God's Sheep (Theme Overview; updated, 2013)

[God's Sheep logo]
Sheep are all over the place in the Bible, used as examples and illustrations for a variety of things in both testaments. They're also cute and make for easy decorations, so naturally we had to use them for a Bible School theme. The lessons we take from this theme talk about sin, salvation, obedience, security, and the church. In Galion this was our theme in 2007 and again in 2013.
This theme is mostly complete.
Elementary Preschool Teens
Monday Bible Lesson:Going Astray: Moses and the Rock Bible Lesson:Moses and the Rock: Obey God Bible Lesson:Going Astray: Moses and the Rock
Visuals:Available 2013
Sheep Lesson:We All Sin* Discussion:6 Questions 2013
Memory Verse:Isaiah 53:6 (Follow the Shepherd) Memory Verse (all week):John 10:14 (Explanation) Memory Verse:Isaiah 53:6
Missions:Feeding the Sheep 2013 Missions Discussion:7 Questions 2013
Craft:Shadow Box Craft:Sheep Bank Craft:Vase Candle
Game: Pass the Sheep
Snack: Popcorn: Sheep Going Astray 2013
Tuesday Bible Lesson:Lamb of God (Isaac and the Ram) Bible Lesson:Praising God (David the Shepherd) Bible Lesson:Isaac and the Lamb (teen version)
Visuals:Available 2013
Sheep Lesson:Thanking the Creator* Discussion:6 Questions 2013
Memory Verse:Romans 4:25 (Every Other Word) Memory Game:Follow the Shepherd Memory Verse:Romans 4:25
Missions:Where the People Are 2013 Missions Discussion:7 Questions 2013
Craft:Ram in the Thicket Craft:Watercolor (David playing the harp for his sheep) Craft:Cloth Painting (ram in the thicket, or Abraham and Isaac)
Game:Sheep Gate Tag Game:Sheep Gate Tag Game:Marshmallow Ram 2013
Snack: Sheep and Cross Cookies: Taking Our Place 2013
Wednesday Bible Lesson:Stolen Sheep: Saul and the Spoils regular version or skit version Bible Lesson:Baa, baa, baa! (Saul and the Sheep) Bible Lesson:Stolen Sheep (teen version)
Sheep Lesson:Obey the Shepherd* Discussion:6 Questions 2013
Memory Verse:1st Samuel 15:22 (Divide and Conquer) Memory Game:Clapping Memory Verse:1st Samuel 15:22
Missions:Lost Sheep of Israel 2013 Missions Discussion:7 Questions 2013
Craft:Obedience Bookmark Craft:Pull-Through Filmstrip Craft:Obedience Bookmark
Game: Sheep Golf
Snack: Donuts: Obey God 2013
Thursday Bible Lesson:Sheep Security: The Good Shepherd Bible Lesson:Jesus Loves Children (Let the children come) Bible Lesson:Good Shepherd (teen version)
Visuals:Available 2013
Sheep Lesson:The Shepherd Knows His Sheep* Discussion:6 Questions 2013
Memory Verse:1st John 10:28 (Show Your Card) Memory Game:Hot Potato Memory Verse:John 10:28
Missions:Unwatched Flocks 2013 Missions Discussion:7 Questions 2013
Craft:Plate Masks* (sheep, bear, or lion) Craft:Sheep Plate Masks Craft:Soap Molding
Game: Sheep Maze
Snack: Jell-O Jigglers: The Good Shepherd 2013
Friday Bible Lesson:Shepherded Sheep: Leading and Following Bible Lesson:God Loves Us: The 99 and the 1* Bible Lesson:Shepherded Sheep (teen version)
Visuals:Available 2013
Sheep Lesson:Jesus Wants to Be Your Shepherd* Discussion:6 Questions 2013
Memory Verse:Ephesians 2:10 (Simon) Memory Game:Simon Memory Verse:Ephesians 2:10
Missions:A Shepherd's Priorities 2013 Missions Discussion:6 Questions 2013
Craft:Noodle Mosaic (Follow God) Craft:Chalk Drawing (sheep) Craft:[needed]
Game:Sheep Chin Relay Game:Sheep Relay Game:Sheep Chin Relay
Snack: Salad: Feed My Sheep 2013
* - Items marked with an asterisk are incomplete or otherwise need work.
Substitute Indoor Games:

God's Sheep Preschool Memory Verse

Preschool Memory Verse:God's Sheep
All Week: Jesus said, I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. John 10:14
Monday: Explanation
[Show the verse and read it aloud.]
What kind of shepherd is Jesus? Is he the kind that's out in a grassy field, taking care of fluffy white sheep? (No.) That's not what he meant. What kind of sheep does Jesus have? People who follow Jesus are his sheep. People who trust Jesus, and let him take away their sins are his sheep. If we believe in Jesus, he is our shepherd.
[Lead the children in saying the verse fifty bazillion times.] If you come to Bible School tomorrow and can say the verse at the beginning, you'll get a prize! So you should go home and practice saying your verse.
[Review the explanation from Monday.]
Game: Follow the Shepherd
We're going to play a game called Follow the Shepherd. I'll be the shepherd, and all of you get to be the sheep and follow me around the room. Whatever I do, you do. So if I take big steps, you take big steps. If I swing my arms wide, you swing your arms wide. If I say a word from the memory verse, you say it too, but if you say a word I didn't say, you're out and have to sit out until the end of the round. When we get through the whole verse, we'll start a new round and everybody's back in.
[Lead the children in saying the verse a hillion jillion times.] If you come to Bible School tomorrow and can say the verse at the beginning, you'll get a prize! So you should go home and practice saying your verse.
[Review the explanation from Monday.]
Game: Clapping
[Say a word of the verse, and clap once. Say two words, and clap twice. Continue saying words and clapping all the way through the verse. Add a word and a clap each time, until you have the whole verse. When it gets to be too many claps to count, just clap a whole bunch of times.]
[Now go back, and you prompt the children with the words to say, and they say the words, and then you clap together. Start with one word, and one clap, and progress from there. If necessary, go back to the beginning and start with one word again. Continue until the children can say and clap the whole verse.]
[Lead the children in saying the verse entirely too many times.] If you come to Bible School tomorrow and can say the verse at the beginning, you'll get a prize! So you should go home and practice saying your verse.
[Briefly review the explanation from Monday.]
Game: Hot Potato
[Seat the children in a circle and practice saying the verse together. Now introduce an item (which you call a potato, even if it's actually a tye-died stuffed weasel). Each person must say the next word of the verse, before he can pass the potato to the next person around the circle. Whoever gets to say the last word of the verse wins, and everybody claps. Then you start over with a different child and go through the verse again until everybody gets to win at least once.]
[Lead the children in saying the verse a whole lotta times.] If you come to Bible School tomorrow and can say the verse at the beginning, you'll get a prize! So you should go home and practice saying your verse.
[Briefly review the explanation from Monday.]
Game: Simon
The teacher says one word (the first word of the verse), and the whole group repeats it. If they get it right, the teacher repeats it again, adding one more word, and the group repeats that. Add another word each time through the verse until you have the whole verse or the children miss a word. If they miss, you start over with one word again. Each time, the teacher says the words first, and the group repeats.
[Lead the children in saying the verse as many times as you have time for.]

God's Sheep Visuals: Shepherded Sheep (Leading and Following)

God's Sheep Visuals: Sheep Security (The Good Shepherd)

God's Sheep Visuals: Lamb of God (Isaac and the Ram)

God's Sheep Visuals: Going Astray (Moses and the Rock)

Having had a closer look at Google's storage limits, and the scanned file sizes, I have concluded that it is reasonable to post this year's visuals in full. We printed these visuals on overhead transparencies and projected them up on the screen that way. (This puts the visuals directly in the hands of the teacher, who does not need to know how to work a computer projection system; anyone can figure out an overhead.) However, it would also be possible to print them on paper or to project them using a computer projection system.

God's Sheep Decorations: Sheepfold on the Stage

Okay, I don't have a very good photo of this, because we didn't decorate the stage until after the Sunday service, just a few hours before Bible School started, and I had taken the decoration photos previously and was in kind of a hurry to get the last few things done. So I'm just going to post the picture I've got, and you'll have to let your imagination fill in the gaps. The sheepfold walls were made in kind of a hurry this year, so they're flat rectangular boxes with a few "stones" painted in hastily. (We did much better six years ago, using wads of newspaper covered with paper mache to give the walls shape and then painting in the stones better. But I didn't have a digital camera yet then, so no photos of that, sorry.) The sheep are "lawn sheep" that Sarah picked up at a garage sale. Anyway, here's the picture:

God's Sheep Decorations: Three-Panel Isaac and the Ram Set

Just inside our building's front entrance, there are some indoor windows, between the foyer and the auditorium. I'm not sure why. (I wasn't around yet when the building was built.) Perhaps they were meant to block sound so that foyer noise doesn't disturb people in the auditorium, or vice versa. If so, they fail. Perhaps they're just meant to be an interesting visual design feature. Whatever their intended purpose, we've decided that for Bible School week their purpose is to house a three-panel scene that goes with one of the lessons. This gives us one really nice decoration where absolutely everyone who walks in the door can see it (umm, unless a blind person comes, I guess; if that had happened, I suppose we'd have taken them up to the stage and let them feel the lawn sheep we had set up there -- I may have a photo of those sitting around here somewhere; if so, I'll try to post it tomorrow). As with the wall decorations, we get these things onto posterboard using the overhead projection method, and then we paint them and outline it all with markers.

This year our three-panel scene depicted Abraham, Isaac, and the ram caught in the thicket.

God's Sheep Decorations: Sheep on the Walls

When we did this theme six years ago, we printed out a lot of black-and-white sheep images, cut them out, and laminated them before sticking them on the walls. Being laminated, they're well preserved, so this year we just got them out and stuck them up again.

In the hallway, we put up a green plastic tablecloth, to represent grass, and stuck a bunch of sheep to that. (It's all just stuck to the wall using Sticky Tack or BlueTack or Handi-Tack or some such -- I get the different brands confused; we typically just buy whichever brand the store we're at happens to have.) In other locations, we just put the sheep directly on the wall, in some cases with paper grass for added effect. We put some in the main room...
Some in the preschool room...
Some in the teen room...
By the stairs...
Here and there...
Sheep everywhere...
(Yes, that green metal cabinet is probably exactly as old as its color makes you think it is.) Oh, and while the mural on the nursery wall wasn't done specifically for Bible School, it does have sheep in it, plus a shepherd, so I'm counting it.
Incidentally, the mural was created by the same person who has been doing our lesson visuals, and we do have visuals for four of the God's Sheep lessons. I'm planning to post those, or at least thumbnails of them, probably some time next week.

God's Sheep Decorations: Bulletin Boards

Here are the bulletin boards we did. The first one is in the main area...

And here's the one in the preschool room:

God's Sheep Decorations: Comic Strip for Teen Room Walls

I think I've previously explained how we, who do not have the artistic talent to free-hand draw everything, get things onto posterboard: we trace line drawings (from coloring books or the internet) onto overhead transparencies, using wet erase markers. Then we use an overhead to project the drawing onto a bulletin board, where the posterboard is stuck up with thumbtacks. We use pencil to trace the projected lines onto the posterboard, then we take them down and lay them on tables and paint them with poster paints. People with all levels of artistic skill starting from try to color mostly inside the lines can participate. Once the paint dries we take black magic markers and draw in the outlines, which helps to cover up the sloppy edges and also makes everything look better.
For the teen room walls, we did up this series of five comic strips, one of which goes with each day's lesson.

A Shepherd's Priorities: Teen Discussion Questions for Missions Lesson, Day Five, God's Sheep

Friday:A Shepherd's Priorities
Bible Lesson: Shepherded Sheep (Leading and Following)
Missions Concepts: Missionaries must teach the Bible, not cultural norms.
Missions Examples: Craig and Sara Noyes
Bible Passages: Acts 20:27-32; 2nd Timothy 2:2; Galatians 1:6-9, 2:1-5; Proverbs 30:5-6; Deuteronomy 12:32
  1. Can you think of some things people traditionally think missionaries should do?
    Which of these things are really important?
  2. What are some practical things Craig and Sara will need to do at first when they arrive on the mission field?
  3. Why is it important for people to have copies of the Bible in their own language?
  4. Once the Bible is translated into a people's language, isn't that enough?
    Why can't they figure everything out for themselves from that point on?
  5. We tend to take our own cultural background for granted and assume that it's normal. How can missionaries tell the difference between necessary things that the people need to be taught and unnecessary American cultural baggage that would just weigh them down?
  6. What would be the harm in having people in other countries do church the way we do it here? Why shouldn't we go ahead and teach them to install stained glass and steeples and pianos?
    If it works for us, wouldn't it work just as well for them?
If you need hints to answer some of the questions, look up the listed scripture passages.

Unwatched Flocks: Teen Discussion Questions for Missions Lesson, Day Four, God's Sheep

Thursday:Unwatched Flocks
Bible Lesson: Sheep Security (The Good Shepherd)
Missions Concepts: Missionaries train local pastors.
Missions Examples: India: Orissa
Bible Passages: 2nd Timothy 2:2, 1st Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9
  1. Can you think of some specific dangers that a church would suffer if they don't have a pastor?
  2. What kinds of things does a man need to learn before he can be a pastor?
  3. Are there other requirements? Can just anyone be a pastor, if they study the right things?
  4. If there are already a number of new churches without pastors, and not enough men training to be pastors for all of them, should missionaries stop evangelizing new areas for a while? Why or why not?
  5. Does the Bible actually tell us to train pastors?
  6. Where did our pastor receive his training? How can we know if it was good enough?
  7. Why don't men from India just come to America and attend school here to train to be pastors?

If you need hints to answer some of the questions, look up the listed scripture passages.

Lost Sheep of Israel: Discussion Questions for Teen Missions Lessons, Day Three, God's Sheep

Wednesday:Lost Sheep of Israel
Bible Lesson: Stolen Sheep: Saul and the Spoils
Missions Concepts: Missionaries can and should take the Good News to anyone.
Missions Examples: Jeff Kran
Bible Passages: Matthew 15:21-28, Romans 9-11 (especially 9:8, 15, 27, and 32; 10:1-3 and 8-15; 11:1-6, 13-14, 19-21, 23, and 25-27), Galatians 2:11-5:12, Acts 1:8, Acts 15, Romans 3
  1. What did Jesus mean when he said he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel (Mat. 15:24)? Does this mean Gentiles cannot be saved?
  2. Why does the Bible compare people to sheep? What is similar about them?
  3. How does a missionary find people who need to know about Jesus? How can he tell which people need to hear the good news?
  4. In the early days of the church, most of the people in the church were Jews. Today, most of the people in the church are Gentiles. How and why do you suppose this could have changed?
  5. What kind of impact can a people's cultural background have on how a missionary might need to present the good news to them?
  6. One of the ten commandments is to keep the Sabbath day holy. Why doesn't the Christian church observe this?
  7. If they still need to hear the good news, does knowledge of the Old Testament give the Jews any advantage at all?
If you need hints to answer some of the questions, look up the listed scripture passages.

Where the People Are: Discussion Questions for Teen Missions Lesson, Day Two, God's Sheep

Tuesday:Where the People Are
Bible Lesson: Lamb of God (Isaac and the Ram)
Missions Concepts: A missionary goes wherever there are people who need to hear the good news.
Missions Examples: Craig and Sara Noyes
Bible Passages: John 10, Acts 16:6-15, Matthew 28:18-20, Isaiah 52, Romans 10:8-15
  1. Why don't we need foreign missionaries to come to Galion from other countries and minister to us?
  2. Why aren't there any full-time missionaries at the research stations in Antarctica?
  3. Why is it important for people to have copies of the Bible in their own language?
  4. Why is it important for every local church to have a pastor from their own language and culture?
  5. What are some things you would need to do before you could translate the Bible into a language that doesn't already have a Bible translation?
  6. Sometimes missionaries say that they feel lead by the Holy Spirit to go to a certain place.
    Is there any support in the Bible for this?
  7. Do missionaries really need to be sent out by churches? Can't they just go on their own? Why?
If you need hints to answer some of the questions, look up the listed scripture passages.

Feeding the Sheep: Discussion Questions for Teen Missions Lesson, Day One, God's Sheep

Monday:Feeding the Sheep
Bible Lesson: Straying Sheep: Everyone has sinned, and sin has a penalty.
Missions Concepts: A missionary must teach God's word.
Missions Examples: India: Paul Rajan
Bible Passages: Psalm 23; John 21:15-18; Numbers 27:12-21; Jeremiah 23, Matthew 2:6, 9:16; Psalm 100; Isaiah 40:9-11; Jeremiah 3:15; 2nd Samuel 5:2; Acts 20:27-31; Jude:12
  1. How is the teaching of God's word similar to feeding? What do these two activities, one physical and one spiritual, have in common?
  2. What is the difference between a pastor and a missionary?
  3. Why would Paul Rajan ask a group of people if anyone had ever come to tell them about God?
  4. Why do people need someone to teach them about God?
  5. Is it better for the people to have a foreign missionary teach them, or a local pastor who is one of them? Why?
  6. How does God feel about shepherds who don't take proper care of the flock? What about pastors who teach people the wrong things?
If you need hints to answer some of the questions, look up the listed scripture passages.

A Shepherd's Priorities (God's Sheep Missions 2013, Day Five)

Friday:A Shepherd's Priorities
Bible Lesson: Shepherded Sheep: The church needs leaders. We must follow Jesus, and we must follow our leaders.
Memory Verse: Ephesians 2:10
Missions Concepts: Missionaries must teach the Bible, not cultural norms.
Missions Examples: Craig and Sara Noyes
Bible Passages: 1st Corinthians 2:1-16

Introduction: Sheep
What's the most important thing for a shepherd to do? Dye the sheep's wool? Tie ribbons and bows around their necks? What about teaching the sheep to bark? [No.]

The most important thing is making sure the sheep have enough grass to eat.

Main Point: Teaching the Right Stuff
It's like that for missionaries too. Some people think missionaries need to help the people all build nice houses, build them a big beautiful church building with a steeple and stained glass, teach people in other countries to be more like Americans, and all kinds of other things. Some of those things might actually be good things to do, sometimes – but they're never as important as the main thing missionaries are supposed to do: they have to feed the sheep.

Missionaries have to teach the Bible. That's the most important thing.

Example: Craig and Sara Noyes
We said on Monday that Pastor Craig and Sara Noyes are going to training to learn how to do missions work among people who have never heard about Jesus before. When they finish their training and arrive where they're going, they'll have a lot of things to do. They will need to find a place to live, learn the language, get to know the people and understand how they do things there, find food to eat, ... They'll be busy. But they will have to always remember why they are there: to tell the people about Jesus and how they can have their sins forgiven. That's the most important thing.

They'll probably do other stuff too. They might teach some of the people to read, so that when they get the Bible translated, the people will be able to read the Bible for themselves. But teaching people to read, by itself, isn't missions, and it's not why Craig and Sara are going. The main point is to teach the people about God.

Counter-example: Early American Indian Missions
When missionaries from Europe came to the American Indians, sometimes they forgot why they were here, and they taught the people the wrong things. They taught them to speak English, and told them not to speak their own language any more. They made some of them cut their hair the European way, instead of the way they were used to. They made them wear boots instead of moccasins. Then, when the Indians looked the way the missionaries wanted them to look, they finally remembered to teach them a few Bible verses. Was that the right way to do missions? [No.]

If they had remembered what missions is all about, they wouldn't have bothered with boots and special haircuts at all. Those things aren't important.

Instead, good missionaries would have worked mostly on teaching the people what the Bible says – especially the good news about how Jesus died for them so their sins could be forgiven. That is what missions is supposed to be all about.

Conclusion: Good Missions
That's what Craig and Sara Noyes will do. They won't care what color of clothes the people wear, how they cook their food and do their laundry, or what time of day they meet together to pray, or what day of the week. They just want to teach them the Bible and see them become God's sheep.

Invitation: Missions
Invite any children who want to do missions work to stay after the lesson and discuss it further.

Unwatched Flocks (God's Sheep Missions 2013, Day Four)

Bible Lesson: Sheep Security: Jesus is the good shepherd and always looks after his sheep. (The Good Shepherd)
Memory Verse: John 10:28
Missions Concepts: Missionaries train local pastors.
Missions Examples: Orissa
Bible Passages: 2nd Timothy 2:2

Introduction: Sheep
We've been talking this week about sheep and shepherds. The shepherd is the person who takes care of the sheep, leads them to good grass and to water, protects them from wild animals and other dangers, and so on.

What would happen to a group of sheep if they didn't have a shepherd? They might get hungry. They might get lost. Some of the sheep might be hurt, or even killed. A wolf or a lion might eat some of the poor sheep.

Main Point: The Need for Pastors
It's bad for a church not to have any pastor to look out for them. How can the people learn the Bible if nobody teaches it to them? They can try to study on their own, but there are all kinds of things that can go wrong. Without a pastor, there's nobody to make sure the people are getting good teaching, nobody to protect them from false teachers who would tell them wrong things about God, nobody to bring them back into the fold if they wander off.

Every flock of sheep needs a shepherd, and every church needs a pastor.

Example: Orissa
In India, there are Christian believers with no local pastor in their town. Missionaries from other cities came and told them a little about Jesus, and then the people who they told went to their friends and neighbors and told more people, so now there's a group of believers, but they need a pastor. The missionaries can't stay in all the different towns, because there aren't enough of the missionaries to go around. They need more shepherds.

Some of the new Christians in India want to be pastors, but they don't know how. They need to know more of the Bible. They need to know how to study the Bible. They need to know how to lead and protect a church.

So now the missionaries are teaching men how to be pastors. They teach them how to study the Bible, how to teach it, and how to look out for a church – all the things a pastor needs to do.

When missionaries first go to an area, like Craig and Sara Noyes are planning to do, they have to be the shepherd themselves – they have to teach the people, and lead people to Christ, and start churches.

But the job isn't done as soon as they have sheep. The sheep need shepherds. A missionary's job isn't finished until there are local pastors who can lead the new churches. Part of missionaries' job is to train these local pastors, so they can shepherd the new flock. Only then do the missionaries move on to another place.

Invitation: Missions
Invite any children who are interested in doing missions work someday to stay after the lesson and discuss it further.