CHURCH PEOPLE ARE CALLED CHRISTIANS

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1 BOOK 3, PART 2, LESSON 6 CHURCH PEOPLE ARE CALLED CHRISTIANS THE BIBLE: Acts 11:21-26; Acts 11:26b NRSV THEME: God gave Jesus followers the power to carry on the work Jesus had begun. They gathered together to hear the good news of the story of Jesus. They established churches wherever they went. Those people were called Christians and still today there are Christians who have fellowship, worship God and witness to the Good News. PREPARING FOR THE LESSON MAIN IDEA: People who followed Jesus, long ago, were called Christians. The first place that people were given that name was in the city of Antioch. Today those of us who follow Jesus and are baptized into his church are also called Christians. MEMORY VERSE: and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. Acts 11:26b NRSV KEY WORDS AND CONCEPTS TO BE LEARNED: a. Exhort to urge, advise, or strongly encourage. BIBLE BACKGROUND: This is the first time that the word Christian has been used to describe the followers of Jesus. You will remember that the Book of Acts has been showing us how the early followers worshipped, fellowshipped and took care of one another. Because they followed closely to what they believed Jesus would expect his disciples to be, they began to be known widely. The term Christian was chosen because Jesus was known as the Christ, or the Messiah. It was logical that the followers of Jesus would be called Christian. Barnabas was a companion of Paul. He was working with Paul in many different places to help people to know about Jesus and to be baptized. He must have been so pleased with the work in Antioch that he wanted Paul to know about it and to see it for himself, so he went and brought him from Tarsus to Antioch. We don t really know who first started calling these groups of people Christian, but it is recorded in the scriptures at this point for our understanding. And since that time, all who have followed Jesus, giving up their ways and living lives that have been transformed by the Gospel have been called Christians as well. UNDERSTANDING YOUR STUDENTS: The boys and girls will be familiar, perhaps, with the term "Christian". They may have heard the term used in relationship to their community of faith, they may have heard it used by people of other faiths, when referring to those who are followers of

2 Jesus. They may not know the term as well. You will need to help them understand how the term came to be and why it is used for people who follow Jesus. They will be pleased to know that they too can be called Christians If they are willing to learn about Jesus and try to live as Jesus taught us to live. This will be a term you will use in the class today and you can use with them at other times. 1. INTRODUCTION TEACHING THE LESSON As the children arrive, use the greeting once again, Good morning, followers of Jesus. Encourage them to greet others in the room already, and those who are yet to come with the same greeting. When all have arrived, gather them around you and have them sit down to listen. SAY: We have all answered good morning when we were greeted. Does that mean we are followers of Jesus? ('Yes' is the answer you are looking for.) Yes, because we love Jesus and want to learn more about him, we can be called followers of Jesus. SAY: In the very beginning of the church, soon after Jesus was no longer on the earth, people began gathering together in order to worship God. They would talk about what Jesus did when he was walking the earth. They would remember the stories they had been told by people who had been with Jesus. They would share with other people the story about Jesus. ASK: Did any of you share something about Jesus this past week with someone else? Let them tell about it if they answer 'yes'. SAY: The story from the Bible I am going to read to you today is about the first time that the people who followed Jesus were given a special name. Do any of you know what the name might have been? Let them guess, if anyone says Christian, respond with "Yes, that is correct". 2. EXPLORE THE BIBLE MESSAGE Hold the Bible in your hand as you give this background information to the children and as you read the selected passages for today. SAY: Before I read the Bible passages for today, I want to tell you a little background information. The followers of Jesus were many. Some of them were disciples, as we know. Those people went away from their homes and told others about Jesus. Some of them traveled very far. Two of those people were named Barnabas and Paul, who is sometimes called Saul. The scripture for today will tell us something about them and the work that they did with the earlier followers of Jesus. SAY: One of the towns that Barnabas visited was named Antioch. And something special was taking place in that city. Many people were hearing about Jesus and deciding to be followers. In fact, in our part of the story today, Barnabas was so pleased with the numbers of people who were believing, that

3 he went some distance to get Paul, who in another city, and bring him there also. Listen quietly as I read the story for today. READ Acts 11: SAY: Think about that story for a minute. What word did you hear me use to describe these first followers of Jesus who lived in the city called Antioch? (If no one comes up with the answer, reread the last verse and ask again.) That is right. These people were called Christians for the first time in the city of Antioch. The reason the people were called 'Christians' is because Jesus was known as the Christ. He was the leader that the people had been looking for, that they called the Messiah. So the name Jesus Christ is the name we often say when we talk about Jesus. Sometimes we just use 'Christ'. That is the word that 'Christian' comes from. And that is the name that was given to these first people who loved and followed Jesus. 3. RESPOND TO THE BIBLE MESSAGE ACTIVITY 1: Hello, follower of Jesus! If your group is small enough, do this as a large group. If you have too many children to do this, divide them into smaller groups where they can share their name with everyone in that group. Have the children stand, one at a time, and say their name. Have them say their whole name. Ask each child if he or she knows anyone else with that name. Ask each one if they know why they were named that name. When you have finished with that, ask the whole group if they know anyone who does not have a name? ASK: Why do you think we have names? They will have a variety of answers to this. You are looking for responses such as, "because our name helps to identify us", "without a name, we would not know when someone was speaking directly to us", or "without a name, we would just a nobody and because we have a name, we are somebody. Our names are important." SAY: That was why it was important for the early followers of Jesus to be named something that would tell others about who they were. The name 'Christian' means that they were followers of Jesus. Hello, followers of Jesus! Have the children respond by saying "Hello, follower of Jesus" to you. ASK: What else might we say? Help them to know they could also say "Hello, Christian". SAY: Let s practice that. "Hello, Christian." Ask them to respond to you in that way also. Then have them turn to the person sitting next to them and say it, then to the person on the other side of them. Let them say it to one another several times.

4 ACTIVITY 2: Playing the Name Game Have the children sit down where they are. Tell them you are going to play the name game. They are to listen while you call out names. If they hear their name, they are to stand up quietly. As you call names, do about five at a time, rather quickly. If someone is missed, you can call it again later. After several have stood, have them sit down and call out several other names, having the children stand again when they hear their name. Do this until every child in the group has heard their name and had a chance to stand. Without telling the children that you are changing to different kinds of names, just start calling out the following: dog, cat, bicycle, dress. ASK: Why didn't anyone stand when I called out those names of things? They will, of course, answer that those are not names for any of them. SAY: You are right. Here are some more names: mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, uncle. Point out that they still are not standing. SAY: Well, let s try some more names. This time call out: teacher, follower, leader, Christian. They should all be standing by the time you say 'Christian'. If they have all stood for follower, tell them that this is great and have them sit down. Then go on with the list so they will all stand for 'Christian'. If only a few stood for follower, go on to 'Christian'. Have them sit back down. SAY: That is right. We not only have our family names but we also have the name of 'Christian'. Why? Because we are followers of Jesus. If time remains and you have supplies, (paper, pencil, and have the word 'Christian' written on something the children can copy) let each child have a piece of paper and a crayon or pencil. Tell those who can to write so that everyone can see their name on their own paper and then to help the children who do not write to write their names on their own papers. Then have the word 'Christian' for them to copy on to their paper. Again, the writers will write the word on the paper of the non-writers. SAY: Now you have something you can take home that will help you to remember who you are. Your own name is on there because that is the name that identifies you to your family and friends. Your new name is on there because that is the one that identifies you as a follower of Jesus. 4. CLOSE IN PRAYER Have the children stretch and then sit down quietly by using this exercise: Stand up high and reach your hands for the sky! Bend over now and touch your fingers to the ground! Put your hands on your hips and squat right down! Turn to your shoulders to the left and then to the right! Now turn your body in a circle all the way around!

5 Lean your head to the left and then to the right! Now turn around again and sit quietly down. SAY: Today, as we close our time together, we remember the lessons that we have learned. We remember that we have celebrated the birthday of the church, that we are followers of Jesus Christ who are called Christians, and that we are to tell the story of Jesus to others. TELL the children to turn to one other person, still seated and speaking quietly. They are then to tell them one thing they know about Jesus and the beginning of the church. Give them time do so and encourage them to use their quiet voices so everyone can hear each other speak. TELL the children that you are going to spend a little time in quiet, without anyone talking so that they can pray their own prayers to God. They might think about something they are thankful for in their lives, they might thank God for the church and for people who care for them, who teach them, and who follow in the way that Jesus wanted followers to go. When you have given them two or three minutes for the children to do their private prayers, then pray the following: Dear God, We are once again gathered to learn about you. We know that Jesus was sent to this earth to show us how you want us to live. We know that people followed Jesus and that they became the first Christians. We are followers of Jesus also, and we are called Christians. Thank you for our families, for those who love us and teach us and care for us. As we leave this group today, help us to remember that we are to love, teach and care for others also. In these days that we are learning what it really means to be a child of God, a Christian who follows In the teachings of Jesus, help us to pray to you each day. Help us to ask others when we are wondering what is the right thing to do. Thank you for this class. Be present with us here and everywhere. AMEN.

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