Teaching Goal: Teach about the persecution of the early church.
Scripture: Acts 8: 1-3 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him but Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.
Materials: Candles or flashlight
Play theme song
Review last lesson
Lesson and Discussion
NOTE: This lesson works well for the first Monday after Easter or for Fourth of July.
Words written in bold are when the leader is speaking. Feel free to use your own words.
A. After Jesus died, was resurrected and ascended in the clouds to heaven, anyone who was a Christian was persecuted. Do you know what it means to be persecuted? It means that the government can put you in jail or even kill you just because of what you believe. The Roman government and the Jewish religious leaders persecuted people who said they believed Christ to be the Son of God.
Show a picture of your church or a local church. Today, in America, Christians are free to worship Jesus. We don’t get in trouble because of what we believe. But do you know that there are still places today where people can be put in jail if they say they believe in Jesus.
B. So right after Jesus went to heaven, the early church had to meet in secret so they wouldn’t get into trouble for believing in Jesus. If you have a crawl space, this is an excellent place to go for the rest of this activity. If you do not have one, a very dark room (a bathroom without windows) will also work. Very quietly lead the family down into the crawl space or into the darkened room and light two candles (or use a flashlight).
C. The early church would meet in secret to sing songs and tell stories about Jesus, his life and his miracles. Let’s sing songs together and tell stories we know about Jesus. Sing songs the children know; let them make requests or tell stories they know.
D. The early Christians had to hide to keep the soldiers and religious leaders from finding them. I’ll bet they had to be very quiet sometimes. Sing in whispers and tell stories in whispers to pretend to be the early church.
E. OPTIONAL: Show 10 minutes of the video “Catacomb Rescue” from the Christian video series “The Storykeepers.” Show the part where they were down in the Catacombs and the leader told one of the stories of Jesus.
We are able to freely love Jesus today
But only in secret could the early church pray.
6. Close in prayer
7. Pass It On: Make an extra copy of this lesson and pass it on to another family.