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A group of children sitting on the ground in a circle with their small group leader. They have their arms around one another and are praying.
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5 Parables From the Bible to Help Children Grow Their Faith

Keep growing! That’s God’ message to Christians of all ages. Use the parables in this section to help children grow in Christ.

Luke 8:15 says that those who listen to and obey God’s Word will bear fruit for God’s kingdom. Children need to see that when we obey God’s Word, God will cause our faith to grow. Use the ideas in this section to help children grow in Christ.

5 Parables From the Bible to Help Children Grow Their Faith

Parable on Growing #1: Trained Branches

Make topiary frames out of clothes hangers.

Just as the small branches are attached to the main vine, we’re attached to the source of all life—God. Once a flower or a vegetable is separated from the plant, it dies. In the same way, we must be firmly attached to God in order to grow and live productive lives. Use Idea 1, Trained Branches, to illustrate how we can follow God and become more like him.

Theme: When we remain in God, we become like him.

Scripture Spotlight 1: “I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me, and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Scripture Spotlight 2: “Train yourself to serve God” (1 Timothy 4:7).

You’ll need:

  • lightweight wire hangers
  • plastic containers such as large margarine bowls
  • pliers
  • dirt
  • small rocks
  • small ivy plants
  • scissors

Here’s What To Do

Before this activity, have an adult volunteer help you cut 1/3 of the wire off of each coat hanger. Then use pliers to twist the open end around the neck of the hanger.

Give each child one of these “shortened” wire hangers. Show kids how to bend over the hooked end of the hanger so it’s at a 90-degree angle to the rest of the hanger. Then have kids bend their hangers into simple shapes such as hearts, circles, or birds.

Have older children use scissors to poke a few holes into the bottom of the plastic containers. Instruct kids to place the container lids under the containers to act as saucers and catch excess water. Help kids stand up their wire shapes in the containers and line the bottom the containers with small rocks for drainage. Have children fill their containers with potting soil and plant the ivy plants in the center of their pots, near the wireframes. Demonstrate how to gently wrap the vines around the frames. As the plants grow, children can continue wrapping them around the wire shapes until the wire is covered with ivy.

For Further Fun

  • Have kids plant the topiary frames and the ivy plants in the clay pots from Idea 2.
  • Have children name different leaves on the plants for characteristics they want to grow as Christians. Then have them pray, touching each leaf, as they ask God to help them grow in that trait.

Parable on Growing #2: Planter Painters

Painted pots for planting.

Plants don’t grow properly if they receive too much sun, not enough water, or if the soil has too much clay or sand. Jesus said that those who hear the word of God and obey it are like plants rooted in rich, fertile soil (Luke 8:15). Use Idea 2, Good Ground, to teach children that the right environment and the right nutrients make all the difference to plants and to Christians.

Theme: Listen and obey God so that you may grow.

Scripture Spotlight 1: “And the seed that fell on the good ground is like those who hear God’s teaching with good, honest hearts and obey it and patiently produce good fruit” (Luke 8:15).

Scripture Spotlight 2: “The earth causes plants to grow, and a garden causes the seeds planted in it to grow. In the same way the Lord God will make goodness and praise come from all the nations” (Isaiah 61:11).

You’ll need:

  • small, clay flower pots
  • acrylic paints
  • paper plates
  • petroleum jelly
  • rags or small sponges
  • a variety of leaves

Here’s What To Do

Distribute flower pots and have kids wipe off their pots with a damp cloth to remove any loose clay or dirt. Allow children to choose several leaves and decide how to place the leaves on their pots. Show children how to spread petroleum jelly on the leaves and press them (jelly side down) on their pots. The jelly will hold the leaves to the pot while the children paint around them.

Pour a small amount of acrylic paint onto paper plates. Have kids dip rags or small sponges into the paint and dab it all over the pots. Kids may choose to mix colors, but the pots look very nice even if only one color is used. Tell kids not to put the paint on too thickly—the pots will take longer to dry and they’ll look nicer if some of the clay shows through.

When the paint has dried, have students carefully peel off the leaves.

For Further Fun

  • Have kids fill their pots with potting soil and plant flower seeds such as marigolds or herbs such as dill or mint. Place these in a sunny area of your classroom so kids can watch the growth process. Be sure to have someone water them!
  • Allow kids to make a second pot that’s the reverse of their original. Have them dab paint on leaves, then press the painted leaves onto a second pot.

Parable on Growing #3: Seeds of Faith

Create mosaics with seeds.

Jesus said that even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed, we can move mountains. He also said that the kingdom of heaven is like the tiny mustard seed that grows into a large plant. Clearly, we don’t need to be completely grown up in Christ before we can start serving him. Even young Christians can make a difference. Use Idea 3, Seeds of Faith, to help children see that with their faith in God, they can do great things.

Theme: Faith helps us to accomplish great things.

Scripture Spotlight 1: “I tell you the truth, if your faith is as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move” (Matthew 17:20).

Scripture Spotlight 2: “The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, the smallest seed you plant in the ground. But when planted, this seed grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants. It produces large branches, and the wild birds can make nests in its shade” (Mark 4:31-32).

You’ll need:

  • a wide variety of seeds, beans, and uncooked rice
  • sturdy paper dessert plates
  • glue
  • black yarn

Here’s What To Do

On a table set out a variety of seeds (in separate bowls), glue, sturdy paper plates, scissors, and black yarn. Have kids gather around the table so they have access to the different types of seeds. Have kids draw a mountain on the inside of their plates. Show kids how to outline the drawing by gluing the black yarn over the lines of the picture. Be sure kids don’t use too much glue, as it may cause the black dye to spread onto their fingers and the picture.

After kids have outlined their pictures, explain that they’ll use the seeds to fill in the drawing. Demonstrate how dried peas might be used for grassy areas, birdseed makes a nice sky, or sunflower seeds can make the mountains standout. Encourage kids to be creative and to use seeds to fill in every area of their pictures.

For Further Fun

  • Add variety to kids’ choices by dying white rice blue for a sky. Put the desired amount of rice in a sealable plastic bag, with a teaspoon of food coloring and a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol. Squish the rice around with the food coloring and alcohol until each piece is colored. Spread the rice on a newspaper to dry for several hours.
  • As a finishing touch, kids can use the black yarn and whipstitch around the edge of the plate to make a dark frame.

Parable on Growing #4: Taller and Taller

Create cardboard people who grow taller.

Christians never stop growing! Whether it’s learning more about the Bible, strengthening our faith, discovering the power of prayer, or simply spending quiet times with God, spiritual growth takes time and effort. Use Idea 4, Taller and Taller, to illustrate the desire to mature in our faith.

Theme: Christians can grow every day.

Scripture Spotlight 1: “Jesus became wiser and grew physically. People liked him, and he pleased God” (Luke 2:52).

Scripture Spotlight 2: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Glory be to him now and forever! Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).

You’ll need:

  • cardboard (empty cereal boxes or poster board work well)
  • paper fasteners
  • markers or paints
  • construction paper
  • tape
  • glue
  • scissors
  • rulers

Here’s What To Do

Before class, cut the cardboard into 1X8-inch strips. Each child will need six of these.

Distribute the cardboard strips. Show kids how to make an X with two of them, by poking holes at the intersection and fastening the two strips together with a paper fastener. Have them use the other four cardboard strips to make two more X’s so each child has three X’s.

Instruct kids each to put one X in front of them, then put a second X above it so the ends overlap. Have them poke holes in the ends and attach the two X’s with paper fasteners. Ask them to attach the third X in the same way. Then have kids cut off the top two sections of the third X.

Have students cut feet, arms, and a head from construction paper and glue them to the cardboard frame. When kids push the feet together, the cardboard person will grow taller. When they pull the feet apart, the cardboard person will shrink.

For Further Fun

Have children each share something that helps them grow closer to Jesus—such as reading their Bibles, praying, or learning new things about God. Each time someone shares, have kids make their cardboard people grow a little.

Write and choreograph a puppet show for younger children using the cardboard figures. You can do a familiar Bible story or you can make up a contemporary story about growing in God.

Parable on Growing #5: Sweet Fruit

Make fruit pizza together.

It’s hard to deny the goodness of fruit. Fruit that is sweet and juicy is the mark of a healthy tree. Christians are also called to bear fruit by leading others to Jesus, living out his commands, and growing in our relationship with him. Use Idea 5, Sweet Fruit, to help children understand the importance of bearing fruit for God’s kingdom.

Theme: Christians will bear fruit.

Scripture Spotlight 1: “And I give you this work: to go and produce fruit, fruit that will last…” (John 15:16).

Scripture Spotlight 2: “But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong” (Galatians 5:22-23).

You’ll Need:

  • prepared sugar cookie dough
  • baking sheet
  • 3-oz package of cream cheese
  • powdered sugar
  • assorted fresh fruit
  • apricot jam
  • lemon juice
  • mixing bowls
  • spoons
  • knives

Here’s What To Do

Before you begin, have kids wash their hands. Form four groups and explain that they’ll all be helping to make a fruity snack to celebrate the fruit of the Spirit. Set up group one first, then while they’re working, set up the other groups.

Have group one pat the sugar cookie dough into a big circle on the baking sheet. Bake the big cookie according to the directions on the package, being careful not to let it burn. (Group one can also help later with clean up.)

Help group two mix the cream cheese with a cup of powdered sugar and about a teaspoon of milk or water, until it’s spreadable. When the cookie comes out of the oven and cools, allow group two to spread the cream cheese frosting on it.

While the other groups are working, have group three cut the fresh fruit into bite-sized pieces and mix the fruit with a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice. Good fruit choices are seedless grapes, strawberries, kiwi, oranges, bananas, and apples—any fruit with edible seed will work great. After group two has spread the frosting on the cookie, group three may arrange the fruit on top of the frosting.

Have group four mix 1/2 cup of apricot jam with one tablespoon of water. They may heat the mixture on a hot plate or in a microwave until it’s thin. Have students brush or drizzle the apricot glaze over the fruit. Cut the fruit pizza into wedges and enjoy.

For Further Fun

  • Make a few smaller crusts ahead of time. Then form trios and have each trio work on its own pizza. Kids can sample squares of each other’s pizza to see what unique combinations they used.
  • Kids can make bite-sized pizzas by using small, flat sugar cookies as their crusts.

Looking for more teaching tips? Check out these ideas!

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