Objective: To introduce the idea that we can recognise Jesus' disciples by their love for one another.
Game - 8 mins
Aim: To play a game about getting into groups by recognising different actions.
You will need: Action slips (see Printables) and pencils.
Before the session print and cut out three pages of action slips. For each game you will need one slip for every child but make sure your selection includes actions that are repeated at least once. For example, for a group of six children select three 'jumping slips' and three 'hoping slips'; for a group of eight children select two 'flapping slips', two 'marching slips', two 'skipping slips' and two 'jumping slips'. If you would rather suggest some different actions use the blank slips to write down some alternatives.
Hand out the slips to the children asking them not to show what is written on them to anybody else. Put the slips you are not using to one side. Explain to the children that when you say ‘go’ they need to start doing the action written on their slip. They then need to look around and get into groups with everybody else doing the same action as they are. If you have time, collect the slips, shuffle them, then hand them out again to the children. Repeat the activity.
Talk to the children about how they could tell who should be in which group by carefully watching each other's actions.
If you do not have enough children to play the above game play a miming game instead. A volunteer should think of a task or an occupation and then mime somebody doing it. The other children should try to guess what the job might be. To prepare you could write down some unusual occupations on the blank slips before the session. After playing the game talk to the children about how they could tell what job somebody was doing by carefully watching their actions.
Talk about - 7 mins
You will need: A large sheet of paper or a whiteboard, marker pens and a Bible.
Before the session write the verse on the whiteboard or paper.
Underline the reference and read the verse aloud. Remind the children that the verse comes from the Gospel of John. Ask one of the children to find the verse in the Bible. Explain that John was one of Jesus' twelve disciples. Draw two stick people next to the verse and write ‘John’ and ‘Jesus' underneath. Tell the children that John travelled with Jesus; he watched him and listened to him, then wrote down what he saw and heard.
When John wrote this verse he was writing down what Jesus said just before he was arrested. The disciples had just eaten a meal with Jesus. ‘I will not be with you much longer’, said Jesus. But then Jesus explained that people would still be able to recognise that they were his disciples… how? Point to the verse as you read it out loud again.
Remind the children that during the game they watched each other closely to see which action they were doing; by each other’s actions they could tell who should be in which group or what job somebody was pretending to do. This verse tells us that if people watched Jesus’ disciples carefully they would see that they were loving towards each other and when people saw that, they would know that they were Jesus’ disciples.
Underline the word disciples. Explain that this verse isn't just about the first 12 disciples, it's about all Christians everywhere. Christians today are Jesus' disciples because like the first disciples they want to live the way Jesus lived and do the things he taught. They want to think, feel and live like him.
But why did Jesus say that people would see his disciples being loving towards each other?
Explain that a disciple is someone who, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit, is learning and growing to be more like Jesus. Because Jesus is loving, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit, his disciples (Christians) will learn and grow to be loving too.