Read Bible notes on Mark 1.14-20
How easy would it be to respond to a life-changing call so quickly? Notice, however, that not everything changes. Jesus offers to take their skills and use them for kingdom building. Have you experienced God using the skills you have in a new way?
What changes might the children have experienced in their lives? How might doing something ‘different’ be challenging, and how might it be exciting for them?
Use the prayer and activity to gather the group and introduce the theme.
A prayer for others (for children)
We pray, Lord Jesus, for those who need to make decisions today:
give them courage.
We pray for those who long to do something different:
give them hope.
We pray for those who are doing their best to follow you:
give them reassurance.
Draw a map of the week
You will need: pens and paper.
Share the Word
- Ask the children to draw a picture map of their week including school, sports, clubs, days out, time with friends and family.
- Ask the group if there were any times in the week when they had to quickly change what they were doing, or leave things suddenly to go and do something else. Ask: How does it feel when our plans change?
Read the story and pause at the to share these points with the children (see Stop and share below). Then use the activity to explore the passage together.
Stop and share
- Remind the children that John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin.
- Explain that ‘repent’ means being sorry for what you have done; having a change of heart.
- Ask the children what they think Jesus meant by ‘fish for people’. Discuss how Jesus was asking the fishermen to invite other people to follow him.
Freeze-frame the story
You will need: props to represent nets and boats (optional).
Explore and respond
- Create freeze frames of different key points in the story, asking children to be the different characters.
- Look together at the freeze frames and notice what is happening. Ask: How do you think the fishermen felt at each point? Look at the end freeze frame. Ask: How do those who have been left behind feel?
Use these ideas to help the children make connections between the Bible passage and their lives.
Quick response game
See how quickly we respond to a signal
You will need: a large cushion, a bell or alarm.
- Place a large cushion in the middle of the room and play the bell/alarm to the group.
- Encourage the children to move around the room in different ways, e.g. walk, run, hop. But also ask them to listen for the bell/alarm. When they hear it, the first child to touch the cushion is the winner.
- Repeat the game to see how quickly the children respond. Revisit the passage; point out that the fishermen responded immediately.
Make an invitation
Create something to ask others to follow Jesus
You will need: folded sheets of A5 coloured card, pens, craft materials, stickers, glue.
- Give each person a folded A5 piece of card. Ask them to write ‘You are invited to follow Jesus. Will you respond?’ on the outside, and on the inside, write ‘R.S.V.P.’ leaving space for people to write (pre-prepare for younger children).
- Provide everyone with pens, stickers and craft materials. Ask them to make the card look like an invitation to the greatest party.
- Encourage everyone to take their invitation home and invite the whole family to write their names under the R.S.V.P. if they want to respond to Jesus.
Talk together and talk to God
Use these questions to discuss the Bible passage and then bring your thoughts together by praying to God.
- Why is it sometimes hard to make decisions and respond immediately?
- How would you feel being asked to leave lots of things behind as the fishermen did?
- In what ways do you think we are asked to follow Jesus today?
Talk to God: Fish prayers
Make and pray about responding to Jesus
You will need: strips of coloured or patterned paper L10cm x W2cm, scissors, pens.
- Provide each child with a strip of paper and show them how to cut a slit about 1cm from either end, at opposite sides of the paper. Ask the children to write their name on one side of the paper and fit the slits together to make a fish. If the children hold the fish up and then let it go it should spin as it falls.
- Ask everyone to stand holding their fish and say the prayer together.
When you all say ‘Amen’ they can let go of the fish and watch them spin to the ground.
Jesus, we want to respond when we hear you call our names.
We want to live our lives with you.
We want you to be with us.
Go with God
Consider together what you have explored, what that means for each of you and how it might influence your daily lives.
- Place a piece of netting in the centre of the group. Give each child a piece of ribbon. Ask them, in their own time, to come and fix their ribbon to the net.
- As they do so, ask everyone to think about what they would say to Jesus’ call of ‘Follow me’. Ask: Would you respond immediately, or would you need time to think about it?
A sending out prayer for children
When opportunity beckons: be bold.
When Jesus calls: be ready.
When we are asked to do something different: be prepared.
In Jesus’ name.
Go with God 24/7
Encourage the children to put their faith into action
What could you do differently to show you are following Jesus? Decide on one thing and respond by making a change.