A Lesson Plan for Teaching with Sunday Software’s Prodigal Son CD
“Who forgives? Who to forgive? When to forgive? and How to forgive?”
by Rev Neil MacQueen
Forced to KEEP just two or three Jesus teachings, Prodigal Son would likely be on everyone’s list. It reveals Jesus’ take on sin and redemption, how God feels about us, and how God expects us to treat each other. As has often been pointed out, the story could aptly be titled: The Prodigal’s Father and Older Brother. Now you know why we created an entire CD about it at www.sundaysoftware.com/site/prodigal
Three Observations for Teachers:
1) The Father acts in unexpected and unusual ways.
a.Giving the inheritance generously when asked.
b. Hiking up his robe and running to greet his lost son in full view of his kin and workers (which demonstrates the personality of the father (God) in a way that would not have been expected.
c. Giving warm welcome instead of punishment and throwing a party.
d. Dealing kindly with the older son.
2) The older brother could be understood as ISRAEL or as the CHURCH, depending on who you think Jesus or Luke is speaking to. The “prodigal” could be you, me, Gentiles (non-Jews) or the Jews, or outcasts. By switch “who’s who” it reveals some interesting possibilities.
3) And the story also works on a purely personal level. Who are we in the story? What do we learn when we think of ourselves as the son, or the brother, or the father?
–Are you the P.Son thinking you can make your own rules? What do you have to confess and ? Are you surprised by your Father’s grace?
–Are you the father who is ready to welcome the sinner home, and not hold their past against them? Is the Church the older brother or party-goers?
–Are you the Older Sibling who thinks they are BETTER than someone else?
–Are you someone who doesn’t forgives sins or forget wrongs? Are you the son who feels another hasn’t fully forgiven you?
How the Prodigal Son CD is organized around this parable:
“Bildad” the main character is the teacher. He says the kind of things a teacher would and prompts the kids to interact and move along. The classroom teacher would do well just to repeat some of what Bildad says and follow Bildad’s prompts.
The CD’s story is told through narrated video vignettes of a real farm family on a farm, while the narrated text is presented onscreen. After studying/hearin/seeing the story, the video vignettes are seen again set to a song in the SonTV music video.
Kid-friendly Background/Study Notes are embedded in the onscreen texts under the “HUH?” and “Bildad” buttons. These narrated visual notes explain important things like, “why pigs?” “why a ring?” “what’s a fatted calf?” “Distant Country? and “Property”… a note about inheritances in those days.
Depending on the amount of time you have, and the age of your students, you will want to pick which ‘study buttons’ to use. Print the guide to Prodigal Son CD from Sunday Software’s website and write on the board (or a worksheet) which notes you want the kids to pay close attention to. Note: the word “prostitute” appears in the text in many translations, and a study note about that term is for older children/youth.
SonTV’s “Ballad of the Prodigal Son” video can be sung in a MUSIC WORKSHOP. See the Teacher’s Guide for lyrics and chords.
Also found in SonTV are two related Jesus parables: Matthew 20: Workers in the Vineyard (same issue of “fairness” about who’s in, who’s out), and Matthew 21: The Two Sons in the Vineyard. These are interesting for further study, especially by older children/youth or in a second week of using the CD.
The LETTERS activity is LIFE APPLICATION: Practicing how to speak the language of forgiveness: asking for forgiveness, and giving forgiveness. The teacher might assign the different “letter” situations in this activity to different workstations. I really like the idea of having kids PRACTICE SAYING such things OUT LOUD, so after they create a letter, have them read it.
AGE RANGE: Younger children with help. This CD is great for grades 2-12. Some extra content in SonTV is for older students.
TIME: You will need 30 to 40 minutes for this lesson plan. There is enough extra content in the CD to spread it over two lessons with discussion time factored in.
The CD IS the Bible Study. It contains most of the content and lesson activities you need (with the exception of closing prayer and the letter paper needed for the optional letter activity). The CD presents the full text of the story.
The Lesson Plan:
1. Gather the kids and have them tell you the story of the Prodigal Son. Fill in what they have forgotten. Have a race to see who can find the passage in a printed Bible. As they try to find it, give them clues, such as, “Luke”, then, “it’s in the same chapter as the parable of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin”, then “chapter 15”.
2. Write out the Question of the Day: “Who forgives? Who to forgive? When to forgive? Why forgive? and How to forgive?”
At the end of the lesson, you will ask them to answer those questions.
3. Dive into the Prodigal Son CD
a. First do the Luke 15 Story. Work through select study notes on each page.
Pause at the end of the story to highlight key ideas before moving on.
b. Go to SonTV “Channel 1” and view the music video “Ballad of the Prodigal Son”. This will knit together the whole story, and has a snappy song!
c. Channel 3’s second section is a set of graphically presented Questions about the Prodigal Parable. These can be answered by readers at the computer in a small group discussion, or presented by the teacher to the entire class. The questions are listed in the CD’s online printable guide. Question Examples: What people might be Prodigals coming back to your church? Who do YOU need to forgive and welcome back in your life?
OPTIONS: Note: Channels 2 and 3 can be used with older students –or those with more time or for another lesson period.
Channel 2 presents the related stories in Matthew of “The Two Sons in the Vineyard” and “The Workers in the Vineyard” with additional study questions. These are good for older classes with extra time, or for another lesson time using the CD.
Channel 3 has two sections: The first is a song by Christian recording artist Steve Lindsley. The lyrics are in the CD’s guide and have discussion questions with them.
d. Go into “Letters”. Assign various letter options to your workstations. The CD’s online printable guide has a list of all the letter options. Help them think through how to express themselves in writing. Have them read their letter out loud to the class. Comment on the language of forgiveness…. how certain words and actions can come from the heart or sound fake. What really is forgiveness? What does God require?
Non-readers will need help, and the activity can be revised as something the non-readers might want to color on a page, –a situation in their life or at school that needs forgiven. You will need to stoke the discussion with examples.
OPTION: Hand students a blank sheet of paper and a letter envelope. On that paper they are to write either the name of someone they need to forgive, the sin that needs forgiven, how you hope it will turn out, and why it’s important to forgive that person, then have them seal that letter in the envelope and put their name on it. Collect the letters and tell them that “in a month I’m going to give you back your letter so you can see how you’ve done forgiving someone”.
Tell the kids that after this closing they’ll get ot play the Prodigal Fun game on the CD.
a. Look at the opening questions and ask the kids to answer them out loud:
“Who forgives? Who to forgive? When to forgive? Why forgive? and How to forgive?”
b. Pile their letters on a table, have everyone place their hands on the pile and close their eyes and repeat the teacher’s prayer:
(Repeating after the teacher…)
Dear God | I’m sorry for my sins. | It hurts me when people sin against me, | so I know that my sins must make you feel bad too. | Please help me keep from doing wrong, | teach me to do what’s right. | Remind me that you are always looking for me | and will always throw your arms around me even when I have done wrong, | And that I should do the same with others who sin. | Amen.
5. PLAY THE PRODIGAL FUN GAME at the end of the CD
I hope you like my CD and lesson.