend by donating a kidney to her” (optional)

Starting out

Greet the children when they arrive.

At the top of a sheet of chart paper hung on the wall or on a whiteboard, write “good friend.” Ask the children to share the qualities of a good friend. Record their responses on the chart paper/whiteboard. Then ask them which of these traits is most important. Circle their responses.

Hearing and exploring the story

Prepare to read aloud John 15:9-17.

Provide the children with context for the reading:

  • This story comes from the New Testament gospel of John.
  • It is part of a longer conversation Jesus is having with his disciples. He is teaching them why he has come to earth to live among them. He wants to help them understand that their connection to him is a connection to God.
  • Jesus talks about the disciples being his friends. The word used in Greek is philos. This type of friendship is one someone has with someone who is beloved to them. It comes from knowing one another well.
  • Jesus also commands the disciples in this passage. He isn’t ordering them around but rather is talking to them about doing something that is extremely important to God and is part of being one of God’s people.

Read aloud John 15:9-17.

After reading, ask the children:

  • How do you think Jesus would define friendship?
  • Why is it important that Jesus chooses us as friends rather than us choosing him?
  • How is being a friend to one another a commandment?
  • Is the kind of friendship Jesus is talking about the same or different than the friendships you have? Why?

Responding to the story

To help the children connect the story to their own lives and experiences, invite them to engage in one or more of the following activities:

  • Bound in love Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: blank white paper, pencils, scissors, markers or crayons, glue sticks, and a large sheet of roll paper. Hand each child a sheet of blank paper and a pencil. Pair the children up so they can trace one another’s hands on the paper. One child will place their hands on the paper while the other traces it with a pencil. Have the children cut the paper hands out. Then, ask them to use crayons or markers to write or draw the things that they need from a friend on one of the paper hands. Ask them to draw or write what they can offer as a friend on the other paper hand. Have the children glue their paper hands in a circle on the sheet of rolled paper. Discuss the similarities and differences in what we need and want in our friendships.
  • Speaking truth in friendship (There are no special materials needed for this activity). Re-read verse 15b (“I have called you friends because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father”). Have the children wonder what Jesus is trying to tell the disciples with this statement. Explore some of the things that Jesus told or showed his disciples during his life. Note that he shared some difficult truths with them. Discuss the role of “speaking truth” in friendships. Should friends be completely truthful with one another? Why or why not? Are there times when we should or shouldn’t share everything we know with friends?
  • The effects of friendship Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: a computer with Internet access connected to a television or data projector and the video “How friendship affects your brain.” Ask the children to share how their friends influence their lives. What impact do they think their friendships have on their daily lives? Show the video. Discuss key takeaways from the video. Then have the children wonder how Jesus’ view of his friendships with the disciples fits with the scientific information in the video.
  • Radical friendship Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: a computer with Internet access connected to a television or data projector and the video “Local man surprises friend by donating a kidney to her.” Re-read verse 13. Have the children wonder what this type of friendship might look like. Play the video. Discuss how it relates to the reading. Wonder about other ways friends can “lay down their lives” for one another.

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