The Lost Sheep Parable
A Sheep Herding Game and Video-Making Workshop
Summary of Lesson Activities:
A sheep herding game with balloons will open the lesson, followed by making a "point of view" video from the point of view of a Lost Balloon, and from the point of view of a "Shepherd."
Bible memory verse:
“We had to celebrate this happy day … he was lost but now he is found” Luke 15:32
Through the story of the lost sheep, children will learn that they are valuable to God and that God rejoices when we follow Jesus.\
By becoming Shepherds, they will learn that being a Good Shepherd isn't easy. They will consider HOW GOD FEELS about his sheep, and how we as sheep can respond to our Good Shepherd.
- Read the scripture ahead of time.
- Gather the materials.
- Balloons (one bigger and a different colour- we used blue)
- Large Box
- Permanent Marker
- Video camera
- scissors, butter knives, pencils
Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Opening activity: Herding sheep game
Have the kids forms lines of 3 or more students.
Place an empty box on its side at the opposite end of the room.
Give each team a yardstick or similar stick.
Place balloons all around the room, at least one per child. Have a few extras in case in any pop.
The Game: One at a time kids try to herd a balloon into the box. When they get their balloon into the box, they run back and hand the yardstick to the next player.
After doing this once: Read the Parable of the Lost Sheep while standing in line. Take a balloon and draw on it using a permanent marker to make it look like a sheep ...as you talk about sheep.
What are sheep like? Are they smart? (no) Are they easy to herd? (no) Can they get in trouble? (yes). The Bible says that we are like God's sheep. God wants us to stay with him, but sheep tend to wander away unaware of the danger they can get themselves into if they stray from the Shepherd.
Let's play the game again, and this time you are the Good Shepherd trying to find the lost sheep and trying to get him into the pen (the box).
After playing a second time, make observations and ask questions. Why didn't you just pick up the sheep/balloon and MAKE him come with you? Why doesn't God do that with us? That's right, God gives his sheep the right to wander away. It's called "Free Will". We can choose not to obey God. Why would God allow free will from his sheep? (If God forces us to obey him, then our worship and love for him is also forced. Can you love someone you are FORCED to love? No.
How does God guide us? What is God's yardstick? What is the box/pen that God wants us to get into? (his Kingdom, his safety, his fellowship, obedience, goodness).
How hard is it for God to guide us? Do you think God gets frustrated and disappointed with us? Do you WANT to disappoint God? That would make God AND you sad, wouldn't.
What about a balloon/sheep that DOESN'T WANT TO GO WITH GOD? What can God do?
What happens if God beats the sheep? (do this and pop a balloon). Is this what God wants? No. God is gentle, loving, and can wait a very very long time for the sheep to realize sheep need God!
(As you're having this talk, you're demonstrating your words with the balloons and sticks.)
Dig - Main Content and Reflection:
Point of view Movie Making:
We did this and it was awesome. The balloon on the stick (representing the lost balloon) attached to the video camera an idea from one of our teens, and it made the whole movie experience.
For this video, you need to rig up a balloon on a stick, and that stick needs to be physically attached to the video camera. This way, the balloon will appear to be stationary in front of the video as the camera moves around to a couple of scenes acted out by the kids.
How you fix the balloon on the stick to the camera will depend on the kind of camera you have. Here's how we did it: We put the video camera on a TRIPOD and taped the yardstick to the tripod so that it stuck out in front of the camera lense about 2 feet. Very effective. Very funny. And very memorable!
You will set up 3 scenes in the room to travel to with the balloon-on-a-stick-camera.
- The Balloon Pen with lots of other balloons.
- A scary scene with sharp objects held by the kids (scissors, butter knives, pencils will do) and some balloons with scary faces drawn on them.
- A large "Good Shepherd" Balloon on a stick (we used a large blue balloon).
The Lost Balloon Script with directions...
Scene 1: The Party Pen
[Kids sit on floor holding balloons over their heads in one hand.
In another hand they hold a section of fence they have made out of cardboard. One of the children holds the God balloon, which is a blue balloon, slightly larger than the sheep balloons. This is the PARTY PEN where God wants the Sheep to stay. As the narrator reads the script for this scene, the camera walks up to the party pen ONLY showing the balloons and props. The kids do not appear in the video.]
Narrator: Jesus said, There once was a balloon who thought he knew best, who thought he knew how to live his balloon life without the guidance and protection of the Good Balloon. And so he left and wandered off. (Camera moves off).
Pause the recording and set up the next scene.
Scene 2: The Land of the Lost
[Students form two lines for the camera/balloon to pass between. The kids will stick out their sharp objects and pretend to jab at the balloon on the stick as it passes through them. Kids are not seen on camera, but of course, their hands/arms are. A few kids will stick out balloons with scary faces.]
Narrator: On his own without the Good Balloon to guide him, the Lost Balloon got lost. He started to do bad things. He got into trouble. His life seemed meaningless and unfulfilling. He became selfish. And he started to sin really bad. And finally, he thought he was so bad that he would never be rescued from sin and trouble. He felt lost and worthless.
Pause the recording and set up the next scene.
Scene 3: God Balloon comes looking for the Lost Balloon
[In this quick scene, the Lost Balloon is replaced by a large Blue God Balloon on the end of the camera's stick. The kids sit on the ground FROZEN like craggy rocks making scary looking faces. The video operator simply wanders around the kids "LOOKING" for the lost balloon.
Then finally, buried beneath one of the craggy kid rocks, the God Balloon sees the Lost Balloon and starts to dance.]
Narrator: But the Good Balloon is a GREAT Balloon, and AWESOME Balloon who cares about every single balloon everywhere, even the Lost balloons. So the Good Balloon made sure the other balloons were safe, and went out to find the Lost Balloon. He looked everywhere, in bad places, in places of trouble, and there finally, he spotted the Lost Balloon all alone.
Pause the recording.
Scene 4: Return to the Party Pen
[Tape BOTH the Lost Balloon and the God Balloon at the end of the camera stick. The camera operator now 'walks' God and the Found Balloon back to the Party Pen. When they arrive, the other balloons rejoice and there's a party. One or two of the kids can throw some confetti. All cheer!]
Narrator: The Lost Balloon RAN to the Good Balloon and apologized. He asked to be taken back and forgiven his sins. And of course, the Good Balloon said yes, because the Good Balloon was very very good. He loved even the lost balloons.
And the two of them came back to the balloon pen and the balloons rejoiced and had a party!
So if you ever feel like a lost balloon, just remember: the Good Balloon is looking for you, and will always be looking for you and ready to be with you.
End with a prayer.
Originally posted by member Jan of First Presbyterian Church in Napa, CA.
Video-making idea and content added and improved by Neil MacQueen.
Herding Sheep game idea from the resource: Surprising Stories from People Jesus Met.