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A male volunteer is holding a plastic baby as he recounts the story of the shepherds learning that Jesus was born.
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Sunday School Lesson: Shepherds Learn That Jesus Is Born

Use this Christmas Sunday School lesson: Shepherds Learn That Jesus Is Born to teach kids to tell others about Jesus. Find more great Sunday school lessons to help kids grow in their faith.


Sunday School Lesson Bible Background 

The shepherds couldn’t hold it in—they told everyone! As a leader in children’s ministry, you’re in an ideal position to share the wonderful news of the Savior with a wide-eyed, ready-to-believe, captivated audience. This week, pray that God will give you that excited fervor the shepherds felt so long ago as they told what they’d seen to all they met.

An Angelic Encounter

What a thrill it must’ve been for shepherds on a Judean hillside to witness the angelic announcement of Jesus’ birth. But the shepherds weren’t exactly delighted at first. In fact, they were terrified. It must’ve been like an alien abduction—the night sky ripped open with the glory of heaven. Without warning, those simple shepherds were surrounded by the radiance of God’s holiness. The angel reassured them with the long-awaited news that their Savior had been born. Imagine their excitement when the angel told them where they could actually find the baby! Finally, punctuating this great event, the angel was joined by armies of heaven, an entire host of angels, praising God and wishing peace to those who honored him. A staggering display for simple men in a field to witness.

The Evidence

The angels departed, leaving the shepherds in awe. But the shepherds didn’t stand still for long. After all, they—mere shepherds—were invited to visit the newborn Messiah! They rushed to Bethlehem to see the incredible miracle for themselves. And just as they’d been told, there in a manger lay a baby wrapped in cloth. After seeing the Savior held soundly in Mary’s arms, the shepherds told everyone what they’d seen and heard.

Bearing Witness

It’s significant that Jesus’ birth was announced first to shepherds, who were not highly thought of. Shepherds were considered so unreliable that their testimony wasn’t even accepted in the courts, and they were deemed unclean by the orthodox religious establishment. Yet these were the ones God relied on to spread the news of the Messiah. You might say the shepherds became the world’s first evangelists. Luke writes that the shepherds told everyone about the angels and the Savior’s birth, and all who heard the news were excited and amazed.

Praise & Worship

Sing

“Living Inside Out ”

“Glory to God” (Luke 2:11) 

Pray

Say: Thank God for loving us, for choosing ordinary people to witness the birth of his Son, and for giving us such good news to share with others.

Make the Connection

Say: You know what makes me happy? Good news! Turn to someone next to you and tell about something good that happened this week. Pause as kids share, then say: Let’s take a look at a few people who were the first to share the best news of all—Jesus’ birth. Like those people, we tell others about Jesus.

Object Lesson: Good News Balloons

You’ll need:

  • Bibles
  • 1 inflated balloon for about every 10 kids

Leader Tip
Have a few leaders position themselves along the back of the large group as you explain this activity. Use a number of balloons equal to about 10 percent of your group—for example, use five balloons if your group has 50 kids.

Introduce

Say: Imagine being a shepherd long, long ago. You’re in a field watching over your sheep at night. The stars are shining and it’s pretty quiet—maybe you’re even a little bit sleepy—when suddenly an angel appears! Let’s find out what that would be like.

Read the Bible

Have small-group leaders help kids find Luke 2 in their Bibles, and ask willing kids to read aloud verses 9-12 within their groups. Say: That was extraordinary news, wasn’t it? But that’s not all. Imagine the celebration when an entire choir of angels joined that angel, all praising God at once. Have a willing child in each group read aloud verses 15 and 16, and then have other kids read verses 17 through 20.

Explain

Say: The shepherds couldn’t wait to tell others what they’d seen, so they shared their news about Jesus with everyone. Let’s try that ourselves. Starting at the back of the room, our leaders will bat some “good news balloons” into our group. We’ll pretend that these balloons carry the wonderful news about Jesus’ birth. It’s important that all of you have a chance to spread that news, and each of you can do that by batting a balloon at least once as it makes its way to the front of the room. You’ll all have one minute to pass the good news.

Begin

Have leaders bat balloons into the group and encourage kids to each take part in passing the news along. Call time after one minute, and collect all balloons.

Discuss in Groups

Ask:

  • How did you feel as you waited for the news to reach you?
  • What was it like being someone who didn’t get the news—or knowing that other people didn’t get the news?
  • Explain why it’s important to tell everyone about Jesus.

Make the Connection

Say: The shepherds knew that what they had seen would change the world. God sent his Son to be our friend and our Savior—how could the shepherds possibly keep this news to themselves? Like the shepherds, we tell others about Jesus because we want others to get to know him, too—every single person.

(WARNING: To avoid choking hazards, be sure to pick up pieces of any broken balloons promptly. Balloons may contain latex.)

DVD Drama: SuperSplash

You’ll need:

Get Started

Say: When you hear good news, you don’t want to keep it a secret. You want to shout about it. Let’s watch a little boy named Timmy, who hears some great news.

Watch

Play the video SuperSplash.

Discuss in Groups

Ask:

  • Why was it important for Timmy to share the good news about the water park?
  • Tell about something exciting you’d share with others.
  • This week, who can you tell the good news about Jesus?

Make the Connection

Say: Just as Timmy was excited to share the good news about the water park with his friends, the shepherds in the Bible were excited to tell everyone they met about the birth of Jesus. We tell others about Jesus because we want to share the good news about Jesus with our friends.

Game: Something to Tell You

Leader Tip
To keep this activity moving, give kids about 30 seconds to guess each message. Kids’ guesses don’t need to be exact as long as they guess the main idea of the message.

Introduce

Say: The Bible tells us that the shepherds told people about Jesus right after they’d seen him. They must’ve wondered how to explain the amazing news, but that didn’t stop them! Let’s see what it’s like to share news—and to receive it.

Explain

Choose five willing kids to be the Message-Givers for this activity. Say: I’m going to whisper some news to our Message-Givers. The Message-Givers will then each have a chance to share the news with you, but there’s one catch: They can’t speak! Their job is to try to communicate the news to you any way they can, and your job is to shout out the message when you’ve figured it out. Ready? Have the Message-Givers take turns acting out the following messages. When kids have guessed correctly, have the next Message-Giver act out the next message, and so on.

  • The apples on this tree are delicious!
  • This isn’t a very good book.
  • I got this shirt for my birthday.
  • It’s cold and rainy outside!
  • I tripped and broke my leg.

Discuss in Groups

Ask:

  • Talk about whether it was easy or hard to play this game.
  • How is this game like or unlike telling others about Jesus?

Make the Connection

Say: The shepherds couldn’t wait to tell others about Jesus, even though their news must’ve seemed unbelievable. How could they explain the angels? a baby Savior? his birth in a manger? Still, they told people what they knew. Even though it can be hard sometimes, we tell others about Jesus because we want them to know Jesus the way we do.

Demonstration: Make a Difference

Introduce

Say: Have you ever wondered how you can make a difference for God? After all, you’re just one person, right? It’d be hard to make a difference in this room, let alone the whole world, wouldn’t it? Well, I have good news for you—but I’ll let you discover it for yourself.

Explain

Have a willing child stand with you at the front of the room. Say: I’m going to give my friend here a high five and then say something about Jesus. Then my friend will give high fives to two others in this room and tell them about Jesus, and those two will each do the same for two more people, and so on. You can say anything you know about Jesus, such as “Jesus is good” or  “Jesus was born in Bethlehem.” Once you’ve told two people, sit down right where you are.

Begin

Give your child helper a high five and say, “Jesus is your friend.” Once the child has shared with two others, allow kids enough time to pass their news throughout the room in this manner, prompting them to sit down once they’ve shared. If necessary, kids can share with children who are already seated.

Discuss in Groups

Ask:

  • What surprised you about how the news spread?
  • How does this show us we can make a difference by telling others about Jesus?
  • Why is it important for us to tell others about Jesus?

Make the Connection

Say: We tell others about Jesus because God wants us to, but also because we’re like the shepherds—we can’t hold it in! We know about someone who can save the world, so even though each of us is just one person, we tell as many others as we can. Before you know it, the whole world will know about Jesus, our Savior. Now that’s good news!

Small Group: Welcome

Welcome each child, and help children get acquainted in your group.

Ask what kids remember about today’s large-group lesson.

Let kids share news or prayer requests, and pray with them.

Say: For one minute, talk with a partner about Jesus. Tell each other what you know about him. Allow one minute.

Small Group: Whisper a Message

Distribute

Give each child a piece of paper and a marker. Have the kids sit in a circle facing out.

Explain

Say:  I’m going to whisper to someone an instruction to draw something. That person will whisper it to the next person, and so on. After you’ve whispered the instruction, draw what you heard.

Whisper

Whisper in a child’s ear: Draw a box with a triangle on the side of it, a cat beside it, a bow on top of it, a boy sitting on it, a mouse running by it, and a bear looking at it. Allow time for kids to whisper and draw.

Whisper Again

Play the game a second time, telling kids to use the backs of their papers. Whisper to one child: Draw a square on your paper.

Discuss

  • Talk about the difference between your first and second drawings.
  • Explain which one you think is most like how it is when we tell people about Jesus.

Make the Connection

Say: It might’ve been hard to draw the first time because instructions were complicated. The second time was simpler. When we tell others about Jesus, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s a simple story!

Small Group: Closing

Make the Connection

Say:  Just as the shepherds told everyone the good news about the Savior’s birth, we tell others about Jesus.

Pray

Pray: Dear God, thank you for the gift of Jesus. Help us tell others about Jesus. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Check out all our Christmas posts, and for loads of great ideas all year long, subscribe today to Children’s Ministry Magazine!


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Sunday School Lesson: Shepherds Learn...

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