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Reply to "COMPLETE LESSON SET: Jesus Calls Disciples - FUMC, Ann Arbor, MI"

Note: The remaining workshops posted here were used in 2002 when we first did this Rotation. I am leaving this here in case it would be useful to someone. Please note that these workshops used different Bible references than the workshops posted above, which were used in 2008.

Games Workshop

The Call of the Disciples

Summary of Lesson Activities:
Play a variety of games that reinforce the concepts of being called, fishing, and leaving everything behind to follow Jesus.

Scripture References:

Luke 5:1-11, Matthew 9:9, Luke 6:12-13

Key Verse:

Matthew 4:19 "Come, follow me and I will make you fish for people"

Workshop Objectives: Children will learn:

  • The story of how Jesus called his disciples
  • That Jesus called 12 disciples out of a larger group of followers
  • That Jesus called ordinary people
  • The significance of leaving everything to follow Jesus.
  • That Jesus calls us to be disciples today.

    Note: The children in our program are called "Sunday's Cool Disciples". Each grade group is named after a Disciple.
    This is more material than can be covered in 45 minutes. I like to give teachers options.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Prepare an opening and/or closing prayer in case you need one.
  • Gather the materials

Supplies List:

  • Scissors (one)
  • Two colors of masking tape. Use a Sharpie marker to write the key
    verse on each color of tape. (Leave space between words, as the tape will be cut into pieces based on how many kids you have.)
  • "Life-size" game board (different color 8 inch squares sewn onto queen size sheet), die, and game cards (4 per student)
  • Magnetic fishing game
  • Lindvall, Ella K. Read-Aloud Bible Stories vol. 2. Chicago, Moody Press, 1985.
  • The Beginners Bible. Zondervan, 1989.


Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly by their disciple group name. (Each grade is named after a disciple, for example: 4th grade is "Peter".) Introduce yourself and any other adults. Since it's September, start the class with introductions.

Tell students: today we'll be hearing about how Jesus called twelve special friends to follow him and be his disciples. 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,
Help us to learn more about Jesus. Especially help us to understand what it means to follow Jesus today. Amen"

Pass around a basket to collect any offering.
[Note: The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance, nametags, and any visitor cards; This can all happen quietly while you are starting your lesson.]

Dig- Main Content and Reflection:
Say: Before we play some games let's read our Bible stories. Disciples are talked about a lot in the Bible. We're going to read stories from three places. When we read stories about Jesus we find them in the New Testament. Our first story is in Luke.

For older students (3rd grade and up):
Help the kids find Luke, chapter 5, verses 1 through 11, in their Bibles.
Remember to encourage kids to bring their own Bibles.
Have the students take turns reading out loud.

For younger students (1st and 2nd grade):
Read the story starting on page 7 of "Read-Aloud Bible Stories".
(This is a book written for preschoolers. I suggest not doing the sound effects to help bring the book up to the age of 1st and 2nd graders.)
Stop reading on page 33 (notice I have changed the wording to say "fish for people".)
Leave the book open to page 33, continuing to show the picture to the kids.

For all students:
Ask: What amazing thing happened in this story? (they had fished all night & not caught anything but when Jesus told them to put down the nets, they caught a lot of fish!)

Say: There's another amazing thing that happened in this story.
(Ask older kids to look at verse 11. Do they read anything amazing about verse 11?)

Say: The other amazing thing is the fishermen left everything and followed Jesus! They had just caught a huge catch of fish and they left it - to follow Jesus! They were obviously amazed by the power of Jesus. In the Bible the fishermen are identified as Simon Peter, James and John. All three of them became disciples of Jesus.

  • Ask: At the end of the story, what does Jesus tell the fishermen? (they'll catch or fish for people)

Say: This month we are all trying to learn a Bible verse for this story. The verse we have chosen is: "Come, follow me and I will make you fish for people". (The verse is from Matthew's version of this story). Let’s all say the Bible verse together: "Come, follow me and I will make you fish for people".
Say: Later we'll talk about what it means to fish for people.

Say: Now let's read another story, this time in Matthew. Remember the New Testament starts off with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – so Matthew is at the very beginning of the New Testament. This is another story; it's very short, about someone who left everything to follow Jesus.

For older students (3rd grade and up):
Help the kids find Matthew, chapter 9, verse 9 in their Bibles. Then have one student read the verse out loud.

For younger students (1st and 2nd grade):
Read the story on page 318 of "The Beginners Bible". (Show the picture on 318 as you read the story.)

For all students:

  • Ask: So what kind of person did Jesus call to follow him in this story? (a tax collector)
  • Do you know anything about tax collectors in Bible times? (tax collectors were not liked because they cheated the people)
  • Ask: If you were a tax collector would it be hard to leave behind all that money?

Say: Matthew did leave behind the money; He got up and followed Jesus. We know that Matthew became a disciple of Jesus.

Say: We have read two stories about individual disciples being invited to follow Jesus - they are: Simon Peter, James, John, and Matthew. I'm going to tell you our next Bible story. It is from Luke's gospel, chapter 6. In this story Jesus names twelve disciples.

Teacher Note: Rather than read from a Bible, please tell this story. We'd like the children to understand a bit of the background to this story, which is written into this telling. Use the wording below:

For all students: Luke 6: 12-13 (paraphrased)

Jesus had been traveling about, teaching the people about God. Many crowds of people wanted to see Jesus! They had heard about how Jesus healed people. Jesus realized he needed help; there were just so many people! So he went up a mountain and he spent the night praying. The next day Jesus, called all his disciples (a big crowd of followers) and he chose twelve of them to be his apostles. Apostles are special messengers. The twelve apostles would not only follow Jesus, they would also help teach and heal people. Jesus listed the names of his twelve apostles:
Simon, whom he called Peter, James and his brother John (the sons of Zebedee), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot.

  • Ask: Why did Jesus need disciples? (needed them to help him do his work)

What types of people did Jesus choose as his disciples? (fishermen, tax collector)
Say: Jesus chose ordinary people. He didn't choose important religious leaders. Why do you think Jesus chose the people he did? (allow all answers)

Teacher Note: Choose from among the following games depending on how much time is available. Leave about 5 minutes for the Closing Discussion.

Game 1: Tag
Say: Now let's play a game that is like Tag.

Divide the class into two groups. Choose one person from each group to be it; they are the "nets". The rest of the kids are "fish". Give the "fish" pieces of masking tape prepared ahead of time (see Leader Preparation). Have them stick the masking tape to their shirt. Give all the kids ("fish") in one group the same color of masking tape. ("Nets" don’t get tape.)

Designate two corners of the room as "boats", one for each team. The "net" tries to tag fish in the other group. (Trying to tag members of the other group so there is some incentive to trying not to be tagged.) If tagged a fish must go to the boat and stay there. Once all fish from a team are in the boat, the net will arrange them in a line in Bible verse order. (Example: Someone with the word "fish" on their tape would come before someone with "for people".) "Come, follow me and I will make you fish for people". A team wins when their net gets all the other team's fish in the correct order. Have everyone say the verse.

Teacher Note: For this game, you and the shepherds will have to help the 1st and 2nd graders to put the verse together in correct order.

Game 2: Following Jesus
Say: In this game we are going to be the playing pieces on a giant game board. This game is called "Following Jesus".

Ask all the students to take off their shoes. Spread out the game board on the carpet. Pass out a four game cards to each student. Have the student with the birthday closest to Christmas, start.

To play: roll the die and move themselves along the game board according to their roll. (Can start at either end of the board). There can be more than one child on the same square.

When someone lands on a Red Square, they give up one of their game cards. (They can trade game cards with other students if they want but must give one up every time they land on a red square.) Have the student tell everyone what they are giving up. Repeat what they said as in the following example: "Roger is giving up a video game to follow Jesus".

Hint: Keep the game moving along. End the game if the kids seem bored with it or someone gives up all their cards. (The player who "loses" all his tokens wins. They have left everything behind to follow Jesus.)
At the end Say: Just like the disciples did, we were giving things up to follow Jesus.

Additional option for older kids: If it seems like you have a lot of extra time: have the kids create the game cards before starting the game – writing down 4 things they value. (Use blank 3 x 5 cards).

Game 3: Jesus Fishes for ...
Say: This game is like musical chairs except without the music.

Arrange the chairs so there are one less seats than there are kids. Start off the game with the extra person (you) in the middle. Tell the kids that instead of music, the person in the middle will be saying something like: "Jesus fishes for people wearing blue shoes". Everyone with blue shoes must then switch seats with someone else wearing blue shoes. The extra person is trying to get a seat too. Whoever is left standing will be the next one in the middle. He or she will then say, "Jesus fishes for people. . ." and will name something else. For example: wearing green, with brown hair, who like soccer, who like math, etc.
Stop playing when it seems the game is getting old. Say: We can see that Jesus really is fishing for all of us, no matter what we wear, what we look like, or who we are. Jesus loves all of us and wants us all to follow him.

Game 4: Fishing Game

Say: In this game we'll learn about being followers of Jesus.

Spread the fish on the carpet. Pass out fishing poles (with magnets on them). Have kids take turns "fishing" for one of the fish shapes (that have paper clips on them). Written on the fish are statements that help or don't help us to be followers of Jesus. When the kids catch a fish, have them hand it to you (younger kids) ) so you can read what it says out loud, or read it themselves out loud (older kids). Then have them tell the group if the fish is a "keeper" or not. (A keeper is something that shows they are following Jesus.)

Leave at least 5 minutes at the end for closing.

When it is time to wrap up Say: In closing, we have learned about Jesus calling his disciples to fish for people. What do you think it means to fish for people? (allow all answers). What are some things you can do this week to help you follow Jesus?

Ask the kids to help clean up, putting away Bibles and any supplies.
Encourage everyone to come back next week for another workshop, and to invite friends to come too!

References and Thanks:

  • Many thanks to Joyce at New Windsor Presbyterian Church who had the idea for the "Following Jesus" game and described to me their life-size game board.
  • Also thanks to Jaymie Derden at State Street United Methodist Church Bristol, Virginia-Tennessee for the ideas for the last two games below.
  • Big Book of Bible Games. Ventura, CA: Gospel Light, 1996.

A lesson written by Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church

Ann Arbor, MI 

Copyright 2002 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


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