Over the past several weeks, we’ve been having a lot of fun with the kids in the children’s ministry. We learned about “beautiful feet” and we wore crazy shoes. We learned about how Abraham is the father of all believers, and Abraham visited our classrooms singing “Father Abraham had many sons.” There have been weeks with puppets and fun games as well. This past week was a bit different and a bit more serious. Our lesson centered Acts 28:17-31, which tells about the ministry of the Apostle Paul while he was in chains during his first Roman imprisonment. A leader in each children's assembly was chained to a chair as Paul, and a narrator talk about Paul’s suffering and how his message was rejected by the Jews in Rome but accepted by the Gentiles. The kids felt of a chain or rope and imagined what it must have been like to be in chains for Christ. Take time this week to ask your kids about the lesson and read back through the passage in Acts 28.
Here are some simple ideas for studying the Acts 1-9 with your family. Begin by gathering the family to hear from God by reading His Word then responding to Him through asking, praying, memorizing, and doing. This brief outline will help you lead your family in short times of family worship. Children should be involved as much as their age allows. Devotions should last around 15 minutes. If this is a new experience for your family, keep it very simple. Have the whole family gather in the living room or bedroom, or around the table together. Even the very young children should participate. Turn off any radios or televisions that might be distractions.
Step #1: Hear from God’s Word—Read one chapter each time you gather together. If your children are confident readers, ask them to read portions of scripture from their Bibles. Prepare in advance to explain difficult concepts and words.
Step #2: Respond to God—Truly hearing from God involves responding to what he has said. Here are some ideas for leading your children to respond to God.
- Ask: Ask your children questions about what you’ve read: Ask about the main characters in the story. For example, who wrote the Book of Acts? (Luke) Who did Luke write the Book of Acts to? (Theophilus). Ask what key verses stand out in each chapter. Each night, as your kids to name the three persons of the Trinity. (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) Ask your children what happened in the chapter. Chapters 1-9 follow the basic outline below. You can refer back to it as you are asking questions. Ask your children to remember what God did in the chapter. Then, praise Him for what He did.The Birth of the Church, chapters 1-5
--chapter 1: The ascension and replacing Judas
--chapter 2: The day of Pentecost
--chapters 3-5: The church grows as the apostles continue Jesus’ works
The Church is Persecuted and Expands, chapters 6-9 --chapters 6-7: Stephen --chapter 8: Philip --chapter 9: Saul of Tarsus
- Memorize: Take a month to memorize this key passage as a family. Repeat the words aloud with your family, and put them in a prominent place in your home (like the refrigerator door) where family members can regularly see them. Acts 1:8 (NIV) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
- Pray: As a way to pray through the Acts 1:8 memory verse, draw a large circle with 2 smaller concentric circles inside the larger circle. Talk to your kids about what Jesus meant when He told his disciples to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Use a map (found in the back of many Bibles) to point out the areas mentioned in the verse.Jerusalem is where the apostles lived. Place the name of our city (Louisville) or your neighborhood (e.g. Germantown, St. Matthews, Smoketown, etc.) in the center circle. Think of the names of three people in your neighborhood that you can pray for. Put them in that circle. Pray for them. Pray especially for those who need to hear about Jesus. Walk and pray in your neighborhood. Include your kids in your times of prayer.
Judea and Samaria was the region that Jerusalem was a part of. In the second circle have your children write the name of the state they are in and some surrounding states (Kentucky or Indiana). Pray for friends and family that live outside of your immediate area (maybe friends across the river). Pray especially for those who need to hear about Jesus.
The ends of the earth include the whole world. Explore the National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers online (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/kids-world-atlas/). Have students write in the 3rd circle some names of countries. Pray for other states and other countries around the world. Pray for Sojourn missionaries in Ethiopia (the Groce family), in Italy (the Karr family), and in Argentina (the Hess family).
- Do: The three circles remind me about what happens when you throw a stone in a lake or pond. There is a ripple effect that happens because the rock hit the water. It’s the same with the message of the Gospel. When you and I take that message to others there is a ripple effect that takes place. As you share with others and they believe in Jesus, they share with others, and the circle keeps growing. Challenge your family to be intentional about investing in the people on your circle chart. Invite them into your home for parties, and invite them to celebrate Jesus with Sojourn at a Sunday service.