I Will Build My Church and the Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail Against It
Here is a bonus object lesson and teaching outline for Lesson 50 of the New Testament, Saul is Knocked to the Ground. I used this object lesson and outline this past Sunday and actually moved the grade school children to applause – a first for me.
Supplies: You will need six bricks, three balls of play dough, and a table set up at the front of your room. Through the object lesson you will be stacking the bricks, three on the bottom, then two on the second level, with one on top forming a six brick pyramid. You may want to pre-mold some of the figures used in the lesson below ahead of time and hide them from the children in the empty plastic dough containers.
The lesson is about Saul and his persecution of the church and Jesus stopping him in his tracks on the road to Damascus. To set the stage, I began by having the children turn in their Bibles to Matthew 16, and read verses 13-18. I focused in on verse 18, taking three of the bricks and solidly pounding them in a line, as I repeated verse 18 slowly – “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Next, I picked up a ball of dough and began to mold a demon figure out of the dough as I retold the story of Satan’s temptation in the wilderness(Matthew 4). I explained how Satan sought to oppose the work of Jesus by getting Jesus to obey him. Then I sat the demon (blob of dough with two horns) on the crack between two of the three blocks I just positioned. Then I said, “But,we all know that Jesus came to build his church and the gates of hell can not stand against it.” As I said these words I took a fourth brick and slammed it down crushing the demon. (The class cheered.)
From there I told the story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas (John 13:26-27), explaining how we have another enemy, our sin , and that Satan often works with our sin against the purpose of God. But I explained, that even though Judas’ sinful betrayal resulted in the death of Jesus on the cross (this is where I placed my Judas figure down on the bricks), Jesus rose from the grave defeating sin and death because Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” As I repeated these words I slammed the fifth brick down to smash the Judas figure. (The class cheered again.)
Finally, I came to the story for today. As I shared how Saul sought to stop the church by killing the Christians (I used Acts 22:3-17 for my text) I formed a Saul figure out of the third ball of dough. I placed the figure in the center of my brick stack and said, “Saul tried to stop the building of the church but Jesus knocked him down on the road to Damascus, blinding him. I took up the last brick and said, “Jesus said, ‘I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’” Then I smashed the brick down, crushing Saul.(The class erupted for a third time!)
But I picked that brick back up, pealed the crushed Saul off and began to remold him and sat the brick back down on the top of the stack. I said, “But God didn’t kill Saul, he recreated him. Jesus revealed himself to Saul a sinner, opened his eyes to see and understand Jesus, and believe. Then God called him to join in the mission of building the church by preaching the gospel to the Gentiles.” I placed the Paul figure up at the top of the pyramid of bricks and turned my attention to application.
“We are all sinners,” I said. “Each of us is an enemy of Jesus, our sin fights against the building of his church. But God is calling all of us to turn away from our sin and like Saul, who became the apostle Paul reaching the Gentiles, believe in Jesus.”
I closed the teaching time by praying for the children, that the Holy Spirit would touch their hearts. Later, in the lobby, I had a conversation with a parent whose daughter had already recounted the whole lesson, sharing how God touched her through the message.