GROWING IN GOD'S GARDEN
LESSON ONE - BE PLANTED IN GOOD SOIL
Theme: The next six weeks will be spent on a farm, learning about growing in God's garden.
The Set: decorate the puppet stage like a barn. Add props like wheel barrows, shovels, rakes, a ride on toy tractor, etc. Workers can dress in bib overalls and straw hats.
Farmer Al Falfa (grumpy old farmer), Sprout (the farmers son), Sweet pea (the farmers daughter), Petunia (the farmers other daughter), leader, and a cast of farm animal puppets.
This week: we will introduce the garden/farm theme and discover how important the right soil is.
To teach the kids that:
Consistently enforcing the rules helps the service to run more smoothly. It is crucial to lovingly and consistently enforce the rules. Try to foresee problems so that they can be avoided before they occur. Work with your pod and interact with them before service and encourage them to pay close attention and really worship God today. Remember you are more than a teacher, you are a mentor!
Remind the kids of the rules. It helps the kids to respond if they know what is expected of them.
Begin by having the kids spend about 2 minutes kneeling at their chairs praying for the service.
Once the kids are done open in prayer asking for God's presence in our service. Kids need to know that God wants to move in their lives and that he will if they seek him. This time of prayer sets the tone of the remainder of the service.
It is important to review with the kids the reasons that we worship and explain the how's and whys. Encourage them to really worship God.
The leader should introduce the kids to the theme.
Puppet skit: A cow puppet and the leader
Leader: Well, kids we are going to be learning about growing in God's garden in the next few weeks so we are here at the farm. I hear there is a farmer here who maybe able to help us out.
Cow: (peeks his head out of the barn) Oh you don't want to talk to the farmer.
Leader: Well, I figured he'd be the one to know the most about gardening.
Cow: Oh he knows a lot about gardening, but he is sssssssoooooooo grumpy!
Leader: I see, Well, you live here on the farm. Do you know a lot about gardening?
Cow: I do listen to the farmer when I can but I stay pretty busy making milk for all the kids. Why do you want to know about gardening anyways?
Leader: We are learning about growing in God's garden in church now.
Cow: God has a garden? What does he grow in it?
Leader: He grows people in his garden.
Cow: Now wait a minute. I may be a cow, but I am not totally stupid. Even I know that people don't grow in gardens.
Leader: You are right. People don't grow in dirt, but in a spiritual sense God is like a gardener and people are like his plants. Christians are supposed to grow spiritually. So we compare that to growing in a garden.
Cow: You mean like planting a seed and then it grows and sprouts and grows into a mature plant?
Leader: exactly. When someone decides to accept Jesus as their Lord it is like planting a seed in their heart. God expects Christians to grow spiritually and become more mature each day.
Cow: Yeah, but growing takes a while. I have watched the farmer plant and then he has to wait a while before the plants are big and green. He works real hard helping his garden grow.
Leader: Gardening is hard work, can you tell us about it?
Cow: Oh no, I got to go, here comes the farmer. If he sees me neglecting my chores I'll get in trouble. Sorry I can't help.
Leader: Oh well, maybe the farmer will be helpful. Look, here he comes now. Hello Mr. farmer!
Farmer Al Falfa: (comes out of the barn. He is a grumpy old farmer who doesn't show much interest in being pestered.) My names Farmer Al Falfa. Who are you? And what do ya want?
Leader: Well, we are here to find out how we can grow spiritually and we thought that since you are a gardener and know all about growing things, you could help us out.
Farmer: can't you see I'm busy? You city folks should just go back where you belong.
Leader: Well, I guess we'll just have to go down the road and ask old farmer Jones. He has some pretty nice looking crops. I bet he knows more about gardening anyways.
Farmer: Hold it! Why I know way more about growing things than that old coot. What do you want to know?
Leader: Well, that's a tough one. How about telling us what one of the most important things about planting is.
Farmer: That's easy. S.O.I.L.
Leader: S.O.I.L. What does that stand for?
Farmer: You city folks sure aren't real bright are ya? s.o.i.l. Spells soil. You know dirt?!
Leader: Oh soil. I see. Really? Dirt is important?
Farmer: Yep. Dirt's real important. There, I helped you find out something about gardening and growing, Now get on out of here. I got chores to do. (He takes off into the barn.)
Leader: Well, we know dirt's important to growing things, but we don't know why. I wonder if there is anyone else here on the farm who might be able to help us out.
THE LEADER SHOULD NOTICE THE FARMERS THREE KIDS OFF TO THE SIDE ARGUING.
Leader: Maybe they can help us out. (Strolls over to them) Hello. I'm Ms. Sheryl and I'm here to find out all about gardening and growing things.
Sprout: Hello, my name is sprout and these are my icky sisters sweet pea and petunia.
Petunia: Yeah, well this is our dumb brother Sprout!
Leader: You guys seem to be having a problem. Can I help?
Sweet Pea: Pa told us to go plant some seeds and we can't decide where to plant them.
Petunia: our dumb brother wants to plant the seeds here in this rocky soil
Sprout: Well, my icky sister Petunia wants to plant it over there in that hard ground. And sweet pea wants to plant over in that ground that is full of weeds. And they call me dumb?!
Leader: Now this is quite a problem. The farmer did say that the dirt you plant in is very important. Maybe we should find out what to do from farmer Al. He is right in there in the barn. (Calling loudly) Hey! Farmer Al Falfa!
Farmer Al: Now what do ya want? I really don't have time for all these pesky kids and all your questions.
Leader: Well, I was just here talking to Sprout, sweet pea, and petunia and we are trying to decide where to plant these seeds and can't seem to agree.
Farmer Al: Well, just a minute. I'll be right back. (He enters the barn and comes out with four clear containers of dirt. One has rocky soil, one has hard packed down soil, one has weedy soil and the last has good soil. He then shows each container and explains what happens if you plant in that type of soil.)
1. Rocky, shallow soil... the plant springs up quickly but can't develop roots so it dies.
2. Hard soil.......the ground is not broken up so the seed doesn't grow at all.
3. Weedy soil....the plant grows but then dies as it is choked out by the weeds.
4. Good soil.....the plant develops roots and grows strong
Wow, this reminds me of a story that Jesus told. It's found in the Bible in the book of Matthew, chapter 13.. Tell the story about the seed that fell on hard ground, rocky ground, and thorny ground. Explain the spiritual parallel.
Write the memory verse out on veggies. You will need one set of veggies that are written on and a blank set of veggies for each team. Have each team sit in a circle. Pass out the veggies that have the verse on them. The game is played like hot potato. The kids pass the veggies until the music stops and then those with the veggies read the words from the verse in order. Each time the music stops a veggie that is written on is replaced with a blank veggie. Continue until all the veggies are blank and the kids know the verse.
Matthew 13:23 The good soil represents the hearts of those who truly accept God's message.
Have the kids break into their pods and go with their pod leader. The pod leader should review what has been learned and answer any questions the kids have. This is a time for more personal discipleship. Then pass out clear plastic cups with wet paper towels in them to the kids. Have each child plant three lima bean seeds between the paper towels and the side of the cup. Write each Childs name on the cup in permanent magic marker. Explain to the kids that each week we will be observing the growth of our plants. Once the plants are completed the pod leader should have a time of group prayer with the kids asking God to help each of the kids to have a tender heart that is like good soil so that they will grow spiritually.
You will need a hard boiled egg, a raw egg, a raw egg that you have made a small hole in and removed the egg from, and a raw egg that you cut in half and fill with other stuff and glued back together. Explain to the kids that the eggs represent people's hearts. Start with the hard boiled egg. Open it up and talk about having a hard heart and how we can let bitterness and anger make our hearts hard. Then bring out the empty egg and talk about being shallow...saying we want to serve Christ but not really meaning it. Then bring out the egg filled with junk. Explain that this egg represents the person who says they want to serve Christ but let worldly things prevent them from growing spiritually. Finally bring out the raw egg. This egg represents the person who has a heart that is ready to allow God to use it and help them grow.
You will need a hoe and spade and any other gardening tools you'd like to incorporate. You will also need the clear containers with the soil samples. Begin by reviewing the different types of soil and how they compare to our hearts. Remind the kids that just like plants need to grow, Christians need to grow spiritually.
How's your heart?
Sprout: Is it like the hard soil? Is it full of anger and bitterness so that it won't even allow the seed to be planted?
Sweet pea: Is it like the Rocky shallow soil? Do you say you want to serve God but not follow through with actions?
Petunia: Is it like the thorny ground? Do you say you want to serve God but you let problems and worldly things choke out seed? Are money, fun, friends, more important than God?
Leader: Is it like the good soil? Do you really want to serve God and do everything possible to let God's teaching make deep roots into your heart?
Farmer Al Falfa: Now bring out the tools. Explain that when the ground isn't good the farmer can work with the soil to change it. If it is too hard he can break it up with a hoe or spade. If it is rocky he can dig up the rocks. If it is thorny and weedy he can get rid of the weeds. God is our gardener. He wants to help us make our ground good ground so that we will grow to be mature Christians. He does that by changing our hearts at the alter.
Close with a time of worship. Then encourage the kids to take a look at their hearts and evaluate what kind of soil it is. Open the alter area for those who want to seek God and ask God to change their hearts.
Copyright 1998, Sheryl Coats