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Jesus Calls Disciples

Storytelling Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Hear a variety of people talk about their stories of being “called” to follow Jesus. This is the perfect time to get people who can only come to class for one week. It is ok to have different storytellers every week! [Note: 4th – 6th graders visited this workshop.]

For scripture and Objectives - see above.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Gather the materials.

Supplies List:

  • Extra chairs for your guests
  • Purple Adventure Bibles; One with tabs (Law, History, etc.)
  • Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
  • Name tag making materials: a Sharpie pen and sticky labels

Before Start of Class:

  • Bookmark one of the purple Adventure Bibles in two spots: at Matthew 4:18 and at Matthew 9:9.
  • In a purple Adventure Bible, review the extra notes on pages 1062 and 1063 – about tax collectors and “What did Jesus’ disciples do?”


Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Storytelling Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. [Tell the Shepherd that making nametags will wait just a bit!]

Say: Today we’ll be hearing about how Jesus called twelve special friends to follow him and be his disciples.

  • Ask: What are disciples? (accept a few answers)

Say: In Bible-times disciples were people who hung out with Jesus. They learned from Jesus and they tried to be like Jesus. Later they taught others about what they’d learned.

Say: When we say “disciples” we think of people like Peter, Matthew, James and John.

  • Ask: Do you suppose that there were women disciples? (yes)

Do you suppose that today we can be disciples of Jesus?
Can we learn from Jesus and try to be like him and try to teach others?
Say: Yes! We can be Jesus’ disciples! It’s part of why we come to church – to learn about Jesus so we can be his disciples.

Have each student tell you their name and what school they go to. Have the Shepherd write and distribute nametags as each child introduces him or herself. Greet each student by saying: “Welcome, Disciple <their name>.” (For example: Welcome, Disciple Alex.)

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
Say: Disciples are talked about a lot in the Bible.

  • Ask: Where in the Bible would we read about disciples of Jesus? (in the NT)

Say: The Bible is divided into two major sections – the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament contains Bible stories that Jesus would have learned when he was your age. The New Testament is composed of stories about Jesus’ life and the start of the new church of the followers of Jesus.

  • Ask: What do we call the section of the New Testament where we read stories about Jesus? (the Gospels) 

Say: Besides being divided into two testaments, the 66 books in the Bible are further divided into collections. We call this collection of Bible books, the Gospels. If you have your own Bible today, be sure you receive a tab for the gospel section of your Bible. [Show the classroom Bible with tabs. Have the Shepherd do tabs for students who bring their Bibles. Use the classroom Bible with tabs as an example.]

Distribute purple Adventure Bibles.

Have the students find Matthew 4:18. Review the quick way to find 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.) Point out that the chapter numbers are large, and in these Bibles they are yellow; the verse numbers are smaller.
Have them notice the heading “The Calling of the First Disciples.”

At the beginning of the Rotation, have the students follow along as you read Mathew 4:18-22. Towards the end of the Rotation, ask the students to tell you the story. Have them check their Bibles for accuracy.

When you are finished reading…
Say: For the Word of God in scripture, for the Word of God among us, for the Word of God within us…
The class (hopefully) says: Thanks be to God!

Say: These are the words that are spoken in the worship service after the Bible is read. We say these words in class so that we will be used to saying them when we hear a Bible story read in the worship service.

  • Ask: What were the names of some of the people that Jesus called? (Peter, Andrew, James, or John)
  • What jobs did they have? (they were fishermen)
  • What did Jesus ask them to do? (Come, follow me)
  • Does it seem like these men thought about Jesus’ request; did they say, I’ll let you know?

Say: No, they left their nets and their boats behind and got up and followed Jesus!

  • Ask: If you were someone who needed excellent students to be your disciples, would you choose the best of the best?

Say: So the choices that Jesus made for his disciples is surprising. Now let’s find a story about another follower of Jesus; another ordinary person that Jesus called to follow him.

Have the students find Matthew 9:9. Ask a student to read this verse.

  • Ask: What was Matthew’s job? (he was a tax collector)

What do you know about tax collectors in those days?

  • Ask students to turn to the next page in their Bibles (page 1062) and to read the “People in Bible Times” note about tax collectors. 

Say: So people didn’t like tax collectors.

  • Ask: Why do you suppose Jesus chose Matthew to be one of his disciples? 

Have the students read the “Did You Know” note on page 1063.

Say: Jesus’ disciples were students; they learned by hanging out with Jesus. We have heard two stories of Jesus calling his disciples – asking them to come and learn from him and to spread what they’ve learned to others. We had said before that we too could be disciples of Jesus.

  • Ask: How do we learn from Jesus? (by reading the Bible, by learning from each other, by prayer, by attending worship, etc.)

Say: Today we have some visitors with us. They will be telling us about their experiences as disciples of Jesus. Perhaps they have their own calling story to tell us.

The Storytellers take over:
The visitors can tell about themselves. If time allows, add your own calling story.



  • Why did Jesus need disciples?
  • Does Jesus need us to be disciples for the same reasons?


  • What did the disciples do when Jesus asked them to follow him? (immediately left everything to follow him)

  • What kinds of things did the disciples give up in order to follow Jesus? (time with their families, their jobs, for Matthew the extra money he had made before - the important thing is that they made following Jesus a priority in their life - they put that first!)

  • How can we follow Jesus today?
  • What specifically can we do? 

  • What might Jesus ask YOU to give up in order to follow him? 

  • How can we know what Jesus wants us to do? 

Say: We've learned today about 12 special people that Jesus called to be his disciples and we’ve had the chance to hear about how people today are called to be disciples. The disciples’ in Jesus’ time had their lives changed by their relationship with Jesus. Our lives can be changed too.

Say: Let’s close with prayer.
If there is time, 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. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: “Dear God, Thank you for sending Jesus to teach us to be disciples. Help us to learn and to follow you more closely, so that others will learn of your great love for us. (End with everyone joining in on the Lord’s Prayer.) Amen.”

If you have extra time:
Take the students out to view the Bible time line. (Remind them not to touch the artwork!) Have them look for the artist’s depiction of disciples – Jesus washing the disciples feet at the Last Supper, and watching while Jesus heals someone.

Discuss how the disciples learned by spending time with Jesus. Review recent stories we’ve covered and what the disciples learned from Jesus:

  • Prodigal Son: that God is forgiving
  • Jesus and Peter walking on water: to have faith is important
  • Jesus healing Bartimaeus: that Jesus had God’s power; having faith is important

Discuss the picture of the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit.
Discuss if they think that it’s significant that the end of the wall is blank.
What picture would they see there? (Hint: perhaps something about each of us being disciples of Jesus?)

Poster’s note:
Why are we sending kids out to look at our timeline? Well, we are mighty proud of our time line! It is a work of art! For pictures view the artist's web site.



A lesson written by Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI 

Copyright 2008 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 

If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Hulbert, Carol. "Jesus Calls Disciples: Storytelling Workshop." Sept. 2008. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

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