Storytelling Lessons, Ideas, Activities, and Resources for Teaching The Great Commission in Sunday School
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Matthew 28:16-20, "Jesus Appears to His Disciples," "Commissioning of the disciples," "Jesus Talks to His Followers," "Jesus gives his final instructions"
The Great Commission
Students will learn to tell the story of Jesus sending the disciples out to baptize all people (echo method of storylearning).
This lesson was written by Amy Crane (email@example.com) for Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church in Tampa, Florida.
Copyright 2001 Amy Crane. Permission granted to freely distribute and use, provided the copyright message is included.
* For additional information on retelling Bible Stories, see Amy Crane's manual on Biblical Storytelling in the Rotation Documents: Workshop Manuals section of the IDEA AND LESSON EXCHANGE.
Scripture: Matthew 28: 16-20 (Mark 16: 14-20, Acts 1: 6-8)
At the end of the session, the students will be able to
* Locate Matthew and identify it as the first of four Gospels.
* Retell the story of the Great Commission.
* Understand how we are called to share the Good News, just as the disciples were called.
Boring, M. Eugene. The New Interpreter's Bible: Matthew (volume 8). Abingdon Press, 1995.
Background comments on the story:
Matthew 26: 32: Jesus tells the disciples he will meet them in Galilee after he is raised up.
Jesus tells the disciples to go to ALL people (including Gentiles). All are to become part of the community of disciples, not just individual believers. Also, Jesus implies that baptizing these people is not enough. They must be taught also.
A note on storytelling: the goal of this lesson is not to learn to retell the story of the Great Commission word for word from the Bible. Rather, the students should be able to retell the story with 90% content accuracy (that is, Jesus says, "I will be with you always", not "I will visit once in a while") and 75% verbal accuracy. The students are retelling the story in their own words.
Props, scenery, costumes, and supplies: copies of the story for retelling for each student; world map and information on mission activity today, such as the PC(USA) Mission Yearbook.
Early Arrival Activity: Discuss with the students how, where, when and by whom Jesus was seen after the Resurrection. What instructions did he give? Have them read Mark 16: 14-18 silently or with a partner. Look at verse 15: "Go throughout the whole world and preach the gospel to all mankind." How are we called to do this today? Look at the Mission Yearbook and find on the world map where the Presbyterian Church is doing mission work.
Book to share before or after class: some picture book versions of the Easter story and collections of New Testament stories include post-resurrection appearances, including the Great Commission. Ask your librarian for help, or look for
Heyer, Carol. The Easter Story. Ideals Children's Books, 1990.
McCaughrean, Geraldine. God's Kingdom: Stories from the New Testament. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1999
Winthrop, Elizabeth. He Is Risen: The Easter Story. Holiday House, 1985.
BRINGING THE STORY TO LIFE: Storytelling (echo method)
Open with prayer.
Read the scripture: Matthew 28: 16-20
Discuss before acting out the story:
Characters: Jesus, eleven disciples (why were there 11 instead of 12?)
Where did the story take place: on a hill in Galilee (at the Last Supper Jesus told them to meet him here)
How would you feel if you were told to go out into the world?
What is a commission? An authoritative order, charge, or direction. (Random House Webster's College Dictionary, 1991.)
Teach the story: The Great Commission (Matthew 28: 16-20 version)
Echo method of teaching/learning a story: (Before class, write out the story the way you tell it. Decide where breaking points should be for manageable sentences or phrases for the students to repeat (echo) back.)
Tell the story.
Tell the story again sentence by sentence (or phrase by phrase), instructing listeners to repeat what you say in unison.
Repeat this echoing of the story several times.
Ask a volunteer to tell the story to the class. Allow the class to prompt him or her when he/she gets stuck.
If time permits:
Give each student a copy of the story and divide into pairs. Each partner takes a turn telling the story. The listener coaches the teller, trying not to peek at the printed story.
Ask for volunteers to try telling the story to the class without help.
Congratulate all on a job well done!
Encourage everyone to tell the story to at least one other person today. Then it will truly be their own.
Pulling it all together (closing discussion):
* Talk about baptism practices in your church. Why are you baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit? (Matthew 28: 19)
* I wonder why "they worshiped him, even though some of them doubted?" (verse 17)
* Do you think the commission was only for the eleven disciples? Why or why not?
* Are we disciples? How can we make others disciples?
Thank you for sending Your son to teach us and to be with us as we take Your word into the world. Amen.
The Great Commission
Matthew 28: 16-20
adapted for retelling by Amy Crane
from Today's English Version and New Revised Standard Version
This story is from the book of Matthew, chapter 28: verses 16-20
After Jesus was crucified,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
reported seeing him alive again!
The eleven disciples
went to the hill in Galilee
where Jesus had told them to meet him.
When they saw him,
they worshiped him,
even though some doubted.
Jesus came and said to them,
in heaven and on earth
has been given to me.
to all peoples everywhere
and make them my disciples:
in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.
I am with you always,
to the end of the age."
Scripture taken from the Good News Bible in Today's English Version - Second Edition, Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.