Related Scripture: Matthew 20:1-16

Objectives: To remind children that we work for God and should do the very best we can when we are using the gifts and talents he has given us.

Jesus was a great preacher and teacher, but the primary way he did both was by telling stories. As your teacher, this is the way I teach you every week. Telling stories is a good way to teach because we remember stories longer than we do other things.

Let’s say our memory verse together. “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last” (Matthew 20:16 NLT).

God created and loves all people. When we accept Jesus as our Savior by asking him to forgive us of our sins, we become God’s children. Once we become God’s children, he gives us gifts to serve others. Gifts like teaching, preaching, being a missionary, special knowledge, the ability to give wise advice to other people, kindness, love, and the gift of having great faith in God.

Every one of God’s children has at least one gift; many have more. When we use them faithfully, God will give us more, but we must use them. God wants us to work for him by using these gifts. The work he wants us to do is to tell others about his love, to invite them to trust Jesus as their Savior, to obey his commands, to love him with all of our heart, and to work for him with the best of our ability. He saves us even though we don’t deserve it. We call this grace. This simply means God gives us something we don’t deserve—in this case salvation.

Tell children Jesus’ story of the Workers in the Vineyard.

Jesus told a story about a man who owned a lot of land. On this land, he planted grape vineyards. He needed people to help him in the vineyard. The vines had to be pruned so they would produce more grapes, and the grapes had to be picked and pressed so he could make grape juice and wine. He couldn’t do all this by himself. He had to have help.

Reflection: What does this teach us about working together for God? (We can always do more when we work together than we try to do things by ourselves.) What are some ways Christians can work together? The Bible says the church is like a body. How does the way our bodies work together teach us how to work together as believers?

In Jesus’ day, people were paid at the end of each day. Today, some people are paid weekly, bi-monthly or monthly. All the man’s workers were expecting to be paid daily. At nine o’clock in the morning, the man went down to the marketplace and saw people standing around waiting for someone to hire them. He hired them and told them he would pay them the normal wage at the end of the day. At noon, he went back to the marketplace and hired some more people, telling them the same thing. Then at three o’clock, he went back again and hired more workers. Once again, he told them he would pay them what was fair at the end of the day. He even went back one more time at five o’clock and hired some more workers. While the landowner needed people to work in his grape vineyards, he didn’t have to hire any of these people. He chose to.

Reflection: Do any of you know when God hires us to work in his Kingdom? What are some types of work he wants us to do? (Explain to students that this happens when we accept Jesus as our Savior.)

Finally, the end of the work day came, and the laborers lined up before the foreman to receive their pay. The ones who had been working all day thought they would get more pay than those who had only worked a few hours. But they didn’t. They all received the same pay.

Those who had worked all day complained to the foreman. This might not seem fair, but remember the landowner didn’t have to hire anyone. Also, all of them had agreed to work for what was fair. If he wanted to pay the ones who had only worked a few hours the same as those who had worked all day, that was his business. It was his money and his vineyard.

Reflection: The pay in this story represents our salvation. Suppose you received Jesus as your Savior when you were very young, but someone else didn’t until they were an older adult. Suppose you had never been very bad, but this other person had been extremely evil. They had killed, robbed, and spent time in prison. This story reminds us that God loves all of us equally. Heaven and forgiveness are for all who choose to follow God, whether they’ve only been doing it a short time—like the workers who had only worked a few hours—or whether they have been doing it most of their life—like the workers who had been working all day. When God gives us forgiveness even though we don’t deserve it, what do we call this? (grace) Can you think of some examples when it seems it wouldn’t be fair for God to save someone?

Ask: What does this story teach us about God’s love? What does it teach us about working for God?

Wrap Up:

Let children color a picture of the types of work we can do for God.

Activity Break:

Reaching for Hearts

Use this game to teach kids how important it is to support each other as Christians trying to spread the good news about Jesus.

Stuff: candy bars and clear packing tape.

Play: Before kids arrive, tape candy bars onto the wall high enough so they can’t reach them without standing on chairs. Tell them the object of the game is to reach the candy bars
without the help of furniture or other people. Let kids try to grab the candy bars. Once they’ve given up, have them form groups and work together to reach the candy bars. Two kids can form a step by locking their hands together and lifting the third person high enough to reach a candy bar for all three.

Ask: What ways do you tell your friends about your faith? Why is it important to work together
and support each other as Christians? How can you support a friend this week?