Category Archives: Disciples

Would You Die for a Lie? (LESSON)



30 minutes



This lesson makes the case to prove Jesus’ resurrection by stressing the commitment of the apostles to defending it as truth.  Aside from Judas, they were all eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection, and ten of them died a martyr’s death because they wouldn’t renounce it. (All the gory details about the martyrdom of the Apostles is provided in this lesson, but care should be given to the age of the children when deciding how much information to share.)



  • Acts



  • The following supporting materials can be found at www.teachingthem.comon the Lesson and Material Downloads page.
    • “Would You Die for a Lie? – Apostles Faces” (Pictures of the Apostles that volunteers can hold up while you tell about them.)
    • “Would You Die for a Lie? – Where the Apostles Preached” (A PowerPoint slide that shows a map of Europe, Africa and the Middle East and all the places that the Apostles took the Good News.)
  • Computer, LCD projector and screen (to show the map)
  • Paint stir sticks or large Popsicle sticks (12)
  • Paper plates (12)
  • Glue



  • Print apostle face pictures.
  • Glue pictures to paper plates and then to paint stir sticks to make handles.
  • Put these face pictures near the front of your teaching area, where you can easily reach them.
  • Set up projector and screen and get the map ready to project.
  • Practice the script.



Use the following script, or modify to suit your needs:

  • “Do you ever wonder what happened to the twelve apostles who followed Jesus?”
  • “Well, the Bible only tells us about a few of them.”
  • “Most of what we know comes from historians who wrote about the time of Jesus and the beginning of the Christian Church.”
  • “So, here’s what we know.”  (Project the map in the file, “Would You Die for a Lie? – Where The Apostles Preached.”  Invite 12 volunteers to come up, and hand them the face signs you created. Have them hold the signs up to cover their faces.  Line them up in this order: James (the Greater), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael), Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon, Thaddeaus, Judas, John, Peter.  As you tell about each man’s martyrdom, have the volunteer take a seat.)
  • “It all started in this tiny piece of land, called Israel.”  (Indicate Israel on the map.)
  • “Can you believe how small that is?” (Point out Africa, Europe and the Middle East on the map so that the kids will get an idea for where Israel is in relation to them.)
  • “Jesus trained 12 Apostles to take the good news (the Gospel) to all the world.”
  • “The Apostles took their job (the Great Commission) seriously, as you will see!”
  • “Let’s start with James – he was one of the ‘Sons of Thunder’ and one of Jesus’ closest friends on earth, but he became the first Apostle to become a martyr – which is a person who dies for what they believe.”
    • “Herod Agrippa I had James arrested, and when he saw that the Jewish leaders hated James, he had him beheaded.”
    • “This made Herod so popular that he thought he might do the same thing to Peter, but Peter was freed from Herod’s jail by an angel.”
    • “So, James didn’t travel to any of the other places on the map.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “But then there was Andrew– he was the Apostle who was always bringing people to Jesus.”
    • “He brought Peter, he brought the young boy with the loaves and the fishes, and he brought some Greeks to Jesus.”
    • “After Jesus rose to heaven, Andrew took the Gospel (which is the “good news” about Jesus) north into Russia and then into Scotland.”  (Advance slide.)
    • “After angering a Roman governor by leading his wife to Christ, he was crucified in Greece on an X-shaped cross.”
    • “Instead of nailing him to the cross, they tied him to it so that it would take longer for him to die.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Philip – he publically doubted that Jesus could feed the 5,000.”
    • Eight years after James was put to death, Philip was stoned to death at Hierapolis in Asia Minor.” (Advance slide, and have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Bartholomew – he ministered in Persia, India and Armenia, and tradition says that he was tied up in a sack and thrown into the sea.” (Advance slide, and have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Matthew – he was a tax collector and the most hated of all Jews, but after following Jesus, he wrote his Gospel for the Jewish people.”
    • Though we don’t have reliable records, it is believed that Matthew ministered in Ethiopia, Persia, the kingdom of the Parthians, Macedonia and Syria.”  (Advance slide.)
    • We think he was burned at the stake.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Thomas – he was the Apostle who doubted that Jesus had returned from the grave and said he would have to put his finger into the nail scars before he believed, but when Jesus appeared to him, he made the strongest proclamation that Jesus is God.  (“My Lord and my God!”)”
    • Thomas carried the Gospel to India, and he died when he was run through with a spear.” (Advance slide, and have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “James, the Less – we think that James took the Gospel to Syria and Persia, but we are not entirely sure how he died.” (Advance slide.)
    • “It was either by stoning, beating or crucifixion.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Simon, the Zealot – he started as a dangerous terrorist, who probably participated in attacks on the Romans and on tax collectors, but after following Jesus, his heart was changed.”
    • He took the Gospel to Egypt and as far as the British Isles and was killed for his beliefs, though we don’t know how.” (Advance slide.)
    • “Some say crucifixion; some say beheading.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Thaddaeus – his name means something like “momma’s boy,” but he really grew up while following Jesus.”
    • We think he took the Gospel to Mesopotamia, near Turkey, and he once healed the king of the city of Edessa.”  (Advance slide.)
    • He was also said to have preached in Iran, and he was clubbed to death for his faith in Beirut, Lebanon.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Judas, the Traitor – He never believed that Jesus was God, so Judas has the saddest story of all.”
    • He sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and then had an attack of his conscience.”
    • He hung himself from a weak tree limb that broke and dropped him on some jagged rocks, where his guts spilled out.”
    • Out of the Twelve, he was the only one who died for his lack of faith.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “John – he was James’ brother and another ‘Son of Thunder.’”
    • “He, too, was one of Jesus’ closest friends on earth.”
    • “He is actually the only apostle who wasn’t killed for his faith in Jesus.”
    • “He lived many years, but it had to be sad for him to hear that all his closest friends were killed.”
    • “John pastored a church in a city called Ephesus in Asia Minor, but then the Roman Emperor Domitian got angry with him and sent him to live on an island for prisoners (Patmos off the west coast of Turkey).” (Advance slide.)
    • “He had to live in a cave, but there he was able to do some writing.”
    • “During his lifetime, he wrote one of the Gospels, three letters that we find in the Bible and the last book of the Bible (Revelation), which tells about when Jesus will come again.”
    • “John eventually died of old age.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “And finally, there was Simon-Peter– he had the most dramatic transformation after following Jesus.”
    • “Simon eventually earned his name that means ‘listens and obeys.’”
    • “And he also earned his name of Peter, which means ‘rock,’ because Peter became a solid leader who led the early church.”
    • “Peter preached powerfully at Pentecost (a Jewish holiday celebrating the harvest of the crops) and led 3,000 people to the Lord.”
    • “He was so powerful spiritually that people were healed when just his shadow fell on them.”
    • “He raised Dorcas from the dead, introduced the Gentiles (non-Jewish people) to the Gospel and wrote two books of the New Testament.”
    • “He eventually went to Rome, Italy, and witnessed to the Roman emperor, Nero.” (Advance slide.)
    • “Peter and his wife were both crucified for their beliefs, but Peter begged to be crucified upside down, because he didn’t feel worthy to die in the same way Jesus did.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “So, that’s what became of all of them.”
  • “John was exiled; Judas killed himself and the other ten were put to death because they claimed that Jesus is God.”
  • “Don’t worry, though.  God isn’t asking all of us to die for our faith.”
  • “The Apostles were so powerful that God’s enemy, the Devil, fought very hard against them.”
  • “God protected each of them for a long time, but there came a time in each of their lives that they had completed the work God had for them to do.”
  • “When it came time, they each decided that they wanted to give God as much glory as they could when they died.”
  • “By dying for their belief in Jesus, they told the world that He is really God.”
  • “Let me ask you a question.  If you told a lie, and someone powerful said that you either had to admit you were lying or they would kill you, what would you do?” (Listen for response.)
  • “You wouldn’t die for a lie, would you?”
  • “Touch your neighbor and say, ‘I wouldn’t die for a lie!’”
  • “No, just like me, you would admit that you had lied so that you could go on living.”
  • “Well, the people who killed these men accused them of lying about Jesus.”
  • “They demanded that the Apostles admit they were lying about Jesus being God or else they would be put to death.”
  • “But these men chose to let people kill them rather than admit they were lying about Jesus.”
  • “Why do you think that was?” (Expected response: “They weren’t lying!”)
  • “Right!  They weren’t lying!”
  • “These men didn’t die for a lie.”
  • “Nobody is dumb enough to do that!”
  • “They died for the Truth!”
  • “Touch your neighbor and say, ‘They died for the Truth!’”
  • “They let themselves be put to death, because they knew that death was not the end of their story.”
  • “They knew that it was just the beginning!”
  • “They knew that death was just the end of their physical life on earth, and they were looking ahead to what Jesus promised them – eternal life with Him in heaven.”
  • “Probably none of us will have to die for the Truth that Jesus is alive and Lord of all creation.”
  • “But there are sooooooo many people out there that don’t know the Truth.”
  • “We’ve got to be like the Apostles and tell them about Jesus.”
  • “Don’t let them die believing a lie!”
  • “Tell them the Truth – Jesus is alive!  He loves them, and if they will follow Him, they can live with Him forever in heaven!”
  • “So don’t let them die believing a lie.”
  • “Touch three people and say, ‘I won’t let them die believing a lie.’”  (You can use the Rhyme Time below to reinforce the lesson’s teaching point.)


Rhyme Time

The Apostles died,

But we don’t grieve.

They gave their lives

So we’d believe!

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Filed under Apostles, Belief, Commitment, Disciples, Easter, Evangelism, faith, Great Commission, Jesus, Resurrection

Not a Dream Team (LESSON)



30 minutes



This lesson teaches about Jesus calling the apostles to join Him in the work of building the Kingdom of God.  The people He chose were not the people others would have chosen; they were not considered the “best” people in His day.  Some of them were actually considered “terrible” people or the “worst” people, but Jesus had a plan to use them in a way that everyone would know had to be done by God alone.



Mark 1:16-20, 3:13-19



  • The following supporting materials can be found at www.teachingthem.comon the Lesson and Material Downloads page.
    • “Not a Dream Team – Slide” (Shows all the apostle faces in case you want to project them.)
    • “Not a Dream Team – Apostle Faces and Signs” (Props for each of the volunteers to hold as you introduce the apostles.)
    • “Not a Dream Team – Best-Worst People Signs” (Signs for each of the people groups mentioned in the lesson.)
    • “Not a Dream Team – Fishers of Men Logos” (Sports-style logos for your 12 volunteers who will portray the apostles.)
  • Paint stir sticks or large Popsicle sticks (32)
  • Paper plates (32)
  • Glue
  • Safety pins (12)
  • Clothesline or rope
  • Clothespins
  • OPTIONAL – 12 white undershirts (big enough for your volunteers)



  • Print apostle face pictures and signs, best-worst people signs, and fishers of men logos.
  • Create face and people group signs. (Glue pictures to paper plates and then to paint stir sticks to make handles.)
  • Make 12 “Fishers of Men” t-shirts by pinning the logos to the white shirts.  (If you don’t use the undershirts, you can just pin the logos on the shirts of the volunteers during the lesson.)
  • String rope across the teaching area at eye level or a little above, and attach the clothespins so that you’ll have them ready.



  • “When it was time for Jesus’ ministry here on earth, He went out and picked a team.”
  • “How many of you have ever played games before where you had to pick teams?” (Acknowledge show of hands.)
  • “Who do you always want on your team?”  (Expected answer: the best, the most talented)
  • “Right!  But Jesus didn’t think that way.”
  • “He wasn’t looking for the best or the most talented or even the best looking or the people with the most money; He was looking for those who would give their whole hearts to Him.
  • “Now, I’ve got to tell you something up front.  In Jesus’ day, people had opinions about what type of people were good and what type of people were bad.”  (Clip “Good People” and “Bad People” signs to the clothesline on opposite ends.)
  • “Good people were thought to be closer to God.” (Clip “God” sign on the other side of the “Good People” sign.  Ask for 11 volunteers to come to the front, and hand them two people-group signs each (some will only receive one – see below for which ones to give each person.)  Then, introduce them in the following order.
    • Volunteer 1 – Priests and Levites
    • Volunteer 2 – Prophets and Rabbis
    • Volunteer 3 – Fishermen and Women
    • Volunteer 4 – Gentiles and Pig Farmers
    • Volunteer 5 – Romans and Herodians
    • Volunteer 6 – Tax Collectors and Lepers
    • Volunteer 7 – Samaritans and Zealots
    • Volunteer 8 – Chief Priest and Sadducees
    • Volunteer 9 – Pharisees
    • Volunteer 10 – Scribes and Teachers of the Law
    • Volunteer 11 – Jesus)
  • “So, who where the good people?”
  • “Well, there were Priests, and the Levites.  These were people who served God in His Temple.”  (Have volunteer with these two signs hold them up so that they can be seen.  Position him/her under “Good People” sign.)
  • “And then there were Prophets and Rabbis.  They were men who brought God’s Word to the people.”  (Position under “Good People.”)
  • “Fishermen and Women weren’t considered Good People, but they weren’t exactly bad people, either.   They were more like Unimportant People, so we will put them in the middle between Good and Bad.”  (Position in the middle.)
  •  “I’m sorry to say, girls, that Women were not always considered to be very good people.  The men sometimes treated them badly.”
  • “Then there were the ‘Bad People.’”
  • “Anyone who wasn’t a Jew was considered a Gentile, and these people were generally thought to be ‘Bad People.’” (Position under “Bad People.”)
  • “Pig Farmers were also considered to be among the “Bad People,” because eating pig was against the Jewish religion.”
  • “The Romans were soldiers and leaders from Rome who ruled over the Jews, and the Herodians were people who followed King Herod.  King Herod was King of the Jews, but he was a really bad one. (Position under “Bad People.”)
  • “So we have the Good People and the Bad People, but there were others who didn’t fit in either of these groups.”
  • “For example, the tax collectors.  Among the Jews, few were hated as much as tax collectors, who regularly charged the people lots of money to pay to Rome but then also kept large amounts for themselves.”
  • “For tax collectors, the Jews had a special group.”  (Clip “The Worst People” sign on the other side of “Bad People,” and have volunteer stand under it.)
  • “They really didn’t like tax collectors!”
  • “With the tax collectors, the Jews would usually include Lepers, people with contagious skin diseases.  People were afraid of them, so they made them live together in caves and other lonely places.
  • “And there was a group of people called Samaritans that Jews really hated.  Samaritans had been Jews long ago, but they married with people who weren’t Jewish and who worshipped other gods, gods who weren’t real.”  (Position under “Worst People.”)
  • “And the Zealots! They were a group that wanted to kick the Romans out of Israel, which sounds good.  But most of the Jews were afraid of them because they were so violent, and they didn’t like them because they caused the Jews trouble with the Romans.”
  • “Then there were the rich and powerful people. They thought they deserved a new group.”  (Put up sign that says, “The Best People,” between “God” and “Good People.”)
  • “The most powerful person was the Chief Priest. He was the leader of all the priests.” (Position under “Best People.”)
  • “The ‘Best People’ also included a group called the Sadducees.
  • “They didn’t believe in Jesus or life after death, so they were ‘sad, you see.’”
  • “Then, there was a group called the Pharisees.
  • “They were always trying to trick Jesus, and they didn’t play ‘fair I see.’”
  • “These people were made up of powerful priests, who said that they believed in God but really just wanted more power and more money for themselves.  Even so, they were considered the ‘Best People.’” (Position under “Best People.”)
  • “There were groups, called the Scribes and the Teachers of the Law.  They were teachers who studied and copied the Law, which is God’s Word. (Position under “Best People.”)
  • “So where do you think Jesus would have gone based on the opinions of the day?”  (Listen to responses.)
  • Jesus was considered to be either a prophet or a rabbi, so he started in the “Good People” group.”  (Position in “Good People.”)
  • “But by the end of His life, the rich and powerful people hated Him, because He would also tell them to stop doing the bad things they were doing.”
  • “They thought He was one of the ‘Worst People’ and worthy of death.”  (Position under “Worst People.”)
  • So, this is what things were like while Jesus was putting together His team.”
  • “If He was going to put together a ‘Dream Team,’ which groups of people do you think He would go to?” (Listen to responses.)
  • “Right!  I think He would make a Dream Team out of the ‘Best People,’ but that’s not what He did.”
  • “Let me tell you about the team Jesus put together.” 
  • “Jesus selected a team and told them that they were the ‘Fishers of Men.’ They are a very special team – a team selected specifically by Jesus to take the Good News about Him to the world.” (As you select these team members, put a “Fishers of Men” t-shirt or pin a logo on each one of them.)
  • “There was Andrew – he was the first to come to Jesus; he was stinky fisherman #1.” (Go to your “Fisherman and Women” volunteer, and trade the Andrew sign and face for the signs he/she is holding.  Separate this volunteer from the group a little.)
  • “Simon-Peter” (Ask for a volunteer from the audience, and give him/her the Simon-Peter sign and face and stand next to Andrew.)
  • “Andrew’s brother and stinky fisherman #2.  He has two names, because he can’t decide what he wants to be.  Simon means “listening and obeying,” but Simon-Peter spent too much time talking to listen.  Peter means “rock.”  He wanted to be a rock for the Lord, but when he was tested, he failed, and they say he would start to cry about his failure anytime anyone mentioned it. (Ask for two more volunteers from the audience, and give them the James the Greater and John signs and faces.)
  • “James (the Greater) and John – brothers and stinky fishermen #3 and #4.  They were hot-heads, who once offered to call lightning down from heaven to destroy a village.  They were always arguing about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.  Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder!”
  • “This one will surprise you!” (Go to your Tax Collector volunteer and trade him/her their signs for the Matthew sign and face.)
  • “Matthew – a tax collector!  One of the people the Jews hated the most!” (Ask for another volunteer from the audience, and give him/her the James the Less sign and face.)
  • “Then there was James (the Less) – he was probably Matthew’s brother.  Being brother to a tax collector didn’t get you invited to parties.  They even called him,

‘James, the Less.’  Ouch!” (Ask for another volunteer, and give him/her the Philip sign and face.)

  • “Philip – he was a little slow and always had to be reminded who Jesus was and what He could do.” (Call for two volunteers from the audience, and give them the Bartholomew and Thaddaeus signs and faces.)
  • “Bartholomew and Thaddaeus – Bartholo-Who?  And Thadda-WHICH? These guys are only mentioned when they join the team.  Other than that, we don’t really know anything about them.”  (Hand two volunteers signs that say Bartholo-Who?  And Thadda-WHICH?, Ask for another volunteer from the audience, and give him/her the Thomas sign and face.)
  • “Thomas – he’s become known as “Doubting Thomas,” because he refused to believe Jesus rose from the dead until he personally saw Jesus alive and touched Jesus’ nail scars.”
  • “Here’s another surprising one!” (Go to your Zealot volunteer, and trade him/her the Simon the Zealot sign and face.)
  • “Simon – known as ‘The Zealot.’ Simon was another hot-head.  Remember, the Zealots were always fighting against the Romans, and they made everyone nervous.  He would have hated being on the same team as a tax collector, who stole money from Jewish people.” (Ask for one more volunteer from the audience, and give him/her the Judas sign and face.) 
  • “Judas – he was the strangest person for Jesus to pick for His team, because Jesus knew that Judas wasn’t loyal.  Jesus knew that Judas was greedy and that he would one day sell him to the religious leaders and betray him with a kiss, but Jesus invited him to join the team anyway.
  • So what do you think of that team?  Definitely not a ‘Dream Team’ for Jesus.  We’ve got four fishermen (basically, unimportant people), a tax collector and a zealot – two of the ‘Worst People’ and a bunch of others that were most likely shepherds, tanners, and carpenters – just ordinary, unimportant people.”
  • “And even beyond the apostles, the others that were close to Jesus were often women and what the religious leaders would call ‘sinners.’
  • “He didn’t choose ‘The Best People’ or even who most would call ‘The Good People.’  He chose those others would say were not worth having.” 
  • “This is one of the reasons that the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Chief Priest, the Scribes and the Teachers of the Law got so frustrated with Jesus.”
  • “He didn’t play by the rules.”
  • “He didn’t set up a team with powerful and rich people.  He surrounded Himself with simple, unimpressive people.”
  • “They certainly weren’t a dream team, but Jesus made them into the Fishers of Men.”
  • “Jesus had a plan, and these were the perfect guys to help Him with it!”
  • “You see, Jesus didn’t put people in categories like ‘Bad People’ and ‘Good People’ or ‘Best People’ and ‘Worst People.’”
  • “He only has two categories: ‘God’s People’ and ‘Not God’s People.’”  (Remove the other signs from the rope (except the God sign), and replace them with the signs for “God’s People” and “Not God’s People.”)
  • “Those who love God and do what He says are God’s People, and they are very close to God.”  (Move all the Fishers of Men (the Apostles) over to the God’s People side.)
  • “Those who don’t love God and don’t do what He says are Not God’s People, and they are very far from God.” (Move everyone else over to the Not God’s People side.)
  • “God works very hard all throughout their lives to get them to come over to God’s People.” (Pick a few of the volunteers from any people group, and move them over to the God’s People side.)
  • “He tries to show His love to them, and He sends some of God’s People to them to help them know how He feels about them.) (Have some of the God’s People volunteers go and bring some of the Not God’s People volunteers back to their side.)
  • “But sometimes they just don’t want to come.” (Have a few of the Not God’s People resist and stay where they are.)
  • “Sometimes they feel like God couldn’t love a Bad Person like them, or sometimes they think they are the Worst type of Person and that God is terribly angry with them.”
  • “But it isn’t true!  God loves everyone one of us, no matter what we’ve done.”
  • “He doesn’t expect us to try to be a Good or Best Person to join His team.”
  • “He’s not looking for a Dream Team.  He just wants us to love Him and do what He says.”
  • “If we will just follow Him, we will get to be Fishers of Men, too!” (Thank your volunteers, and let them all take a seat.  To reinforce the lesson, you might want to have the group repeat the Rhyme Time below a few times.)



Rhyme Time

I may not be the best;

I may not be a dream.

But even when I’m messing up,

Jesus wants me on His Team!


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Filed under Apostles, Body of Christ, Disciples, Jesus, Lesson

Needs Analysis (DEVOTION)

As a group, read the following Scriptures, and use the form to do a needs analysis of the situation.

Matthew 17:14-20         Mark 9:14-29       Luke 9:37-43


  • What are the main issues?
  • What isn’t working well?
  • What is obvious about the problem(s)?


  • What pain is it causing?
  • Who/what is impacted by the performance gap?
  • What is it costing individuals, the team or the organization?


  • What are the organizational goals that are being impacted by the lack of performance?
    • (If possible, tie these in with the organization’s strategy, vision or mission.)
  • What is the potential cost to the organization if the goals and outcomes aren’t achieved and the performance problem isn’t addressed?


  • What is the desired performance?
  • What does success look like?
  • What are the expectations?
  • How will we know when we get there?


  • What is happening now?
  • What level of performance is currently being achieved?
  • What are the gaps between the desired performance and the current performance?


  • Why is the gap happening?
    • Know, Grow, Whoa, Mo, Go
  • Who or what is responsible?


  1. 1.    Suggest
  • What do you recommend?
  • Who should do what by when?
  1. 2.    Select
  • Typically done by key leaders or stakeholders.
  1. 3.    Start
  • Typically done by key leaders or stakeholders.
  1. 4.    Status (Celebrate or Start Over)
  • Return to the Status step to evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.


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Filed under Apostles, demons, Devotion, Disciples, faith, Healing, Jesus, leadership, Management, Needs Analysis, Overcoming obstacles, Performance, Problem solving, spiritual disciplines, Spiritual Growth, test