I wrote this post in August 2007 during a moment when I was incredibly dissatisfied with children's sermons ideas I was finding online, so I thought I'd have a little fun with some of the common frustrations I have with many suggested lessons. The original entry still holds the record for number of comments, so it seems I wasn't alone in how I feel on this issue. Anyway, enjoy.
Text: John 8:1-11
Theme: Jesus Doesn't Want You To Throw Rocks
Props: A handful of rocks, one for each child.
Lesson: Say, "what have I brought with me today?" (Rocks.) "That's right, rocks. What can you do with rocks?" (Paint them, throw them, use as a paperweight, build a house, arrange a meditation garden with them). "Wow. Those are all great ideas. But the one that I want to talk about today is throwing rocks. Have you ever thrown a rock?" (Wait for responses) "Did it feel good?" (Wait for responses) "Did you want to do it again?" (Wait for responses) "Have you ever thrown a rock at another person?" (Wait for responses, take names of those who answer yes)
Say: "Well, I want to tell you a story. There was this group of people who wanted to throw rocks at a woman caught in adultery. Do you know what adultery is?" (Wait for responses. Many probably won't, in which case you say:) "Well, ask your parents when you get home." (Now hold a rock in your hand) "So these people wanted to throw rocks at this woman. And Jesus was nearby and heard about it. And he told them, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Do you think anyone threw a rock after he said that?" (No. Take names of children who answer yes) "No, they didn't. Because we're all sinful and totally evil. So God doesn't want us to throw rocks. So now I'll give you each a rock to remember not to throw it." (Hand each child a rock)
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for teaching us not to throw rocks. Help these children not to throw their rocks at each other or anyone else. Maybe in the river or at trees, but not at each other. And help them remember that it's because you love us and want us to love others. Amen.
Text: Acts 2:42-47
Theme: God Wants Us to Be the Same
Props: A bag of plain M & Ms
Lesson: Say: "Good morning!" (Wait for response) "I brought something along with me today. Can you tell me what it is?" (A bag of M & Ms) "That's right! I brought a bag of M & Ms with me." (I like M & Ms) "Do you? Me too. That's why I brought them. Look at all the different colors in here! What sorts of colors are here today?" (Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, brown) "Very good! You got them all!" (One time we had a bag of red and white M & Ms) "Really? Yeah, there are other colors too, aren't there?" (Yeah, one time we had some Shrek ones. They were green and brown and orange) "Wow, lots of different colors!" (Can we have some now?) "No, not yet. I have to tell you about the church. So when the church first got together, they shared everything. In lots of ways they were the same because they all loved Jesus and had the same faith. Kind of like these M & Ms. They look different on the outside, but on the inside they taste the same, don't they?" (What about the kind with peanuts?) "Well, those don't count." (Why not?) "Because I don't have any of the peanut kind." (What about the peanut butter ones? I like those better) "No, not the peanut butter ones either. Just the plain ones." (Why don't the others count?) "Because we're the plain kind." (Well, who are the other kinds, then?) "No one is the other kind." (But someone has to be the other kind. They're real, too) "The point is that we all taste the same." (God is going to eat us?) "No, we're just the plain ones because we all love Jesus and taste the same." (That's not what I asked) "Look, we're plain M & Ms, we all love Jesus no matter what color we are, and that's it." (After the prayer, give M & Ms to everyone except that kid)
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for bringing us together by faith in you. Help us to remember that we're all the exact same on the inside because of Jesus. And help us to remember that it's because you love us and want us to love others. Amen.
Text: Matthew 28:1-10
Theme: God Resurrected Jesus and It Might Have Happened Like This
Props: A 9V battery, a red and blue wire, a light socket, a light bulb, a small 10" x 8" board, superglue, a Philips-head screwdriver, a cross, a picture of the empty tomb, a white sheet, copies of the medical explanation for fainting, a floor fan, a bag of suckers, stickers that say "He Is Risen!"
Before the lesson: During the hours upon hours that you'll surely devote to preparing for this lesson, glue the port for the battery and the light socket to the board, and attach the wires to the battery port. Screw the light bulb into the socket, but don't attach the other ends of the wires yet! Also, stick the "He is Risen!" stickers on the suckers.
Lesson: Say, "Good morning!" (Wait for response) "Who can tell me what today is?" (Easter) "That's right! It's Easter Sunday! Today is the day when we celebrate Jesus' rising from the dead! First, how did Jesus die?" (On the cross) "That's right, on the cross." (Show them the cross) "But then on the third day after he died on the cross, some women went to the tomb" (Turn on the fan) "And there was an earthquake and all this weird stuff happened where a man wearing white came down" (Hold sheet in front of fan so that it blows around) "And when he did that, the soldiers guarding the tomb fainted" (Read a brief excerpt from the medical explanation) "And the man in white came down and rolled back the stone, and the women saw that nothing was inside" (Show a picture of the empty tomb) "And he said that Jesus had been raised from the dead!" (Turn off the fan. Bring out the light bulb rig)
Say, "Do you know how it happened?" (No.) "No, me neither. But it might have looked like this. Jesus' body didn't have any power, like this light bulb. But God acted like a battery and sent the wires of the Holy Spirit into the tomb to give him life again!" (Attach wires to light socket, and the light will light up) "See? Just like this! How wonderful that Jesus could burn bright again, and that his filament is eternal!" (After the prayer, pass out the suckers with the stickers attached to them)
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for making Jesus burn bright again. Thank you for the everlasting conduit of your Holy Spirit. And help us to remember that it's because you love us and want us to love others. Amen.