Thanks for joining us again as we do Children’s Worship from home!
Note: Please let us know about how your family is enjoying Children’s Worship! Take some pictures of your family participating in Children’s Worship or share a story. You can post to the Gold Avenue Church Facebook page or send by email at email@example.com
GOD IS LOVE, PART 2: Church in Antioch
Activity One: Do the introduction with your child(ren). Watch the video
Activity Two: Discuss the story using provided questions as prompts
Activity Three: Respond to the story by doing the activity.
Activity Four: Bless your children
(It’s the background on the story for you, the parent, to read, so you can be prepared to answer your family’s questions)
In the early days following Jesus’ ascension, many people were coming to faith. The gathering of believers was growing, and true community was developing. A young man named Stephen was among seven men appointed by the 12 apostles to serve communities with the distribution of food and supplies to needy widows. As he served, Stephen was filled with God’s grace and power, performing many miracles in His name. When word of this reached some men of the synagogue, they approached Stephen and began to debate with him. Seeing that Stephen would not back down, the leaders seized Stephen and stoned him to death.
Stephen’s death was the first of a great wave of persecution that swept over the church in Jerusalem, and followers of “The Way” scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. These followers preached the Word of God to the Jews. However, some believers went to the city of Antioch and preached the good news of Jesus to the Gentiles. “The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:21).
Antioch enjoyed a prosperous economy due to its strategic location at the crossroads for trade routes south to Palestine and Egypt, east to Persia, and west to the Asia Minor Peninsula. Antioch was ranked the third-greatest city in the Roman Empire, after Rome and Alexandria, with a population of more than 500,000. It was a blend of many cultures, beliefs, and practices. The city, referred to as “Queen of the East,” was also known for its extravagant, wasteful, and reckless behavior.
When the Jerusalem church heard of the growing number of believers in Antioch, they sent Barnabas—a godly and faith-filled man—to visit. During his first stay, Barnabas witnessed the blessing of God upon these believers; many turned and put their faith in the Lord. Barnabas left Antioch long enough to return with Paul—who had once persecuted and killed followers of The Way—and they stayed for a year teaching the Word of God.
It’s from this time of God’s Spirit moving in Antioch that we see the beginning of the Gentile movement: the first Gentile church, the first missionaries, and the first act of generous financial giving for another local church community. It’s here in Antioch that believers were first named Christians (christianous or “little Christs”). What citizens of the city may have intended as a coining in jest, the followers of The Way embraced as a fitting title to describe their new identity.
After Jesus returned to heaven to be with His Father, His disciples were so full of God’s love that they couldn’t help but share it with others. Jesus’ message spread all over the world quickly. Soon there were new churches everywhere. Our lesson today tells how we those new churches helped each other like Jesus helped people while He was on earth. But first, let’s pray and ask God to be the one to teach us. Lead children in a Prayer of Release to pause, be still, and ask the Holy Spirit to quiet their hearts and minds.
Today in The Big God Story, we saw that God is love. We also heard about the church in Antioch and how God’s love helped them to share His love with others. One clarifying note: The video mentioned that the believers fed the hungry and “did everything they could to help the sick people feel better.” In fact, they healed the sick in Jesus’ name, which is one of the things Jesus said his followers would do. It’s a subtle but important difference.
I wonder … How did the people in Jerusalem feel when the church in Antioch helped them?
I wonder … Who has shown God’s love to me?
I wonder … Whom does God want me to share His love with this week?
After discussing the Wonder Questions, take a moment to pray with your group. God’s love is amazing. He gives so much love to us, and He’s always willing to give us more and more! God fills us with His love so we can share it with others.
One way we can love others is through prayer. Whom do you know who needs God’s love today? Invite children to respond. Wow! It seems like God has put a lot of special people in our lives to share His love with. Let’s take a moment to pray for those people. Invite kids to take turns praying aloud, even as simple as inviting them to pray: “Father, please show (insert name) Your love, and help me share Your love with her too.”
Let’s continue to talk to God as we pray for one another.
These questions can easily extend into the rest of the week. Look for opportunities to bring conversations about how God Saves into your everyday life as a family.
Fold a 81/2 x 11 paper like a fan. Draw a heart shape on one edge starting and ending at the folded edge. Cut out. Open up to the heart chain. You can make more than one and tape them together. Have children brainstorm people to pray for and to show love to as in prayer time above. Write their names on a heart to help remember them.
End this time together with a blessing over your whole family:
(Child’s name): may you remember that God is love.
May you be filled with God’s love, and may His love pour through you to everyone you know.
At Home Weekly Study Page
This week we are starting to include a page that can be used during the week to prepare for the next lesson! Please check it out and use it along side your existing family devotions.
At Home Weekly Lesson 11