Soldiers of God (Updated: 2014)

Soldiers and warfare occur repeatedly in both testaments. We thought about doing an entire week on just the armor of God, but we decided it might be better to generalise the theme. We ended up with lessons covering salvation by faith, obedience to Christ, resisting temptation, enduring the world's contempt, and prayer.
In Galion this was our theme in 2008 and again in 2014.
This theme is mostly complete and online!
Elementary Preschool Teens
Monday Bible Lesson:Red Cord of Salvation Bible Lesson:Joshua and the Walls Bible Lesson:Red Cord of Salvation (teen version)
Memory Verse:Ephesians 2:8-9 (Covered Words) Shape Lesson:Ball Discussion:5 Questions
Craft: Braided Red Cord Bookmark
Game:Water Balloon Toss Game:Marching Around the Wall Game:Water Balloon Toss
Snack: Twizzlers: The Red Rope (updated 2014)
Tuesday Bible Lesson:Obey Your Commander Bible Lesson:Centurion's Servant (Jesus is God) Bible Lesson:Our Commanding Officer (teen version)
Memory Verse:1st John 5:3-4 (Popcorn) Shape Lesson:Book Discussion:7 Questions
Craft: Shrinkies*
Game:Sealed Orders Game:Water Balloon Toss (preschool version) Game:Sealed Orders
Snack: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches & Centurions (new in 2014)
Wednesday Bible Lesson:Armor of God Bible Lesson:David and Goliath (Trust in God) Bible Lesson:Armor of God (teen version)
Memory Verse:Ephesians 6:11 (Scrambled Verse) Shape Lesson:Heart Discussion:5 Questions
Craft:Picture Frame Craft:Picture Frame Craft:Start Cap Curtains
Game: Soldier Dress-Up Relay
Snack: Shield Cookies (updated 2014)
Thursday Bible Lesson:Good Soldier (Jeremiah and the Cistern): regular version or interactive version Bible Lesson:The Blind Army Bible Lesson:Good Soldier (teen version)
Memory Verse:Romans 1:16 (Clapping) Shape Lesson:Cross Discussion:6 Questions
Craft:Chalk Painting Craft:Chalk Painting Craft:Continue Cap Curtains
Game:CTF Wargame Game:Hiding from the Bad King Game:CTF Wargame
Snack: Mud Pudding (new in 2014)
Friday Bible Lesson:Prayer Warrior Bible Lesson:Peter in Prison (prayer) Bible Lesson:Prayer Warrior (teen version)*
Memory Verse:1st Thessalonians 5:16-18 (Voice Contest) Shape Lesson:Crown Discussion:7 Questions
Craft:Praying Hands Craft:Praying Hands Craft:Soap Sculpture (or finish Cap Curtains)
Game:Enlistment Tag Game:Play with Hula Hoops* Game:Enlistment Tag
Snack: Prison-Bar Cupcakes (updated, 2014)
* - Items marked with an asterisk are incomplete or otherwise need work.
Substitute Indoor Games:
  • [needed]
Decorations:
There are some wall decorations available.
See also our decoration photos:
part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.

Training for Missions (Teen Version)

Monday:Training for Missions
Bible Lesson: Red Cord of Salvation: Rahab was saved because she believed in God, and we are saved the same way.
Memory Verse: Ephesians 2:8-9
Missions Concept: Missionaries Need Training.
Missions Example: Nigeria: Samuel Ngum
Bible Passages: James 3:1, 2nd Timothy 2:1-19
[Distribute Monday's packet, with the map of Cameroon.]
Introduction: Samuel Ngum
Samuel Ngum is from Cameroon, but he wants to be a missionary in Nigeria [Refer to map.]. (Ask for a definition of a missionary. Accept some answers. Discuss.) Missionaries are trained men and women whose job is to take the gospel to the people in an area and start churches.
Before Samuel could go to Nigeria as a missionary, he had to be prepared. He couldn't just leave immediately the first time he thought about doing this. He wasn't prepared.
The Point: Missionaries Need Training
One of the things Samuel needed was good Bible training. If he's going to tell people about Jesus, he'd better know what he's talking about! Just going to church all your life isn't enough. If he's going to start churches, and wants them to have a good start, he should know his Bible inside and out. The Bible says teachers will be held accountable. (Look at James 3 together.) That means if you're going to teach people, you should be responsible to make sure you are teaching them the truth.
Story: Samuel's Studies
Samuel studied at a practorium – a school for pastors and missionaries, run by the church at Keyon in Oku, Cameroon [refer to map].
A practorium is a higher level of education, like seminary: a Master's-level program. In the United States we usually do this sort of thing after college. Samuel had to study hard, do homework, write long papers, ... He learned Greek, Hebrew, Hermeneutics, ... To be a missionary, Samuel needed all the classes that someone has to take to be a pastor. He studied for several years, until he finished all the classes that he needed.
Secondary Point: Language Training
Samuel already speaks English, the major language in Nigeria, so he won't need language classes to go there. But sometimes a missionary has to study language and culture before he can go. How can you tell people the good news of Jesus, if you don't speak their language? Anyone who wants to go as a missionary to a place where they don't speak the same language, needs to learn the language that they speak in that place.
Conclusion: Churches Must Provide Training
Samuel's not the only missionary who needs training. When churches want to send missionaries, one of the things they have to do is find ways to provide that training. The churches in Cameroon have the practorium in Keyon, where Samuel was trained. We have them in the United States too, places where people can study to be pastors and missionaries. Sometimes even Sunday School teachers receive training.
[As time allows, go over the discussion questions together.]
Invitation: Missions Training
Close in prayer and invite any teens who want to consider training for missions, or to help train others, to stay after the lesson and discuss it further.

A Plan for Missions

Friday:A Plan for Missions
Bible Lesson: Prayer Warrior: We should be praying; prayer is effective. (Peter in prison)
Memory Verse: 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18
Missions Concepts: Missionaries must prepare to go and must plan for the work.
Missions Examples: Uberlandia, Brazil: Project Timothy
Bible Passages: Luke 14:25-33
Maps:
Introduction: What to do?
How many of you remember learning about our missionaries in Brazil last year? [show map] We learned about Magno who teaches kids at the schools about Jesus. How do missionaries like Magno decide what they are going to do today? Do they wake up and pack their bags and move to a new city? Do they leave their Bible study and start a new one? How do they choose where to go and when? They have a plan.
Example: Brazil
The Tubelina church in Brazil has a plan. They want to start churches in many neighborhoods all around their big city (Uberlandia). They have men that are studying to be pastors and missionaries in their church, but where will these men go, and who will be a pastor and who will be a missionary? The men and the leaders of the church talk together and pray before anything happens. While the men are still studying, before they are even ready to go, they start praying for the place where they are going to go. Some go home to the neighborhoods they grew up in. Others go to a different neighborhood, or a nearby city (like Magno, who went to Araguari). The church makes a plan so that all the new Pastors have places to go, and so that they don't all go to the same neighborhood!
The Point: Missionaries need a plan.
In the book of Luke, Jesus gives an example. He tells the crowd that if they were going to build a tower it would be a good idea to make sure they have a plan – to know how big they're going to build the tower and how much it will cost – before they start. Otherwise, they might not be able to finish, and people would just laugh at them, and what good would that be? Jesus wasn't just talking about a real tower, though: it's an example. He's really talking about God's work. When we set out to do something, we should make sure we know what we have to do before we start, so that we can finish. We should know how much it is going to cost, so that we can afford to finish. We need to know what we are going to do so that it works out well. If we know how much it costs, we know how much money we need to save up before we start. If we know ahead of time what we have to do, we'll be less likely to forget something important.
Tuesday, we learned that a missionary needs to be approved and sent by a church to do missions. One of the things our Foreign Mission Panel tells missionaries they have to have is a written plan. The plan has to tell where they are going, what they are going to do, and how long they are going to spend on it. The Pastors on the panel are not giving the missionaries homework for no reason. The written plan is important because it helps the churches who are sending the missionaries, praying, and sending money. It helps the churches to know how to pray and where the money is going. It also is important for the missionary himself to have a plan so that he knows what to do every morning. He knows what his goal is and that helps him do a better job.

Support for Missions

Thursday:Support for Missions
Bible Lesson: Good Soldier: We should endure the world's contempt when living and sharing our faith. (Jeremiah and the cistern)
Memory Verse: Romans 1:16
Missions Concepts: Missionaries need prayer and financial support.
Missions Examples: Paul
Bible Passages: Ephesians 6:18-20, Romans 15:23-24, 2nd Corinthians 11:7-12, Philippians 4:14‑19, Colossians 4:2-3, 2nd Thessalonians 3:1-2, Philippians 1:12-14
Introduction: Support
God calls a person to be a missionary. But then what? How does that missionary live while he is doing his job, and how do the people he talks to come to know God and start churches? Two of the most important things a missionary needs are other Christians praying for him and sending money so that he can do God's work where he is. The Bible talks about this in a lot of places. Paul specifically asked churches to pray for him, and sometimes they also sent him money. The Antioch church had sent Saul (whose new name was Paul) to be a missionary, but other churches helped too. The Antioch church was sometimes too far away to help Paul -- they didn't even know what was going on -- but other churches were closer when Paul needed them.
Example: Thessalonica
When Paul went to Thessalonica to start a church, he was far away from Antioch. The church in Philadelphia, which was nearby, sent him money so that he would have food and clothing and whatever he needed. By supporting Paul, they were helping to bring the good news of Jesus to the people in Thessalonica.
Another time Paul was in Rome and wrote to the Christians in Colosse and asked for prayer. He said, Pray that God may open a door for our message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly as I should. Paul was chained and on house arrest because he was telling people that Jesus had died for everyone, and some people didn't like that. Paul needed prayer so that he would have a chance to tell people about Jesus, because when you're arrested you can't just go wherever you want. Paul needed God to make a way for him to do his job as a missionary. So Paul asked the Colossians to pray.
The Point: Missionaries need prayer and financial support.
Was Paul the only missionary that ever needed money? Do you think other missionaries need the same thing? What about prayer? Do other missionaries need prayer like Paul did? Who is going to pray for and send money to our Grace Brethren missionaries? Will people from other churches do it? (Not likely.) What about people that don't go to church? Will they pray for our missionaries? (Probably not.) They don't even know about them. It is up to us to pray for the Bejenkes, Pastor Meeker, Samuel Ngum, and others. It is up to us to make sure that these missionaries have the money they need to do God's work. If we don't pray and send money, how will they do the work? We don't know if Paul would have had opportunities to lead the guards to Christ if the Christians hadn't prayed. But we do know that God answers prayers.
Invitation: Supporting Missions
Invite any children who want to support our missionaries to bring offering on Friday and to pray for our missionaries.

Opportunity for Missions

Wednesday:Opportunity for Missions
Bible Lesson: Armor of God: Resist temptation using God's word, not human reasoning.
Memory Verse: Ephesians 6:11
Missions Concepts: Missionaries need an opportunity – an invitation or contact in the community.
Missions Examples: South Whitley, IN: Marvin Meeker
Bible Passages: [Needed]
Introduction: Need for Churches
How far did you drive or walk to get to Bible School tonight? Did anyone come more than ten minutes? Do you drive more than ten minutes to get to your own church on Sunday morning? Did you know that some people in the United States live in places where they have to drive half an hour or more just to get to a church that believes the whole Bible? Some towns do not have one church that teaches the whole Bible. Some people in Vermont drive an hour to go to a church that teaches the Bible. Other people in the same communities decide that it's easier to go to a church they know doesn't teach the whole Bible, because it's closer. They think they don't have time to go far enough to get to a better church.
Example: South Whitley, IN
Dave Swensen was from Vermont and went to the Irasburg church but when he and his wife Tonya moved to her hometown of South Whitley, Indiana, they looked for a church there. They had trouble finding a church in their town that taught the whole Bible. Instead of going to a church that left part of the Bible out, they decided to drive twenty miles each way to attend the Lakeland Grace Brethren Church in Warsaw [show map]. That doesn't seem too far, but for a family with young children it was a little much. And if they wanted to invite their friends to church they had to ask them to drive for half an hour to get there. How many people want to drive that far to go to a friend's church. Their kids probably have friends and want to invite them to Bible School. How many of their parents will allow them to go that far to Bible School? It's too far. So, the Swensens wanted to start a new Grace Brethren Church in their own town.
In the Lakeland church there is a retired Pastor named Marvin Meeker. When the Swensens came to the Lakeland Church they met him. So, when they started praying with their church about finding a church in their own town, Pastor Meeker prayed with them. They prayed for a long time that something would happen in South Whitley. Eventually, they decided to start a Bible study to see if there were people in the town who would start a new church. Maybe there were others going to churches that don't teach the whole Bible that would like to find a better church. Maybe there were people who didn't go to church at all or didn't go very often because there was no good church to go to. Maybe some of the Swensens' friends would come. God might have put several families together in South Whitley to start a church there.
The Point: Missionaries Need Contacts
Marvin Meeker wasn't looking for a new town to start a church. That's not why he started a Bible study. People wanted a church in South Whitley, so they started a Bible study there. The Swensen family was already there. Any time a missionary wants to start a new church, he has to make contact with people in the community. That's hard. Sometimes it's very hard, but if you start someplace where you already have contacts, it's a little easier. Marvin Meeker didn't go through the phone book to try to find people to come to the church. The Swensens just started inviting their friends.
Conclusion: South Whitley GBC
Now the group has grown to about twenty people. They have baptized several and have started having Sunday morning services. The Swensens can take their family to church and invite friends. They no longer have to drive to another town to find a good church.

Called, Approved, and Sent

Tuesday:Called, Approved, and Sent
Bible Lesson: Commanding Officer: We should obey Christ. (Centurion's Servant)
Memory Verse: 1st John 5:3-4
Missions Concepts:
Missionaries must be called by God to do missions.
Missionaries must be approved and sent by a church (or group of churches).
Missions Examples: Barnabas and Saul
Bible Passages: Acts 9:26-30, 11:23-26, 13:1-3
Introduction: Barnabas and Saul
How do people know that they are supposed to be missionaries? In the Bible there were two men named Barnabas and Saul and they were sent as missionaries from the church in Antioch [show map]. While they were worshiping the Holy Spirit said to them, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." They fasted and prayed and then placed their hands on them and sent them off. Barnabas and Saul went on their missionary journey to Cyprus and what is now the country of Turkey [show map]. How did Barnabas and Saul know that God wanted them to be missionaries? (The Holy Spirit called them and told the whole church that they had been called.)
Background: The Church at Antioch
Now Barnabas and Saul weren't sent as missionaries the first day that the brethren in Antioch met them. Barnabas had arrived there first and was encouraged at the work the church there was doing. So, he went and got Saul and brought him to the church there. For a whole year Saul and Barnabas met with the elders in the church and worshiped with the church body. The people there knew them and they even taught the people in the church. The people had confidence that what Saul and Barnabas were teaching was correct. They were good teachers teaching the truth. They would not teach things that weren't true. Even when they were called, the church prayed about sending them before they would allow them to leave. They wanted to be sure that they were doing what God wanted.
The Point: Missionaries are Called and Sent
Missionaries do not wake up one morning and go start a church on their own. God chooses the people he wants to send and he gives them the help of a church body. Being a missionary is a big decision. Not every Christian is intended to be a full-time missionary. Some Christians need to remain in their local church to teach and do the work. What would happen to our church if everyone left to be a missionary? (It wouldn't be here anymore to lead the people of Galion to the Lord.) So, the church only sends a few people as missionaries. They want to send people they trust and that God has chosen to do that work. It is always nice to have others who agree that you are doing what God wants you to do.
Invitation: Missions
Invite any children who want to consider being ready to hear God's call to missions, to stay after the lesson and discuss it further.

Training for Missions

Monday:Training for Missions
Bible Lesson: Red Cord of Salvation: Rahab was saved because she believed in God, and we are saved the same way.
Memory Verse: Ephesians 2:8-9
Missions Concepts: Missionaries Need Training
Missions Examples: Nigeria: Samuel Ngum
Map: Cameroon and Nigeria, showing Kiyon and Port Harcourt. This map is available in higher resolutions or in vector formats (such as SVG or eps) upon request. See SVG documents.
Bible Passages: James 3:1, 2nd Timothy 2:1-19
[Map: Nigeria and Cameroon]
Introduction: Samuel Ngum
Samuel Ngum is from Cameroon [show map], but he wants to be a missionary. He wants to go to Nigeria [show map] and tell people about the good news of Jesus and start churches there.
Before Samuel could go to Nigeria as a missionary, he had to be prepared. He couldn't just take off walking. It's too big a job for that.
The Point: Missionaries Need Training
One of the things Samuel needed was good Bible training. If he's going to tell people about Jesus, he'd better know what he's talking about! The Bible says teachers will be held accountable. That means if you're going to teach people, you should be responsible to make sure you are teaching them the truth.
Story: Samuel's Studies
Samuel studied at a practorium – a school for pastors and missionaries, run by the church at Keyon in Oku, Cameroon [show map].
Is school always easy? No. Samuel had to study hard, do homework, write papers, ... To be a missionary, Samuel needed all the classes that someone has to take to be a pastor. He studied for several years, until he finished all the classes he needed.
Secondary Point: Language Training
Samuel already speaks English, the major language in Nigeria, so he won't need language classes to go there. But sometimes a missionary has to study language and culture before he can go. How can you tell people the good news of Jesus, if you don't speak their language? Anyone who wants to go as a missionary to a place where they don't speak the same language, needs to learn the language that they speak in that place.
Conclusion: Churches Must Provide Training
Samuel's not the only missionary who needs training. When churches want to send missionaries, one of the things they have to do is find ways to provide that training. The churches in Cameroon have the practorium in Keyon, where Samuel was trained. We have them in the United States too, places where people can study to be pastors and missionaries. Sometimes even Sunday School teachers receive training.
Invitation: Missions Training
Invite any children who want to consider training for missions when they grow up, or to help train others, to stay after the lesson and discuss it further.

Snacks (Soldiers of God)

Monday:Twizzlers and Popcorn
Elementary Lesson: Red Cord of Salvation: Rahab was saved because she believed in God, and we are saved the same way.
Elementary Verse: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Preschool Lesson: Joshua and the Walls: We should obey God
(Or Twizzlers and pretzels, or Twizzlers and chips, or something along those lines.)
The Twizzlers resemble the red cord that Rahab hung from her window as an act of faith. Remind the children that Rahab was saved because she believed and put out the cord, even though the cord itself couldn't save her. The popcorn or pretzels or chips are because Twizzlers by themselves wouldn't be much of a snack, especially for the older children. For preschool, you may want to go with just the Twizzlers.

Tuesday: Nacho Chips and Cheese
Elementary Lesson: Commanding Officer: We should obey Christ. (Centurion's Servant)
Elementary Verse: This is love for God: to obey his commands; and his commands are not burdensome. 1st John 5:3-4
Preschool Lesson: Centurion's Servant: Jesus is God
(This snack does not correlate with the lesson, but you can remind the children of the lesson, or ask them questions about it, while they eat.)

Wednesday: Shield Cookies
Elementary Lesson: Armor of God: Resist temptation using God's word, not human reasoning.
Elementary Verse: Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. Ephesians 6:11.
Preschool Lesson: David and Goliath: Trust in God
Round cookies, frosted grey, with colored trim, resemble shields.

Thursday: Vanilla Wafers
Elementary Lesson: Good Soldier: We should endure the world's contempt when living and sharing our faith. (Jeremiah and the cistern)
Elementary Verse: I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. Romans 1:16
Preschool Lesson: The Blind Army: God is very powerful; there is none like him.
(This snack does not correlate with the lesson, but you can remind the children of the lesson, or ask them questions about it, while they eat.)

Friday: Prison-Bar Cupcakes
Elementary Lesson: Prayer Warrior: We should be praying; prayer is effective. (Peter in prison)
Elementary Verse: Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18
Preschool Lesson:
Cupcakes frosted white with dark stripes to resemble prison bars. Remind the children that Peter was in prison for teaching people about Jesus, but he was freed by an angel when the church prayed for him.

Good Soldier (Interactive Version)

Monday:Good Soldier
Story Passages: Jeremiah 1:7-10, Jeremiah 38
Other Passages: 2nd Timothy 2:3-4, 2nd Chronicles 36:11-20, 2nd Kings 24:18 – 25:26, Matthew 28:18-20, 1st Corinthians 15:1-4, Romans 10:5-13, 2nd Corinthians 5:1
Objective: Children should learn that they should endure the world's contempt when living their faith and when sharing their faith.
Memory Verse: Romans 1:16, I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Visuals: Available
Introduction: Good News
How many of you know where you're going when you die? Where are you going? (Accept answers.) Okay, if you're going to heaven, how many of you know how to get to go to heaven? Good, that's good news. How many know someone who might not be able to go to heaven when they die? Who do you know? Should we go tell these people? Why don't we tell them sometimes? (Accept answers.) There's a man in the Bible named Jeremiah, and there were some reasons why he might not want to tell people what God said he should tell them – but he did anyway.
I'm going to tell the story, and while I'm telling it, I'm going to choose some of you to act it out. Don't raise your hands yet. I'll pick you out as we go.
Story: Jeremiah
God called Jeremiah to be a prophet. What's a prophet? Someone who tells the people what God says to tell them. Sometimes God told a prophet what was going to happen, and the prophet would tell the people, and then later it would happen. Other times, God told a prophet what he wanted people to do, and the prophet had to tell the people. They didn't always want to hear it. God told Jeremiah that he had been made special, from before he was born, to tell the people what God wanted them to hear. [Pick a Jeremiah, have him stand in front of the group, and tell him, "Jeremiah, you are special. You will tell the people God's message."] Jeremiah didn't know what to say, but God told him, "I will put my words in your mouth." [Tell Jeremiah that.] God told Jeremiah not to be afraid of the people, and tell them everything God said, and God would protect him. [Tell Jeremiah that stuff.]
One time, when the people had been worshipping idols (false gods), Jeremiah had to tell them that they'd been faithless to God, and should return to worshiping him only [Pick out two or three kids to be the people, and have them stand in front of the group. Have Jeremiah face the people. Have him tell them, "You've been faithless to God. You should worship only God."]. Do you think they liked hearing that? Would you like being called faithless? [Ask the people if they like being called faithless.]
Another time, he had to tell the people of Judah and Jerusalem that because they had disobeyed God, God was going to bring disaster on them, and they couldn't stop it. [Pick out kids to be people of Judah and Jerusalem. Have them stand in front of the group, and have Jeremiah face them and say, "God is going to bring disaster on you, and you can't stop it!"] Do you think they were happy to hear this message? No, and they blamed Jeremiah and plotted against him. [Give the people of Judah and Jerusalem lines to say, e.g., "It's all his fault", "We have to stop him", etc.] But God kept his word to Jeremiah and always protected him.
God's protection didn't always mean that nothing would happen to Jeremiah. Sometimes things weren't so pleasant. One time, when the city of Jerusalem was about to be taken by the cruel king of Babylon, Jeremiah had to tell the people that they could not save the city. [Pick out a Nebuchadezzar and a couple of Babylonian soldiers. Have them stand facing the Judah and Jerusalem people, a little ways off. Have Jeremiah tell the people, "You can't save the city."] He told them that God said they should go surrender to the king of Babylon, so they could live, because if they stayed to defend the city they would die. [Have Jeremiah say, "God says, surrender to the king of Babylon, or you'll die!"] But the people didn't want to hear it, and some of them blamed Jeremiah. They put him in a dark room that was dug out of the ground to hold water – a cistern [show visual] – and the only way out was through a hole in the ceiling. [Open the baptistry door. Pick out two of the Jerusalem people, and assist them in escourting Jeremiah around the steps and into the baptistry. Have Jermiah stay there and the others come back to the group. Tell the kids to pretend that the "cistern" is down in the ground, and muddy.] This pit didn't have water in it right now, but it was still muddy, and Jeremiah sank into the mud when they put him down there. He didn't have any food or water, and it was dark.
Do you think God rescued him? He did, but it took a while. Ebed-Melech, an official in the royal palace of Judea, felt bad for Jeremiah. [Pick an Ebed-Melech. Have him stand in front of the group and say, "I feel bad for Jeremiah."] He was worried that Jeremiah would starve to death. [Have Ebed-Melech call down to Jeremiah and ask if he's getting hungry down there.] Ebed-Melech got permission from the king of Judea. [Pick a king Zedekiah. Have him stand in front of the group. Have Ebed-Melech ask King Zedekiah for permission to take Jeremiah out of the cistern. Have Zedekiah say "Ok".]
Ebed-Melech took thirty men. [Pick everyone who is left to go with Ebed-Melech]. They lowered ropes down to Jeremiah, and some rags to put under his arms to pad the ropes, and they pulled him out. [Have Jeremiah come out.] We don't know how long he was down there, but God protected him.
[Have all the actors go sit down.]
Jeremiah went on telling people what God had him say. Even though it wasn't fun to be in the pit, Jeremiah knew he had to obey God, and the people needed to hear the message, even if it wasn't a fun message.
Application: Telling Others
We need to obey God too, and God tells us to tell others about Jesus. Now I know that you know people who need to know that Jesus died for their sins, and that he was buried and raised to life three days later, and that he will forgive their sins if they believe, so that they can live forever in heaven with him. So should we be telling them? (Yes, we should.) What if they might not want to hear? What if other people don't want us to tell them? What if people make it hard for us? What if someone teases you? Should you still tell people about Jesus then? (Yes.) What if someone might not be your friend any more? Don't stop telling people that Jesus loves them and that he died for their sins.
Invitation: Commitment
Invite any children who are serious about sharing the good news with their friends to stand and acknowledge that they will do that. Invite anyone who want to accept Jesus to stay after the lesson and discuss it further.

Enlistment Tag

Friday: Enlistment Tag
Elementary Lesson: Prayer Warrior: We should be praying; prayer is effective. (Peter in prison)
Memory Verse: 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18
Preschool Lesson: Peter in Prison: God answers prayer.
Age Groups:
  • elementary
  • teens
Equipment Needed:
  • rope
Instructions:
You start out with one Recruitment Officer, who must attempt to enlist/conscript others by tagging them. The Recruitment Officer has a rope. When tagged, each person must grab hold of the rope (along with the Recruitment Officer and everyone else who has been recruited), and help to enlist others.
If everyone is enlisted while there's still a lot of time, start over with a new Recruitment Officer.

Hiding from the Bad King

Thursday: Hiding from the Bad King
Preschool Bible Lesson: The Blind Army: God is very powerful. There is none like him.
Age Groups:
  • preschool
Equipment Needed:
  • crown for the king
Instructions:
One adult will play Elisha, and the other will play the bad King of Aram. (Give the king a crown so the children can identify him.) The children will play the Israelites, and the bad King of Aram wants to attack them, but Elisha will keep telling the Israelites where the King of Aram is going to be, so that they can go somewhere else and avoid the bad king.
(So, for instance, the Elisha adult might say, The Bad King of Aram is going to look for us over by the tree. Let's all run over by the shed and get away from him!) The King of Aram should pretend he doesn't see the children and always go where Elisha said he was going to go.

CTF Wargame, Teen Version

Thursday: CTF Wargame
Bible Lesson: Good Soldier: We should endure the world's contempt when living our faith and when sharing our faith.
Memory Verse: Romans 1:16
Age Groups:
Equipment Needed:
  • flags or icons for each team
Overview:
Divide the teens into two teams. Each team's objective is to retrieve the other team's flag/icon/thing while keeping their own secure.
Rules:
  1. The field is divided into six sections, somewhat resembling a football field with endzones. Each team has a jail (in the back, furthest away from the other team's area), a flag zone (in front of the jail), and a main territory (adjascent to the other team's territory). The territory should be the largest area.
  2. Each team has one flag or icon, which is placed initially at the back center of the flag zone.
  3. Team members are forbidden to go into their own flag zone (except briefly to return their flag to its designated starting place if it has been stolen and recaptured) or their own jail.
  4. Team members are safe in their own territory, but in the other team's territory may be tagged by any member of the other team. Tagging must be done one-handed below the neck. When tagged, they must go stand in the other team's jail until tagged for rescue by one of their own team members. If tagged carrying the flag, they must surrender it to be returned to its original position, in addition to going to jail.
  5. When people in jail are tagged for rescue, they get safe passage to their own side but must return to their own side before they can touch the flag. (The person who tags them does not receive safe passage but is likewise not required to return to his own side.)
  6. First team to get the other team's flag back to their side wins. If nobody wins before time expires, the games leader will declare a draw.

CTF Wargame

Thursday: CTF Wargame
Bible Lesson: Good Soldier: We should endure the world's contempt when living our faith and when sharing our faith.
Memory Verse: Romans 1:16
Age Groups:
Equipment Needed:
  • flags or icons for each team
Overview:
Divide the children into two teams. Each team's objective is to retrieve the other team's flag/icon/thing while keeping their own secure.
Rules:
  1. The field is divided into four sections, resembling a football field with endzones. Each team has a flag zone (in the back, away from the other team's area) and a main territory (adjascent to the other team's territory). The territory should be the largest area. The flag zone should be along the whole end, like a football endzone.
  2. Each team has one flag or icon, which is placed initially at the back center of the flag zone.
  3. Team members are forbidden to go into their own flag zone. They can only guard the front edge of it.
  4. Team members are safe in their own territory, but in the other team's territory may be tagged by any member of the other team. Tagging must be done one-handed below the neck. When tagged, they must go stand in jail outside the playing area with the game leader. If at any point most of both teams are in jail, the game leader may release everyone to return to play.
  5. If someone is tagged while carrying the flag, the games leader will return the flag to its starting position.
  6. First team to get the other team's flag back to their side wins.
  7. If nobody wins before time expires, the games leader will declare a draw.

Soldiers' Relay

Wednesday: Soldiers' Relay
Elementary Lesson: Armor of God / Temptation of Jesus: Temptations should be resisted using God's word and the armor of God, not human reasoning.
Memory Verse: Ephesians 6:11
Preschool Lesson: David and Goliath: We should trust in God.
Age Groups:
  • elementary
  • preschool
  • teens
Equipment Needed:
  • Various articles of soldier clothing and gear (in pairs: for each item you need two, one for each team). Much of this can probably be borrowed. Ideas for stuff to use include canteen, plastic sword, shield, pack, (fake) IR goggles, breastplate, helmet, greaves, plastic firearm, compass, large boots, heavy belt, toy grenades, oversize cargo pants, ...
Instructions:
Divide the children into two teams. (You can use the red/blue teams if they are pretty even.) Explain to the children what marching is, and how it's different from running.
Each team member in turn must don all the soldier stuff (or items like swords and such may just be carried), march down to a designated spot, go around the chair/pole/tree/whatever, march back, and take off all the soldier stuff so the next team member can do the same thing.
The preschool can do the soldier dress-up relay but need simpler (or less) gear to wear/carry.
TThe teens can do the soldier dress-up relay, but you may need to complicate it with additional gear, a heavier pack, specific ways to carry things, cadence to recite, stricter enforcement of marching style, water balloon grenades to throw at a target, calisthenics to perform, or cetera.

Soldiers of God Decorations

Thematic decorations are easy this year. Grab yourself some blank overhead transparencies and a wet-erase marker, trace some pictures of swords and shields and so forth on there, stick it on the overhead projector, thumbtack some posterboard up on a bulletin board, project the soldier stuff onto there, and pencil in the outline. Then you get your volunteers together and paint them all in, and when they're dry you go over the outlines with black permanent marker. When VBS rolls around, you cut them out and sticky-tack them on the walls, and Bob is your uncle. So, some suitable soldier-gear images? Yeah... The Soldiers of God logo (preview shown at right) is available upon request. (See SVG documents.) There are also some suitable public domain images available from the Open Clip Art Library. These represent various time periods, but you can pick and choose...

Soap Sculpture

Friday: Soap Sculpture
Bible Lesson: Peter in Prison: We should be praying; prayer is effective.
Memory Verse: 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18
Age Groups:
  • teens
Supplies Needed:
  • soap
  • tools for sculpting soap
  • patterns/ideas for what to sculpt out of the soap (examples: praying hands to represent prayer, Peter between two guards, the Word of God as a sword, ...)
Note: You can also offer teens the option of continuing to work on their cap curtains, if they aren't finished yet, rather than doing the soap sculpture.
Instructions:
Each teen receives a bar of soap and a sculpting tool. Have them sculpt something from the Bible lesson, e.g., prayer. Teens who do not feel "up to" a three-dimensional sculpture may do a two-dimensional engraving on the surface of the soap. The silhouette from the elementary praying hands craft can be made available to the artistically challenged.

Praying Hands Craft

Friday: Praying Hands
Elementary Lesson: Peter in Prison: We should be praying; prayer is effective.
Memory Verse: 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18
Preschool Lesson: Peter in Prison: God answers prayer.
Age Groups:
  • elementary
  • preschool
Supplies Needed:
Preparation:
For the preschool, pre-cut the construction paper. The piece you hand the children should be a rectangular "frame" with an open area in the middle in the shape of the praying hands silhouette.
Instructions:
Have the children glue tissue paper onto one side of the white paper. (It doesn't need to go clear to the edge, because the black construction paper frame will cover the edges.)
Have the elementary children trace the praying-hands silhouette onto the black construction paper and cut it out, removing the praying hands and leaving the outside (frame) in one piece. (They may need help getting started in the middle.)
The black construction paper frame then glues overtop of the tissue paper, framing it, and the white paper serves as the backing.

Shrinkies

Tuesday: Shrinkies
Elementary Lesson: Commanding Officer: We should obey Christ. (Centurion's Servant)
Memory Verse: 1st John 5:3-4
Preschool Lesson: Centurion's Servant: Jesus is God.
Age Groups:
  • elementary
  • preschool
  • teens
Supplies Needed:
  • small sheets of the right kind of plastic. (This can be had from certain kinds of cheap plastic deli containers, but you have to get the right kind. I will post a clarification of exactly what kind at some point in the future.)
  • colored pencils
  • elementary pattern (mirror-image of the word "obey")
  • preschool pattern (mirror image of a picture from the preschool lesson)
  • access to an oven
Instructions:
Sand one side of the plastic to roughen it so that it will take the color. Tape the plastic smooth-side-down to the pattern. Trace the design and words from the pattern to the plastic. Color the rough side with colored pencils. Remove the pattern. Punch a hole through the plastic near the top. Bake in the oven at 300F for 5-10 minutes. Press down (flatten) plastic while hot.

Chalk Painting with Buttermilk

Thursday: Chalk Painting
Elementary Lesson: Jeremiah and the Cistern: We should endure the world's contempt when living our faith and when sharing our faith.
Memory Verse: Romans 1:16
Preschool Lesson: The Blind Army: God is very powerful, that there is none like him
Age Groups:
  • elementary
  • preschool
Supplies Needed:
  • chalk
  • buttermilk
  • watercolor paper
  • pattern (shield, with the first part of the memory verse in bubble letters)
  • construction paper
  • frame pattern (same shape as the shield, but larger)
Preparation:
Photocopy the pattern onto the watercolor paper ahead of time.
Instructions:
Let the children color in the shield and the lettering with the chalk, dipping the chalk in the buttermilk to create a paint-like effect. Then have them cut out the shield shape, and trace the larger shield shape onto construction paper and cut that out too. Finally they glue the colored shield onto the construction paper, which becomes both backing and frame.

Cap Curtains

Wednesday & Thursday: Cap Curtains
Bible Lesson: Jeremiah and the Cistern: We should endure the world's contempt when living their faith and when sharing their faith.
Memory Verse: Romans 1:16
Age Groups:
  • teens
Supplies Needed:
  • fishing line
  • a large collection of small disposable objects (ranging in size from buttons up to about tennis-ball size): buckeyes, film canisters, plastic caps (from milk jugs, pop bottles, etc), pharmacy bottles, ... anything you can collect that people normally throw away
  • dowel rods (one per teen), or lampshades, or something else to hang the strands from
Preparation:
Drill small holes as necessary to allow the objects to be strung on the fishing line. Some objects (e.g., milk jug caps) may be best with two holes, so they can be oriented with their long dimension vertical.
Instructions:
Each teen gets several lengths of fishing line, but you may want to hand them out one at a time to reduce tangling. Have them select from the available stuff and string it onto the lines, in a pattern if possible, to create hanging-strand decorative curtains. These can be hung in a closet doorway, over a window, over a lampshade, ...

Picture Frame (Soldiers of God)

Wednesday: Picture Frame
Elementary Lesson: Armor of God: Temptations should be resisted using God's word and the armor of God, not human reasoning.
Memory Verse: Ephesians 6:11
Preschool Lesson: Centurion's Servant: Jesus is God
Age Groups:
  • elementary
  • preschool
Supplies Needed:
  • sheets of spongy foam
  • construction paper
  • magnet backing
  • picture frame pattern
  • armor shapes patterns
Elementary Instructions:
Each child receives a piece of that spongy foam stuff. Have them trace around a pattern, then cut out the picture frame shape (both the outside and inside edges). Then have them cut out spongy-foam pieces of armor shapes (bibles, shields, swords, helmets, whatever) and glue them on the front of the frame to decorate it. On the back, have them glue just on the sides and bottom edge only (not the top edge or middle) and attach a construction paper pouch to hold the picture in place. Then have them attach the magnet on the back of that.
Preschool Instructions
Each child receives a pre-cut spongy-foam frame. Then help them decorate the front of the frame with pre-cut spongy-foam pieces of armor shapes (bibles, shields, swords, helmets, whatever). On the back, help them glue just on the sides and bottom edge only (not the top edge or middle) and attach a construction paper pouch to hold the picture in place. Then attach the magnet on the back of that.

Braided Red Cord Bookmark

Monday: Braided Red Cord Bookmark
Elementary Lesson: Red Cord of Salvation: Rahab was saved because she believed in God, and we are saved the same way.
Memory Verse: Ephesians 2:8-9
Preschool Lesson: Joshua and the Walls: We should obey God.
Age Groups:
  • elementary
  • preschool (does not correlate with lesson)
  • teens
Supplies Needed:
  • red string or cord (not yarn)
  • beads (optional)
  • one oversized model for braid demonstration
Preparation:
Cut strands of the red string at the appropriate length. Each child will need three or five, depending on age. Teens will definitely need five.
Instructions:
Each child gets five (or, for younger children, three) identically-long pieces of red string or cord (not yarn). Show them how to tie them together at one end. They can string a bead on the beginning of their cord. (It may also make the braiding easier if you have them tape the knot down on the edge of the table.)
Demonstrate the braid technique on the large model.
To braid five strands (or any odd number), take the first strand and weave it over-under-over-under, so that it is now the last strand. That is, if you start on the right, you bring the rightmost strand over the one beside it, under the next, over the next-to-last, and under the leftmost strand. Then you go back to the other side, take the new first strand, and do the same thing again. Keep repeating. (It doesn't matter whether you start your braid at the left or at the right, as long as you start at the same side each time.)
The three-string braid is easier: simply bring the left strand over the middle one, then the right strand over the (new) middle one, then the left strand over the middle, then the right strand over the middle, and so on.
Explain that braiding several strands together makes a cord, which is stronger than the individual strings. Rahab used a cord to let the spies out of the city, and she hung the red cord from her window so that she would be spared when the city was taken. Have the children braid almost all the length of their strings, then tie off the tail end with just a little remaining of each strand. They can also string a bead on the end.

Soldiers' Dress-Up Relay

Wednesday: Soldiers' Dress-Up Relay
Elementary Lesson: Armor of God / Temptation of Jesus: Temptations should be resisted using God's word and the armor of God, not human reasoning.
Memory Verse: Ephesians 6:11
Preschool Lesson: David and Goliath: We should trust in God.
Age Groups:
  • elementary
  • preschool
  • teens
Equipment Needed:
  • Soldier Gear (most of this can probably be borrowed)
Preparation:
Find various articles of soldier clothing and gear (in pairs: for each item you need two, one for each team). Ideas for stuff to use include canteen, (plastic) sword, (plastic) spear, shield, pack, (fake) IR goggles, (plastic) firearm (e.g., an empty water pistol), compass, oversize cargo pants, (toy) grenades, (toy) walkie-talkie, ...
Instructions:
Divide the participants into two teams. Explain what marching is, and how it's different from running. (For preschool, you can skip the marching.)
Each team member in turn must don all the soldier stuff (or items like swords and such may just be carried), march down to a designated spot, go around the chair/pole/tree/whatever, march back, and take off all the soldier stuff so the next team member can do the same thing.
The gear selection can vary by agegroup: the preschool need less and simpler gear; whereas, for teens the relay may need to be complicated with additional gear, specific ways to carry things, water balloon grenades to throw at a target, or cetera.