Note to the Teacher:
Learning Outcomes: Students will understand that we all have a part in doing God’s work with the gifts and resources we have been given.
- YouTube clips of Rube Goldberg machines (high-tech option)
- Items to make a Rube Goldberg machine (everyday household items; do not pre-plan if you are at the church; let the students be creative and find things on their own.)
- Items that will be used to help serve the community. This will vary, depending on your group and what they decide to offer.
The Icebreaker: This will help students understand that we all have been given resources, gifts, and talents that can be used to further God’s kingdom and do God’s work on earth. Please keep in mind that the Rube Goldberg machine (see below) could take some time for students to build. If you are under a time crunch, show them videos; or have them look the videos up on their phones. Then challenge them to make a video at home to share with the group at another time; or have them do it before this lesson.
The Icebreaker debrief: Allow students the opportunity to make a connection with the importance of each item in the Rube Goldberg machine (see below) and note that they all contributed to the making of it with their own gifts and talents that can be used to further God’s kingdom.
Scripture and Discussion: Please note that the miracle of the loaves and fish is one of three miracles mentioned in all four Gospels. It makes for an interesting discussion for teens to think about why this miracle is important to us today. Read all four accounts aloud to determine the similarities and differences.
The Activity: Plan something you can do together to offer hospitality to those in your church or—better yet—community. You could offer hospitality to shut-ins, single parents, police, or fire department personnel, or others. Let the students talk about ideas; help them keep social distancing in mind. But allow them to brainstorm using their gifts, talents, and resources.
Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period, but may be adjusted.
1. IceBreaker: Rube Goldberg Machine (20+ minutes)
Option 1: If you are not gathered face to face, have students watch videos of a Rube Goldberg machine; invite them to make one of their own and make a video of it to share. There are several videos on YouTube or TikTok.
Option 2: If you are able to gather together, watch a video as a group and have students find items around the church that they want to use to make a machine (this could take some time for trial and error).
Option 3: If you don’t think your group will do this activity on their own, show several videos of some of the best Rube Goldberg machines you find online.
- What is unique about building a Rube Goldberg machine?
- Did you have fun doing it?
- Did everyone bring the same items into building the machine?
- Do you think every item that was used was of equal value?
- Was everyone’s input important?
- Could we have built it without the input of one person?
- How could building this machine be like working together to build God’s kingdom on earth?
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today comes from Matthew 14:13-21. Also reference and read together Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-14.
3. Discussion (10 minutes)
- What are the similarities among the passages?
- What are the differences?
- Why were they in a remote place?
- Why did the crowd follow them there?
- Why did the disciples want to send the people away?
- What does Jesus say to them?
- Normally we focus on the “how” of these passages. “How was Jesus able to feed the thousands in the crowd?” But let’s focus on the “why.” Why do you think Jesus asked the disciples to use what they had to feed the crowd instead of letting the people go find their own food?
- There are only three miracles that are mentioned in all four Gospels: Jesus’ resurrection, the healing of the blind, and the multiplication of the loaves and fish.
- Why do you think this miracle is important for us to hear?
- What lessons can we learn from this miracle? (Hospitality, using the resources we are given.)
- Do you ever think about all the things you have instead of asking for the things you don’t have?
4. Activity (15 minutes)
Talk about how you, as a group, could offer hospitality to some individuals (or a group) with the resources you have either at home or at church. (Keep social distancing in mind. One example might be making cookies for frontline workers.)
- What gifts and talents do we each have?
- What resources exist in our homes and church?
- What are the needs of our community?
- Let’s create a plan to serve our community with the resources we have. It doesn’t have to be a giant project. Think small. Consider what a couple of us could do with our resources to serve our community this week.
- How could this affect the people we serve? How will this show them Jesus?