Lesson Application: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) The word ‘sin’ actually means ‘to miss the mark of perfection’. None of us are able to obtain, or reach God’s perfect holiness. We can’t get to God by our good works. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Supplies: paper, hula hoop with the word heaven hanging from it, and markers
You will be playing a game to teach this lesson. Designate a throw line. Have someone hold the target (heaven) about 20 feet away. Choose several kids to play. Have your players write down their ideas of ‘good works’ on a sheet of paper. For example, obeying your parents, being kind to others, etc. Then make a paper airplanes with them. Have them make two or three paper planes each. Tell the players that the target represents Heaven. The paper planes represent us, the distance between the throw line and the target represents the sin that separates us from God. Let everyone take their turn trying to get their planes to Heaven, leaving their planes on the ground as you go. (You do not want to make it possible for anyone to hit this target.) Just as some of the players were able to get closer to the target than others did, some of us do more ‘good things’ while we live on Earth. But still, all those ‘good things’ never measure up to God’s perfection. We still miss the mark! We still have sin in the way! The good news is that Jesus has made a way! He is our transportation to God! There is no fee, it is a FREE pass! For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Added fun- It’s really cool if you can have someone dressed like Jesus come in pick up the plans and bring them to Heaven.
PROPS: An empty suitcase
How many of you guys have something like this at home? If you’ve ever been on vacation, I’m sure you or your parents have one of these. We can’t travel anywhere for a long time without packing some sort of luggage, can we? Why not? Because we need clean clothes, right? That’s very important if we’re going to be gone overnight. We’ll need pajamas, and clothes for a new day. What else might we pack? Maybe some toys or books or games to keep us busy?
Grown ups have a lot of stuff to pack as well, like deodorant and razors and hair dryers and makeup. And a lot of grown ups can’t go anywhere without their cell phones or laptops, can they?
Every person is different, and they have a different list of things to pack. But this suitcase is empty. Do you know why? Because this suitcase is for a very special trip. One of these days, we’ll all make the trip from this world to the next. And do you know what the Bible says about that trip? All the clothes, all the toys, all the laptops we have in this world have to stay behind.
You know we spend a lot of time worrying over stuff. We keep a close eye on our favorite toys and stuffed animals. But God doesn’t want us to be attached to earthly treasures. The Bible says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
Let’s ask God to help us remember that while we can enjoy the things of this world while we live here, our real treasure is up in Heaven.
There are lots of effective teaching tools you can use to reach kids, and there are good reasons to use all of them at one time or another. However, one stands out above the rest: GAMES.
- Engage kids. Games turn spectators into participants. When a kid is playing a game, they are completely engaged in what they are doing. There is no VG (video glaze) effect where the kid zones out. Kids become active instead of passive. Games engage kids like nothing else.
- Illustrate Bible principles. Example: If you are playing a game where kids jump rope while wearing flippers, kids are likely to fall down. That’s good. It allows you to illustrate the point that we often fall down (make mistakes or have troubles) in life, but the key is to trust God to help us get back up and keep going. This game, for instance, is a lot like life. When you fall down you get back up and deep going. The game focuses on one of life’s most important principles while creating a memory that kids will understand. We say it like this… “Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I might remember. Involve me and I will understand.”
- Teach them how to win…and how to lose. In the real world, sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. If you want to prepare kids for life on this planet as we know it, then you have to let them experience winning and losing. They need to learn to be gracious in victory and how to keep from being devastated when they lose. That is a critical life lesson.
- Promote teamwork. This one is the most obvious, but it is still true. Games teach kids how to work together for a common purpose.
- Provide a natural way for kids to interact and connect with adult teachers. The teacher explains the game to the kids. The kids listen because they instinctively know they need to understand the game in order to play it. This cultivates a rapport between the kids and the teacher. That can become an effective step toward opening communication lines with the child. The connection that happens during the explanation of the game is sometimes more meaningful than the game itself.
- Games reach boys like nothing else will. Boys are wired for competition. One of the reasons we are losing the boys in our culture is because we have traded the motivation that comes from competition in our educational systems. The book “Boys Adrift,” by Dr. Leonard Sax talks about this destructive trend. They boys who are not athletic enough to compete in sports still need an outlet for their competitive side. Parents with boys will tell you that their boys turn everything into competition! Example: “Who can get into the car first?”
- Allow a kid to be a kid. Our coarse world forces kids to grow up too quickly. It is healthy for a kid to be able to have fun playing. They need a few minutes to forget pressures from home and school. Play is like oxygen in a kid’s world. Scripture indicates that kids who die and go to heaven get to grow up there…playing. Wow! How cool to grow up in a place where you can play in the streets without getting into trouble…where a kid can be a kid! Some of the adults probably go into shock when they first get to heaven and see what the kids are doing.
“The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls PLAYING in its streets.” (Zechariah 8:5, NKJV)