Notes on Teaching Philip and the Ethiopian
A long time ago I didn't think this was a story worthy of occupying a coveted spot in the Rotation line-up. --Not when you can only do 10 or so rotations a year. But my mind has changed.
WHY? This story HIGHLIGHTS two important ideas not often found in NT lessons:
- The Imperative to SHARE THE GOOD NEWS with others. (Philip the disciple)
- The Importance of preparing yourself by studying scripture to believe in Jesus. (The Ethiopian)
It is a logical complement to the Pentecost story (which can get overdone every year since it's an annual Holy Day). It also complements othe rActs stories we teach, including, Peter's conversion of Cornelius, and Paul's conversion of the Jailer in Philippi. In the ACTS lesson forum you will see a Paul's Journeys forum which has some rotation lesson sets in it that were written to SURVEY THE BOOK OF ACTS during SUMMER Sunday School. Philip and the Ethiopian could easily fit into such an approach.
What's a Eunuch? Or more importantly, how do you describe what he was TO CHILDREN? See my expanded note down below... but think along the lines of "someone who was celibate" ..."dedicated to a specific function."
The African Missions Angle:
What an excellent opportunity to introduce kids/teachers to the history, presence and growth of Christianity in Africa! (Ethiopia is in Africa). I'll bet your denomination has a ton of resources on their work in Africa. Videos, maps, maybe even a missionary or someone who's been to Africa who could come into your Sunday School.
Anybody have some favorite videos about Christians in Africa? Please suggest them.
Software Lesson Thought:
The Ethiopian was from a different culture, race and language group than was Philip, but he studied the scriptures.
Idea: Look in the Actual Reality CD for the section on "Color Blind".
Idea: Create a "talking story" of "what Philip might have said" to the Ethiopian, using either Let's Talk CD or Kid Pix CDs ability to turn text into speech.
Drama Lesson Thought:
Now let's ask the question, "What did the Ethiopian tell his traveling entourage? He was not a lowly slave, but had a retinue. What questions were going through their mind? And... What did the Ethiopian say and do when he got back to Ethiopia? Can you imagine what his family said? "You met a guy who saw a dead man?!" "Why should we believe a religion from UP THERE?"
I've often thought of what SUSTAINED this Ethiopian's faith AFTER he had departed from Philip. Christianity had not yet spread to Ethiopia. I'm sure he second guessed his decision to become a Believer. How did he sustain? The answer for our kids is this: the Holy Spirit went WITH the Ethiopian. So what did his prayers sound like? What did God say to him as he traveled back south? What was God's counsel to this new believer in the face of opposition? A Christian community eventually grew up in Ethiopia. Perhaps it was due to the Eunuch.
GAME Workshop Thought:
If ever there was a story where we could use the ol' CHARIOT RACES game, this is it! You make a chariot by placing a blanket (or canvas) on the floor, sitting on it (holding on for dear life) and having to "horses" pull you around a track. The obstacle course you could create could all be themed obstacles.
The obstacles should be designed/constructed BY the kids as part of the Bible study, and walked through as part of the study about "things that pressure us to NOT believe".
- Peer Pressure Perils
- Faithless Falls
- Forget About It Canyon
- Too Busy to Read the Bible Bog
- Sunday School is Boring So I Dont' Want to Prepare to Believe in Jesus Jagged Cliff
At some of the chariot obstacles, the kids could do something, such as recite a memory verse, or shout an affirmation.