|Topic:||God's purpose for our lives|
Helping preteens to find their identity in Christ. What God wants from them and why they were created.
How to Get There
The goal is to use this curriculum as a weekend retreat for the 6th graders at my church. We have monthly meetings with our 6th graders and these meetings are to help them as leaders of our children’s department. This retreat would be used to help them see how God can use them in ministry. The 6th graders come from a variety of different backgrounds. Some of them come from blended families, adopted parents, single parents, and one lives with a non-parent guardian. We have a few mid to upper white class families, a few lower class white families, and a few Hispanic families. The psychological and sociological mentality of the boys varies between a few who have ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, a mild case of autism, and a few boys that are just simply shy. The class contains a few boys who are natural leaders, and also a few who go along with just about anything. The challenge of this group, and any other learning community, will be using each person’s talents to benefit the learning environment of the entire class. Preteens are constantly trying to figure out their own identity, who they are, their purpose. This class will hopefully help them to see that God has created them for a purpose and to help them see what that purpose is. This curriculum provides hands-on learning techniques and muscle memory. No matter how energetic a speaker is, children need to use other sensory learning tools to learn a concept, as oppose to only using their listening skills.
Do not assume that because your audience is children, they won’t “get it.” Many times we think that children need the story or the lesson “dumbed” down for them to actually grasp the concepts you are teaching. Preteens are capable of learning at great lengths and they need to be challenged by the teacher. Push the students to learn more and dig deeper.
Your Purpose Unit Design:
What is my purpose? Lesson 1 (Detailed Sample) Background of this pericope:
Before beginning this series, the teacher(s) must have a good understanding of the Scriptures used in the lessons. While Mark 11:11-26 is the foundation for this series, there will also be additional texts used to supplement this pericope. The central focus of the pericope for these lessons begins with the fig tree that does not bear fruit. Jesus curses this tree after not bearing fruit. The purpose of the fig tree is to produce figs, just like any other fruit tree’s purpose is to bear its’ own fruit. The fig tree was not living up to why God had created it, just like we often times do not live up to why God created us.
Jesus recognized that the fig tree was not living up to its purpose. Later Jesus found that the Temple was not serving its purpose either. Jesus stated that the Temple is to be a house of prayer, but the priests had made it about making a profit instead of allowing those to come for worship. The final part of the pericope provides hope to us. We know that we will not always live up to God’s standard. We were created to love and serve God and others. When we fail to live out this purpose, God offers forgiveness. God will forgive us of anything, but forgiving others needs to happen first.
Move It! (Muscle Memory-warm up)- Make sure there is plenty of open space. 6th graders cannot sit long listening to you talk regardless of how exciting or energetic you may be. Have all the students stand up as they experience the lesson together. Ask them, “what is the purpose of our muscles? Why did God give us muscles? See if any kids can do a push up, can any students do 10? Our muscles have a purpose, and that purpose is to allow us to perform tasks we need to. What would happen if we did not have our muscles? What about our fingers? Instruct the students to try and pick something up (something that will not break if dropped) without using their fingers. Can they hold it steady? Can they throw a beanbag (or any other small item that will not hurt someone if hit with it) onto a chair? Can they write their name without holding the pen in their fingers? Our fingers have a purpose, to help us grip things properly. God has created our bodies a certain way just like He has created us for a certain purpose. Learn It! (Make the point!)- We were created for a purpose! 6th graders will move to the table to sit and look at an activity sheet containing a few pictures (see attached page #1). 6th graders will be asked to identify each picture and what the contents of each picture were created for. Why did God create the following items? View pictures of flies, mosquitoes, rocks, apple tree, pumpkin, trees, Adam and Eve. Be prepared for multiple answers from each kid on all topics. Advise that it is okay to not be sure, or to have a few ideas about one picture. When everyone is done thinking (or writing), ask what they would answer about each picture. What is the main purpose for each picture? Why were we created? Ask someone (or two or three)to read Mark 11:11-26. Then have someone reread verses 12-14 and verses 20-21. The fig tree was created to bear fruit and provide for others. Jesus was not happy because it was not doing what it was created to do. Why were Adam and Eve created? For fellowship with God? To take care of the earth? More? Invite someone to read Genesis 1:25-27 for some answers. but they chose their own desires over God’s and ruined the friendship they had. God still loved them but because of their sins, they were separated from God. The fig tree was not worthy to stay alive because it was not living up to why God had created it. We are not worthy to stay alive either when we do not live up to God’s standards in our lives. Read Romans 6:23, what do we deserve because of how we live? What is God’s gift to us? Eat It!
Give each 6th grader an apple. Have the students pretend that each of them created their own apple. Why did they create the apple? What uses does the apple have? Other than eating the apple plain, how else can they use the apple? Each 6th grader picks something to go along with the apple (cheese, caramel, ketchup, cinnamon, sugar etc.) they created the apple to be used with their topping. The purpose of the apple is to make the topping better. Live it! Put the lesson into practice- Challenge each child to think of how they can live out their purpose for God. If we love God and He created us so we could live in relationship with Him, what does that look like? If our purpose is to love God and others, how are we showing that we love others? Have the students brainstorm ways that they can show God they love Him right now- pray, sing, go to church, etc. How can they show others that they love them right now- helping someone, praying for someone, giving someone a hug. Pick one from each list and do it as a group.
Discuss It! Small group ?’s • Why did God create us? • What would Jesus have done if the fig tree was producing figs? • What happens when we live up to God’s purpose for our lives?
Close It and Pray It! Close lesson 1 by asking God to help us live up to our purpose. Help us to be bold in standing up for the purposes we believe in.
Summary of remaining lessons:
Lesson 2, What happens when I cannot live up to my purpose? Key Points: Learn It!- Failure Needs Forgiving! What happens when we fall short of God’s purpose for our lives? Read Mark 11:22-26. What are we to have? When we do not possess the faith God tells us to have, we fall short of our purpose. Who else falls short? Read Romans 3:23-24. Everyone falls short of God’s purpose some time in their life, but by the grace of God, we can be saved and forgiven. We need forgiveness, but we need to forgive others first. Live it!- What ways do we fail? Who has failed us? Did we forgive them?
Lesson 3, What is my purpose in the church? Key Points: Learn It!- Loving God, loving others. What can we do in the church? Why do we come to church? Read Mark 11:11-17. What is the purpose of the church? Read John 13:33-35, how does this tell us we should treat others? Live it! How can we use the church to learn and grow closer to God? How does (or should) the church help us grow closer to God?
Lesson 4, What is my purpose in the World? Learn It!- Get out and DO IT! What does serving others out of love look like? So our purpose is to love and serve God and others, how will I do that when I am not surrounded by my good Christian friends? Read Matthew 28:19-20. What does it mean to “go” and make disciples? This is our purpose in the world. Live it! Put this series into practice. Doing something for a homeless person. Doing a random act of kindness for someone you do not know. Tell someone what you know about God’s love and how knowing this has impacted your life.
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