One of my favourite memories from my recent trip to the ancient city of Corinth, Greece was listening to a group of children singing songs. I think their parents must have brought them along to look at the ruins and the museum that day. It was a hot day so it appeared that they had stopped in the shade to have a rest. Hearing these young Greek children sing and observing them becoming increasingly shy as the song went on reminded me once again that children are everywhere in this world. Children were in Corinth on the day of my visit and children were in Corinth when Paul was there so long ago.
Paul stayed in Corinth for 1 1/2 years. During his time there he supported himself by working with another couple in his same trade of tent making. The couple’s names were Priscilla and Acquila. Paul taught the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. He taught in the synagogue and the synagogue leader, among others were baptised.
Angry Jews brought Paul before the judgement seat of the Roman proconsul, Gallio, and asked the proconsul to punish Paul for converting Jews. Paul ended up being released because Gallio saw this as a religious matter and not a governmental one. You can read about Paul’s time in Ephesus with Priscilla and Aquila. in Acts 18:1-18
In the photo below, and behind where the group is standing, is the “bema” or raised platform from which Gallio would have judged Paul.
I’ll leave you with some final photos from Corinth. Both are from inside the Corinth Museum. The first photo is of toy furniture and the second a stone doll. Both are in the Corinth museum. Yes, there were kids in Corinth even long ago!
As my trip through Greece continues We make a stop in ancient Philippi.
First we went down to the likely location of the first meeting of Paul and Lydia. Their conversation led to the baptism of Lydia and her entire household ( Acts 16:11-15).
Throughout the trip I’ve had my ears open for what children might find interesting. Today such a thought came up when discussing the fact that Lydia was a business woman who sold purple cloth. Our guide shared one gross tidbit that I know the boys in my Bible classes would find interesting. The local method of the day for making purple dye was to crush a particular kind of seashell and mix it with human feces. Yuck!
After going to the river we toured the nearby ruins of the ancient city. We viewed the market area where Lydia might have sold her wares.
In this same city Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into jail. An earthquake later made the gates of the jail swing open and the chains on prisoners simply fall off. This led to the jailer becoming a Christian. You can read all about it in Acts 16:16-40 and the Bible lesson is at Jailer Becomes a Christian.
God has blessed me with an opportunity to travel through Greece over the next week. Along the way I’ll try to send some pictures and thoughts you might like to share with the children you teach.
Today I’m in Athens and typing this from the top of Mars Hill (the Areopagus).
There are ruins of temples in many places. Seeing all the temples around makes me really appreciate the Apostle Paul and how he stood on Mars Hill and shared the Good News of Christ with philosophers. You can read about that event here.
The steps leading up to the top of the rock have been worn smooth because of the millions of people who have climbed them over the years. I snapped a picture of my daughter-in-law, Olivia, climbing these treacherous steps today. These would have been the same stairs Paul would have climbed!
I think kids would enjoy scrambling over the huge rocks and picking the little yellow flowers growing between them.
I watched two little Arabic-speaking girls crying out “Abba, Abba” in worried voices to their dad as he leaned over a dangerous edge gathering two of the little flowers to give to them. They were all smiles when he was safely back with them and gave them the flowers.
How important is it to teach children to love the church? Basically, the church should be as important to all of us as it it to Jesus.
In the middle of a conversation about submitting to one another in situations such as marriage the Apostle Paul writes…
Christ died for the church to make it belong to God. Christ used the word to make the church clean by washing it with water. Christ died so that he could give the church to himself like a bride in all her beauty. He died so that the church could be pure and without fault, with no evil or sin or any other wrong thing in it. Ephesians 5:25b-27 (International Children’s Bible)
Jesus loved the church completely and was willing to die for it. Not because it is perfect but so itcould be perfect.
So, how do children learn to love the church?
A good beginning is to understand that the church is personal. It is made up of living and breathing people and is not simply an organisation or a building.
To make this point I used two large white poster boards. One would represent “family” and the other “church”.
On the family poster I drew a large outline of a house. My drawing lines went right to the edge of the paper. I then set one group of children to work drawing their families inside that house. Families come in all shapes and sizes so the picture was quite an interesting collection of faces.
Knowing my intentions with this picture I encouraged the children to be careful to keep all of the drawing inside the outline of the house.
Meanwhile, on the other poster I had drawn an outline of a church building. While the first group was working on drawing family members I asked the second group to think about who is in their church and to draw those people inside the outline of the church building. I loved hearing the children name people from their own perspectives. Soon the building was filled with people of all ages and various backgrounds.
Again I encouraged the children to draw only inside the walls of the church building. This would be important later on in the next step.
What is a Family?
Now it was time for part two of the lesson. After we spent some time talking about the families drawn inside of that house I took my scissors and began to cut away the outside edges. There were gasps because this was not what the children expected. Basically, I cut away the house and left the pictures of the family inside.
Then we talked about how our family is still a family even if there is no house. When we go to the park are we still a family? Yes. When we get in a car and drive to another place are we still a family? Yes. One little girl even offered up that her family was still a family even though they had moved far far away from their home country to be missionaries.
What is the Church?
Now it was time to talk about the church. I know many adults who struggle to separate worship from formal buildings but I was a bit unprepared for the initial reaction these children had when I began to cut away the edges of the church picture. You would have thought I was committing sacrilege when I cut off the outline of the building. I even heard an accusation of “church cutter” thrown my way.
But then the children began to see that only the building was missing and that the Christians were left inside. We talked about how it is the saved people who are the church…not the building. If the church decides to meet at the park instead of a church building are they still the church? Yes. If the church travels across town to deliver food to a family in need are they still the church? Yes.
We concluded with a reminder that every person in the church is loved. Christ was willing to give up his life for the church and we all agreed that he did not die for buildings.
How to Use this Lesson
This is a great illustration when teaching about the early church in the Book of Acts. In particular use it to teach the lesson The First Church. If you would like to teach a series of lessons about the early church from the Book of Acts have a look at these lessons here:
Have limited supplies available? This lesson can easily be taught by drawing pictures in the sand or on a whiteboard. After the children fill in the inside of the picture the teacher can simply erase the buildings instead of cutting them away.
This activity can also be used in mixed age groups of children or when adults and children meet together.