'Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other' John 13:35

 
 

Objective: To understand that the verse comes from the Gospel of John, which is very different from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

Game - 8 mins:
Aim:  To play ‘Spot the difference’ and begin to talk about recognising differences. 
You will need:  A chair, a low table and a selection of household items. Try and choose items that relate to two or three themes such as sports equipment, outdoor clothes, cooking items and/or things to do with reading and writing.   

Ask for two volunteers. Appoint one volunteer as the ‘guesser’. Explain that he/she will need to leave the room. Make sure arrangements for children leaving your teaching area comply with your safeguarding policy. Ask the other volunteer to sit in the chair next to the small table. Now encourage the rest of the group to arrange four or five household items on the table then give a few extra items to the volunteer to hold or wear. If you have chosen themed items you could arrange a scene to do with one of your themes; for example the volunteer could be cooking a meal. Alternatively the children could create a ‘silly scene’ such as the volunteer wearing a hat while reading a book, playing chess and eating a bowl of soup. 

Once the group have set the scene the volunteer must sit completely still and the ‘guesser’ be allowed back into the room. The ‘guesser’ should then examine the scene and try to remember all the different items and their positions, including what the volunteer is doing and wearing. The ‘guesser’ should then leave the room again. 

While the ‘guesser’ is out of the room the group should rearrange the scene making approximately five changes. The ‘guesser’ should then re-enter the room and try to guess what has changed. Finally the group should let the ‘guesser’ know if they are right or wrong and reveal any changes that were not spotted.  

If you have time, talk with the group about which differences were easy to spot and which were harder. Ask the children why they think some differences were more obvious.


Talk about - 4 mins
You will need: A large sheet of paper or a whiteboard, marker pens, ‘Looking at the Gospels’ sheets (see Printables) and a Bible.

Before the session write the verse on the whiteboard or paper. Underline the Bible reference and explain that this verse comes from the Gospel of John. Ask one of the children to find the Gospel of John in the Bible. Explain that ‘John’ is one of four Gospels, the books that tell the story of Jesus’ life. Ask the children to quickly find out the names of the other three Gospels by looking in the Bible. Explain that people who have studied the Gospels noticed that the Gospel of John is very different from the other three. Some people have carefully read through the Gospels trying to spot the differences between ‘John’ and the other three.

Show the ‘Looking at the Gospels’ sheets and point out the differences between ‘John’ and the other three Gospels. Ask the children why they think John’s Gospel is so different. Some of the answers given by people who study the Bible include: 1. John did not speak to the same people as Matthew, Mark and Luke, therefore his information is different. 2. John wanted to tell people who Jesus was, not just what he did.


Song - 3 mins
To the tune: ‘London Bridge is falling down’

    Everyone will know that you,
    Know that you,    x2
    Everyone will know that you,
    Are my disciples.

    Because of your love for each other,
    For each other,    x2
    Because of your love for each other. 
    You’re my disciples.
 

 
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'Everyone Will Know That You Are My Disciples Because Of Your Love For Each Other' John 13:35

 
 

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. 

 

 

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'Everyone Will Know That You Are My Disciples Because Of Your Love For Each Other' John 13:35

 
 

Objective: To talk about what the word ‘agape’ means and how Christians can learn and grow to love each other in this way. 

Game - 4 mins
Aim: To play a game where the children are introduced to the word ‘agape’. 
You will need: Printed letters (see Printables), masking tape, sticky tac, plain white A4 paper, lively music and the means to play it. 

Before the session print off the ‘letters’ and scrunch them  into balls. Scrunch up additional sheets of paper until you have approximately four balls per child. Divide your teaching space in half by sticking a long strip of masking tape to the floor across the centre of your room. Divide your group into two equal teams and encourage one team to stand on one side of the tape and the other on the other side. Give half the paper balls to one team and the remaining balls to the other team.

Explain to the children that they need to try and get rid of all their paper balls by throwing them across the tape to the other team. The other team will do the same. Play the music while the children throw the balls backwards and forwards.

After about 10 seconds shout ‘Find me an A’. The children should then, as quickly as possible, unscrunch the paper balls (on either side of the masking tape line) to find a letter ‘A’. When you have the letter stick it to the wall using sticky tac. There will be two letter ‘A’s, stick one to the wall and re-scrunch the other. Ask the children to re-scrunch the remaining paper. Restart the music and encourage the children to begin ‘getting rid’ of the balls again. After about 10 seconds ask the children to find a ‘G’. Repeat this with finding the other ‘A’, then a ‘P’, then finally an ‘E’.  You may want to encourage the children to look for two letters at the same time if you are short of time.

Stick all the letters on the wall. Ask the children if they can read the word you have spelt. Explain that it is an ancient Greek word that is pronounced a-ga-pay. 


Talk about - 8 mins
You will need:  A large sheet of paper or a whiteboard, marker pens, the printed letters from the game and a Bible. 

Before the session write the verse on the whiteboard or paper. Read the verse aloud. Stick the printed letters from the game next to the verse to spell the word ‘agape’. Point out that the word ‘agape’ is not in the verse. Explain that when John first wrote this verse he would have written it in ancient Greek and instead of the word ‘love’ he would have written ‘agape’. Underline the word ‘love’. Explain that ‘love’ is the right English translation for ‘agape’ but there is an even better way of describing what ‘agape’ means: ‘agape’ means ‘loving somebody in such a way that you put them first and expect nothing in return’. 

If we were to take John’s verse and read it the way Jesus said it we would read… ‘everyone will know that you are my disciples because you put each other first and expect nothing  in return’. 

Quickly underline the word disciples and remind the children 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 will Jesus' disciples love each other this way? Remind the children that last week we discovered that a disciple is someone who, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit, is learning and growing to be more like Jesus.  Jesus loves people with agape love - putting them first and expecting nothing in return. Because Jesus loves people this way, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit his disciples will learn and grow to love people this way too. 


Song - 3 mins
To the tune: ‘London Bridge is falling down’

    Everyone will know that you,
    Know that you,    x2
    Everyone will know that you,
    Are my disciples.

    Because of your love for each other,
    For each other,    x2
    Because of your love for each other. 
    You’re my disciples.


 

 

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'Everyone Will Know That You Are My Disciples Because Of Your Love For Each Other' John 13:35

 
 

Objective: To talk about the importance of Christians loving one another. 

Game - 8 mins
Aim: To play a game where the children think about doing things together.  
You will need:  Thin rope or cord, between one and six metres in length. The more children you have, the longer the piece of rope will need to be – as a rough guide allow 50 cm per child. Tie the ends of the cord together to make a loop.

During the session encourage the children to stand in a circle. (Parts of this challenge will be possible even with two people, although a lot harder.)  Each child should hold a portion of the cord loosely in both hands.

Ask the children to work together to make the cord into a circle. When the children are happy with the circle, ask them to make a square. Other shapes you could ask the children to make include: a triangle, a rectangle, a heart, a star, a pentagon, a kite, a crescent, an oval, a diamond. Give the children plenty of time to make each shape before moving on to the next one.

After you have played the game spend some time talking about what the game demonstrates. Ask the children the following questions and discuss their answers: 

  • Would the game have been easier or harder with more people? 
  • Could you have made those shapes on your own? 
  • Would the shapes have looked better with more people?
  • What would have happened to the shapes if one person had refused to join in? 
  • If one person hadn't wanted to join in, what might you have done to encourage them to take part? 
  • What could you have done to encourage people not to give up?
     

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. Read the verse aloud.

Quickly underline the word 'disciples' and remind the children 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.

Remind the children that a few weeks ago we discovered that a disciple is someone who, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit, is learning and growing to be more like Jesus. We also learnt that Jesus loves people with agape love - putting them first and expecting nothing in return. Because Jesus loves people this way, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit his disciples will learn and grow to love people this way too. 

But why is it great when Christians love each other?

Remind the children that our game showed that when people get on well they work well together as a team and do things that they couldn’t do on their own. One of the reasons it is great for Christians to love each other is that together they can do great things for God.

Ask the children if they can think of some great things that Christians can do together for God?

Discuss the children’s answers. You might like to talk about organisations that you know where Christians work together to help people, such as organising food or clothes banks. Explain that some Christians also work together to tell people the Good News about Jesus. Sometimes Christians organise events to either help people, or to tell people more about God. 

Ask the children to think for a moment what it would be like if Christians who worked together didn’t get along with one another.  Now ask them to think what it would be like if Christians who worked together loved each other with ‘agape’ love, putting each other first, expecting nothing in return.

 

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'Everyone Will Know That You Are My Disciples Because Of Your Love For Each Other' John 13:35

 
 

Objective: To talk about a church being the people not the building. 

Game - 8 mins
Beware of allergies – make sure it is safe for the children in your group to handle the food used in this activity.  

Aim: To play a game that introduces the idea that the Church is the people, not the building. 
You will need:  A table, chairs and dried pasta of various types (try to include spaghetti and small macaroni in your selection).

Encourage the children to sit up to the table. Place the pasta in the centre of the table. Ask the children to make a picture of a church building using the pasta shapes. The children can work directly on the surface of the table; they do not need to glue their pasta pieces together or make the ‘picture’ on a piece of paper.

When the children have finished constructing their pasta church buildings, allow them to talk about their pictures if they wish. Praise each of the children for creating their pictures. Remind the children that their pictures are of church buildings and that the church is the people; not the building.  


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.

Quickly underline the word 'disciples' and remind the children that this verse is 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.

Remind the children that a few weeks ago we discovered that a disciple is someone who, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit, is learning and growing to be more like Jesus.  We also learnt that because Jesus loves people, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit his disciples will learn and grow to love too.  Last week we learnt that when Christians love each other and get on well they can do great things together for God.

Draw a group of stick people next to the verse and remind the children that the church is not the building; it is the group of Christians who gather together. Circle the group of stick people and explain that although many church buildings are very beautiful and useful, wherever the Christians meet together they are the church.

For older children you might want to explain that Christians believe there is one big Church called the Universal Church. The big Church is made up of all Christians everywhere – it stretches around the world. It is in fact made up of all Christians that are alive now and have ever lived. Of course it is not possible for all Christians in the Universal Church to meet together. However, lots of Christians meet together in smaller groups close to where they live. These groups of Christians are called local churches. All around the world there are thousands and thousands of local churches. Christians often get together in their local churches on a Sunday because this is the day on which Christians have gathered together for hundreds of years. But Christians get together on other days too.

Quickly ask the children to list some of the things Christians do when they gather together. Discuss the children's answers and explain that Christians gather together to help one another live God’s way - to love God and others.  

If you have time talk about Christians simply doing things together when they meet. They show their love for God by worshipping together and their love for others by working in teams to care for people. Explain that Christians also help each other through ‘fellowship’. ‘Fellowship’ is the word the Bible uses to describe times when Christians teach, challenge, comfort, support and encourage one another. Christians believe that when they spend time together in this way the Holy Spirit works powerfully among them helping each one of them learn and grow to live God’s way.

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