The word “disciple” means “learner” or “student.” The discipleship of children often involves teaching spiritual lessons with practical applications and introducing character traits such as honesty, gratitude, self-control, obedience, diligence and forgiveness. While there are a number of lessons to illustrate these concepts, the best way to teach the traits of a good disciple is by example. As children look up to you and study your behavior, they should notice characteristics that they don't yet possess and possibly don't even understand. That is where verbal instruction comes into play.
Fill two glasses two-thirds full of water and a third glass halfway. In one glass, sprinkle in salt and stir thoroughly until it no longer dissolves, then pour rubbing alcohol on top of the salt water until the amount of liquid in the glass is equal to the other two. Sprinkle salt into another glass and stir until it no longer dissolves. Allow the salt to settle overnight so that the water will not appear cloudy. Before the lesson, place the three glasses in a row (plain water, water with salt and alcohol, water with salt) where all the children can see them. Have three eggs ready for the object lesson.
Lead the children in a discussion of the similarities and differences of their appearances. After five to 10 minutes of discussion, ask the children to describe how they are alike or different on the inside. More than likely, they will struggle to answer.
First Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
Explain that some people look very nice on the outside, but on the inside, they are mean and nasty. People can't see the insides of other people, but God can, and he wants the insides to look better than the outsides. When people have good things on the inside, like love and a good attitude, it will show up on the outside, just like people can tell someone is happy on the inside because they're smiling on the outside.
Place an egg in the first glass and allow it to sink to the bottom. Explain, “This egg is like a person who doesn't know God. They are in a low place and have nothing good on the inside. They need God's love to pull them up.” Place an egg in the second glass, allowing it to float in the middle, and explain, “This egg is like someone who knows God but isn't really trying to act the way God wants him to. They are saved but disobeying God's word, so they're stuck in the middle.” Place the last egg in the remaining glass. It should float at the top. “This egg is like the person who knows God and is trying his best to act like Jesus. He's not perfect, but he's trying to do all the right things by having a good attitude and an obedient heart.”
Lead the students in prayer, asking God specifically to help them be better followers of His teachings.
- Object Lessons From Science Experiments; Richard F. Gebhardt and Mark Armstrong
- Large Families on Purpose: Character Training for Children - A Core Aspect of Discipleship; Erika Shupe
- The Holy Bible, King James Version
- Net Bible Study: Defining Discipleship
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