Acts 17:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15
God has chosen people to serve us at church and has asked us to appreciate them. We can do so by thanking them in practical ways and by not gossiping about them.
Clergy appreciation day, national clergy appreciation month, teacher appreciation week, ministry appreciation day, installation Sunday.
Read the texts:
17:1 After they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 17:2 Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from the scriptures, 17:3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ." 17:4 Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large group of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. 17:5 But the Jews became jealous, and gathering together some worthless men from the rabble in the marketplace, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. They attacked Jason's house, trying to find Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly. 17:6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, screaming, "These people who have stirred up trouble throughout the world have come here too, 17:7 and Jason has welcomed them as guests! They are all acting against Caesar's decrees, saying there is another king named Jesus!" 17:8 They caused confusion among the crowd and the city officials who heard these things. 17:9 After the city officials had received bail from Jason and the others, they released them. 17:10a The brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea at once, during the night. (NET)
5:12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you, 5:13 and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 5:14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient toward all. 5:15 See that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all. (NET)
If you prefer another version of the Bible, you can access several at Biblegateway.com. Here are links to the New International and the King James Versions.
Understand the texts
Make sure you understand the text. I've heard it said, "To teach a little, you have to know a lot."
While it's quite possible to teach a lesson solely from a lesson outline, I have never felt comfortable doing so. I prefer to know much more about the lesson topic than I plan to cover. This way I'm better able to answer the unexpected question that a student might ask. There's no need to read every resourse identified here. But the more you read, the more confident you will be during the lesson.
Here are several execellent study guides that you can read online for free.
- If you're not sure how to pronounce Thessalonians, make sure your computer speaker is on, and click here. (A very basic introduction to the chapter is also on the page.)
- An Introduction to First Thessalonians By: David Malick
- A Study Outline of Acts By: Greg Herrick Th.M., Ph.D.
- A map of the route of Paul's Second Missionary Journey, including his stay in Thessalonica is here. Consider printing it out to show your class when you teach the lesson.
- Smith's Bible Dictionary entry for the city of Thessalonica
- An easy to read introduction to First Thes. 1:1
- "Executable" Outline of 1 Thessalonians.
- David Guzik: Study Guide for 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5
- Ray Stedman - Summary of Acts of the Apostles
Read the summary or introductory material for book(s) of the Bible for this lesson, as well as any commentary specific to the lesson text in you Bible Commentary or Study Guide. If you don't own a Bible commentary, check your Church library or ask your Church's clergy members, to see if you can borrow one.
A list of several Bible commentaries that are easy to read, rather than meant only Seminarians, can be found here: Bible Commentaries Reviewed, if you are considering making a purchase.
Another book to check your Church or local library for is First and Second Thessalonians: A Self Study Guide, by Irving L. Jensen as an alternative to a complete Commentary.
Prepare an activity or craft project:
Think about your class, your available space, and your own personal resources, as you consider your options for an activity to support this lesson.
The following list of ideas is by no means a complete listing of all activities that would work well with this lesson. If you have a suggestion for activity that could be added to this page, please contact me and tell me about it.
- Appreciation mural
Have the children reflect their appreciation for their clergy or ministers via a large mural. Materials : Posterboard, magazines, scissors, glue.
- Appreciation notes
Have each child think of someone in the church he or she would like to thank. (Have a list on hand of those serving in your church, in case you need to prompt.) Distribute notecards for their thank-you message or drawing (more appropriate for younger children). Materials : List of ministers and church volunteers, notecards or construction paper, scissors, pens, pencils, erasers, felt-tip pens, crayons.
- Giving thanks doorknob signs
See this page on another site for a great appreciation craft.
- Service projects
Getting your older Sunday School students involved in serving others is an excellent way to express gratitude. Give out car wash vouchers as Sunday School teacher gifts and set up a youth car wash point on a certain day. Meet on a Saturday as a Sunday School class to clean or paint a church room. Plan an appreciation event with a simple menu. The children or youth can serve their guests of honor and also participate in a clergy appreciation program with special music, poems or presentation of appreciation certificates.
If you have older, technically savvy children, perhaps they could put together an appreciation page for the Church's website, like this one. - but with perhaps more photos and appreciation of the individuals acknowledged.
Prepare a Take-home sheet
If you're giving out a take-home, allow time to make copies. I have prepared a worksheet for this lesson. Use it as an activity, or as a take-home sheet.
Beginning of Class
It's best to arrive about 15 minutes early. If no one else it there yet, use the time to re-read your lesson, so that it is firmly in mind when it comes time to present it. Children will arrive one by one, up to, and slightly after your official start time. It's up to you and your Church's tradition, how soon after the official start time you begin. I typically wait about five minutes for stragglers to arrive before I call the class to order.
Welcome and Administrative
As the children arrive, welcome them and ask them about their week. If you use nametags, hand them out for the children to fill out and wear. Take attendance, or have the children sign-in.
Call the class to order
A good way to begin is with a prayer.
We're so thankful for everything you've given us � not only for the physical things we have but also for the people who care for us. Thank you especially for those who teach us more about you and who serve us at church. Help us to learn to appreciate them.
In Jesus' name,
or read together a Children's liturgy, such as this one: Children's Prayer Service
Present the Core Lesson Content
Especially in the early grades, teaching Children's Sunday School is telling stories. Either Bible stories found in the text; or object lessons used to make a particular application resonate; or, as in this case, an illustration, to bring the message home in terms that children can grasp.
Tell the Story
Brett woke up early on Saturday morning. Normally, he would sleep in. But yesterday his sister Jenna had looked unusually sad and worried.
"What's up?" Brett had asked her.
"Dad is so sick of my messy room that he told me that if I don't clean it by tomorrow morning, I can't go to Kylie's slumber party. I had soccer practice yesterday so I wasn't able to clean it � and it's a disaster zone! What am I going to tell Kylie?"
"I'll help you," Brett offered.
"Really?" Jenna looked surprised and happy.
Early on Saturday the two siblings got to work � and what a job it was! Clothes were flung all over the bed; a jumble of chips and paper and game pieces and CDs covered the entire floor� Brett even found some moldy pizza under Jenna's bed. Three hours later, their dad poked his head through the door.
His mouth dropped open, "What happened to your room?"
Jenna grinned, "Guess it's clean."
"A bargain is a bargain, young lady," smiled Dad.
"Do I get to go to the party!?"
Dad nodded. Jenna let out a victory yell, and Brett gave her a high five.
Now, let's stop right here. What would you think if Jenna just left her newly cleaned room, didn't even look at Brett and went out to kick a soccer ball around the yard? How would you feel if you were Brett? (Pause for answers.)
As annoyed as we would feel toward Jenna, sometimes we do the same thing! "What?" you say. "If someone cleaned my room, I would be really thankful." Yes, it's true � it's easy to be thankful for obvious things, especially when we're desperate.
But people do things for us all the time, and we don't even notice. We think it's their job and that's it. Think about church for a moment. Every Sunday we arrive expecting the sanctuary to be clean and orderly. Every Sunday we arrive expecting music, worship, prayer, a sermon� What else? (Pause for additional answers: a bulletin, Sunday School, communion, a collection, weekly activity announcements, nursery care, etc.)
Who provides these important things? (Pause for answers: clergy, pastor, minister, elders, ushers, Sunday School teachers, volunteers, etc.)
The Bible tells us that the people who serve us at church are very special. The ones who teach and lead us, often working hard when none of us can see them, deserve our thanks and appreciation. When we thank them, we're actually being thankful to God, too, because He's the one who has given them their job.
Over a thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul took the message of the gospel all over Palestine , into Asia and eventually to Europe with choice companions who would travel with him. When Paul and Silas arrived at one of the important cities, Thessalonica, (part of Turkey, under the name of Saloniki) they were able to preach for a while. A number of people believed the good news that Jesus had died to save them and then had risen, but there were also some jealous characters in Thessalonica. They didn't like it that this "new religion with another king � Jesus" had a following, and so they created a huge riot in the city. Can you imagine an entire city turning against you? Paul and Silas had to leave quickly when night fell and it was safe to leave.
Paul was forced to leave, but he did not forget the brand-new Christians in Thessalonica. He was very concerned about how they were doing, and when he found out that they still loved the Lord Jesus and were obeying God's Word, he was so excited! Guided by the Holy Spirit, he wrote them some letters to tell them how happy he was and to give them some more instructions � these letters are what we know as 1 and 2 Thessalonians.
One of the very important instructions God gave the Thessalonians through Paul was not to forget those who "worked hard among you." He meant people like our modern-day pastors, Sunday School teachers, deacons � people who had told them about God not only with their words but with their lives. (Have a student read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
How can we show our clergy acknowlegement and esteem them most highly in love because of their work? Let's go back to Brett and Jenna, and we'll see that there are at least two ways to show appreciation to those who work hard for us. First, we can show our appreciation to our pastors, teachers and others in the church by telling them "thank you" and doing something to show our appreciation. That's what Jenna did.
She said, "Brett, thanks so much for helping me! I could have never done it without you." And then she bought Brett an ice cream.
Second, we can show our appreciation to those who serve us at church by not gossiping or saying mean things about them.
The next week at school, someone told Jenna: "Your brother is a creep. All brothers are losers." Jenna just turned around and said, "Hey, I don't know what you're talking about. Brett helped me clean my room for three hours on Saturday morning just so I could go to a slumber party." Jenna stood up for her brother, just like we should stand up for those who share God's message with us � and that's actually harder work than cleaning up a room!
Discuss the Lesson
Ask open-ended rather than yes/no questions to encourage discussion. A yes or no question may be used, however, to set up for a second question based on the answer to the first. The follow-on question would be open-ended.
Don't be concerned that you must ask every question that you were intending to. Sometimes you run out of time. Sometimes discussion veers off in such a productive mannor, that you go with it, rather than reign things back to plan.
Here are some possible questions to ask. Adjust the questions you ask to the students you are teaching; consider their ages, and experience.
How would you feel if someone just thought you were "doing your job" and never thanked you?
Why should we be thankful toward our ministers and others who serve us at church?
Why is it harder work to share God's Word with others than to clean a room? Why should this inspire us to be thankful?
What is the nicest thing someone has ever done to show you appreciation?
What are some things you can do to show people you're thankful?
Teach the memory verse
Not every tradition emphasizes memorization of Bible verses. If your children are expected to learn verses, here are some options.
For younger children:
"Acknowledge those who labor among you" (1 Thess. 5:12a). (NET)
For older children:
"Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you." (1 Thess. 5:12)(NET)
"Esteem them most highly in love because of their work." (1 Thess. 5:13a)(NET)
Teach the Activity
This is the point in the lesson where you teach the supporting activity you prepared.
If you chose a craft activity, you may want to read Tips for Teaching Craft Activites
Remeber to allow a few minutes at the end of class for your children to help clean up.
One recommended practice is to close the class with a prayer. I don't end my classes that way. Typically we continue the lesson right up to the last few minutes. Then I ask the children to help clean up.
(Ask the children to join you in holding hands, forming a circle.)
Teacher: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
If you have prepared a take-home, hand it out as you dismiss the class.
This section provides links to information related to the lesson: another lesson on the same, or similar material, activities for different age groups, basically any related resource that makes sense to list with this lesson.
Alternate or Related Lessons
List of Hymns
You can find a list of Hymns with scriptural references, listed by book and verse, at CyberHymnal. They don't list any hymns for either of the texts for this lesson.
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- Paul Preaching in Thessalonica (Acts 17)
- Paul Writes a Letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 5)
- 20 Cartoons related to the verses of 1 Thessalonians
Share your ideas and finds related to this Free Sunday School Lesson Plan with us !
Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible� copyright �1996-2005 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.