jesus called disciples

Bible Passage: Matthew 4; 9; Mark 1–3; Luke 5–6

Story Point: Jesus called disciples to follow Him.

Key Passage: “He must become greater; I must become less.”John 3:30

What is God Like: God is holy.

CHRIST CONNECTION: Jesus came to earth to show what God is like and to save people from their sins. This is great news! Jesus told His disciples to tell others about Him, and we are Jesus’ disciples when we trust in Him. Everyone in the world needs to hear the good news about Jesus.








Consider questions that pursue the heart of your child during natural points of connection. Here's one for during a walk or at the dinner table this week:

  • If you could join any group (a club, a team, a group of people, etc.), what would you like to join?



  1. What were Simon Peter and Andrew doing when Jesus saw them? (fishing)

  2. What did Jesus say to them? (“Follow Me, and I will teach you to fish for people.”)

  3. Who were the other fishermen Jesus saw fixing their nets before Jesus called them? (James and John)

  4. What was Matthew’s job? (He was a tax collector.)

  5. What was the special job Jesus gave His disciples? (work with Jesus and tell others about Him)

  6. Who is holy? (God)


  1. What did Jesus say He would teach His disciples to do? (fish for people, Matt. 4:19)

  2. What were some things Jesus’ disciples left behind to follow Him? (nets, boats, family, jobs, and so forth; Matt. 4:20-22; 9:9)

  3. With whom did Jesus eat and spend His time? (sinners and tax collectors, Matt. 9:10)

  4. Why does Jesus love sinners? Help kids understand that everyone is a sinner, and Jesus loves all people because we are created in God’s image. Jesus wants to see people repent of sin, turning to God to be saved. He loves sinners and rescues them. He helps us turn away from sin and glorify God instead.

  5. What might we lose by following Jesus? Guide kids to talk about the cost of loving and obeying Jesus. Help them think about the ways others might react to them, the influence they may lose, or the persecution they may face. Remind the kids that, in some places, following Jesus may even cost a person her life.

  6. What can we gain by following Jesus? Discuss the unending joy and eternal life we have with God when we have faith in Jesus. Point kids to the hope they have in life: that we gain new purpose, can resist sin, and are filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Point kids also to the hope we have for the future: that Jesus will return and fix all that sin has broken. On that day, we will reign with Christ as children of God.



discipleship in the real world

WHAT YOU NEED: Think of a skill you may have that you can share.

WHAT YOU DO: Teach children a simple trick or new skill. This can be anything: making a paper airplane, tying shoes in a new way, whistling, winking, a song, Cat’s cradle, a card trick or any other skill you can teach. Work with the kids to learn the skill and talk to them about what makes the skill easy or hard to learn. Challenge them to teach that skill to a friend or sibling.

WHAT YOU SAY: Those new skills were not super important to know, but the way I taught you to do them is a picture of discipleship. Discipleship is a big word just to say that we want to come alongside people and show people how to follow Jesus. Jesus called disciples to follow Him. As Christians, we can show what it looks like to love and obey Jesus in all parts of our lives. By talking to people about the difficulties and joys of obeying Jesus—and showing them what that looks like—we can teach them to do the same.

boats in the water

WHAT YOU NEED: aluminum foil, basin of water, weights (pennies, marbles, etc.)

WHAT YOU DO: Provide each kid with a sheet of aluminum foil. Help the kids to form their foil sheets into boat shapes. Provide a basin of water and allow the kids to see if their boats will float. You may use pennies, marbles, or other small weights to see whose boat can hold the most weight before sinking.

WHAT YOU SAY: Many of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen when Jesus met them. When Jesus called them, they left their boats and followed Jesus immediately. Jesus promised to teach them a new way to fish. What do you think they would catch?



WHAT YOU DO: Place a bookmark at John 3:30. Invite child to open your Bible to the key passage. Read the key passage aloud. Take turns with each line of the passage. Have the adult say the first phrase of the key passage, the child to finish the verse and both to say the reference. Change parts.

He [Point up towards heaven.] must become greater [Move hands apart.] I [Point to yourself with both thumbs.] must become less [Move hands together.]

WHAT YOU SAY: When John the Baptist said these words, he was explaining to people who had been following him that it was time to follow Jesus instead. When Jesus called people to follow Him, they left everything to do so. We can follow Jesus too!


"He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30


prepare a party

WHAT YOU NEED: play food, paper plates, paper cups, napkins, plastic utensils, streamers or balloons.

WHAT YOU DO: Encourage children to prepare for a party. They may decorate and pretend to serve one another refreshments. While children play, retell the part of the Bible story where Matthew had a big party at his house for Jesus and his friends. Ask children whom they would invite if they had a party for their friends to learn about Jesus.

WHAT YOU SAY: Jesus chose disciples to follow Him. One of the disciples Jesus chose was a tax collector named Matthew. Matthew had a big party at his house for Jesus and his friends. Some people didn’t like tax collectors because they often took more money than they were supposed to and kept it for themselves. The religious leaders did not think Jesus should be friends with a tax collector, but Jesus said, “I did not come to help good people; I came to help sinners turn back to God.” Jesus wants all people to turn from their sin and follow Him.

make fish art

WHAT YOU NEED: paper plate, glue stick, scissors, washable ink pad

WHAT YOU DO: Give each toddler a paper plate. Carefully cut a pie slice out of the plate and help toddlers glue that shape, pointy side in, to the opposite rim of the plate. Provide washable ink pads for toddlers to make thumbprint scales on the fish’s body. Glue googly eyes (or draw eyes) above the fish’s mouth. Retell the story.

WHAT YOU SAY: Jesus chose twelve disciples to be “fishers of men.” Jesus meant that they would tell others about Him. Jesus obeyed God’s plan. People who love Jesus are also His disciples.


WHAT YOU NEED: Little people, 13 pegs, or other small items.

WHAT YOU DO: Provide 13 peg people for toddlers to play out the Bible story. Remind toddlers that when Jesus called His disciples, or special friends, they dropped what they were doing and followed Him.

WHAT YOU SAY: Jesus obeyed God’s plan. Jesus chose twelve disciples, or special friends. Jesus’ friends love Him and tell others about Him.




Guide kids to think about and answer one or two journaling prompts. Be sure to join them.

  • What does this story teach me about God or the gospel?

  • What does the story teach me about myself?

  • Are there things God is asking me to do in this story? How are they for God’s glory and my good?

  • Are there any promises in this story to remember? How do they help me trust and love God?

  • What characteristics of God do I see in this story?

  • What does the story teach me about people around me?

  • If I’m honest, what parts of this are hard to understand or believe?

talking to kids about the gospel...

Here’s one way we talk about the gospel with elementary kids

A- We are God’s most treasured creation! Created to be with Him. However, there’s a problem. It’s sin. Sin is anything we do that isn’t what God wants for us. We’ve all done it, even me. And sin gets in the way of us having a relationship with God. We need to admit we have this problem!

B- Believe that Jesus is who He says He is and did what He said He did in order to make a way for our relationship with God to be made whole again...specifically He loves you SO MUCH that...”Christ died for our sins, just as Scripture said he would. He was buried. He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said he would be.” (1 Cor. 15: 3-4) He took the punishment we deserved.

C- Choose to put your faith in Jesus. Jesus says that our response, or the way we accept it is by faith. In other words putting our trust in Him.