It goes without saying that we are living in some crazy times right now! But, we are deeply grateful to know that we serve a God who knew this is exactly how today would look for each of us before time even began! We can trust He is doing a good work, even when we can’t see what it is, and we want to support you as you teach your children to also trust Him. We’ve put together some resources for you to use as a family sometime this week!
These 4 activities are for you to help your children worship at home using the same curriculum we use in Children’s’ Worship every Sunday (adapted from TruStory Curriculum). Our vision for our children is for them to grow in relationship with the Lord and in prayer. The first section called is “Equip.” It’s not an activity, but just a little background on the story for you to read. Though this material was written long before the words “coronavirus” and “social distancing” took up most of our thought space and conversations, it is so timely for today.
Activity One: Watch the video. The lesson today is “God Saves, Part 1, the story of Jonah”, which is a pretty familiar story. The curriculum has made a video link which I think the kids will enjoy. It’s just over 6 minutes.
Activity Two: Discuss the story using provided questions as prompts
Activity Three: Respond to the story by doing an art project. Pray together.
Worship: Sing Hey, Jonah, Jonah to the tune of Jesus Loves Me (Words below). There are also a couple of other youtube links for songs to sing together.
Activity Four: Bless your children
Jonah, a prophet of God, was given a message to take to the Gentile people of Nineveh. But Jonah ran from the Lord, boarding a boat with plans to travel to Tarshish. When ships headed to Tarshish, they weren’t expected to return for three years—a trip of significant time and distance. Nineveh was the capital city in the Assyrian Empire. Although the Assyrians and the Israelites had a tumultuous relationship for many years, at this time the Israelites had been free from Assyrian rule for approximately 50 years. In giving Jonah a message to take to the people of Nineveh, God would call this Gentile city to repentance.
It seems strange to think a prophet of God would flee from His clear commands—especially when the goal of the message was to bring repentance and grace to its recipients. Israel was gaining strength and enjoying their favored relationship with God. However, in this time of reprieve, the people were becoming complacent. It’s possible Jonah’s response was reflective of the heart of the Israelite people. Perhaps he was jealous for the relationship his people had with God and didn’t relish the thought of the Lord extending grace and compassion toward the enemies of Israel, or he simply hated them because they were wicked and cruel.
The gift of relationship with God was never intended to be for Abraham’s descendants alone; it was to come from Abraham’s line to bring salvation to the world. God chose Abraham and his descendants to proclaim His truth and identity to all people. God would often send His message through prophets to awaken all the people so they would be moved to repentance and restoration. After hearing and believing His message, the people of Nineveh repented and were shown grace and mercy by the Lord.
Through Christ you’ve been given a new identity. You’ve been spiritually reborn into a legacy and heritage of faith.
God richly blessed the Israelites that they might be a blessing to all nations and peoples. So too, has He richly blessed all who believe in Him and call Him Lord and Savior. Each follower of Christ has been blessed not only for themselves, but also to bless others.
The gift and truth of salvation is the greatest blessing we can share with those who don’t yet know Christ. Look at the boundaries you have on your daily world. Is God calling you to push past those boundaries? How will you respond? How has He uniquely created you to serve Him and be a blessing to others? Take a walk around your neighborhood sometime this week. As you walk past each home, pray for those who live inside. Ask God how He would use you to be a blessing to the people in your neighborhood.
Activity 1: STORY
Activity 2: DISCUSSION
Ask your child to imagine what it must have been like to be inside a giant fish! Talk about how God saved Jonah by sending the giant fish. Ask:
- What did Jonah do when God told him to go to Ninevah?
- What happened after Jonah was thrown overboard?
- What do you think Jonah was thinking when he saw the big fish coming towards him? Do you think he thought being swallowed by the fish was a good plan or a bad plan? (Even though it probably looked like the worst thing at first, it actually turned into the thing that saved him!)
- What did Jonah say to God inside of the fish?
These questions can easily extend into the rest of the week. Look for opportunities to bring conversations about how God Saves into your every day life as a family. (i.e. If your child verbalizes or acts afraid about getting sick, remind him/her that God has a plan and we can trust him and not fear)
Activity 3: RESPONSE ACTIVITY
- Card stock (1 sheet per child, white)
- Table Covering
- Crayons (variety of dark colors)
- Paper cups
- Watercolors Paints
Children will create crayon-resist art pieces as a response to the truth that when they trust and obey God, He saves them and chooses them to be a part of His family. Cover the table and put a sheet of card stock at every child’s seat. Place the bowls of crayons down the center of the table and a watercolor paints (If you don’t have watercolor paints, you can also add food coloring to water). Put a paintbrush at every child’s seat.
Invite children to join you around the table. God gave Jonah a special message for the people of Nineveh so they could choose to trust and obey Him. When we trust and obey Jesus, we become a part of God’s family and we belong to Him too. God will always be with us. We’re His chosen children!
Explain to children that they’re going to make a picture to always remember that they belong to Christ. Take them step-by-step through the crayon-resist art piece. Step one: Trace the word Chosen in a dark crayon (you may need to help with this). They can use a couple of different colors to make sure it stands out. Step two: Paint the entire paper with watercolors. Encourage them to choose whatever colors they want! As a parent, you should also make one.
When kids are finished painting, point out how the word Chosen stands out. The world might make you feel different because you love God, but God loves you and chose you to be one of His children. That means you’re very special! Share a story of your own, either from childhood, or from right now, to share with your child about a time you felt particularly chosen, by a friend or family member or even stranger (i.e. “In most things, like sports at recess, I was always the last one chosen for a team. That made me feel sad and left out. But, when we would play in class games, I was often the first chosen for a team because I was pretty smart. That made me feel important and noticed”). Ask your child to do the same. Translate this idea over to how special we really are and how God chooses us right away every time.
Pray together. Ask your child(ren) to pray for you or each other. (If they don’t feel comfortable, don’t force them.) Thank God for choosing your children and choosing you. If they don’t feel special or chosen, ask God to show them how much He loves them.
Sing Hey Jonah, Jonah to the tune of Jesus Loves Me
Jonah, Jonah have you heard?
Said the Lord, go preach my Word.
Jonah said, “That’s not for me!”
Took a ship and fled to sea.
Hey Jonah, Jonah,
Hey Jonah, Jonah,
Hey Jonah, Jonah,
You should obey the Lord.
Though he thought he’d get away
Soon the ship began to sway
Jonah said, “It’s for my sin,
Pick me up and throw me in!”
When it seemed that he would drown,
Came a fish and gulped him down,
Jonah said, “Lord, I’ll obey,
Tell the folks about your way!”
Lord, I’ll obey you.
Lord, I’ll obey you.
Lord, I’ll obey you.
I will obey the Lord.
“This Little Light of Mine” by Listener Kids:
Activity 4: CLOSING BLESSING
A blessing to pray over your child(ren):
(Child’s name), may you always remember you are God’s child. When you call out to God, He will save you.