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Rally Renewal Fall Kick off Sunday School

In this topic:
Creative Sunday School lesson plans and ideas with the theme of Renewal, Re-Commitment, Rally, Stepping Up to the Challenge, etc. especially for the fall return of Sunday School—but suitable any time you're rallying the troops!

In this topic, we've pulled together a list of creative lesson plans and ideas already here at Rotation.org that in some way fit the renewal theme, and added some new idea as well. Several of the lesson ideas excerpted below were written by the Writing Team which means you'll need a Supporting Membership to access the full lesson with all its details. However, we've excerpted the crucial ideas and activities for everyone to read and run with.

Many if not most of the activities in these lesson plans can also be adapted for intergenerational events, demonstrations, even children's sermons. Several of the lesson plans from the Writing Team already include such adaptation notes.

This topic is also collecting FRESH LESSON IDEAS for rallying attendance, renewing commitment, etc. Share yours below!

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"Renewal - Launch - Go" themed lessons

from our Writing Team's

Pentecost ~ Wind, Fire, Faith! Lesson Set

The theme of Pentecost is about the renewal and empowerment of the disciples to GO! and spread the Good News. Sometimes referred to as "the birthday of the Church," Pentecost celebrates the Spirit that brings us together and sends us out into the world.

Below are short descriptions with resources we have excerpted to two of the Writing Team's favorite Pentecost "Go!" lessons. Supporting Members can follow the links to view the entire lesson plan and print/copy/change what they need! Join todayFor non-supporting members, we hope we've included enough to stoke your enthusiasm and build your own lesson or experience around these great ideas.

You are most welcome to borrow the song video, blacklight presentation idea, and model rocket launch ideas for your Go! lesson or event.


Lesson Idea 1: "Start a Fire in My Soul"

blacklightkids--a Creative Movement & Music Lesson Plan for elementary age and younger youth.

Students learn and perform fun motions in blacklight to the hit contemporary song, "Start a Fire in My Soul" (by Unspoken). The lesson plan includes printable motion instructions!

Below we've included the links to the two music videos found in the lesson --a blacklight performance of the song by a group of Sunday School kids, and a lyric version of "Start A Fire" (in my soul).

In addition to being a great Sunday School lesson, this could be a great children's worship song or presentation at your Renewal Go! event.

"Start a Fire" could also be an event theme (maybe even have a bonfire!)

Here's the Hampton United Church kids performing the blacklight version of Start a Fire. Be sure to see the "reveal" around 2:08!

There are several music videos on YouTube featuring the Start A Fire song. Here's one for singing-along.




Lesson Idea 2: Ready - Set - Launch!

--a Model Rocket Lesson, Event, or Special Demonstration

"The Holy Spirit powers our faith and commitment. Our church is your launchpad, and here are the things that guide us as we soar..." In this very special workshop, your students will prepare a model rocket and launch it —taking their understanding and enthusiasm to new heights in a lesson they'll never forget. The lesson plan has options to both build a rocket and launch it, or to launch an already-built rocket.

The teachable metaphors abound in this activity! What and Who powers your faith? Where and How can you rocket-power your commitment? How are you guided? Where does God want you to soar?  What message can your rocket send? Can you land your rocket on target?

You can also use this lesson's big idea (launching a model rocket) as part of a special intergenerational activity or Rally event. The lesson has ideas for quick rocket building in small groups, or decorating and preparing pre-made rockets.  Safe, fun, and amazing --don't be surprised if you have some rocket modelers already in your midst, or excited to rekindle an old hobby to teach God's Word.

rocket-launch

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A Glo Germ "Spread the Gospel" Lesson or Activity

from a science lesson in the Writing Team's Story of Creation Lesson Set

(Everyone can get Glo Germ Gel and use it to demonstrate the idea described below. Only Supporting Members can access the actual lesson plan as it is part of our Team's special lesson sets. Join today!)

One of the terrific lessons in our Writing Team's "Story of Creation" Lesson Set uses Glo-Germ Gel to demonstrate how God's hands are all over us and Creation—if you know where and how to look for him. The non-toxic gel is invisible except in blacklight, and the blacklight reveals traces of it everywhere your students have put their hands. You can even write "secret messages" using the Glo Germ gel that can only be revealed by the "light of faith" (blacklight).

GloHands

Use Glo Germ Gel to show how the Gospel and Goodness of God is spread when we "Go! share the Gospel" through our words and good acts. Show students how their faithfulness and love can spread through a community and INSPIRE others to faith and good deeds.

One way to show this is to SECRETLY lather the Glo Germ Gel on one of your student's hands (tell them it is hand sanitizer), then invite your class to "mingle" with each other for a minute. Then turn on the blacklight to see how far the original act of faith and goodness made it through the group.

Another way to do this is as a game where you "let loose" a couple of kids who have plenty of the Glo Germ Gel on their hands and have them play a game that involves passing objects (like a ball). Encourage them to shake hands, give high fives, and put their hand on their friends' shoulders, too. Then, do the "big reveal" by turning down the lights and turning ON the blacklight to see how many kids have traces of the Glo Germ Gel on them.

Glo Germ Gel is found online. Be sure to get a bright blacklight so that you can see how "touches" of kindness and Good News can be passed forward.




The unseen consequences of an action (such as spreading goodness) is sometimes called "The Butterfly Effect."

Here's a CBS Sunday Morning segment featuring Chris Rosati, a young man who "proved" the butterfly effect by spurring others to change the world. (He has ALS and has since passed away.)

Chris gave "micro grants" to kids who were challenged to change the world with it.
How could you set up an experiment like the one Chris did?

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The "Boat and Butter" Sunday School lesson

from the Rotation.org Writing Team's "Peter Sinks, Jesus Saves!" Lesson set
Matthew 14:22-33

butterThis really fun and popular lesson about Peter sinking in the waters and having to have Jesus rescue him has the kids making tasty butter through a series of "shaking and rolling" activities that illustrate "Jesus boat" things like "life can have rough seas," "learning to trust Jesus," and "we're in this together --turning milk into cream, doubt into faith."

In short: Kids make their own butter as they roll and shake heavy cream in small plastic "tupperware-type" container.

For the renewal theme:
It's time to shake things up!  Time to get in the boat, set sail, brave the seas, and make some butter!

The "Shaking" Activity includes the use of a wonderful music video, Finding Favour's "Shake the World" to help that cream turn into tasty butter.

when the sons and daughters start to singing this song,
then everybody all around them will start singing along,
we're gonna shake the world

The Writing Team's lesson plans are open to our amazing Supporting members.
Join Today!


EXCERPTS from the lesson plan that give you the basic idea...

The butter-making activity lets you talk about the story while they transform their milk into butter. You can't make butter sitting still! You gotta shake it up!   Afterwards, they'll love putting their butter on breads you've brought, and maybe even some jam. Has God shaken your faith and started to turn it into butter? Who do you need to share God's tasty goodness with?

This activity can easily be transformed into an intergenerational or Rally Day event with a "transform" theme.

After introducing and discussing the story...

Butter Shaking Activity 1: Rolling, scooting, and shaking the jars "across the sea"

Students sitting on the floor will roll their container across the sea to another student who shakes it and then rolls it back. Do this one pair of students at a time, asking story-related and "stepping out in faith" questions in-between. Go easy and expect some fun results from the containers rolling around and maybe even colliding. And remember: When they are not rolling they are to keep shaking their container!

Say and Do: Difficult or challenging things in your life are like waves and wind threatening to sink you or send your life out of control. When you roll your butter container, name something that scares you or would upset you (for example, losing a friend or a pet).

Butter Shaking Activity 2:  "We're in this boat together"

Say: Jesus knew he wouldn't always be here on earth walking around, so he left a different kind of "body" for us to be part of. We call that body "The Church." Sometimes we in the church describe that body as a BOAT, did you know that?  

What are some of the jobs in our boat? What can you do to help? Where do we need to go?

As part of being in a boat together, sit in a circle and pass the butter containers from one person to the next as quickly as possible (still shaking the containers). If one drops, that's fine—just work together and keep passing vigorously.

Butter Shaking Activity 3:  "Shake (Transform) the World!"

Have this awesome music video ready to go on your monitor or tablet. The lyrics are visible in the video, so be sure your screen is big enough for all to be able to read them.  

Introduce the video by saying:  Jesus works through his disciples to transform the world and transform people's lives. Transform from bad to good, from weak to strong, unbelief to belief. Disciples are followers of Jesus like us who step out into the world and shake it up! In this song, you're going to hear that message load and clear.  As we listen to and watch the song,  use the music to move your containers to the beat, and whenever you hear the word 'shake' —SHAKE BIG to help TRANSFORM our cream into butter.

Stirring in a bit of salt and spread the button on crackers or bread as you celebrate being a part of a faith community that works together to Shake Up the World.

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Here's a terrific Art Activity for any renewal or rally event with kids or the whole congregation.

This terrific art activity comes from our Writing Team's Peter Sinks, Jesus Saves! lesson set. The activity and parts of the lesson plan can easily be adapted to the theme of renewal or recommitment. If you're a Supporting Member, you can read the detailed art activity instructions here in the full Peter Sinks lesson plan. Join today. This lesson is a great example of the level of engaging art activities our Writing Team puts into its lesson sets!

"Seeking Rescue & Renewal," "Reach out for Jesus"

Here's the gist of the activity and teaching idea and some images which you should easily be able to adapt and run with to the theme of "seeking Jesus" "reaching out in faith,"  "Whom shall I send?" "Raising a hand to help others." etc...

ReachingOut-Hands-2up

Hand-closeup2The "How-to"
Each student traces his or her hand onto a blank piece of paper. After tracing your hands and fingers, use a pencil to draw parallel lines across the page from top to bottom about 1/2" apart using a ruler—only drawing OUTSIDE the traced fingers and hands. Then freehand draw curved lines inside each finger and hand to connect to the parallel lines outside the tracing—which creates to the 3D effect.  After completing the lines with pencil, color the lines with markers.

Here's the "hand of Jesus" reaching down to save Peter.

Hand-of-Jesus

The hand image, and particular the two hands positioned with each other can tell a great story. They can answer questions, such as:

Who is ready to follow Jesus?

Or display your commitment by showing you

Reaching out to Christ, reaching out for Christ

Or simply saying, "Send me!"

You could have a WALL OF HANDS showing everyone's 3D hand reaching up toward a goal.

You could draw a GIANT HAND reaching down to hold onto those ready to take a step --those who have drawn their hand onto the mural.

You can use this same technique to draw three different "3D" students in a position of "Ready, Set Go!" next to a fourth outline of Jesus in 3D.

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Here are three great ideas gleaned from
our Writing Team's Great Commission Lesson Plans

Below are excerpts and summaries from three of the Writing Team's Great Commission lesson plans that especially lend themselves to the theme of "Go!" and Renewal. Each can be used as a lesson, or adapted for use as part of a "launch, renewal" event. They can also be used to inspire a children's sermon or used in worship for presentation.

We've included enough of the lesson plans for you to read and run with. If you are a Supporting Member, you can access the full lesson plan with all its details. Join today!

Lesson/Activity 1:  Jesus' Road Signs for the Disciples

Students enjoy a "Disciple Road Signs" activity (with guided discussion in the lesson plan) in which they sketch road signs that Jesus might have created for his disciples to guide them in the way they should go, and to help them find or avoid things along the journey. Think "road trip!"

PREPARED-to-stopGo and....
Stop ahead to ...
Stop doing...
Yield to...
These are the Dead End(s) and Do Not Enter(s)...
Slow down to...
Here's what's Under Construction
Signs for "The School Zone"
and more

Lesson/Activity 2: The Great Commission to Mission

This lesson invites several key leaders from your church to talk with your group about how their work fulfills the Great Commission. The leaders present specific HANDS-ON opportunities to the participants that they can sign up to get involved, or do something right at the end of class or the event. The presenters bring in props, photos, and invite students to interact with them. The lesson plan even suggests a game that a presenter can play.

For example, the "Lead Greeter" shows kids how to greet others coming to their church, and how to spot and help new people trying to find a classroom or coming into their class for the very first time. The "facilities person" asks how to make things nicer or more inviting, and has things the kids can do to help. The food pantry volunteer gives the kids a list of foods to collect and where to bring them, and if the pantry/storage is at the church, invites some of the kids to come help with a quick sorting project after class.


Lesson/Activity 3: I'm Gonna Make This Place Your Home

The Writing Team found this fantastic music video from Tyler Perry's "The Passion" that features Jesus with his disciples in a contemporary setting asking, "Who do people say that I am?", and Jesus singing the words to the mega-hit "HOME."

Here are the lyrics to the song in case you haven't heard it a while (it was and still is super popular). When Jesus sings the song in The Passion music video, they sound like great encouragements and comfort for disciples about to begin his work:

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
'Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found
Just know you’re not alone
'Cause I’m going to make this place your home

The clip starts with Jesus (Jencarlos, the singer) and his disciples (including Michael W. Smith) in a coffee shop discussing "who do people say that I am?" Peter (Prince Royce) responds. Then after a brief narration by Tyler Perry seen at a park in New Orleans, we return to see Jesus and Peter meet outside the shop and sing "Home."

Supporting Members can see the full lesson plan that includes lots of details for discussion and also a way to dramatize the music.

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Sunday School is like Buried Treasure

Sunday School is a Pearl Worth the Price!

It's also like a small mustard seed—spending one hour a week in Sunday School learning about Jesus can help make Jesus a BIG part of your life.

Our Writing Team has a YUMMY Cooking Workshop activity that turns a cinnamon roll-making activity into a tasty lesson about Jesus' four short parables about the Kingdom of God. We add "teacher patter" and extra ingredients to the preparation to link the activity to the stories and their meaning, and then do a "yeast in a bottle" science experiment during the baking to talk about how small things can turn into BIG things.   

The Team's lesson is easily adaptable to your "renew" or "why come to Sunday School" lesson or theme, and could be done by an intergenerational group, or at home.

rolls

The full lesson and set are open to our amazing Supporting Members (join today), but we're posting enough of the lesson here for you to get the idea and adapt this fun cooking activity to renewing everyone's commitment to the importance and promise of Sunday School!



Scripture for the Lesson

  • Parable of the Mustard Seed - Matthew 13:31-32
  • Parable of the Leaven (Yeast) - Matthew 13:33
  • Parable of the Treasure in the Field - Matthew 13:44
  • Parable of the Pearl - Matthew 13:45-46
  • Additional Scripture:  "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it?" Luke 13:18 (NRSV)

Notes about the Recipe & Process

There are many recipes for cinnamon rolls. The recipe we've chosen (and shared below) can be assembled, baked, and ready to eat within 30-35 minutes.  By using ready-to-bake crescent roll dough, you don't have to wait for the bread to rise. We added plumped raisins to the recipe to visually and tastily represent the mustard seed and pearls from the parables. In your renewal lesson, these can represent the small things that you can do (like committing yourself to an hour a week Sunday School) that can do big things for your faith!

Here's the Recipe from the Lesson:

The following recipe makes 8 cinnamon rolls. Multiply based on the size of your class and desired number of rolls. It is based on the "30 minute cinnamon roll recipe" from the Pop Sugar Food website.

The Dough
1 package crescent roll dough (makes 8 cinnamon rolls)

The Cinnamon Spread
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 packed cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Raisins to represent seeds and pearls  (plump in a bowl of warm water 15 minutes ahead of time)

Sugar Glaze for 8 Rolls
2 tablespoons soft salted butter
2 tablespoons softened cream cheese
2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon or orange juice (adjust to thin the glaze)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar to sprinkle over the finished rolls (if desired)


The teacher shares insights and ideas during the preparation:

Here is the suggested "script" of things from the Kingdom Parables lesson plan. It's a sort of "tabletop re-telling" of the parable that assigns meaning to the ingredients and prep steps.

You will have to rephrase these ideas for your chosen renewal theme. We've included them as an example of how the teacher in a Cooking Workshop connects the ingredients to the lesson content. No moments or ingredients go unused.

As students help unroll the dough in one big sheet...
Jesus talked a lot about the coming of God's Kingdom into the world. And in fact, he said it was already here —IF you knew what to look for. Our dough is like the world.

As students drop plump raisins onto the dough...
Jesus told many stories called parables to describe the Kingdom. One of parables said that the Kingdom was like small mustard seeds that were being sown into the world. And those tiny Kingdom seeds would grow into a large tree that birds could safely nest in. Our raisins are like a small mustard seed sown into the dough which represents the world.

As students spread the butter on the dough...
Then Jesus said that the Kingdom was kind of like a woman who mixed yeast (or leaven) into bread dough to make it rise. We'll learn more about this parable of the yeast while our cinnamon rolls are baking.

As students mix and spread the cinnamon and sugar onto the dough...
Then Jesus told another parable saying the Kingdom was like a treasure someone had hidden in a field. Let's spread our treasure onto the dough.

As students roll the dough...
The Kingdom was hidden in the field, kind of like we're hiding the cinnamon sugar in the dough. Not everyone believed in God's Kingdom. They didn't think God was real. They ignored the idea that God was around them. But then one day, someone like you stumbled upon the treasure, and knew it was the most important thing in the whole world. So you bought the cinnamon rolls—I mean "field."

Cut the roll into slices, and put the slices into a greased baking dish.

As students add either a raisin "pearl" or extra bit of cinnamon/sugar/butter to the middle of each roll...
Jesus also said that God's Kingdom was like someone who bought and sold pearls, but was always looking for the BEST pearl ever. And then one day, the pearl merchant FOUND the Kingdom of God, I mean –great pearl, and gave up everything they owned to own that pearl. I think what that means is this:  when you find God and find God's goodness and mercy, you want to give your whole life to it.

Now let's put our Cinnamon Parable into the oven.

Note: If you do not have time or the facilities to bake the rolls, place them in foil tins to be baked at home. In lieu of baking, mix the topping and scoop it into sealable sandwich-sized bags to go home with the unbaked rolls. Include a note about the "Kingdom Rolls" and baking time. (Smaller batches in foil tins will bake faster.)

During the Baking Time

Writing Team Cooking Workshops always have a Bible story-related activity or game to play when things are in the oven.  In this Kingdom Rolls Cooking Workshop, the lesson plan calls for a quick "yeast, sugar, and water" experiment/demonstration to show how something small can do big things—like inflate a balloon.

yeast-sugar-expand-experiment

You can find descriptions of this experiment at various science websites. The Writing Team's detailed description and explanation is in their lesson plan with suggested teaching content to connect the activity and action to the Bible story. The Team is thorough!

For a renewal theme...
What "ingredients" will help you follow through on your renewed commitment to learning more about Jesus?

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Recommitting Ourselves to Look for and Follow Jesus

emmausroadLike the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, some of our disciples have walked away wondering "is that all there is?" and "what's next?"; and they need to meet Jesus on their road to renew their commitment to following him.

Our Writing Team developed a really special set of creative Emmaus lesson plans along those thematic lines for its Road to Emmaus lesson set. Supporting Members can see the entire set and lesson plans (join today!)

In the set is a "Road Back from Emmaus" Stations Workshop lesson that has six different mini-learning activities.  You can set up and adapt these stations for a Sunday School lesson or a congregational event.

Below is an outline of the stations found in the lesson, PLUS the  "Stations Setup Handout." Use that handout to set up the stations and adapt them to create your own "Renewing Our Desire to Know Jesus" stationsor whatever you want to name them.

Emmaus Stations Lesson Plan Overview

The Emmaus story is told through the following stations with "Station 0" being optional.  Set-up and instructions for Stations 1 through 5 are found in the Emmaus Stations Handout attached. Station "0" is a quick introduction to the story. It is described below but NOT included in the handout in case you want to do a different type of story introduction or study.

A volunteer "staffs" each station and provides the insights that connect the activity to the lesson and life application.

Adaptation for a Renewal Theme: In a "renewing our desire to see and know Jesus" these stations could be put together and staffed by teens or volunteers. They could be open to children in a lesson, or the entire congregation during an event.

See the attached handout for full station descriptions!

Station 0:  Optional Brief Video retelling of the story for all students. Use the scripture video found here on YouTube. Alternately, read the story together as a class. Insights and questions about the story are found in each station.

Station 1:  Two Impossible Experiments

Station 2:  "Seeing Jesus" Puzzlejesuspuzzle

Station 3:  Bread Box Station ~ Reaching for What Jesus Offers

Station 4:  Color Spinning Wheel Demonstration

Station 5:  Domino Station ~ What disciples do next

SeeingJesusSpinningWheel

Each Station has scripture, questions, and appropriate reflection built into it. You may choose to do a closing gathering to summarize what was learned at each station.   Adapt the wording and life application to your "renewal theme" as you wish.

This lesson is a great example of the kind of creativity and detail our Writing Team gives all of its lesson. If you're not a Supporting Member, join today and get access to the Team's hundreds of similarly fantastic lesson plans!

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The suggestion above (Sunday School is like Buried Treasure/Sunday School is a Pearl Worth the Price!) for adapting a Writing Team cooking lesson into a Rally Day/Renewal activity is a yummy fun suggestion!

I would expand the idea to produce A BUNCH of storytelling cinnamon rolls and have the children distribute them to congregation members (pass them on trays) during a social hour or post-worship event for Rally Day or Welcome Back or whatever your church does to celebrate a new school year. Encourage the members to ask and the children to share what they heard and learned as part of the cooking process. It is a safe way to have the children practice going and being witnesses and a great way to foster intergenerational conversation in the congregation.

Last edited by Amy Crane

Lessons to go along with a "Let's Go!" Set-Sail event or theme

SetSail theme graphic

The metaphors of raising sails and catching the breeze are akin to the Let's Go! theme, and both are great biblical visuals for your renewal programming theme. If your end of summer or returning to Sunday school event has a "Set Sail" theme, there are a number of lessons at Rotation.org that you can use to accompany that theme for your first rotation of the school year.

  • The story of Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33) is one to consider. The boating and sailing motif is found throughout the creative lessons in the Peter Sinks, Jesus Saves! Writing Team lesson set. The focus for the lessons in the set is particularly appropriate for starting a new school year: one of the key objectives of the lessons is that the students will know that their doubts and fears will not keep Jesus from reaching out to save them. They are encouraged to renew their commitment to walk (or sail) with Jesus.
    • Several of those lessons are featured above: The Boat and Butter Sunday school lesson and the Seeking Renewal/Reaching out for Jesus art lesson.  (The lesson ideas excerpted above were written by the Writing Team, which means you'll need a Supporting Membership to access the full lesson with all its details. However, we've excerpted the crucial ideas and activities to help you plan your lesson if you don't want to become a Supporting Member at this time.)
    • The Writing Team's Water-telling workshop for Peter Sinks, Jesus Saves! is a "hands-in" lesson, where the students hear a storyteller's version of the Bible story and then gather around "The Sea of Galilee" (a shallow pool of water you build in your classroom or outside the church) to re-enact the story with an extra focus on the meaning of the waves and boat in the story, and watch their fears sink. Supporting Members can access the lesson for complete details on how to build a simple pool in the classroom and then guide the students through a reflective time with paper boats that they fold and sail.
    • The Peter Sinks, Jesus Saves Writing Team video workshop uses two video clips from the 2014 movie Son of God, and includes discussion questions that help students reflect on where they are in their faith journeys and whether or not they are ready to "step out."  Or take a look at these video suggestions from our sharing community that go along with the story of Jesus walking on water.
    • Need more lesson ideas for this rotation? In addition to the Writing Team's creative lessons for the story, there are many more lessons and ideas for Jesus walks on water shared by our community here.
  • Another great sailboat story is Jesus calms the storm (the disciples stay in the boat in Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25 and Matthew 8:23-27). There are many free lessons and ideas for your Sunday school classes here.
  • Or consider setting sail with Jonah as you talk about "Let's Go!" in the new school year. Explore what it means to go out and share God's Good News with others, even when you are not sure it is the thing you want to do. Take a look at our resources for teaching about Jonah.
  • Paul sailed some stormy seas, too. Take a look at our Paul's Journeys resources and lessons.



What "Set Sail" Bible story would you suggest for Renewing and Re-energizing your students' commitment to Sunday School? Post your ideas below!

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