The most imporant...most impactful...most memorable lesson I have ever taught was done with a whiteboard, an erasable marker and an eraser (plus a bottle of hand sanitizer and a paper towel...we will get to that in a moment)
The lesson was taught while sitting on the floor...eye level...with the children...who were seated on the floor in a semi-circle around me. No boundaries, no barriers, no superiority, just me and my kiddo's! Talking and discussing!
The lesson was taught without a script (lesson plan), without music, without special lighting, without prizes, and without any extra props...and yet...all eyes were riveted on me...full attention...no request for drinks, no bathroom breaks...and tons of questions were asked and answered.
What was the lesson? The Plan of Salvation!.
Not an invitation...but an illustrated explanation of the the Who, the What, the When, the Where and the How of things?
I do this lesson 3-4 times per year and it NEVER turns out exactly the same...because God...and the children lead it!
There are of course....many children who have already accepted Christ...who have already heard the lesson. So I use this time as a teaching tool on how to share the message of Salvation with their friends. They are encouraged to pay close attention so that when they have a friend ask about accepting Christ, they can grab a piece of paper...or a napkin and draw it out for them...a simple but effective tool!
I start by drawing a circle in the top left-hand corner and I tell the children that this is heaven. We discuss who lives in heaven, the trinity, the "job" of each person of the trinity... God (Father), Jesus (Son) and the Holy Spirit. And how heaven is perfect...no sin!
Then I play a little game called "Have you ever" with the CHILDREN PLUS ALL LEADERS...MYSELF INCLUDED!
It is a simple game. I list sins (but I don't label them sins...I don't even use the word sin...not yet anyhow) such as have you ever lied? (If so, stand up and stay standing). Have you ever disobeyed your parents? (If so, stand up and stay standing) Have you ever taken something that did not belong to you? (If so, stand up and stay standing) , Have you ever hit your brother or sister? (If so, stand up and stay standing) etc. etc. I even throw in a few "Have you ever killed someone" type questions...just for drama :)
Make sure that your leaders participate...Kids need to know that even adults sin.
The object is to get as many kids standing as possible...there will ALWAYS be some that will not admit they have done ANYTHING wrong in their entire life and that is ok. In fact, it is a good example to use.
Once the game is over, have the children sit back down. ~ Explain that each of the things that you listed are sins ~ Explain that the Bible says that we have ALL sinned ~ Explain that because of our sins...we will not be allowed into Heaven when we die. Refer back to the picture of heaven. ~ Explain that the first step to being allowed into heaven is that we have to be willing to admit that we have sinned...and that most of them have done that exact thing today...they have taken a step forward. Don't call out the ones that did not stand...and if any of the children point them out, be ready with a reply.
Draw a circle on the opposite side of the board (mid-way). Write "Earth" on the circle
This is earth Topics: ~ Who lives here? ~When God created the earth, it was perfect...no sin ~ Talk about Sin...Adam and Eve, Satan etc. ~ Because of their sin, they were separated from God ~ Because of our sin, we are separated from God.
Draw a huge vertical cloud type figure between Heaven and Earth...Draw it large enough so that it reaches from the top of the board to the bottom. Write SIN on the cloud
~ Talk about different ways that people think they can get into Heaven...works, being good enough, being at church every time the doors are open etc. ~ Talk about not being able to take short cuts...using the sin diagram, show how you can't go around sin to get to heaven, you can't go over it, you can't go under it. There is no way to get to heaven unless sin is removed. ~ Talk about the fact that we cannot get to Heaven because of our sin!
Then...HERE COMES THE "BUT"
"BUT" Because God loves us sooooo much, He did not want us to be separated from Him so GOD had a plan!
Using the Heaven diagram again, tell how God sent His one and only Son from heaven to earth to save us from our sins.
Draw a cross on the Earth Diagram Topics: God had a plan. God does not want to be separated from us. God loves us. God sent His son to save us. Why did Jesus come as a baby? Jesus was sinless Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sin Jesus' blood covers our sin
This is where the sanitizer and paper towel came into play that I mentioned at the beginning. Once while I was teaching this lesson, I was using a red erasable marker. At the exact moment that I was telling the children that Jesus' blood covers our sins...and about our sins being wiped away...the red marker started to drip...big time dripping! It dripped all over my hands, on the board and even on my dress...that just so happened to be the exact color of the marker.
One of my helpers grabbed a bottle of hand sanitizer and a paper towel. As I held out my hands and rubbed the sanitizer onto them, the red marker started to vanish. I dried my hands and NOT a sign of the marker was left. I was able to use the entire incident as a learning moment on how Jesus' blood washes away our sins...A TOTAL GOD MOMENT that left everyone in AWE!)
So...back to the lesson. We then go back and discuss sin again and that "IF" we a truly sorry for our sins...and "If" we ask God to remove them...He will.
I then erase the cloud of Sin and I ask the kids "What is stopping you from going to heaven now"?
We then talk about how to ask for forgiveness, how to pray and ask God to come into our hearts, what to pray, etc. etc. And I answer any questions that they may have.
We talk about the Holy Spirit...how He comes and lives in our hearts, how He guides us, how He leads us, how He speaks to us.
We talk about having to give up things vs wanting to give them up...how our hearts change little by little.
We talk about Baptism...we talk about anything that they want to talk about.
We have even talked about death. Do babies go to heaven? What if you don't ask Jesus into your heart until you are dying...do you still go to heaven? What if I was getting ready to ask Jesus into my heart and then I was in an accident, would I go to heaven? etc. etc.
NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU TEACH THIS LESSON, IT WILL NEVER TURN OUT EXACTLY THE SAME!
I have even had our kids request that I draw Hell on the diagram and explain about Hell...and so now, I do just that. Nothing in great detail. Just a few facts plus the assurance that they don't want to go there. I never want to SCARE a kid to ask for salvation...I want them to pray for forgiveness for the right reasons.
There are lots of misconceptions out there and kids carry around a lot of them.
I have probably left out other important details because it is hard to explain everything that I tell them. Just know that it will never turn out exactly the same...let God lead you.
FYI - I have even done this lesson as part of a VBS rotation. I cut each rotation down by a few minutes (usually on Wed) and squeeze out an extra 15 minutes to do a shorter version of this lesson. One where I draw the diagram and teach but don't allow for questions until the end...or throughout the week. I try to do this BEFORE my leaders share the Plan of Salvation during Bible Lesson time (Thursday) just so kids get a double dose of Jesus :).
So grab your marker board, your marker and your eraser and get ready to SHARE JESUS with your kiddo's!
If you are doing Zoom or something similar...maybe this would be a perfect time to get started...and when you are back together in person...gather them around AGAIN and get ready to be amazed!!
Don't plan ANYTHING! Just grab your board, your marker and your eraser and let God...and the children LEAD!
Have a blessed day! I have been praying for each of you during this difficult time. I know that everyone is treading water right now...Just remember who your lifeguard is!
May God bless you richly today!!