Parable of the Sower - A Complete Lesson Set from FUMC Ann Arbor

A Note from Wormy:

This is a wonderful lesson set from Carol and the good folks at FUMC Ann Arbor MI. ! You will notice that it references a number of ideas and lessons previously posted here at Rotation.org. Many of those original posts were deleted during one of our forum renovations. Carol's lesson set preserves and improves on the best of them, as well as, adding some great new lesson content and ideas.  Thanks Carol!


 

 

The Parable of the Sower


A Lesson Set written by Carol Hulbert from:
First United Methodist Church
120 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Copyright 2005 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

Overview of all workshops in this Rotation Lesson Set:

  • Background material
  • ART: use tactile materials to create a “sower” scene
  • COOKING: interpret the parable of the sower using food
  • GAMES: a room-size board game explores being receptive to God’s word
  • PLANTING: examine seeds & soils while learning about the story & plant flowers to be given away
  • NEWSROOM: videotape ads selling products or services that help us learn God's Word
  • VIDEO: explore the story while watching scripture come to life in The Visual Bible: Matthew

    Note: These workshops were written for 1st through 6th graders though not all grades visit all workshops.

Scripture Reference: Mark 4:1-9

 

Key Verse: “Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:9 (NIV)


Rotation Objectives--at the end of the Rotation, kids should be able to:

  • Know the first four books in the New Testament – the Gospels.
  • Find the story in their Bible (3rd grade and up).
  • Learn that Jesus taught using parables – stories with hidden meaning.
  • Explore the idea that God plants seeds of understanding in each of us. Like the different soils in the parable, there will be variations in how well we receive God’s word into our hearts.
  • Begin to understand ways we can be receptive (and fruitful) to God’s word.




 

STORY BACKGROUND:

 

Parables: stories with hidden meaning

 

Stories have tremendous power; they teach, evoke emotions and inspire thought. Stories grab the attention and kindle the imagination of the listener. Jesus was a master storyteller. He often taught using a type of story called a parable. A basic definition of a parable is a story with two meanings – one is obvious but the other is somewhat hidden or mysterious. Parables are sometimes referred to as “earthly stories with heavenly meanings.”


Jesus used everyday objects and common situations in the parables he told. The use of a well-known image helped the listeners understand the less familiar concept that was the hidden portion of the parable. Parables require the listener to think and examine the story and its meaning. Parables allow the hearers to understand the message on different levels to accommodate their different abilities and willingness to accept the message. Jesus often said that the unwilling and those without faith would not understand the deeper meanings of the parables he told. To these people, a parable was simply a story. But for those who listened with willing, open hearts and faith, the message could be life transforming! This is true for us today as well. The willingness to hear and the receptiveness of the listener, is the focus of this month’s Rotation on the Parable of the Sower.


Farming in the 1st century

 

In first century Palestine, farming was an important occupation. Picture this scene: Small piles of stones were the only boundaries separating the farmers’ fields. Dirt paths provided access to the different fields and were hard-packed and well worn. Farmers sometimes prepared the soil by plowing once before planting, then plowing again to cover the seeds with dirt. But often they only plowed once – after the seed was spread. Sowers carried shoulder bags full of seed and scattered the seed by hand, walking along the length and breadth of their fields throwing fistfuls of seed out across the soil. Everyone in the crowd had farmed in this manner. We aren’t told what type of grain is being sown but it was likely either barley (usually grown in poorer soil) or wheat.


The parable of the sower

 

This story is more than just a description of farming practices. It is called the parable of the sower but also could be called the “parable of the soils”. Some of the hand-cast seed fell on the hard-packed dirt path, some fell on the rocky areas that separated the field and some fell near the edge where the weeds were thicker. Finally, some also landed on the “good” soil. In his story Jesus describes what happens to the seed that fell on each type of soil. As to be expected, three of the soils yield nothing but the good soil yields an extravagant amount. In Palestine a yield of sevenfold is considered bountiful. Thirty, sixty or a hundredfold would have been amazing! Jesus ended his parable with this line: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:9) Jesus was asking everyone to not just hear, but to understand. What was Jesus’ hidden meaning in this parable?


Even Jesus’ disciples were likely confused about what they had heard. If we look beyond our text to Mark 4:10, we read:

 

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.

 

Jesus proceeds (in verses 14-20) to explain the parable. Now it was not common for Jesus to explain his parables. Some scholars believe that the explanation portion of these verses is a latter day addition. We have chosen to not include these verses in our study with children primarily because it is more interesting (and educationally sound) for students to come up with their own meaning. They are more likely to recall their own discovery and enjoy their newfound interpretation skills.


What does the parable mean?

 

This parable describes how people accept God’s word in different ways. Jesus explained to his disciples that the seed was the word of God – the message of God’s forgiveness, salvation and great love for us. The various kinds of soil in the story represent the hearts of those who hear the word of God. The four soils represent us!


There were four kinds of hearers:

 

1. Hard-hearted

 

2. Shallow-hearted

 

3. Half-hearted

 

4. Whole-hearted.

 

The hard-hearted are represented by the hard-packed soil of the paths in the fields. Seed that landed here quickly was snatched away by birds as it lay on top of the ground. Hard-hearted individuals are those who refuse to listen to the word of God.
 
The shallow-hearted are represented by the rocky soil with a small covering of dirt. The seed quickly grows, but because its roots are shallow, the plants wilt in the sun and do not last. The shallow-hearted may be enthusiastic believers at first, but as they face the challenges of being a Christian – persecution, difficulties in life, or opposition – they find it too difficult and their faith dies out. They do not realize that the Christian life is not an easy life. When hard times, come, the shallow-hearted, without roots, fall away.
 
The half-hearted are represented by the weed choked, thorny soil at the edge of the field. Here the seed quickly germinates, but as it grows, the thick weeds choke out the good seed. These individuals are soon preoccupied with the worries and cares of everyday life. This distracts them from true Kingdom living and putting God first. They do not really grow in their faith, but remain stunted and less productive than they could be.

 

The whole-hearted are represented by the good, well prepared soil. Jesus describes the seed planted here yielding an amazing abundance of crop – much greater than the typical yield expected in this time. The whole-hearted individual will produce fruit and in amazing abundance!

 

 

Important messages from this parable

 

Jesus wants us to recognize the importance of preparing our hearts just as a good farmer prepares the soil. We must remove the “rocks” and “weeds” and till up the soil of our hearts to soften them. How can we do that? Hearing and acting on God’s word helps us grow as Christians. God freely gives us the “seed,” his word, the message of his love. But we are responsible to receive it and act upon it. Spiritual disciplines such as prayer, personal devotions, Bible reading and study, keeping a journal, tithing and attending worship will help us grow and thrive and produce an abundance of spiritual fruit. Without these disciplines, our faith will wither and die. Discipleship is a lifelong process of growing and maturing in faith. We don’t become mature Christians without effort on our part. God’s gift of loving mercy and grace is free, but discipleship is costly! Throughout the New Testament we read that the mark of a Christian life is that “fruit” is produced. Spiritual fruits are actions and attitudes that we show as Christians: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

 

A Kingdom parable

 

The Parable of the Sower is the first of the kingdom parables. By telling kingdom parables Jesus described to his listeners the “kingdom of God”. To understand the effect of Jesus’ words we need to recall that the Israelite people had long been awaiting a messiah that would come with a mighty military kingdom! The kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed was a spiritual kingdom. In stark contrast to what the people expected, Jesus described God at work in history and in believers’ lives with a kingdom that was all about loving and caring for others, and obeying God. True kingdom living requires a total commitment to put God first in our lives. This becomes a growing commitment and a process by which we grow evermore like Christ. United Methodists refer to this growing in discipleship process as sanctification. It is sometimes called growing in grace or as John Wesley termed it, “going on to perfection.”

 

 


Additional points

 

• This story is also repeated in Matthew 13:1-9 and Luke 8:4-8.

 

• Don’t slip too deeply into categorizing – as in, “he is rocky soil.” At any time we all have the potential to be any one of these four soils.

 

• For some students, this parable can be an affirmation and strengthening of their sense of faith. They will appreciate the things that have helped them be more receptive to God's word. It can help them understand why some follow Jesus and others reject him. It can be an assessment of how better to prepare. What “chokes off” or carries off a person's faith is a good discussion. Be concrete.

 

• Consider inviting students to rewrite this parable in modern-day terms.

 

• The sower doesn’t choose only to scatter seed on the good soil. The word of God is for everyone – even for those with unrepentant and hard hearts! Our decision is a response to Jesus and the good news about Him. There will always be varied responses to this good news. The good news of Jesus falls like seed on our human hearts. How will we receive it?

 

References:

  • Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Mark 4". Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1999. http://www.searchgodsword.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=mr&chapter=004
  • G.R.E.A.T. Adventure Dream Team at State Street United Methodist Church, Bristol, VA. “Summer Parables – The Sower: Bible Background.” 2004. [Many, many thanks to Jaymie Derden for sharing.]
  • MacQueen, Neil. “Parable of the Sower Lesson Set from Writing Forum: Background Notes.” 2001. http://rotation.infopop.cc/eve...6068121/m/1096068121
  • Mays, James L. ed. Harper’s Bible Commentary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.

  • ------------

If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the above references and the following reference:

 

Hulbert, Carol. Lesson posted at rotation.org: “Parable of the Sower: Art Lesson.” May 2005. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.





ART WORKSHOP:

 

Teaching method: As a remembrance of the story, create a “sower” scene.

 

[Neil MacQueen notes why we like this project: It is very tactile; allows for individual self-expression of the story; adjust to each grade group; is a good display-able “go home” project that spurs after-the-lesson discussion; it's fun.]


Leader Preparation:

 

Read the scripture for this lesson.

 

Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.

 

 

Gather the following materials:

  • Bibles (for 3rd grade and up)
  • For younger students – A Child’s Book of Parables
  • Non-drying modeling clay: brown, tan, blue, green.
  • Flat seeds
  • A bag of Spanish moss
  • Utensils to work the clay and position elements in the clay
  • 4x6 plastic photo sleeves, one for each student
  • 4x6 blank white or off-white index cards
  • 6x8 photo frames, one for each student
  • Labels, Masking tape, Pens
  • Wet wipes, Paper towel
  • Easel with paper

Opening:

 

Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Art Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Pass around a basket to collect any offering.


[Note: The Shepherd will be quietly taking care of attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]


Say: Let’s begin our time together with prayer.

 

Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. A suggestion: “Loving God, we are thankful to be here today. We are ready to learn by listening, discussion, and creating art. It is like we have a blank sheet of paper in front of us, ready to fill it with images that will leap out at us, helping us to understand your love. Be with us in our learning. Amen.”



Dig In:

 

Say: In our Bible story for today Jesus is teaching a crowd of people. He tells a story we call the parable of the sower.

 

Ask: First of all, what is a “sower”? (someone who plants seeds)

 

What is a parable?


Say: A parable is a story that teaches a special lesson. Often a parable will seem to have two meanings; one is obvious and the other is hidden. The parable of the sower seems to be about farming or sowing seeds but there is also a hidden meaning to this parable.


Ask: Why do you suppose Jesus would want to tell a story that had a hidden meaning? [Share what you have learned from the overview material.]


Say: We know this is an important story because at the end Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear let him hear.”

 

Ask: If you said that to your friends – “he who has ears to hear, let him hear” – how would they react? Do you suppose they would pay attention to you?

 

Say: Jesus was telling a story that was important. But because it was a parable with a hidden meaning – the people needed to listen carefully and think about what the story meant. Let’s hear the story. See if you can figure out the hidden meaning.


For 3rd grade and up:

 

Ask: Where is the Bible would we read about Jesus?

 

Distribute Bibles. Have everyone find Mark 4:1-9 in his/her Bible.

 

If this is a week early in the Rotation, read the scripture together. Show the pictures on pages 21 and 23 in A Child’s Book of Parables.

 

If this is a week towards the end of the Rotation, ask the students if they can tell you the story. Have them check their Bibles for accuracy.


For 1st and 2nd graders:

 

Ask: If we want to read something that Jesus said, where would we find it – in the Old Testament or the New Testament of the Bible? (new)

 

Say: We find our story in the New Testament of the Bible, in the Gospel of Mark.

 

 

Read pages 20-22 in "A Child’s Book of Parables", showing the pictures as you read. On page 22, stop where the post-it note indicates. Add the words: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”


For all students:

 

Ask: Does this sound like the way farming is done today?

 

Talk about farming practices in Jesus’ time. [Share what you have learned from the overview material.]


Ask: What were the different soils that were mentioned in the story?

 

What happened to the seed that fell on each type of soil?


As each “soil” is mentioned, write it on the easel paper – path, rocky, thorny (or weedy), good soil – and use the clay to make a quick “picture” of each soil next to it’s “name”.

 

Say: The parable of the sower seems to be about farming – a sower is sowing seed.

 

Ask: What about the hidden meaning?



Introduce the art materials:

 

Say: Today we are going to use a unique way to create a picture of our Bible story.

 

Show them the supplies.

 

Have them write their name on a piece of masking tape. Put this on the back of the frame.

 

Set the frames aside and give each student a 4x6 blank white index card.

 

Pass out smocks as the clay can stain clothing.


Show them how to smear the colored modeling clay on their index card to create a “sower scene” using different colors for sky, soils, etc. Encourage them to clearly show through use of clay colors, shapes, and textures, the various soils. Add weeds and seeds as desired. Smearing on clay will give the picture depth but don’t smear too thick as the picture then won’t fit in the frame.



Discussion: (while the students are working)

  • Say: Jesus often taught using parables.
    Ask: Do you recall any other parables from the Bible?

  • Say: The parable of the sower is about a farmer sowing seeds but parables have a hidden meaning.
    Ask: What hidden meaning do you find in this parable?
    Say: Picture in your mind a sower spreading the message of God’s love. Think of the seed in this parable as God’s word, the message of God’s love for us.
    Ask: Who do you suppose the sower is? (accept: God or Jesus or us)
    Say: God’s love is being spread to people – the four soils represent different ways we receive and respond to God’s word.
    Refer to the easel paper and ask about what sort of situation might be going on in peoples lives that makes them like…
    A hard path?
    Rocky soil?
    Thorn (weed-choked) soil?
    Good soil?
    Ask: Does God’s message take root in these soils?
  • Ask: Do you suppose that everyone who heard Jesus tell this parable understood the hidden lesson it was meant to teach?

Closing:

 

Have students share their creations briefly telling about their sower scenes. Allow them to create a label for their creation – they may write whatever is meaningful to them or just “The Parable of the Sower”.


Say: God loves you and wants you to have a relationship with God, to have you be a part of God’s family. This week work at improving your soil!


If time: Have each student describe a special place they can hang or position their work to remind them about being open to God's word each day.



Resources:

  • MacQueen, Neil. “Parable of the Sower Lesson Set from Writing Forum: Art Lesson.” 2001.
    http://rotation.infopop.cc/eve...6068121/m/1096068121
  • Moroney, Trace. A Child’s Book of Parables. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing, 2003.

    Supply note: “Picture frames” were created in the following manner: Purchase (at Michael’s) 12 x 12 inch embossed card stock. Cut into 6 x 8 inch pieces and cut out the center leaving a one inch border. (Rotary cutter works well.) Purchase a cheap (99 cent) photo album that contains 4 x 6 sleeves. Cut the sleeves out of the album. Put each finished sower scene into a plastic sleeve and tape to backside of a “frame”.

    Scripture quoted is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

    ------------
    If you use this Art Lesson, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
    Hulbert, Carol. Lesson posted at rotation.org: “Parable of the Sower: Art Lesson.” May 2005. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.
 
Cooking Workshop
A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from:
First United Methodist Church
120 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Copyright 2005 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

Teaching method: Create your own interpretation of the parable of the sower using various types of snack foods. Discuss the meaning of the soils and eat your creation!

Leader Preparation:
Read the scripture for this lesson.
Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
Gather the following materials:
  • Bibles (for 3rd grade and up)
  • For younger students – use a purple Adventure Bible
  • The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories
  • Roll of white paper towel or large white dinner napkins (1 per student for latter)
  • Snack foods to use to create interpretation: chocolate graham cracker sticks, chocolate chips, Cheerios, raisins, waffle pretzels, green Fruit by the Foot, Skittles (mint Skittles if you can find them), teddy grahams (You may use different snack foods but watch for allergies!)
  • Zipper sandwich bags
  • Paper bowls for foods, cups, napkins
  • CD player and CD – The Four Seasons by Vivaldi

    Before Start of Class:
    • Wash the table.
    • Distribute snack food into bowls – several bowls for each type.
    • Have the music CD cued to track 10. (Start with “Winter”.)

    Opening:
    Gather everyone around the table. Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Cooking Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Pass around a basket to collect any offering.

    [Note: The Shepherd will quietly take attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]

    Say: Today we will learn about a story Jesus told called the parable of the sower. First let’s begin with prayer.
    Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. A suggestion: “Dear God, we are grateful to be here together today to learn about your son, Jesus and the stories he told others. We hope that we can hear and understand the message he was telling his friends and followers. Amen.”

    Dig In:
    Ask: If you could plant a garden, what would you plant? (allow each child to answer)
    Do you know another word that means “to plant”? (answer looking for: sow)

    Talk about how this word is spelled “sow” vs. the word “sew” and the difference in meaning.

    Say: A person who plants seeds is called a “sower”. Our Bible story today is about a sower who is planting seeds. His seeds end up being planted in four different places, or four different kinds of soil. Let’s hear what happens.

    For 3rd grade and up:
    Ask: Where in the Bible would we read about Jesus teaching his disciples?
    What are the first four books of the New Testament?
    What do we call those first four books? (the Gospels)
    Say: The word Gospel means “good news”. Jesus teaches us the good news.
    Distribute Bibles. Have everyone find Mark 4:1-9 in his/her Bible.
    If this is a week early in the Rotation, read the scripture together. Towards the end of the Rotation, ask the students if they can tell you the story. Have them check their Bibles for accuracy.

    For 1st and 2nd graders:
    Ask: If we want to read something that Jesus said, where would we find it – in the Old Testament or the New Testament of the Bible?
    Say: We find our story in the New Testament of the Bible. The first four books of the New Testament are called the Gospels. The four Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We find our story in the Gospel of Mark.
    Read Mark 4:1-9 in a purple Adventure Bible.

    For all students:
    Say: This Bible story we just read is called the parable of the sower. Jesus often taught using parables.
    Ask: What is a parable? (a story that teaches a special lesson)
    What is a sower? (someone who plants seeds)
    In this parable, do you suppose Jesus was trying to tell us how to plant seeds?

    Say: A parable will seem to have two meanings; one is obvious and the other is hidden. The parable of the sower seems to be about farming or sowing seeds but there is also a hidden meaning to this parable.

    Ask: Why do you suppose Jesus would want to tell a story that had a hidden meaning? [Share what you have learned from the overview material.]

    Say: We are going to have a chance to dig deeper into this parable to figure out the special lesson that it teaches. We will use snack foods to help us figure out the special lesson of this parable.

    Have everyone wash their hands, and gather around the table.
    Distribute one paper towel (or dinner napkin) to each student.

    Explain that the student will hear some music and listen to the story again. As they hear the story they will arrange the snack foods interpreting the story and the music. The paper towel (or napkin) will be like an artist’s canvas. The foods will be like an artists paints.

    [Workshop leader note: You will now start a process of reading/listening, creation and discussion. Yes kids will want to eat some of the snacks. Some munching is ok. Through out this process ask students to explain their creations.]

    Start the CD on track 10.
    Using a purple Adventure Bible slowly read or tell Mark 4:1-4 (up to seed on path eaten by birds) OR use story number 270 on page 308 in The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories
    Allow students time to “interpret” with the snack foods. Keep music on softly in background. Use your best judgment as to when it’s time to start discussion.

    Ask: What sort of soil would you find on a pathway? [Might need to explain what a path is.] (hard-packed)
    What happened to the seed that fell on the path? (couldn’t break in; eaten by birds)
    This story seems to be about farming – a sower is sowing seed, but what about the hidden meaning in this parable? (accept all answers) What do you suppose the seed represents?
    Say: Picture in your mind a sower spreading the message of God’s love. Think of the seed in this parable as God’s word, the message of God’s love for us. God’s love is being spread to people.
    Ask: Jesus plants seeds, telling us of God’s love. What happens if that message of God’s love falls on a person who is like a hard path? (message of love doesn’t get through to us)
    When are we like a hard path? (situations that keep us from hearing God – would rather sleep-in than go to church; make bad choices about getting homework done & miss church event; believe friends that say church isn’t cool)
    What sort of “birds” can pick away at our faith? (people who tease us, etc.)

    Students may clear their “palette” to start anew or add to their picture.
    Change the CD to track 9. (Song starts very quietly).
    While the music plays, read Mark 4:5-6. As music continues, allow interpretation.
    Ask: What happened to the seed that fell on rocky places? (sprouts, but scorched by sun)
    Why did the plant wither in the hot sun? (roots not developed)
    What happens if the message about God’s love falls on a person who is like a rocky place? (get busy, forget about God’s message; troubles happen & our faith isn’t strong)

    Change the CD to track 6.
    While the music plays, read Mark 4:7. As music continues, allow interpretation.
    Ask: What happened to the seed that fell among thorns? (crowded or choked out)
    What sort of things can crowd out the message about God’s love? (worry about money or homework, or spending too much time with TV, or computer games)

    Change the CD to track 1.
    While the music plays, read Mark 4:8-9. As music continues, allow interpretation.
    Ask: What happened when the seed fell on good soil? (produced a big crop)
    What can help us have good soil - a receptive, nourishing environment for the word of God? (read Bible, talk to others about God, come to church, pray, encourage others)


    Ask: Is it easy to understand God’s word? (not always, even for adults)
    What is it that “grows” in us? (knowledge of God’s love)

    Closing:
    Say: Some days we will feel like our faith is thin or maybe worries will choke us. It takes work to be like good soil. We need to remember to do the things that make us ready for God's word in our heart. The seeds of God’s love are sown or planted for us in many ways: when we attend worship, pray, or discuss Bible stories. Will our hearts receive God’s word? If we are like the good soil, then the growing can happen in us. As we grow we come to understand about God’s great gift of Jesus and the many things he has done for us. It is ok for this growing to take a long time. Throughout our whole lives we grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.

    If you have extra time:
    • Discuss what it means to multiply a crop, “thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times."
    • Ask: what is the crop that is multiplied when we are “good” soil?
    • How would you re-write this parable in modern-day language?

    Resources:
    Written by Carol Hulbert, modeled after a lesson written by Cornerstone Publishing - Eat Your Way through the Bible: Handel’s Messiah.

  • Batchelor, Mary. The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories. Batavia, IL: Lion Publishing, 1985.
  • MacQueen, Neil. “Parable of the Sower Lesson Set from Writing Forum: Bible Background and Teaching Notes.” 2001. http://rotation.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/3986068121/m/1096068121
  • Presbyterian Church of Sunnyvale, Sunnyvale, California. “The Parable of the Sower.” 2003.
    http://rotation.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/3986068121/m/9126039202. (prayer)

    Scripture quoted is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

    ------------
    If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
    Hulbert, Carol. Lesson posted at rotation.org: “Parable of the Sower: Cooking Lesson.” May 2005. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

    Poster's note: This lesson has gone over great. The kids are really getting the story.

    -----------------------------------------
    -----------------------------------------
    Games Workshop
    A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from:
    First United Methodist Church
    120 S. State Street
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104

    Copyright 2005 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
    Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

    Teaching method: Play a room-size board game to explore being receptive to God’s word. Discuss what it takes to have good soil. [Note: 3rd - 6th grade visited this workshop.]

    Leader Preparation:
    Read the scripture for this lesson.
    Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
    Gather the following materials
  • Bibles (for 3rd grade and up) If possible use purple Adventure Bible with dictionary in back.
  • Life-sized game board – canvas tarp with painted spaces (4 colors)
  • Game wheel (with corresponding 4 colors)
  • Situation cards – see end of lesson

    Before Start of Class:
    • Write the key Bible verse on a piece of easel paper and hang it on the bulletin board.
    • On the white board, write what the colors on the game wheel represent - Green: move ahead 2, Red: stay put, Yellow: move ahead 1, Blue: move back 1.
    • Place game wheel in a location where it won’t distract the students during storytelling.

    Opening:
    Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Games Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Pass around a basket to collect any offering.

    [Note: The Shepherd will be quietly taking care of attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]

    Say: We will be playing a game today but first, let’s begin with prayer.
    Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. A suggestion: “Loving God, we are thankful to be here today. We are ready to learn by listening, playing games, and having discussion. It is like we have a blank sheet of paper in front of us, ready to fill it with words that will leap out at us, helping us to understand your love. Be with us in our learning. Amen.”

    Dig In:
    Ask: If someone never reads the Bible and never comes to church, do you suppose they would they would know much about God? Do you suppose they would understand how much God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them? What if they did show up at church or read their Bible, would that be all they would need to do? (allow all answers)

    Say: It takes more than just showing up; it takes some other effort. The first step is to be open to God’s word, to receive God’s word into our hearts.

    Ask: Does everyone who hears God’s word understand it?
    Does everyone who hears God’s word believe it? I wonder why that is?

    Say: Our Bible story today can help us understand these questions. We know this is an important story because at one point Jesus says, (refer to the verse on the board) “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” It is like Jesus was saying, “Hey, if you can understand – if you have ears that will hear and understand – then listen up!” Let’s read what Jesus said.

    Distribute Bibles. (Encourage everyone to bring his/her Bible every week.)

    Review the organization of the Bible: The Bible is divided into two main sections, the Old and New Testaments. Have them figure out whether a story about Jesus is in the Old or New Testament.

    Ask: What are the names of the first four books of the Bible? (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) What are these 4 books collectively called? (the Gospels)

    Have them find the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4, verse 1.
    [If necessary use the hint for quickly finding the New Testament - opening the Bible in middle lands you usually in Psalms. Taking just the back half and finding middle of that, gets you to beginning of NT.]

    Have kids take turns reading verses 1-9 out loud. (In later weeks of the Rotation ask the students to tell you the story. Fill in any missing details.)

    Say: Jesus often taught using parables.
    Ask: What is a parable? When you come across a word in your Bible, like the word “parable”, and you don’t know what it means, what can you do?

    Say: One resource you can use is a Bible dictionary. It works just like a regular dictionary except it has words found in the Bible.
    Ask: If you brought your own Bible, do you know if it has a Bible dictionary in it?

    Have kids look in the back of their Bible to see if it includes a dictionary.
    [Some may include a Concordance—you can say that a concordance is another tool to find Bible verses that include a certain word.]
    If their Bibles have a dictionary, have them look up “parable”.

    Say: A parable is a story that teaches a special lesson. Often a parable will seem to have two meanings; one is obvious and the other is hidden. The parable of the sower seems to be about farming or sowing seeds. Yet there is also a hidden meaning.
    Ask: Do you suppose that everyone who heard Jesus tell this parable, understood the hidden lesson it was meant to teach?

    Say: Let’s play our game and explore the hidden meaning of the parable of the sower.

    Play the Game:
    Explain that students will work in teams to move across the game board – squeezing onto spaces as needed. The object of the game is not to be first to reach the end, but for all teams to reach the end, or to get as far as time permits, and to have fun doing it.

    Lay out the game board(s). Have everyone take off his/her shoes. Ask the Shepherd to help you divide the class into teams of 2 or 3 players each. [Preferably in 2’s but 3 is ok if needed]. Have the team with the person whose birthday is closest to today’s date go first. One member of the team spins the wheel. The color they spin determines what happens (refer to white board). The team listens to a situation card. They must decide what sort of “soil” the situation most closely resembles. All the people on a team should confer/work on an answer. Checking Bibles is OK! (Remind the children that only the team in play should be talking.)
    If situation applies to:        	Team members must respond by:
    the hard path with the birds 	saying “Tweet, Tweet” 
    the rocky soil			making fists, knocking them together and saying “Ouch!” 
    the thorny soil                grabbing their throats and act as if choking 
    the good soil			saying “Yum, Yum” and rubbing their tummies.
    

    Discussion as play game:
    IMPORTANT: Use questions as an opening to discussion! [There are some discussion points on some of the cards.]
    Talk about answers – why does a situation seem to be like a particular “soil”?
    Have students actually experienced these situations?

    Leave enough time to also discuss the following and do the closing below:
    Say: The seed in this parable represents God’s word, the message of God’s love. The four soils represent different ways we receive and respond to God’s word.
    Ask: Which type of soil would you most like to be?
    What one thing can you do this week to prepare to be “good” soil?
    How can we help each other to have good soil?

    Closing:
    Say: Jesus loves us and wants the message of God’s love to reach us. An amazing thing happens when we fully accept God’s love. Life can still be hard, but we change inside. God’s word and love grow in our hearts. We are more loving, forgiving and better able to cope with life.

    If you have extra time:
    Challenge kids to write situations to be used by next week’s class.

    Situation Cards:
    Life had gotten busy for Emma. She used to spend her lunch hour studying the Bible. 
    Then she found out that if she skipped lunch, she could make more money with overtime. 
    Then maybe she could afford a nicer car.  (Thorns)
    
    Sue stayed up late watching TV on Saturday night.
    She was too tired to get up on Sunday morning. (Pathway)
    Discussion point: What happens if we don’t make the effort to hear God’s word?
    
    Tina liked going to church because all her friends were there. They had a lot of fun passing
    notes during Sunday’s Cool. When Tina got home, she could never remember
     what the lesson had been about. (Pathway)
    
    Life had gotten busy for Emma. She used to spend her lunch hour studying the Bible. 
    Then she found out that if she skipped lunch, she could make more money with overtime. 
    Then maybe she could afford a nicer car.  (Thorns)
    
    Wendy brought her friend Suzie to church. Suzie enjoyed the experience 
    and wanted to keep coming. Wendy also invited Suzie to her Bible study group. 
    She helped Suzie to understand the difficult passages.  (Good soil)
    
    Fran loved Jesus. She studied the Bible. Then one day Fran got into a discussion with some 
    people who believed their religion was the way to go. Fran did not know how to 
    defend God’s truth. SO she gave up trying.(Rocky)
    
    Betsy’s class was scheduled to stay in worship during Sunday’s Cool. As soon as they 
    got to the balcony, Betsy stopped talking to her friends and thought about 
    how the choir music made her feel. (Good Soil) 
    Discussion point: Worship becomes more meaningful as 
    we plan to experience it.
    
    Doug had friends who talked about God. But Doug figured this Jesus stuff 
    was too good to be true. He thought Jesus was a myth. (Pathway)
    
    Evan believed in God, but life was so full of distractions. There were so many ways
    to spend free time – TV, basketball, and IMing friends.  Who has time to pray? (Thorns)
    Discussion point: How can we keep the distractions from becoming more important than God?
    
    Donna prayed every day. But she stopped praying because it seemed 
    as though her prayers were never answered.  (Rocky)
    Discussion point: Why is it hard to have a strong faith when temptations arise?
    
    Eddie learned that God would be with him even when the going got tough. 
    But when Eddie’s grandma died, Eddie stopped believing in God. (Rocky)
    
    Bob went with his family to help at Alpha house, the place where homeless 
    families can live. It was hard to loose part of his weekend to go there,
    but Bob knew it meant a lot to the homeless families. (Good Soil)
    Discussion point: When people see you, do they see Jesus? 
    How is this like “producing a huge harvest?”
    
    Bruce always went with his family to church. God was important to Bruce, but in his heart
    Bruce felt that real success was owning all the latest video games. (Thorns)
    
    Bill went to church on Sunday’s but he didn’t talk about it with his friends.
    He was afraid of what his friends would think.  (Rocky)
    


    For 4 additional game situations see http://nadadventist.org/cm/SS/helps/p1106_99.txt
    (Scroll down to "Scenarios").

    Resources:
  • Long, Cyndi. “NAD Children’s Ministries: Good and Bad Seeds.” 1999. <http://nadadventist.org/cm/SS/helps/p1106_99.txt>. (idea of how to respond to questions; some scenarios)
  • MacQueen, Neil. “Parable of the Sower Lesson Set from Writing Forum: Video Lesson.” 2001. <http://rotation.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/3986068121/m/1096068121>.

    Scripture quoted is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

    ------------
    If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
    Hulbert, Carol. Lesson posted at rotation.org: “Parable of the Sower: Games Lesson.” May 2005. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.
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    Planting Workshop
    A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from:
    First United Methodist Church
    120 S. State Street
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104

    Copyright 2005 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
    Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

    Teaching method: Examine seeds and soils while learning about the parable of the sower. Plant flowers to be given away. [Note: 1st- 4th graders visited this workshop. It is best to do this workshop in April, May or June when transplants are easily obtained at the garden center.]

    Leader Preparation:
    Read the scripture for this lesson.
    Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
    Gather the following materials
  • Bibles (for 3rd grade and up)
  • White board and appropriate marker and eraser
  • Different types of seeds to examine, and containers to hold seed
  • Egg cartons, cut into sections of 4 cups – enough for 1 per student in largest class
  • Separate containers of the following: hard clay soil; rocky soil; representation of weedy soil; and good soil (enough for each child to have small amount in class)
  • Plastic table covering
  • Potting soil for planting project
  • Pots for plants – one per student
  • Transplants (such as wax begonias) – one per student
  • Plastic spoons
  • Wet-wipes
  • Paper towels

    Before Start of Class:
    • Write the key Bible verse on the white board in large letters.
    • Cover table with plastic table cover.
    • Set out supplies.

    Opening:
    Have everyone sit on the floor around the low table. Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Gardening Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Pass around a basket to collect any offering.

    [Note: The Shepherd will be quietly taking care of attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]

    Say: Let’s begin our time together with prayer.
    Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. A suggestion: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God; we thank you for your love. Help us to receive your word, planting it in our hearts. Help these seeds of your love to grow in us and spill over into the lives of others. Amen.”

    Dig In:
    Examine the different types of seeds. Have the students guess what type of plants produced these seeds.

    Ask: Do you have a garden?
    What do you grow in your garden?
    What has to happen in order for seeds to grow? (allow all answers)

    Say: There is another word that means to plant seeds – the word is “sow”.
    [Discuss the spelling of the word “sow” vs. the word “sew”]

    Say: A person who plants seeds is called a “sower”. In our Bible story Jesus is telling a story about a sower planting seeds. His seeds end up being planted in four different soils. We know this is an important story because at one point Jesus says, (refer to the verse on the board) “He who has ears to hear let him hear.” It is like Jesus was saying, “Hey, if you can understand – if you have ears that will hear and understand – then listen up!”

    For 1st and 2nd graders:
    Ask: Where in the Bible would we read about Jesus teaching, in the Old Testament or the New Testament?
    Say: The Bible is divided into two main sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. Stories about Jesus are in the New Testament section of the Bible. We find our story in the Gospel of Mark.

    For 3rd grade:
    Ask: Where in the Bible would we read about Jesus teaching?
    What are the first four books of the New Testament?
    What do we call those first four books? (the Gospels)
    Distribute Bibles. (Encourage everyone to bring his/her Bible each week.)
    Have everyone find the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4, verse 1.
    Remind them of the quick way to find the New Testament: dividing the Bible in half gets them near Psalms in the OT. Dividing the back half in half again gets them near the beginning of the New Testament.
    Say: This is where our story begins.
    Have them find Mark 4:9. Have one person read this verse.
    Say: That’s the verse we talked about earlier! This is also where our story ends. So we have a short Bible story. Rather than reading this story, let’s tell the story using different kinds of soils.
    Have everyone close his/her Bible, and place them aside.

    For all students:
    Say: I need you to help me tell this story.
    Give each child an egg carton section. As you tell the story below , at the appropriate time, place into a section of their egg carton the different types of “soil”. Encourage them to touch and study the soils.

    Say: Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge. Jesus taught them many things by parables.

    Ask: What is a parable?
    Say: A parable is a story that teaches a special lesson. Often a parable will seem to have two meanings; one is obvious and the other is hidden. The parable of the sower seems to be about farming or sowing seeds. Yet there is also a hidden meaning. Keep listening.

    Say: Jesus told the parable of the sower: A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

    Give everyone a piece of the hardened clay soil. Talk about why some of the seed would have ended up on the path. Talk about farming in the time of Jesus. Talk about why the path was hard compacted soil.
    Ask: Do you suppose seed sown on this type of soil could grow? What would happen to the seed?

    Say: Jesus says that some of the seed fell on rocky places where a thin layer of soil covered rocks.

    Give them some rocky soil. Talk about what would happen to seed planted in this type of soil. [Can’t develop deep enough roots.]
    Ask: Why do plants need roots? (to get water)
    What do you suppose happens to plants in this soil when the hot sun comes out?

    Say: Jesus goes on with his parable and says that other seed fell where thorns grew.

    Give them the “thorny” soil.
    Ask: What type of plant is a thorn? (a weed)
    What do you know about trying to grow a garden that has a lot of weeds?

    Say: Jesus said that the seed grew into plants but then were choked out by the thorns. There was one more type of soil where the seeds fell in our parable – they fell on good soil.

    Give them some good soil.
    Ask: How do you suppose a seed would do growing in this soil?

    Say: Jesus said it grew and produced a crop, providing a yield that was thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times what had been sown. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

    Discussion
    Ask: Recall that a parable is a story with a hidden meaning. This story seems to be about farming but what else did Jesus want us to learn?

    Say: In this parable the sower is Jesus. The seed in this parable represents God’s word, the message of God’s love spread about like the seed in the parable. The four soils represent different ways we receive and respond to God’s word.

    Refer to the four soils in the egg cartons.

    Ask:
  • If someone is like packed soil, what will happen to the message of God’s love?
    (doesn’t get through; this sort of person does not open themselves to hear God’s word)
    [Ask older students what the birds might represent.]

  • If someone is like rocky soil, what will happen to the message of God’s love?
    (message heard, person believes but then temptation comes or bad times, and person’s faith “withers” – dries up; it helps to have deep roots – an understanding of who God is – this comes from studying God’s word, worship and prayer)

  • If someone is like weedy soil, what will happen to the message of God’s love?
    (message heard, person believes but then the distractions of life – TV, computers, money, work – take over and become more important than God’s word)

  • If someone is like good soil, what will happen to the message of God’s love?
    (it grows in their heart; this growing takes effort)

    Say: You don’t need to answer out loud, but think about which of these four soils represents how you would receive God’s word? [Pause, allowing quiet thought.]

    Ask: What can we do to nourish God’s word in us, to grow our faith? (many answers: read the Bible, come to Sunday’s Cool, go to worship, discuss Bible stories with others, keep a spiritual journal, pray, help others)

    Wrap Up:
    Say: Jesus loves us and wants the message of God’s love to reach us. An amazing thing happens when we fully accept God’s love. Life can still be hard, but we change inside. God’s word and love grow in our hearts. We are more loving, forgiving and better able to cope with life.

    Planting:
    Plant flowers into pots (one pot per student). Explain that flowers will be given away.

    Clean up:
    Ask students to help clean up. Make a trip to wash hands.
    Collect the contents of the egg cartons for use in the next class.

    Resources:
  • Seeders, Lisa. ““NAD Children’s Ministries: Planting Seeds.” 1999. http://nadadventist.org/cm/SS/helps/k1106_99.txt (Idea of way to tell story – with soils.)
  • Warvel, Carolyn. “The Resource Room of Danielle's Place of Crafts and Activities: A Garden in My Heart.”
    2000. < http://daniellesplace.com/rroom/html/garden.cfm>.

    Scripture quoted is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

    ------------
    If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
    Hulbert, Carol. Lesson posted at rotation.org: “Parable of the Sower: Planting Lesson.” May 2005. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.
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    Newsroom Workshop
    A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from:
    First United Methodist Church
    120 S. State Street
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104

    Copyright 2005 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
    Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

    Teaching method: Create, videotape and watch commercials selling products or services that help us learn God’s Word. Lots of credit goes to Neil MacQueen as this lesson is based on one of one of his lessons (see resources). [Note: 4th – 6th graders visited this workshop.]

    Leader Preparation:
    Read the scripture for this lesson.
    Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
    Gather the following materials
  • Bibles (for 3rd grade and up)
  • Videotaping equipment: camera, tripod, VHS tape, TV with VCR
  • Easel with paper
  • Other props: pillows in room, cereal boxes covered with white paper and markers

    Before Start of Class:
    • Set up the video taping equipment. Instructions on how to use the camera are inside the hard case.
    • Write “Parable of the Sower” on the top of the easel paper.

    Opening:
    Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the WFUMC Newsroom. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Pass around a basket to collect any offering.

    [Note: The Shepherd will quietly take attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]

    Say: This is the newsroom of WFUMC. In the past in the newsroom we have videotaped news reports from the Bible. Today we will be making commercials. Before we get started, let’s begin with prayer.
    Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. A suggestion: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God. As this season finds us busy with so many activities, help us remember to find time to worship you. You love us so much. Your love surrounds us, and guides us in all we do. Help us to receive your love, planting it in our hearts. Amen.”

    Dig In
    Say: In our Bible story for today Jesus is teaching a crowd of people. He tells a story we call the parable of the sower.
    Ask: First of all, what is a “sower”? [Contrast with word “sewer”.](someone who plants)
    What is a parable?

    Say: A parable is a story that teaches a special lesson. Often a parable will seem to have two meanings; one is obvious and the other is hidden. The parable of the sower seems to be about farming or sowing seeds, but there is also a hidden meaning to this parable.
    Ask: Why do you suppose Jesus would want to tell a story that had a hidden meaning? [Share what you have learned from the overview material.]

    Say: We know this is an important story because at the end Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear let him hear.” [Refer to key verse poster.]

    Ask: If you said that to your friends – “he who has ears to hear, let him hear” – how would they react? Do you suppose they would pay attention to you?
    Say: Jesus was telling a story that was important. But because it was a parable with a hidden meaning – the people needed to listen carefully and think about what the story meant. Let’s hear the story. See if you can figure out the hidden meaning.

    Ask: Where is the Bible would we read about Jesus?
    Distribute Bibles. Have everyone find Mark 4:1-9 in his/her Bible.

    If this is a week early in the Rotation, read the scripture together.
    If this is a week towards the end of the Rotation, ask the students if they can tell you the story. Have them check their Bibles for accuracy.

    Ask: What were the different soils that were mentioned in the story?
    What happened to the seed that fell on each type of soil?
    As each “soil” is mentioned, write it on the easel paper – path, rocky, thorny (or weedy),
    and good soil.

    Ask: I mentioned before that this story seems to be about farming – a sower is sowing seed, but what about the hidden meaning in this parable? (accept all answers)

    Say: Picture in your mind a sower spreading the message of God’s love. Think of the seed in this parable as God’s word, the message of God’s love for us. God’s love is being spread to people – the four soils represent different ways we receive and respond to God’s word.

    Refer to the easel paper and ask about what sort of situation might be going on in people’s lives that makes them like the following. [Make notes on the easel paper.]

    A hard path?
    Rocky soil?
    Thorn (weed-choked) soil?
    Good soil?

    Ask: What do we have to do to have “good” soil, being open to receive God’s word into our hearts? (come to Sunday’s Cool, worship, pray, read the Bible, talk about faith questions, serve God, etc.)
    Say: All of these things help us connect with God. They are situations that help us be open to God’s word. We are going to make commercials for products or services that help us have that “good soil” so that we hear and learn God’s Word.
    Ask: What sort of products would help us have “good soil”? [You might need to give an example to get their thought process going.]

    Assign suggestions (below) or allow them to come up with their own products based on the problems they stated that could keep someone from receiving the word of God and letting it grow in them.
    •	Word of God Soil Conditioner
    •	Bird BEGONE
    •	Blast-o-matic Rock Rejecter
    •	Weed Whacker for the Word
    •	Saturday In Bed by Eleven Snoozo-matic Pillow
    •	Sunday morning Bed Launcher
    

    Say: In a moment the Shepherd will break you into groups of 2 or 3. Each group will come up with a commercial that lasts 15 to 30 seconds. Your group will act out a faith problem as we discussed, and tell how the item you are advertising solves the problem. You may use any props in the room. [Point out the cereal boxes.]

    Separate into groups:
    Ask the Shepherd to help you break the students into groups – preferably groups with 2 or 3 students.

    Say: Each group will create a commercial. You have about 5 minutes to prepare your ad; then we’ll videotape it.

    You and the Shepherd should mingle with the groups helping them stay on task.

    Watch the clock; give a two-minute warning.

    In Case Students need help getting started:
    Note: There is no script provided. The basic idea is to have the kids come up with their own words. That forces them to listen and look again at the scripture and work with each other. Of course, you and shepherd are right there in the process. One of the keys is to get kids to include “the point” and not just goofy-ness.

    Example: State the problem facing their faith. “Staying up too late? Need to feel bright and ready for God’s word? Then get the “Saturday In Bed by Eleven Snoozo-matic Pillow….”

    Video the Ads/View the Ads:
    When the time is up, gather everyone together.
    Videotape the ads.
    When done, eject the tape from the camera. Pop it into the VCR, rewind and watch. Finish by having each person identify a problem holding back his/her faith growth.

    Closing
    Say: Jesus loves us and wants the message of God’s love to reach us. An amazing thing happens when we fully accept God’s love. Life can still be hard, but we change inside. God’s word and love grow in our hearts. We are more loving, forgiving and better able to cope with life.

    Resources:
  • MacQueen, Neil. “Parable of the Sower Lesson Set from Writing Forum: Drama Lesson - WHPC-TV.” 2001. http://rotation.infopop.cc/eve...6068121/m/1096068121

    Scripture quoted is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

    ------------
    If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
    Hulbert, Carol. Lesson posted at rotation.org: “Parable of the Sower: Newsroom Lesson.” May 2005. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

    -----------------------------------------
    -----------------------------------------
    Video Workshop
    A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from:
    First United Methodist Church
    120 S. State Street
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104

    Copyright 2005 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
    Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

    Teaching method: Explore the story of the parable of the sower while watching the scripture come to life in The Visual Bible: Matthew. Explore the meaning of the different soils.
    Note: Lots of credit goes to Neil MacQueen as this lesson closely follows one posted by him (see resources) but, in Carol’s typical style, includes wordy detail.

    Leader Preparation:
    Read the scripture for this lesson.
    Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
    Prepare an opening prayer.
    Preview the video and have it cued to the correct starting place.
    Gather the following materials
  • Bibles (for 3rd grade and up)
  • The DVD listed above – Disc 1 (The TV/DVD will have been reserved for your workshop.)
  • Snack items
  • Story Bible for younger students – The Praise Bible
  • Four heart-shaped containers with: hard-packed clay, rocks, “thorns”, and good soil (one soil type per container)
  • Cover to “hide” heart-shaped containers
  • Numerous seed-shaped pieces of paper that have written on them: “God’s love”

    Before Start of Class:
    1. Prepare snack.
    2. Make sure you know how to use the TV/DVD.
    3. Insert disc 1 into the player. Cue the DVD to the MAIN MENU. From MAIN MENU, choose SEARCH BY EVENT. Choose “31-36”.
    4. Put the heart-shaped containers on the center table, covering them until ready to use.

    Opening:
    Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the video workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Pass around a basket to collect any offering.

    [Note: The Shepherd will quietly take attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]

    Say: Let’s begin with prayer. Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests.

    Dig In:
    Ask the students to stand up. Point out the edge of the rug, asking them to imagine that there is a line across the room that runs along the edge of the rug.
    Tell the students you will be asking questions that have no right or wrong answers. Students will answer the questions by standing along the “line”.

    First “line continuum question”: How do you feel right now?
    Announce that one end of the “line” is “feeling great”, middle of line is feeling ok, and the other end is feeling bad. Allow students to get into position based on their answer. [Students may be grouped in certain spots along the line.]
    After kids line up, interview some of them about their answers. [Remind them that one student should be talking at any one time.] Example: how are you feeling? Why do you suppose you feel that way? (hungry, tired, etc.) Accept all answers.

    Next “line continuum question”: When you woke up and thought about going to church, how did you feel about coming?
    One end of line is “couldn’t wait to get here” and other end is “didn’t want to come.” Allow students to reposition themselves on the line.
    Interview them about their choices: why didn’t they want to come? (too much homework, don’t like getting up early) What excited them about coming to church? (love Jesus, video is favorite workshop, etc.)

    Next “line continuum question”: We come to church on Sunday mornings to learn about God and worship him. How much effort do you put in to connecting with God on other days of the week?
    One end of line is “I spend a lot of effort” and other end is “no effort”.
    Interview them about their choices: what sort of activities do they do to connect with God? What keeps them from finding time to connect with God? Accept all answers! [Make sure no one feels bad for his/her answers; praise honesty.]
    Make sure to place yourself on the line continuum, explaining your answer.

    Have everyone sit down.

    Say: We are going to see a video today on the Parable of the Sower.
    Ask: First of all, what is a parable? (a story that teaches a special lesson)
    What's a sower? (a farmer, someone who plants seeds)
    Say: Jesus often taught using parables. Our Bible story today is a parable about a sower who is planting seeds, but there is a special lesson about his planting. His seeds end up being planted in four different places. We could actually say that this story seems to be about dirt! See if you can figure out the special lesson in this parable.

    For 3rd grade and up:
    Ask: Where is the Bible would we read about Jesus? (NT)
    Distribute Bibles. Have everyone find Mark 4:1-9 in his/her Bible.
    If this is a week early in the Rotation, read the scripture together. Towards the end of the Rotation, ask the students if they can tell you the story. Have them check their Bibles for accuracy.

    For 1st and 2nd graders:
    Ask: If we want to read something that Jesus said, where would we find it – in the Old Testament or the New Testament of the Bible? (new)
    Say: We find our story in the New Testament of the Bible, in the Gospel of Mark.
    Read pages 292-297 in The Praise Bible, showing the pictures as you read.

    For all students:
    Have the Shepherd distribute the snack.

    Ask: What were the four types of soil? [If they need help remembering, uncover the heart-shaped containers.]

    Ask: In this parable, do you suppose Jesus was trying to tell how to plant seeds? (no)

    Say: Let’s watch our video. It is short, but it gives us another chance to hear Jesus tell the parable of the sower. As you watch the video, think about Jesus planting seeds that are a God’s message of love.

    Scatter the seed-shaped pieces of paper on the students and on the soils. Allow them to see that the papers are “seeds” and that they say: “God’s love”.

    Show the Video:
    Assuming the DVD was previously cued … Choose “The Parable of the Sower”
    POINT OUT (with out stopping), Jesus.
    VIEW this scene (about 1.5 minutes).
    PAUSE at the billowing sail, after Jesus says, “he who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

    Discussion:
    [Leader Note: As much as possible without explaining it, let the students come to the realization of the meaning of this parable. Younger students at the beginning of the Rotation will have more difficulty with this. At any time, RESHOW the video if you think it will help. Recall their answers to the line continuum and use them in the discussion questions - alter the part in italics to fit their situations gleaned from their line continuum answers.]

    Pick up a seed-shaped paper and referring to the appropriate heart-shaped tray…

    Ask:
  • What sort of soil would you find on a pathway? (hard-packed)
    What happened to the seed that fell on the path? (couldn’t break in to hard soil; eaten by birds) Jesus plants seeds, telling us of God’s love. What happens if that message of God’s love falls on a person who is like a path; maybe they are sleepy or they didn’t want to come to church? What if someone teased them about coming to church? (birds?)

  • What happened to the seed that fell on rocky places (sprouted, but scorched by sun)
    What happens if the message about God’s love falls on a person who is like a rocky place; maybe they get busy and forget about God’s message?

  • What happened to the seed that fell among thorns? (choked out)
    What happens when the message about God’s love is crowded out by worry about money or homework, or spending too much time with TV, or friends who say church isn’t cool?

  • What happened when the seed fell on good soil? (produced a big crop)
    What can help us have good soil - a receptive, nourishing environment for the word of God? (read Bible, talk to others about God, come to church, pray, encouraging others)

    Closing:
    Say: The seeds of God’s love are sown or planted for us in many ways: when we attend worship, pray, or discuss Bible stories. We can think about these four trays of soil as representing us. How will our hearts receive God’s word? If we are like the good soil, then the growing can happen in us. As we grow we come to understand about God’s great gift of Jesus and the many things he has done for us. It is ok for this growing to take a long time. Even adults are still growing as disciples of Jesus Christ.
    Don’t answer out loud, but think about which of these four trays represents you.
    [Pause – count to 10 in your head.]

    Say: Some days we will feel like a hard path or maybe worries will choke us. It takes work to be like good soil. We need to remember to do the things that make us ready for God's word in our heart.

    Resources:
  • MacQueen, Neil. “Parable of the Sower Lesson Set from Writing Forum: Video Lesson.” 2001. http://rotation.infopop.cc/eve...6068121/m/1096068121
  • Thomas, Mack. The Praise Bible. Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 1998.

    Scripture quoted is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.


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    If you have found these workshops useful it would make my day if you let me know about it. Thanks!
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