Week 1 objectives: to discover that this verse can be found in the book of ‘1 John’ and that over and over again John writes about love in his letters.
Game - 7 mins
Aims: to make up stories about loving things, before talking about loving God.
You will need: Mad Lib stories and prompt sheets (see Printables), sticky tac, scissors and pens or pencils.
Before the session print or photocopy the Mad Lib stories and prompt sheets. Cut out the ‘prompts’, cutting along the solid lines. Keep the two sets of prompts separate from each other.
Divide the children into no more than five teams. Give two prompts to each team. If you have less than five teams you should have a few prompts left over; put these to one side. Explain to the children that they need to read the prompt on their piece of paper then write their answer on the back. For example the team with the prompt that says ‘Think of a colour’ could write ‘orange’ on the back of their paper. Give the spare prompts to a helper to complete, or complete them as a group.
When all the prompts have been completed gather in the pieces of paper and stick them to a wall in numerical order so that everybody can see the children’s answers. Read out the first story from the story sheet and replace the blanks with the children’s answers. The story should sound very silly.
If you have time repeat this with the second story using the second set of prompts. The children’s answers are likely to get really silly now as they know what they are going to be used for!
Talk about - 4 mins
You will need: a large sheet of paper or a whiteboard, marker pens, a Bible, ‘The Holy Spirit arrow’ (see Printables), heart textbox (see Printables) and sticky tac.
Write the verse on the sheet of paper or whiteboard.
Underline the word ‘John’ in the reference. Tell the children that this verse comes from the book of ‘1 John’ in the New Testament part of the Bible. ‘1 John’ is a letter to a group of Christians. People who study the Bible think the Apostle John, one of Jesus' disciples, wrote this letter. Ask one of the older children to find the book of ‘1 John’ in a Bible.
Explain that John wrote a lot about love. In his writings he talks about how much God loves people and how important it is that Christians love each other. Draw some hearts on the board as you are talking.
Underline the word ‘loving’ in the verse. Remind the children about the stories they have just created; talk about why the boy loved his favourite dessert and why the girl loved holidays.
Ask the children why they think Christians love God. The children might talk about what God has done and who he is. Explain that these answers are correct, but the Bible also teaches that Christians love God in response to his great love for them. Christians feel that because of God's love, not only do they love him more but they love other people more too. They believe God’s love changes them; it makes them more loving. Stick the heart textbox next to the Bible verse and read it aloud: ‘We love because God loved us first’.
If you have time you could also explain that Christians love God because of the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Stick the Holy Spirit arrow next to the verse. Christians believe the Holy Spirit changes them from the inside-out, making them more peaceful, kind and loving. Christians believe that as the Holy Spirit works in their lives, they are able to love God and others more. Ask the children to mime pouring water out of a jug. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit has poured God's love into the hearts of Christians.
Activity - 2 mins
You will need: Post-it notes, coloured chalk, tissues and heart templates (see Printables). Before the session print off and cut out the heart templates. You will need enough hearts for two or three per child.
Give each child a paper heart and a post-it note. Encourage the children to colour in the shaded area of their heart with a piece of chalk. Show the children how to place their heart on top of their post Give each child a paper heart and a post-it note. Encourage the children to colour in the shaded area of their heart with a piece of chalk. Show the children how to place their heart on top of their post-it note then brush the chalk off using a tissue onto the post-it note. When the heart is removed it should leave behind a chalky heart outline. Ask the children to stick their heart post-it note next to the verse.
Song - 2 mins
To the tune ‘If you’re happy and you know it’.
Loving God means obeying his commands, x2
Loving God means obeying, x2
Loving God means obeying his commands.
God’s commands are not too hard for us to do, x2
God’s commands are not too hard, x2
God’s commands are not too hard for us to do.
The children could do the following actions. As you sing ‘Loving God’ – give yourself a hug. As you sing ‘commands’ – hold your hands out like an open Bible. As you sing ‘not too hard’ – waggle your finger from side to side.