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Called to partner — Weekly Christian ed lesson

In this lesson, children will explore the work of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) mission co-workers across the world, noticing how they partner with communities to continue Christ’s work on earth.

Lesson background

In the congregation I serve, I often talk with the children about community. We discuss the community of children, our church community and the ways that we connect with the community surrounding our church building. Because they can see these communities, they “get” what I’m talking about. When we move to the community of Christ’s universal church things get a bit fuzzy. The children know disciples of Christ exist throughout the world, but they are challenged to see the immediate connections to their own church community.

Next Sunday is Mission Worker Sunday in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). On this day, congregations may choose to celebrate and learn about the work that denominational mission co-workers are doing in partnership with local communities around the globe. In this lesson, children will explore the work of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) mission co-workers across the world, noticing how they partner with communities to continue Christ’s work on earth.

What you’ll need

Starting out

Greet the children as they arrive.

Ask the children:

  • Do you prefer to do things together with one or more people or alone? Why?
  • What things are best to do alone?
  • What things are best to do with a partner?

Hearing and exploring the story

Prepare to read aloud Matthew 28:16-20.

Provide the children with context for the reading:

  • This story comes from the New Testament Gospel of Matthew.
  • The story takes place after Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus has shown his disciples that death cannot stop the work that he was doing on earth. The disciples have begun to believe in Jesus’ resurrection and are listening to the message that he shares with them.
  • Jesus gathers the disciples in the mountains to give them an important message. He will be leaving them to return to the Father/Creator, so he gives them instructions.

Read aloud Matthew 28:16-20.

After reading, ask the children:

  • What does Jesus tell the disciples they should do?
  • Jesus says the disciples should baptize people in his name. Think about baptisms you have experienced in our congregation. What happens in a baptism? Why are baptisms important?
  • Jesus also tells the disciples to teach people what he has taught them. What did Jesus teach the disciples during his life on earth?
  • How does the call that Jesus gives the disciples encourage them to be partners with one another and with people “of all nations”?

Responding to the story

To help the children connect the story to the work of PC(USA) mission co-workers, invite them to engage in one or more of the following activities:

  • Co-what? Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: chart paper or a whiteboard, a marker, and copies of “What does it really mean to be a PC(USA) mission co-worker?” article. On the chart paper or whiteboard, write these words one at a time: collaborate, combine, coach. After you write each word, ask the children to define it. When they have defined each of the words, ask them what the definitions have in common. Note that the prefix co- means “with” or “together”. All of these words involve people or things being or working together. Write “mission co-worker” on the paper/whiteboard. Have the children wonder what this person might do. Hand out copies of the article. Read the section in italics together. Discuss the ways the Parkers work in partnership with communities as mission co-workers.
  • Where in the World? Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: copies of maps of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Central America, and South America, pens or pencils, chart paper or a whiteboard, a marker, a computer with Internet access connected to a television or data projector and PC(USA) Mission Co-Worker Map website. Spread out map copies on the table. Give each child a pen or pencil and ask them to put their initials on 3-5 countries that they are interested in. Show the Mission Co-Worker Map on the screen. Have children call out countries they marked on the maps. Move the mouse over each country. If it changes color, there are mission co-workers in that country. Click on the country. You will be linked to the general page for that country or the names and websites of mission co-workers in that region. Explore the work they are doing. End your time together by offering prayers for these co-workers.
  • Connecting with your mission co-worker Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: chart paper or a whiteboard and marker, phone with ability to record video or colored paper and crayons or markers. If your congregation is connected to a mission co-worker, highlight the work they are doing. You can access their newsletters and information about their work by going to PMA’s Mission Connections. Scroll to the alphabetical list at the bottom of the page to link to the co-workers page. You may choose to read aloud the newsletter or show videos if they have posted them. After introducing the children to the co-workers’ work, write a prayer for the co-worker(s) together. You can use the chart paper or whiteboard to record their words. Then, use your phone to record the children reading the prayer and email it to the co-worker. If you prefer to have the children write individual prayers to send via “snail mail”, hand out colored paper and crayons or markers for children to handwrite their prayers.

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