Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach students about forgiving others.
Needed: Bibles, To Forgive or Not to Forgive cards, writing or drawing paper, pencils, crayons or colored pencils
Intro Game: Saul the Persecutor
Divide students into two teams. One team is the Christians, and the other team is the Persecutors. Choose one member of the Persecutors to be Saul.
Saul directs the Persecutors to chase a certain Christian. When they tag a Christian, the Christian is out.
The game is over when only one Christian is left. Have the teams switch roles. The last Christian who was left in the game becomes Saul.
Ask students, Has anyone ever done something wrong to you?
Is it ever hard to forgive someone when they do something wrong to you?
Last time, we met Saul, who was going to the city to arrest anyone who believed in Jesus. But then, Jesus talked to Saul from Heaven, and instead of hating Jesus and everyone who believed in Jesus, Saul started believing in Jesus himself! Now, let’s see what happened next in Saul’s life.
(Read Acts 9:20-23.)
“At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, ‘Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?’ Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
“After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him,”
When Saul started preaching about Jesus, what did the Jewish people want to do to him? (Kill him.)
Why do you think they wanted to kill him for talking about Jesus? (They didn’t believe in Jesus and wanted to keep everyone else from believing in Him too.)
Back then, it was illegal to believe in Jesus. It’s still that way in many countries today. It is illegal to believe in Jesus, and people are still being put in jail or being killed for believing in Jesus.
(Read Acts 9:24-25.)
“but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.”
How did Saul escape from the Jewish people? (Other disciples of Jesus lowered him out of the city in a basket, and he ran away.)
(Read Acts 9:26.)
“When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.”
When Saul met the other disciples of Jesus, like Peter, did they trust him? (No.)
Why not? (They remembered that Saul used to be one of the people who was trying to kill them. They were afraid of him and thought that maybe he was just tricking them so that he could arrest them.)
(Read Acts 9:27-28.)
“But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.”
Did the other followers of Jesus eventually trust Saul? (Yes.)
Sometimes, it’s hard for us to trust someone again when they do wrong things to us, but as followers of Jesus, we have to forgive people for their wrong things and be willing to give them another chance.
Game: To Forgive or Not to Forgive
Print out or write the words Forgive or Don’t Forgive on a set of index cards. You should have an equal number of cards that say Forgive as Don’t Forgive.
Divide students into two teams, and have the teams line up on separate sides of the room in single file lines. Mix up the cards and give each student a card that says Forgive or Don’t Forgive. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes, depending on how many students you have. When you say, “Go!” the first two students run toward each and show each other their cards.
If one says Forgive and the other says Don’t Forgive, the student with Forgive scores a point for their team. The person with Don’t Forgive does not score. If both say Forgive, both score a point and if both say Don’t Forgive, neither does. Both return to the back of their lines and trade their cards for a new card.
As soon as they leave the center, the second two players run up and do the same thing. Play continues until the timer runs out. The team with the most points at the end wins.
Craft: The Persecuted Church
Look up a current news story about where Christians are being persecuted. Show the location on a map and summarize the situation for the children and explain why a certain government doesn’t want the people to believe in God. Then, have students write a prayer for their fellow Christians in that situation, or draw a picture illustrating God’s protection around those persecuted Christians.
Father God, help us to forgive other people who have wronged us and help us to remember to pray for people who are being persecuted because they believe in You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Paul: The Odd Apostle.