Children, youth, adults
This lesson helps participants understand how important it is to have unity in the Body of Christ.
- John 13:34-35; 17:20-23
- Romans 15:5-6
- Ephesians 4:1-6, 4:9-12, 4:25-32
- Hebrews 10:23-25
- Paper currency (enough bills so that you have one for every three or four participants and one for yourself – NOTE: you are going to have them tear the money into smaller pieces. If this is considered disrespectful or illegal in your country, you may want to use pictures of currency instead of the real thing. For that matter, you may not want to see your hard-earned cash being torn into pieces. Feel free to substitute.)
- Clear tape (like the kind for wrapping presents. Enough for each group of three or four participants to have a roll and one for yourself.)
- Optional – a flipchart or whiteboard and markers
- Write the Scriptures on slips of paper (one per slip) so that you can hand them out to participants.
- Before you begin teaching, hand out the slips of paper to different participants, who brought their Bibles.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):
- “Today is your lucky day!”
- “I’ve got extra money, and I would like to share it with you!”
- “But first, I need to put you into groups.”
- “I want everyone to line up single-file in the order of how many pets you have ever owned.” (Or you can choose a different sorting technique.)
- “I want the person who has owned the most on this side of the room, and the person who has owned the least on this side of the room. (Gesture to either side of the room as you give these instructions. It doesn’t matter which side you choose for most or least.)
- “Everyone else will line up between those two people in the order of the number of pets you’ve owned.”
- “Any questions?” (Answer questions.) “GO!”
- “Okay, now we need to see how many pets you’ve had and what kinds.” (Go down the line and ask each person how many and what kind of pets they owned. If anyone is in the wrong place based on number of pets, move them to the right place in the line.)
- “Okay, now I need to put you into small teams to receive your money.”
- “I am going to number you off – one to ___.” (You will want three to four people in each group, so count the total number of participants, and divide that number by either three or four. This will tell you how high they need to count off. For example, if you have 24 people and want to divide them into groups of four, 24/4=6. You would have them number off one to six, and that would give you six groups of four people each. Once you’ve told them how high to count, number them off.)
- “Now, I want all the ‘ones’ to get together and all the ‘twos’ to get together.” (Do the same with each number group.)
- “Great job! Now here is your money! Congratulations!” (Hand out one bill of currency to each group.)
- “I know, I know…we’ve got a small problem.”
- “I only gave each group one bill, but there are three (or four) of you.”
- “Don’t worry; I have a solution!”
- “I want the person who has the money in each group to tear it into three (or four) equal pieces and hand them out to all the team members.” (Encourage them to do this. They may be reluctant. If so, convince them you are serious by demonstrating with a bill at the front of the room. Keep encouraging them until every team has torn the bill and shared it equally.)
- “There! Isn’t that great? Everyone happy?” (Participants will most likely not be too happy and will tell you so. Act as if you can’t understand why they wouldn’t like your solution.)
- “What’s wrong? I just gave you free money! You should be happy!” (Listen to their feedback.)
- “Oh, so you’re saying that the money isn’t worth anything when it’s torn up like that?” (Listen to responses.)
- “You’re saying that the money is more effective at what it does when it is all together?” (Listen to responses.)
- “That’s really interesting! And it reminds me of something I’ve read in the Bible.” (Ask everyone to take a seat with his or her groups. Then, have a volunteer read John 17:20-23.)
- “This is Jesus’ prayer the night before He died on the cross.”
- “It’s probably a very important prayer if it’s one of the last ones that He prayed.”
- “Why do you think He prayed for ‘complete unity’ between the believers and with God?” (There could be many answers, but one will be so that the world will know that God sent Jesus and loved the believers just as He loved Jesus, His Son.)
- “That’s not all the Scriptures say about unity between the believers.” (Have a volunteer read Romans 15:5-6.)
- “What is Paul saying about unity to the Romans?” (Answers may include that it enables us to glorify God with one heart and mouth. Have a volunteer read Ephesians 4:9-12.)
- “What do you think Paul is saying in this Scripture about unity?” (Listen to responses. A main idea that you want to bring out is that being alone isn’t good. We need others to help us when we get into trouble.)
- “If Jesus and Paul feel the need to pray for the believers and encourage them to keep unity, it probably isn’t so easy to do.”
- “What do you think gets in the way of unity among believers?” (Answers might include differences of opinion, different denominations, differences of beliefs, jealousy, unforgiveness, lack of time, distance, etc… You may want to put these on a flipchart or whiteboard. I recommend drawing a line down the middle of the space and writing a minus sign at the top of the left column and a plus sign at the top of the right column.)
- “That’s quite a list, and I think it would definitely break the unity of a group of believers.”
- “Unity is hard. Human nature (our sinful nature) leads us to want to divide rather than do the hard work to stay together.”
- “There’s an old saying: ‘People like people who are like them.’”
- “This means that we are drawn to people who look the same, act the same, have the same opinions, have the same backgrounds, etc.”
- “It’s easier to keep relationships with these people, because we have so much in common.”
- “If I had let you make your own groups earlier, you probably would have divided up based on ‘dog people’ and ‘cat people’ and ‘fish people’ and ‘hamster people,’ and all of you would have thought that you were better than the other groups. Am I right?”
- “But when people are different than us in the way they look or act or think…, we have to work hard to keep the relationships strong.”
- “In fact, we might have to make some changes in our own lives in order to keep the relationship together.”
- “So, let’s make a list of things we can do or the changes we can make to preserve or build unity.” (Have a volunteer read John 13:34-35.)
- “What’s the ingredient this Scripture mentions that we need to have for unity?” (Answer should be ‘love.’ . If you are using the flipchart or whiteboard, write these down on the “plus” side. Have a volunteer read Hebrews 10:23-25.)
- “What ingredient does this Scripture mention?” (Answers should include ‘meeting together’ and ‘encourage one another.’ Have a volunteer read Ephesians 4:1-6.)
- “What ingredients does Paul mention in this Scripture?” (Answers should include ‘humility,’ ‘gentleness,’ ‘patience’ and ‘bearing with one another in love.’ Have a volunteer read Ephesians 4:25-32.)
- “Last one. What is Paul telling the Ephesians to do in this Scripture in order to preserve unity?” (Answers should include ‘put off falsehood’ (or ‘be honest with each other’), ‘speak truthfully,’ ‘be angry sometimes but don’t sin by holding onto your anger,’ ‘do not steal from each other,’ ‘do your share of the work,’ ‘share with those in need,’ ‘don’t gossip, spread rumors or criticize,’ ‘build others up,’ ‘get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, fighting, slander (or ’saying bad things about others’), and any kind of bad feelings for others,’ ‘be kind and compassionate,” and ‘forgive each other.’)
- “Look at all the things we need to do to keep our unity!”
- “How are we ever going to be successful at all this stuff?”
- “The good news is, we don’t have to do it by ourselves.”
- “In truth, we are a lot like the money you have in your hands.”
- “It doesn’t have any power in itself to put itself back together. Neither do we.”
- “But we do have a power given to us by the Holy Spirit.” (Bring out some of the tape, and use it to tape back together the bill that you tore earlier.)
- “The Holy Spirit is a little like this tape.”
- “He has the power to bring us back together.”
- “All we have to do is surrender to God’s will and allow Him to mend us, to bring us back together.” (Pass out rolls of tape to each of the groups.)
- “Are you willing to allow the Holy Spirit bring you back together?”
- “Then tape that money back together.” (Give them a few moments to tape the money.)
- “Now the money is powerful and effective again!”
- “Know this: one of the Enemy’s favorite and most effective weapons against us is a strategy called ‘Divide and Conquer.’”
- “The Scripture says that Satan is like a roaring lion watching for someone to devour.”
- “If you have every watched Animal Planet, you probably know that lions don’t attack herds; they attack the animals that wander away from the herd.”
- “They attack the weak ones, the sick ones, the lazy ones, the ones doing their own thing.”
- “That’s because attacking the herd is dangerous; they could easily trample the lion or gore him or kick him in the head.”
- “Satan wants to divide us from the herd – the rest of the Body of Christ – so that he can attack us and have a really good chance of taking us down.”
- “Don’t give him the opportunity! Stick with the herd!”
- “We are stronger and more powerful together!” (You can allow the participants to keep the money or you can collect it back. It might be interesting to encourage them to pool their money in order to increase its buying ‘power.’ Maybe they could buy something with it that would benefit everyone.)
This object lesson helps children understand that Christians are more powerful when they work together and show love for one another. It’s important that we don’t quarrel with one another and destroy the unity that shows the world we are Jesus’ disciples.
· Two bills of paper currency (use the same denomination for both)
· Tear one of the bills of currency in half, and conceal it until the end of the lesson.
· Leave the other bill intact so that you can use it for demonstration.
· Practice script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “Does anyone remember the story of Joseph from the Bible?” (Allow a volunteer to share what he/she knows about the story, and add in anything that he/she misses.)
- “Joseph was one of Jacob’s twelve sons and his father’s favorite child. His brothers hated that he was the favorite so much that they sold him into slavery. For several years, he was a slave in Egypt until he was thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit. After many years of life in a dungeon, he was released and given the second-highest position in Pharoah’s kingdom because of his wisdom and ability to interpret dreams. Then, during a terrible, seven-year drought, his brothers came to Egypt looking for food. Joseph forgave them, and the family was reunited.”
- “Our lesson is about Joseph’s advice to his brothers when they were going back to get their father and other family members to come live in Egypt.”
- Have volunteer read Genesis 45:16-24. (The NIV translation’s final verse includes the quote, “…don’t quarrel on the way.”)
- “Why do you think Joseph told them not to quarrel?” (Listen to responses.)
- “I bet Joseph knew something about his brothers from the time they were growing up together.”
- “He knew about their tendency to fight with each other, so he was telling them to try to get along on the way back to get their father.”
- “He wanted them to have unity – to be a strong family.”
- “What’s so important about unity?” (Listen to responses, and add in any that you can think of that aren’t mentioned.)
- “Exactly! I can think of another reason, too, but I’m going to need two volunteers to help me demonstrate it.” (Ask for two volunteers to come up front.)
- “I have this bill of paper money.” (Show bill.)
- “And I would like for both of you to have it!” (Tear bill in half, and give one half to each of them.)
- “Congratulations! Don’t spend it all in one spot!….Wait, is something wrong?” (Allow volunteers to respond.)
- “You mean you can’t spend these anymore? What’s wrong? I only had the one bill, but there were two of you and I had to split it.” (Allow responses.)
- “So, you’re telling me that you can only spend this if these two parts are together?” (Allow responses.)
- “Hmmm….seems like there might be a lesson in here somewhere. Can anyone help me figure out what the point of this demonstration is?” (Allow for responses and add you own explanation if necessary.)
- “The two pieces of the bill are more powerful and effective together than apart. In the same way, Christians are more powerful and effective when we work together.” (Take back the two pieces of the bill. Then thank and dismiss the volunteers.)
- “Do you think Christians work well together today in the Church?…..Why or why not?” (Allow for responses. If you need to, point out some examples of how Christians work well together and what happens when they do. You might also want to point out how many different denominations we have and how little they collaborate with each other most of the time.)
- “What do you think would happen if Christians were better at working together?” (Allow for responses.)
- “I started this lesson by reminding you of the story of Joseph.”
- “I think that Joseph from the Bible is a picture of Jesus. God allowed Joseph’s life to reflect what Jesus’ life would be like so that people in Old Testament times would know what to look for in the coming Savior.”
- “There are many similarities between Joseph and Jesus:
- Both would have called themselves shepherds.
- Both were their fathers’ favorite children.
- Both were sold for some coins.
- Both were accused of crimes they didn’t commit.
- Both were put into the earth.
- Both came out of the earth to be elevated to the second-highest position in their respective kingdoms.
- Both suffered so that they could save many.”
- “If you study Joseph’s story, I bet you can find even more similarities.”
- “I tell you those things to point out that when Joseph told his brothers not to quarrel, it was very similar to some discussions Jesus had with his twelve apostles.”
- “They were always arguing about who was the greatest, but Jesus wanted them to have unity.” (Have volunteer read John 13:34-35.)
- “Jesus said that everyone in the world would know that we are following Him by the love that we show to one another.”
- “That means that our unity as Christians is a very powerful way to help the people around us know about Jesus.”
- “How can we show our love and unity to other Christians around us?” (Listen to responses, and comment as appropriate.)
- “Those are some excellent ideas! I hope every one of you will commit to showing more love to your Christian brothers and sisters this week.”
- “Just remember, we are more powerful together than apart.” (Call your original two volunteers back up, and give one of them the two pieces of the bill you used for demonstration and some tape. Give the other the two pieces of the other bill you kept concealed and some tape. Let them both tape up the bills and keep the money as a reminder that we are more powerful together than apart.
Filed under Agape Love, Christianity, Great Commandment, Jesus, Joseph, Kindness, Love, Object Lesson, Relationships, unconditional love, unity