Engaging Activities & Lessons on the 12 Apostles

Doing a unit on the twelve apostles is a great way to show kids that these disciples were regular guys, just like them. Jesus chose them to follow Him, and as they did, they became more and more like Jesus. Since this is the calling for all Christians, it can be beneficial to dive into who these apostles were and show kids how someone just like them can live for Jesus! 

The following are lesson ideas that will help to make the apostles more relatable so that kids can see how they can become Jesus's followers, too!

12 Apostles Lesson: Just Average Joes

Key Passage:  Matthew 4:18-22

Additional Passages: Matthew 26:40-41; Mark 10:13-16

As the Son of God, Jesus could have gone to anyone to ask them to be His followers. But He chose a few “average joes" - just regular guys! 

In our passage, the ones Jesus called to be His followers were guys who weren’t rich, famous, or important. Just like them, we don’t have to do anything to prove ourselves for Jesus to accept us. We can come just the way that we are. We don’t have to dress fancy, use big words, or know all the right people. Jesus looks at our hearts.  

Lesson Example 1 - "Let the Children Come to Me"

Let’s take a look at a few mistakes the disciples made on their journey with Jesus. One mistake they made was keeping the kids away from Jesus. The apostles didn’t think Jesus wanted to be bothered with these kids. They must have thought the kids would be in the way and that Jesus had more important things to do. WRONG! There was nothing more important to Jesus than to spend time with the children.  In fact, Mark 10:13-16 records that Jesus said, 

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them, and blessed them. 

Lesson Example 2 - "The Flesh Is Weak"

Another mistake the apostles made was not being there for Jesus when He needed them. In the garden of Gethsemane on the night Jesus was betrayed, He repeatedly asked the disciples to stay away and pray with Him. But they kept falling asleep!

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping: 

“Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 

- Matthew 26:40-41 

The point of this is not to say the apostles were terrible and to look down on them. The lesson on the 12 apostles here is to recognize that they made mistakes just like we do today. Yet Jesus continued to love them. He took their place on the cross and died for their sins - and ours.  

We can be followers of Jesus too! We don’t need to be anything in particular; we just need to be willing and let Jesus into our hearts to change us!

Game Activity: Dance Challenge

  1. Put lines on the floor with masking tape going horizontally, vertically, diagonally, and leaving some space in between the lines. Cover a large area for kids to move on. 
  2. Play some dance music and ask the kids to dance around and try not to step on the lines. Challenge them to do some fun dance moves like the slide, Dougie, twist, etc.  
  3. If kids step on the line, they have to freeze for 10 seconds before they can start dancing again. 
  4. After the game, share with the kids that everyone messes up sometimes. Just like we step on the lines, we sometimes sin. Jesus is forgiving, and we can always go to Him!

Craft Activity: Self Portrait 

Ask kids to draw a self-portrait and write down three things about themselves. Remind them that Jesus loves them for who they are. He loved the fishermen, the shepherds, and the most hated people, the tax collectors! One of Jesus' disciples, Matthew, had been a tax collector before He followed Jesus.

12 Apostles Lesson: Follow Jesus

Read the Key passage: Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus’ apostles followed Jesus wherever He went. In fact, the word "disciple" - another term used for the Apostles - means "follower" or "student." As they followed Jesus, they learned from Him. He taught them wisdom through parables, and He showed them how to love others well through miracles.  

In our passage, the disciples were present when Jesus taught and miraculously fed the 5,000. He performed a miracle making enough loaves and fish for everyone to eat. 

When we follow Jesus, we get to see amazing miracles, too. It is awesome to be a part of God’s kingdom and get to witness what He does. We also learn from reading God’s Word and all the teachings Jesus gave in the New Testament to us. We can have a close relationship with Jesus just like the 12 apostles did but through prayer. Jesus has made it possible for us to be followers even to this day. Yes, when we become Christians, we become Jesus' disciples too!

It is an awesome privilege to get to see God working and working by His side.  In this passage, Jesus asked the apostles to give the people bread and fish.  They got to be a part of the miracle.  Jesus could have handed it directly to the people all on his own, but He wanted His disciples to be part of the work He was doing.  

This is what it is like for us as followers of Christ.  He wants us to be part of the work He is doing.  We can do this by serving one another, sharing Jesus with others, and praying for others when they need God's help!  God also gives us gifts that we can use!  We can be followers of Jesus too!  Let’s not miss out on being part of this amazing calling just like the 12 apostles!

Activity: Service Project  

Plan a service project that the kids can be involved in such as packing gifts for those in need so that after the lesson they can get right into action following and serving Jesus!

Lessons from the 12 Apostles Inspire Faith

The lessons we can learn from the 12 apostles go beyond just history. They can teach us what it means to follow Jesus today. 

By learning about the apostles' ordinary lives and remarkable journeys with Christ, children understand that their mistakes aren't obstacles to being loved by Jesus or joining His work. The activities listed here further emphasize that making errors is normal, and forgiveness is always available. Furthermore, these creative lessons let children experience how to live out their faith. Kids can develop a personal connection with Jesus and feel encouraged to learn and grow, much like the apostles did. 

We hope these suggested lessons and activities educate and empower young students to embrace their roles as Jesus’ disciples today. 

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Children's Ministry Curriculum