Lesson 1: Fruit of the Spirit: Love 01/27/2023
Classroom: My Classroom
Galatians 5:22; Luke 15:11-32 Large Group Leader Guide

Teachers Dig In

 

Dig In to the Bible

  • Read: Galatians 5:22; Luke 15:11-32
  • In This Passage: Love is a fruit of the Spirit, and we can see God’s loving heart in a story Jesus tells about a father whose son leaves to live wildly. When the son returns home, the father welcomes him with open arms. In the same way, God loves us so much, and his love flows out of us to others!
  • Bible Point: Love is a fruit of the Spirit.
  • Summary Verse: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

Dig Deeper

  • You’ll Be Teaching: Love is a fruit of the Spirit. It’s tempting to teach kids to try to love better. But the fruit of the Spirit isn’t something we try to have; it’s something that grows naturally when we get closer to God. As kids understand God’s love for them, they’ll grow more love in their lives.
  • Think About: Describe God’s love for you. What’s your response?

 

Dig In to Prayer

  • Ask God to inspire your kids with ways to pass his love on.

 

Quick Tip

  • There are some kids who are just plain hard to love. But remember, love isn’t about your own efforts. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. If you’re struggling with hard-to-love kids, ask God to help you see them through his eyes. The more you pray for them, the more you’ll see the good in them. And the more you see the good in them, the more they’ll see the good in themselves.

This Lesson at a Glance

Opening

Kids share about a topic related to the lesson.

Supplies

  • Bible
  • brown packing paper
  • paper hearts (1 per child)
  • pens
  • tape

Easy Prep

  • Crumple or cut brown packing paper into a tree trunk and branches, and hang the tree on a wall.

Music Video

Kids sing songs of praise to God.

Supplies

  • “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” (watch or download here)
  • “Monumental Love” (watch or download here)
  • “Forever God, Forever Love” (watch or download here)

Core Bible Discovery

Kids act out the parable of the lost son.

Supplies

  • Bible
  • heart stickers (1 per child)
  • “Fake Money” handout (1 for every 8 kids) (download here)
  • pens
  • petroleum jelly
  • tissues
  • box, roughly the size of a copier paper box
  • 6 disposable cups
  • pitcher of water
  • tray or baking pan

Easy Prep

  • Cut apart the bills on the “Fake Money” handout.
  • Put some petroleum jelly on your fingers, and wipe it on a tissue. Then crumple the tissue. Repeat until you have a box full of crumpled tissues.
  • Arrange 5 of the cups in a circle on a tray or baking pan. Set the additional cup and the pitcher of water nearby.

Talk-About Video

Kids watch a video and discuss the Bible Point.

Supplies

  • “The Lost Grape” teaching video (watch or download here)

Object Lesson

Kids explore different perspectives.

Supplies

  • paper (1 sheet per child)
  • pencil (1 per child)
  • ruler (a few per small group)

High-Energy Game

Kids play a version of lacrosse.

Supplies

  • ping-pong or tennis ball
  • 16-ounce plastic cups (1 per person)
  • 4 chairs
  • painter’s tape
  • upbeat music (optional)
  • music player (optional)

Easy Prep

  • Set up a lacrosse goal by placing 2 of the chairs about 4 feet apart at one end of the room.
  • Directly across from the first goal, create a second on the opposite end of the room.
  • Tape a center line on the floor that splits the space between the 2 goals in half.

*Marked supplies can be reused from Core Bible Discovery

Let's keep kids safe! You can help by using supplies as instructed for only ages 3+, purchasing child-safe items, and being aware of allergy concerns.

Opening [5 min]

Welcome

Supplies

  • Bible
  • brown packing paper
  • paper hearts (1 per child)
  • pens
  • tape

Easy Prep

  • Crumple or cut brown packing paper into a tree trunk and branches, and hang the tree on a wall.

Welcome

  • Thank kids for coming.
  • Make announcements.
  • Introduce new kids.
  • Collect the offering.

 

Introduce the Lesson

            Say: Today we’re going to learn that love is a fruit of the Spirit. Let’s celebrate that God’s love grows in and out of us! Point to the tree you hung on the wall. Imagine this tree is us. The roots are our friendship with God. And fruit is what grows in our lives because of our friendship with God. That includes love!

  • Distribute paper hearts and pens.
  • Have each child write “love” and his or her name on a heart.
  • Have kids tape their hearts to the tree.
  • You’ll continue to add to this tree for the next several weeks, so leave it up!

 

Share

  • Tell kids about a time you were glad to come home.
  • Have kids form pairs. Ask kids to share about times they were glad to come home.
  • After partners have shared, ask two or three kids to share with the whole group.

 

Summarize

            Open a Bible to Luke 15, and say: In our Bible story, we’ll see how a young man experienced love when he came home. The Bible isn’t an ordinary book; it’s God’s special book. The Bible is one way God shows us his love. God is here right now, ready to talk to you. Let’s hear what he has to say as we pray.

            Pray, thanking God for the fruit of the Spirit of love.

Music Video [10 min]

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

Supplies

  • “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” (watch or download here)
  • “Monumental Love” (watch or download here)
  • “Forever God, Forever Love” (watch or download here)

Tip

  • Don’t have internet in your classroom? That’s okay! You can choose your own worship songs from our Best Of Dig In Music DVD here.

 

Sing Songs to God

            Sing the three songs in any order.

Core Bible Discovery [20 min]

Fruit of the Spirit: Love (Galatians 5:22; Luke 15:11-32)

Supplies

  • Bible
  • heart stickers (1 per child)
  • “Fake Money” handout (1 for every 8 kids) (download here)
  • pens
  • petroleum jelly
  • tissues
  • box, roughly the size of a copier paper box
  • 6 disposable cups
  • pitcher of water
  • tray or baking pan

Easy Prep

  • Cut apart the bills on the “Fake Money” handout.
  • Put some petroleum jelly on your fingers, and wipe it on a tissue. Then crumple the tissue. Repeat until you have a box full of crumpled tissues.
  • Arrange 5 of the cups in a circle on a tray or baking pan. Set the additional cup and the pitcher of water nearby.

Get a Heart

            Say: Today we’re learning that love is a fruit of the Spirit.

            Read Galatians 5:22.

            Say: When we think of love, we often think of hearts. So you’ll each get a heart to remind you of God’s love for you.

            Have small-group leaders distribute heart stickers, and have kids stick them on their shirts.

 

Act Out a Parable

            Say: Jesus told a story to make a point about how much God loves us. At that time, the religious leaders were mad that Jesus hung out with people who were known to do wrong things. But Jesus doesn’t love only easy-to-love people. Jesus loves everyone! He told a story to make that point. Let’s act out the story together.

            Gather with everyone, including small-group leaders, on one side of the room.

            Read Luke 15:11-12. Have kids act like they’re the son, and small-group leaders will be the fathers. As the kids come to their leaders and ask for money, leaders will give them each a bill from the “Fake Money” handout and a pen.

            Read Luke 15:13. Have kids cross the room to get away from you and the small-group leaders and then write how they’d spend their money on the backs of their bills. Then have kids tear up their money to show they’ve wasted it. Ask kids to hold their paper scraps in their cupped hands.

            Ask: • A sinful life pulled the son away from his father. Think of something you’ve done that you felt pulled you away from God. You won’t say it out loud. Pause for kids to reflect, but don’t have anyone share aloud.

            • Think of the feelings you’ve had when you pulled away from God. Pause for kids to reflect, and then have kids share some emotions aloud.

            Have kids toss their money scraps on the ground. Say: When the son ran out of money, he needed a job.

            Read Luke 15:14-16.

            Say: Feeding pigs was a gross, smelly, dirty job. Let’s see what it’s like to do a job like that.

            Scatter the tissues you prepared all over the floor. Say: Your job is to clean up all these used tissues, plus the paper scraps from your money, and throw them all away.

            Ask: • What did you like or not like about cleaning up the used tissues?

            • Explain whether you’d like a low-paying job feeding real pigs.

            Say: The son in our story had an idea.

            Read Luke 15:17-19. Have kids take baby steps to approach their small-group leaders, saying “I’m sorry” with each step.

            Have kids pause as you read Luke 15:20. Have leaders enthusiastically run to the kids and give them hugs or high-fives.

            Read Luke 15:21-24. Have kids jump and shout in celebration. Then gather them and have them sit with their small groups.

            Say: There was also an older son in this story. He’d stayed home and obeyed his father, and he was pretty mad that the rebellious younger son got a party and he didn’t. After all, shouldn’t the father love him the best and treat him the best since he’d stayed close to his father? But that older son is kind of like the religious leaders Jesus was talking to. He didn’t understand what a father’s love is truly like.

            Ask: • Was there ever a point during this story when the heart sticker I gave you wasn’t with you? Why not? (Tip: If you did have any kids pull off their stickers, that could be an opportunity to discuss that sometimes we reject God’s love, but it’s always there for us to accept again.)

            Have small groups discuss these questions.

            Ask: • How does the sticker being with you remind you of God’s love?

            • How do you think the father in Jesus’ story represents God?

            Say: God is full of so much love that nothing we do can leave his love behind. So when we say that love is a fruit of the Spirit, remember that the Spirit is God. We show love as a result of knowing God, because God is love! God has loved us so much, and we can pass that love on to others. Let me show you what I mean.

 

Overflow

            Gather kids around the tray or baking pan you prepared.

            Say: Imagine this pitcher is full of God’s love, and this cup is you. Hold up the pitcher and the extra cup.

            Hold the cup over the circle of cups in the tray, and begin pouring into the cup.

            Ask: • What has God done to show he loves you? Give a couple of examples such as “given me a healthy body” or “provided a best friend.” Then let kids call out their responses. As kids name things, add more and more water until the cup overflows into the other cups below it.

            Pause in your pouring and say: When we experience God’s love, it overflows from our lives into others’. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. It’s what we do as a result of knowing our loving God!

            Ask: • What are examples of how we show God’s love to others? As kids name things, begin pouring again, watching the cups below get more and more full.

            Say: If I kept pouring, eventually this pitcher would run out of water. But God’s love never runs out. Even when we do bad things like the son in the story, God’s love is pouring into our lives. He’s ready to welcome us back! Because we have such a loving God, we show love to others. We can’t help but overflow his love! Love is a fruit of the Spirit.

Talk-About Video [10 min]

The Lost Grape

Supplies

  • “The Lost Grape” teaching video (watch or download here)

Tip

  • Don’t have internet in your classroom? That’s okay! You can download the videos before class using the “download” button at the link provided, or purchase DVDs here

 

Discuss and Watch “The Lost Grape”

            Say: We’re learning that love is a fruit of the Spirit. We saw how the father in the story Jesus told showed love when his son ran away and then came home.

            Ask: • Tell about a time you knew your parents really loved you. Share your own story first.

            Say: Let’s see what happens when one of our fruit-basket friends heads off on his own.

            Watch “The Lost Grape.”

            Ask: • Why did the adventures the grape went after seem exciting at first?

            • Why weren’t the adventures as exciting as he expected?

            • Why is being safe in God’s love better than doing our own thing?

            Say: For the grape, the best place to be was in the fruit basket with his loving fruit family. For the son in Jesus’ story, the best place was home. Sometimes it can seem like following our own way will be more exciting, but the best thing in life is accepting God’s love! Then God will help us pass his love on, because love is a fruit of the Spirit.

Object Lesson [10 min]

Unchanging Love

Supplies

  • paper (1 sheet per child)
  • pencil (1 per child)
  • ruler (a few per small group)

Measure Objects With Fingers

            Say: A perspective is a point of view, or the way we see things. And some things are not as they appear! Let’s observe and record different perspectives of objects around our room.

  • Have small-group leaders give each child a sheet of paper and a pencil, and set out rulers to share.
  • Have kids sit down and then choose an object in the room. It could be a picture or poster on a wall, a doorknob, a window, or a piece of furniture.
  • Have kids each close one eye and hold up their fingers in front of the objects they see, as if pinching the objects between their thumb and pointer fingers, while remaining seated and at a distance from their chosen objects.
  • Have kids keep holding their fingers at the distance they see and slowly place their fingers down onto the paper.
  • Have each child use a pencil to mark the distance between thumb and finger on the paper and then use a ruler to measure the distance.

 

Measure Actual Objects

            Say: Our measurements are small! Those objects have to be bigger than a couple of inches, right? Let’s measure the objects and compare our findings.

  • Have kids move from their seats and use rulers to measure and record the actual size of the objects. Then have them compare the actual measurements to their finger measurements.
  • Repeat, having kids select other objects around the room.

 

Talk About It

            Have small groups discuss these questions.

            Ask: • How did the actual size of the objects compare to your finger measurements?

            • What makes God’s love feel small sometimes?

            Say: Our perspective can make things seem small. But when we’re up close to the real thing, we realize how big it really is! Sometimes our perspective of God is small, too. But when we’re close to God, we see and experience a truer view of his love for us—and it’s big! Point to one object in the room, and have kids each close one of their eyes while they hold a thumb up in front of the object, making the object seemingly disappear. Then have kids open their eyes again so they see the object without moving their thumbs.

            Have small groups discuss this question.

            Ask: • How is the object in our room like God’s love for us?

            Say: Even if we feel far away, God’s love never changes or goes away. In our Bible story, the younger son thought his father’s love had gone away. He expected to be treated like a servant instead of a son! But his father’s love hadn’t changed. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. God’s love is constant and doesn’t change, regardless of our limited perspective. When we’re close to God, his love flows through us to other people in need of God’s never-ending, constant love.

High-Energy Game [10 min]

Don’t-Be-Cross Lacrosse

Supplies

  • ping-pong or tennis ball
  • 16-ounce plastic cups (1 per person)
  • 4 chairs
  • painter’s tape
  • upbeat music (optional)
  • music player (optional)

Easy Prep

  • Set up a lacrosse goal by placing 2 of the chairs about 4 feet apart at one end of the room.
  • Directly across from the first goal, create a second on the opposite end of the room.
  • Tape a center line on the floor that splits the space between the 2 goals in half.

Tip

  • You can purchase downloadable music and other items to enhance your DIG IN program here.

 

Play a Version of Lacrosse

            Say: In today’s Bible story, we saw an unexpected response from a father who showed incredible love to his disobedient son. A loving response can be a very good surprise! Let’s see what that might look like in a fun game of lacrosse!

  • Grab a cup and the ball for demonstrating some of the game techniques.
  • Form two roughly equal teams.
  • Have each team stand on its side of the taped center line as you explain the game.
  • As in lacrosse, teams will work to pass a ball toward the opposing team’s goal to try to score a point.
  • For this indoor version of lacrosse, teams will use a ping-pong ball and plastic cups to scoop the ball from the floor or catch the ball in the air. They’ll also toss the ball from the cups to pass to teammates. Demonstrate using a cup to toss and catch the ball and scoop it from the floor.
  • During the game, players can move all over the field, but once they’ve caught or scooped up the ball, they can take only three steps and then they must toss the ball to a teammate to keep the ball moving. (Once they’ve tossed the ball, they’re free to move again without counting their steps.)
  • Goals are scored when the ball is successfully rolled between the goal chairs without being stopped by the Goalie. Demonstrate how to roll the ball from a cup—a similar motion to rolling a bowling ball.
  • Goalies will try to protect the goals and can use their hands and feet to block or catch the ball to prevent a goal.
  • Invite two willing people to be the Goalies, and have them take their positions at their teams’ goals.
  • Give everyone a cup, and have kids spread out in the play area.
  • Stand at the center line and toss the ball into the air to start the game—and move out of the way quickly.
  • The first person to the ball can begin working with his or her team to score a goal.
  • If you’d like, play upbeat music while kids play.
  • Allow a few minutes for round 1, then pause the music and explain that in round 2, there’s one new rule. Whenever the opposing team manages to score a goal, everyone on the other team will give high-fives and fist bumps to members of the scoring team and share congratulations or other kind words.
  • Play with the new rule for as long as time allows.

           

Talk About It

            Have small groups discuss this question.

            Ask: • What felt weird or different about the second round of the game?

            Say: In sports and other competitions, sometimes you’ll see people not treat each other very nicely. And you definitely don’t always see players from opposing teams congratulating each other when they score a goal.

            Ask: • How did congratulating each other on your goals change the way you felt about the other team? Share an example of a change you noticed, such as the teams being less against each other and more about just having fun.

            Say: When the way you were responding to each other changed, the feeling of the entire game changed. Love changes things! Love is a fruit of the Spirit and can help us change how we respond in any situation so we show love.

Galatians 5:22; Luke 15:11-32 Small Group Leader Guide

Teachers Dig In

 

Dig In to the Bible

  • Read: Galatians 5:22; Luke 15:11-32
  • In This Passage: Love is a fruit of the Spirit, and we can see God’s loving heart in a story Jesus tells about a father whose son leaves to live wildly. When the son returns home, the father welcomes him with open arms. In the same way, God loves us so much, and his love flows out of us to others!
  • Bible Point: Love is a fruit of the Spirit.
  • Summary Verse: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

Dig Deeper

  • You’ll Be Teaching: Love is a fruit of the Spirit. It’s tempting to teach kids to try to love better. But the fruit of the Spirit isn’t something we try to have; it’s something that grows naturally when we get closer to God. As kids understand God’s love for them, they’ll grow more love in their lives.
  • Think About: Describe God’s love for you. What’s your response?

 

Dig In to Prayer

  • Ask God to inspire your kids with ways to pass his love on.

 

Quick Tip

  • There are some kids who are just plain hard to love. But remember, love isn’t about your own efforts. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. If you’re struggling with hard-to-love kids, ask God to help you see them through his eyes. The more you pray for them, the more you’ll see the good in them. And the more you see the good in them, the more they’ll see the good in themselves.

This Lesson at a Glance

Core Bible at Home

Only available in One Room class format.

 

Preschool Puppet Skit

Recommended for preschoolers.

 

Deeper Bible

Kids make a domino chain to explore how to pass on God’s unconditional love.

Supplies

  • Bibles
  • dominoes (at least 34)

Low-Energy Game

Kids play a version of Mother, May I?

 

Craft

Kids make welcome home wreaths.

Supplies

  • chenille wires (2 per child)
  • tissue paper (in a variety of colors)
  • glue sticks
  • 8½x11 sheets of card stock
  • scissors
  • markers

Easy Prep

  • Make a sample craft to show kids.

Life Application Wrap-Up

Kids pray for people who are hard to love.

Supplies

  • slips of paper
  • pens

Take-Home

Kids receive a take-home page about the lesson.

Supplies

  • this week’s “Dig In @ Home” handout (1 per child) (download here)

Easy Prep

  • Add your church announcements to the “Dig In @ Home” handout.

*Marked supplies can be reused from Core Bible Discovery

Let's keep kids safe! You can help by using supplies as instructed for only ages 3+, purchasing child-safe items, and being aware of allergy concerns.

Core Bible at Home [20 min]

Not available for this age level.

To use this feature, please ask your DIG IN Director to create a One Room classroom. For instructions and tips on creating a classroom for at-home lessons, click here.

 

Preschool Puppet Skit [10 min]

Preschool Puppet Skit

Not available for this age level.

Deeper Bible [15 min]

How Can I Love Like God?

Supplies

  • Bibles
  • dominoes (at least 34)

Set It Up

            Say: We’re learning that love is a fruit of the Spirit. You probably have a general idea of what love is. But how can we really love like God? Let’s dig in to that. First, let’s play a game.

            Join kids in standing in a circle. Say: In this game, we’ll pass around a high-five. When you get one, turn to the next person and pass it on. Begin the game by high-fiving the child next to you.

            When the high-five gets back to you, change it to a fist bump and pass that around. For a third round, pass around a cool handshake, such as one where you slap the backs of each other’s hands, bump your fists on top of each other’s, double high-five, and then shake hands.

            Ask: • How did you know what to pass on to someone else in this game?

            Say: This experience reminds me of something in the Bible.

Read 1 John 4:19.

            Say: Love is a fruit of the Spirit. You know what’s cool about fruit? An apple tree doesn’t have to try really hard to grow apples. The apples just grow! The point of this lesson is not “try harder to be more loving.” The point is that as we grow in our friendship with God, love grows in our lives. And it happens because we get to know God’s love for us! Let’s see what else we can learn from God’s love.

 

Dig Deeper

            Set out the dominoes. Say: I’m going to read some verses. Every time I read the word love, someone will set up a domino, adding to a line. Be listening and paying attention for what these verses say love means and what it looks like.

            Read 1 John 4:7-12, 16-21. (In the NLT, these verses use the word love 28 times!)

            Ask: • What did you learn about what love means or looks like?

            Say: There are some other verses that teach us what it means when we pass on God’s love. Let’s find out what those verses say.

            Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, pausing after each sentence for kids to share a real-life example of a way they could show love based on that description and then set up a domino.

            Say: Imagine these dominoes are people. When we haven’t accepted God’s love, we’re just standing there with no love to pass on. But watch what happens when we receive God’s love.

            Push the first domino over, and watch the chain fall.

            Ask: • How do these dominoes remind you of what our verses talked about?

            Say: Let me reread the verses that talked about how God showed us love.

            Read 1 John 4:9-10.

            Say: God loved us and sent Jesus to die for us. When we truly get how much God loves us, we can’t help but pass it on! And the more we get to know God, the better we can show love. Check this out.

            Read the first sentence of 1 John 4:17.

            Say: Maybe you didn’t think our chain was perfect the first time, or you have a cool idea of how to set it up differently. For example, maybe you want to make it so one domino knocks down two and splits the path. Take some time to try different methods and get the perfect domino effect.

            Allow time for kids to experiment with the dominoes.

            Ask: • What helped you get the dominoes just right?

            • The Bible says as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. How is that different from just practicing love out of our own strength?

            Say: Love is a fruit of the Spirit. That’s because the Bible says God is love! Every time you built a domino chain, the chain was a little different. But one thing never changed: Someone had to push over the first domino to start the chain falling. We’ll never be good at loving people unless we realize one important thing: Love comes from God.

            Read 1 John 4:7.

            Say: This part of the Bible was written in Greek. In Greek, there are a lot of different words for love. For example, there’s phileo (phil-EH-oh) love, which means brotherly or friendship-type love. It’s where we get the city name Philadelphia. There’s also eros (EE-ros) love, which is more romantic. And there’s storge (STORE-gay) love, which is a natural love you feel, like the way you feel about your parents.

            Ask: • Tell about someone you love like a friend—phileo love.

            • Tell about why you storge love your parents.

            Say: Those kinds of love are good. But there’s one word for love that’s different from any of those, and it’s the word that was used every time love was mentioned in the verses we read. It’s called agape (ah-GAH-pay) love. It means unconditional love. No matter what someone does, someone with agape love still loves them. Agape is a deeper kind of love, always wanting good for the person you love, giving to that person, and prizing that person.

            And that’s how the Bible describes God’s love for us.

            Ask: • Describe what God’s agape love might look like when a person passes it on.

            Say: Agape love is a fruit of the Spirit. When we have God’s Spirit living in us, he’ll help us love fully, unconditionally, and with a giving heart like his.

Low-Energy Game [10 min]

Father, May I?

Play a Version of Mother, May I?

            Say: Today we heard about a father who showed love to his son even after the son had done some wrong things. Let’s play a game where you’ll pretend to be the son coming home to his father.

  • You’ll stand at one end of the room while everyone else gathers at the opposite end of the room.
  • One at a time, kids will take turns asking you if they can take steps toward you, the “Father” from the story.
  • They’ll ask, “Father, may I…?” and then ask to take up to three steps. They can be big steps, leaps, hops, baby steps, and so on.
  • In the traditional game play of Mother, May I? the “Mother” is able to respond with “yes” or “no.” In this twist on the game, only say “Yes, you may” to show how the father in the story loved and welcomed his son home.
  • The first person to reach you will be the new Father. You can allow new Fathers to vary their answers so your consistent “yes” in the first round will stand out as different.

           

Talk About It

            Ask: • What differences did you notice between all the Fathers in the game?

            Say: Not all the Fathers said “yes” all the time. That might be more like what we’d expect from a father who could be upset with his son for doing wrong things. But the father in the story did things differently and showed only love—like in the first round when I always welcomed you to come closer.

            Ask: • Tell about a time a parent or other family member was loving and patient with you. Share an example of your own, such as a parent not being upset that you hadn’t called in a long time and simply being happy to hear your voice on the phone.

            Say: It would have made sense for the father to show anger toward his son when he returned home, but instead the father showed love. Love is a fruit of the Spirit, and God helps us show love even when it might not make the most sense. The Spirit can help us show love instead of anger or hurt.

Craft [20 min]

Welcome Home Wreaths

Supplies

  • chenille wires (2 per child)
  • tissue paper (in a variety of colors)
  • glue sticks
  • 8½x11 sheets of card stock
  • scissors
  • markers

Easy Prep

  • Make a sample craft to show kids.

Make Wreaths

            Show kids the sample craft you made. Set out the supplies to share, and have kids follow these directions to make wreaths.

  • Twist the ends of two chenille wires together to make a large circle, then bend the circle into a heart shape.
  • Trace the heart onto a piece of card stock and cut it out. Set the card-stock heart aside for later.
  • Tear small pieces of tissue paper. Ball them up and glue them onto the wire, all the way around the heart. You can choose just one color or make a fun color pattern.
  • When you finish your wreath, glue the card-stock heart to the back of it.
  • On the card stock, write “Welcome Home.”

 

Talk About It

            Ask: • What’s welcoming or comforting about walking into your own home?

            • What do you think was the best part of coming home for the son in the story?

            Say: Jesus told the story of the lost son to show how much God loves us. No matter what we do or how far we run away from him, God is always ready to welcome us back home. When you get home, hang your wreath inside the door your family usually enters through so it’s the first thing you see. Let it remind you that God’s love is always ready to welcome you home, and he wants to help you love others because love is a fruit of the Spirit.

            Have kids take their wreaths home and show them to their friends and families as they share about God’s welcoming love.

Life Application Wrap-Up [5 min]

From My Heart

Supplies

  • slips of paper
  • pens

Write and Pray

            Say: Love is a fruit of the Spirit. When some people are hard to love, we can pray for them and for God’s love to flow out of us. We can ask God to help us see people the way he does.

  • Give each child a slip of paper and a pen.
  • Have each child discreetly write the name of someone who seems undeserving of his or her love. It might be someone who is mean, annoying, or acts weird.
  • Have kids fold their papers and hold them against their hearts as they pray for those people.

 

Wrap Up

            Pray: God, thank you for your love and that love is a fruit of the Spirit you can grow in us. Help us love like you this week. In Jesus’ name, amen.

            Thank kids for coming, and encourage them to come back next week. Also encourage kids to take their slips of paper home and pray for those people all week.

Take-Home [0 min]

Dig In @ Home

Supplies

  • this week’s “Dig In @ Home” handout (1 per child) (download here)

Easy Prep

  • Add your church announcements to the “Dig In @ Home” handout.

            Distribute a copy of the “Dig In @ Home” handout to kids as they leave, or email it to parents during the week.