Lesson Plans for Teaching about the Kingdom of God

from Neil MacQueen, Sunday Software
This document is located atwww.sundaysoftware.com/lessons/kingdom.htm

Jesus talks more about the Kingdom of God (Heaven) than anything else. The following four software lessons will travel you through four important aspects of the Kingdom. I've also included four video lessons and four skit lessons:
  • What is it
  • What are we supposed to do in it
  • Who's welcome in it
  • How can we bring it

Overview of this page:

  1. Neil's Commentary on teaching the Kingdom of God
  2. Four Computer Lab Lessons
  3. Four Video Lessons
  4. One Drama/Skit Lesson

This lesson 'set' was created by Neil MacQueen for Sunday Software. These lessons can be used in Sunday School, but also make great lesson for children and youth fellowship groups and VBS.

1.  Neil's Comments about The Kingdom of God

Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven (accding to Matthew) more than any other theological topic. Indeed, in Luke 4 when he stands up in the Nazareth synagogue, he is announcing the fulfillment and coming of the Kingdom.

Practically speaking: The Kingdom occurs wherever God's will is done. That's why it can be small like a seed or invisible like leaven.

Prophetically speaking: The Kingdom is the way things are supposed to be, a second Eden, "heaven on earth." This is not to be confused with visions of the Second Coming. That's a different horse.

God's Will and God's Kingdom and Heaven are three sides of the same coin. (yes, 3)  That's why we pray "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven".  Matthew's Gospel uses the term "Kingdom of Heaven", the rest of the scripture not so much. They are the same thing. 

FOCUS: Since so many stories can be about the Kingdom of God, let me suggest we narrow it down to these:

1. WHERE IS IT? ...and What is it?  The Short Kingdom Parables:  mustard seed, leaven, pearl, treasure.

2. WHAT are WE supposed to DO in the Kingdom?  The Parable of the Talents:  what you do with God's gifts to build the Kingdom.

3. WHO is WELCOME in God's Kingdom ...Jesus called Zaccheus into the Kingdom.

4. HOW CAN WE BRING IT?  ...Mumble the Lord's Prayer now and you'll realize it is a Prayer for the Kingdom.

FOUR SOFTWARE LESSONS: "Kingdom Where, What, Who, and How"

1. WHERE IS IT?  ..and What is it?  The Short Kingdom Parables:  mustard seed, leaven, pearl, treasure.

If the Kingdom of God is REAL, WHERE IS IT? (Why is the world still messed up?)  Jesus addressed this conundrum when he described the hidden-ness of the Kingdom. Even though it's hidden or small, it can become great.  But you have to plant a seed, kneed the dough, have the courage to buy the pearl, and know what to do with the treasure (and not just sit on it).  By the way, you have to know what the treasure IS!

One of the four lesson-games in our Galilee Flyer CD introduces your children and youth to the Kingdom Parables of seed, leaven, pearl, and treasure. In particular, the pop-up notes that show up during flight describe all sorts of interesting factoids about the meaning of these parables.

The game is the Bible study. After everyone has landed, wait and then have everyone fly over to the Discussion area in the Galilean landscape for some discussion questions. Look at the Galilee Flyer CD game guide for details on those discussion questions.

 

2. WHAT are WE supposed to DO in the Kingdom?  The Parable of the Talents:  what you do with God's gifts to build the Kingdom.

If you don't do anything to promote the Kingdom, you're outside of it. That's the lesson of the Parable of the Talents, aka, "Pounds", aka, "the servant who buried his one talent in the ground, then was thrown outside by the master upon his return." The message: The kingdom comes when you INVEST WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN for things that will make the master proud of you.

The Parable of the Talents is one of six stories found in our Awesome Bible Stories CD. The story is surprisingly complex and has a lot of rich vocabulary and images, and our interactivity recognizes that complexity and has your kids working through the story several times to UNEARTH its treasure. The retelling also includes an interactive Board Game where 1 or 2 players advance to the Master's Home by the good things they do with their gifts. Great for discussion too.

 

3. WHO is WELCOME in GOD'S HOUSE? ...Jesus goes to Zaccheus's house to welcome him into God's House/Kingdom.

Yeah, yeah, I could have picked a story about POOR PEOPLE, Lepers and Widows.... but you know, Jesus spent a lot of time hanging around "regular" people too, people like Zaccheus. The locals called Zaccheus a sinner. Jesus declared him to be a "son of Abraham".

I have an interesting point of view on Zaccheus. I don't think he was a BAD GUY. In fact, Zaccheus CHALLENGES his detractors to prove he has cheated anyone...and nobody steps forward. Zaccheus was an honest tax collector who was SO HOPING to glimpse the Kingdom of God, that he climbed up a tree. 

Jesus invited himself to Zaccheus' house in order to invite Zaccheus into GOD'S House. The Kingdom is where people are SAVED, forgiven, and welcome.  Jesus might as well have said, "Today, the Kingdom has come to Zaccheus' house!" Or "God's House and Zaccheus' House have finally combined!   Salvation = God's House = Kingdom of God = Your home as an Outpost of God's Kingdom. Love that image.

The story of Zaccheus is found in our Awesome Bible Stories CD. It includes an activity titled "How Do You Measure Up?" where the kids can "self-rate" where they are in their journey with Christ.  There's a "zappin' game" the kids can play which reinforces the story.

  1. Start your lesson asking students to tell you Zaccheus' story.
  2. Ask if they think Zaccheus was a bad or good man, and why.  Explain what a tax collector is.
  3. Ask them to define the "Kingdom of God" and the term "Salvation" (which Jesus says "came to this house" that day). Explain that they are really the same thing.... Salvation is like being adopted into God's House... it is something you are given, and then work to share, --just like God's Kingdom. Sometimes it is big, sometimes Salvation doesn't seem powerful but is like leaven.
  4. Take turns reading the story.
  5. Dive into the Zaccheus story in Awesome Bible Stories CD and complete all its activities.
  6. Close by having each child come to the classroom door frame. Using a rule, mark their height, date, and name in pencil on the frame. Place a construction paper sign saying "We want to measure up to God's expectations!".
     

4. HOW CAN WE HELP BRING the KINGDOM? 

Lord's Prayer could easily be called "The Prayer for the Kingdom". Jesus told us to pray for it. And that prayer is a set of marching orders as well. Thus, in my software lesson, I'm going to focus on the kids learning and understanding the Lord's Prayer.

The lesson begins with a brief Bible study to find the Lord's Prayer, recite it, then introduce it as a "Prayer for the Kingdom of God". Then you will read this restating of the Lord's Prayer as a "Prayer for the Kingdom" and move quickly into the Galilee Flyer CD game about the Lord's Prayer.

Our Father in your Kingdom your name is hallowed (remember: heaven=kingdom)

We pray that Thy Kingdom Come, and that Thy Will GET DONE here, as it does in heaven.

Give us today what we need to live in your Kingdom,

And forgive us our sins, as we go about your Kingdom forgiving others

In your Kingdom we trust you will deliver us from hard testing and from evil

for YOUR Kingdom, and your power, and your glory is forever. Amen

The Lord's Prayer is one of the four lesson-games in Galilee Flyer CD. The pop-up notes and questions the kids answer as they fly over the Seas of Galilee help explain the images and meanings of the Lord's Prayer. 

Once they all land after completing the game, have everyone fly to the discussion area in the southern end of the sea to consider the discussion questions there. Remember to print the game guide and flying helps.

For an alternate computer lab lesson on the Lord's Prayer...

Have the kids REPHRASE the prayer just like I did above and type/illustrate it into Kid Pix, --the program I call "powerpoint for kids".  Whatever they type, the program can speak out loud. 

You can also have older kids rephrase each line one at a time in LET'S TALK CD.   The teacher should introduce each line one at a time and help the kids think of alternative vocab. Then play back what they type, discuss, and move on to the next line.
 

 

VIDEO LESSON PLANS for TEACHING THE KINGDOM OF GOD
lessons from Neil MacQueen, www.sundaysoftware.com

I'm recommending four of Nest's Bible videos for these stories. Some  cover the story perfectly, others include related stories, which is fine. I like all them because Jesus is the main storyteller.

1. WHERE IS IT? ...and What is it?  The Short Kingdom Parables:  mustard seed, leaven, pearl, treasure.

a. Begin by reviewing what the kids know (or don't) about these stories.

b. Write on the board several Questions they'll need to answer after the video.

c. Show: The Nest Video The Kingdom of Heaven ...this video doesn't focus on the Seed/Leaven, but does include other short parables about the Kingdom of God. In summary, the Kingdom is like a field where people work for a just master.

d. Debrief the Video and have the students answer the questions.



2. WHAT are WE supposed to DO in the Kingdom?  The Parable of the Talents:
  what you do with God's gifts to build the Kingdom.

a. Begin by reviewing what the kids know (or don't) about these stories.

b. Write on the board several Questions they'll need to answer after the video.

c. Show: The Nest video The Parables of Jesus "Three of the best loved parables, The Talents, The Rich Man and Lazarus, and the Two Sons, are presented together to reinforce important principles."

d. Debrief the Video and have the students answer the questions.

 

3. WHO is WELCOME in God's Kingdom ...Jesus called Zaccheus into the Kingdom.

a. Begin by reviewing what the kids know (or don't) about these stories.

b. Write on the board several Questions they'll need to answer after the video.

c. The Nest Video Treasures in Heaven  "Learn the difference between money and riches. Jesus tells how God wants to give us the eternal treasure of salvation. Story of Zaccheus, and the rich young man."

d. Debrief the Video and have the students answer the questions.

 

4. HOW CAN WE BRING IT?  ...Mumble the Lord's Prayer now and you'll realize it is an OUTLINE FOR THE KINGDOM.

a. Begin by reviewing what the kids know (or don't) about these stories.

b. Write on the board several Questions they'll need to answer after the video.

c. Show the Nest Video: The Lord's Prayer
"Jesus teaches His followers the importance and great power of sincere prayer. Journey with Jesus as He teaches His disciples about prayer through the Parable of the Friend at Night and the Parable of the Unjust Judge (also known as the Parable of the Importunate Widow)."

d. Debrief the Video and have the students answer the questions.

Alternate video: Use the Matthew DVD from Visual Bible. It's verse for verse from Matthew, and the actor who portrays Jesus is absolutely wonderful.

FOUR DRAMA SKITS for THE KINGDOM OF GOD
a lesson from Neil MacQueen www.sundaysoftware.com

Drama-activity lessons are by nature, a bit loose. You need a teacher who's good at working free-form, and good at "changing the script on the fly". In general, I don't like heavily scripted drama lessons.

I recommend VIDEOTAPING the skits. It's amazing how videotaping helps DIRECT the kids to complete the task. A videocamera is also like crowd control.

1. WHERE IS IT?  ...and What is it?  The Short Kingdom Parables:  mustard seed, leaven, pearl, treasure.

Assign a student to be one of the four things, seed/leaven/pearl or treasure. Assign a student to be the branches of the large bush, the bread (a big white sheet), the finder of the pearl, and the digger of treasure. As the story is read, the students act out the short descriptions. Do a dry run, then videotape it for real.

Seeing the 'digger' dig up a fellow student who's pretending to be the treasure is quite humorous. In the dry run, the "director" should ask the treasure, "what kind of treasure are you?" The answer should create a mini-moment of learning "what's so valuable about the Kingdom of God that you'd sell everything to buy it?" The same question should be asked of the Pearl, the seed, and the leaven...ie, "why would we want to look for YOU?"


Note: We're not looking for performance quality drama here! ...We are looking to INSTILL A MEMORY of the verse through a fun skit. They are learning the story as you block it out with them. The videotape of it provides a sense of "product" and an opportunity for the teacher to ask questions and elaborate.
 

 

2. WHAT are WE supposed to DO in the Kingdom?  The Parable of the Talents:  what you do with God's gifts to build the Kingdom.

Characters: 3 servants, one master. Props: three bags.

Read through the story and act it out as found in the Bible.
Then say you're going to do it again, but slightly change the story, ...which they must act out as you read your own revised version.

In your second reading, you change the story along these lines:
Invite students to provide sound efects as well, such as, a mower, a sick person, money, going to church, etc.

Aside: You may invite one student to be "the shouter of lines" ...giving them permission to follow along in the Bible and provide lines to the characters as requested. (I often kept a microphone and amp in my drama classroom to give to the assistant director to provide lines, or to pass to a student to hear their answer. No, we didn't really need it, but it encouraged the kids to be playful and talk!

You may need to practice this and point to the sound effects people to cue them.

There once were three members of one family. One went to church all the time, contributed money, mowed lawns to raise money for mission, and helped their sick neighbor (cough cough). The second went to church most of the time, contributed some money, occasionally gave spare change to help poor Chilean children, and sent soup to a sick neighbor. The third sister, however, hated going to church even though the other two tried to drag here there, she went Xmas and Easter, and did show up for the youth mission trip, but spent all her money on body building. Then Jesus showed up ..... The one who had done almost nothing to be part of Jesus' Kingdom was sent outside to the dog house. You get the idea.

Changing the end of this parable:
Tell the kids that the two 'rewarded' siblings need to go outside and talk to their sibling. What should you say to encourage someone to become a better disciple of the Kingdom? "...Finally, what got her to come in and start taking her belief in God seriously, was when the master spoke to her and said..... Then her family inside the house didn't hold it against her, instead, they slew the fatted calf and threw a party... but that's another parable."

They'll enjoy watching themselves stumble through the video, listening to people shout their lines to them... .and you'll have plenty of discussion fodder to work with!
 

3. WHO is WELCOME in God's Kingdom ...Jesus called Zaccheus into the Kingdom.

Remember to Videotape this! 
You need a tall ladder wrapped in kraft paper to look like a tree. You'll need clear packing tape to tape everyone's shoes onto their knees (because the crowd walks around on their shoes which are attached to their knees, which makes THEM look small, and makes Zaccheus look even taller when he comes down.  In fact, the crowd will say, "you look taller Zaccheus, how come?  "Because you judge me by my height, instead of the size of my faith and heart and desire to be part of God's Kingdom."

Once you get everyone 'dressed' in their shoes, give them paper bags to mold into funny hats. The crowd is ridiculous. Jesus walks on his feet with a huge white sheet robe. The teacher blocks everyone in place and starts the narration. The teacher also DIRECTS the story action.

Discussion Afterwards...  Have you ever met somebody who thought they were hot-stuff? What makes a person truly "small" in Jesus' Kingdom?  What makes them big?

4. HOW CAN WE BRING IT?  ...Mumble the Lord's Prayer now and you'll realize it is an OUTLINE FOR THE KINGDOM.

We're going to video tape this again....provides a sense of structure and great incentive to "getting it accomplished".

"POSING" the Lord's Prayer:
Split into groups of two and have them work through each line of the Lord's Prayer creating a POSE for each line that expresses the idea of the line.  Think of them like "snapshots".As the teacher, you're going to have to help them answer things like "How would you POSE 'Glory' ??"

After they've worked it out, you're going to videotape each pair doing MOTIONS or a Tableau movement for EACH LINE from the Lord's Prayer.  The person operating the camera will have to PAUSE the recording in between each line.  The teacher or a student reads the line from the Lord's Prayer as the 'actors' hit their pose.

Think outside the box. Daily Bread, for example, ---you could have a God-figure giving a student a Bible.... for man does not live by bread alone!

Copyright Neil MacQueen,www.sundaysoftware.com. Permission granted for local church use.