How to Engage Kids for the Six Weeks of Lent

Lent is a time to remember Jesus’s love and sacrifice for our sins.  We can invite our children to be involved in this season by creating a program designed to explore, experience, and engage in the 6-weeks of lent. 

Week 1

Begin by exploring the concept of sin.  Without sin, we would have no need for Jesus to sacrifice himself for us on the cross.  When kids grasp what sin is and the reason it has separated them from God, it will help them understand their need for Jesus.  Explore Bible stories that help paint a picture of this concept.  Genesis chapter 3, where Adam and Eve first sin; Genesis chapter 4, where Cain sins against Abel; and Matthew chapter 5, where Jesus explains that hatred in our heart is as bad as murder. 

Help kids experience the negativity of sin by comparing sin to pepper in an object lesson experiment.  Follow this YouTube video link for instructions on how to do the experiment.  Make the comparison of pepper to sin, our finger to us not being able to fight off our sin on our own, and the dish soap to Jesus who is able to push sin far away from us!  

Engage kids with a ball game.  Split kids into two teams, giving each team several balls.  The object of the game is to get rid of “sin,” throwing the balls to the other team’s side.  Once the game is over, explain again that without Jesus, it is impossible to get rid of our sin…it keeps coming back.

Week 2

Focus your second week on sacrifice.  Explore Bible stories that help kids see the endless sacrifice the Hebrews had to make because they were always continuing to sin. Some great examples are  Exodus chapter 16, where the Hebrews wanted to return to slavery in Egypt instead of trusting God to provide for them;  1 Kings 15, where kings worshiped false gods and did evil even though they were supposed to be leaders and followers of God;  Jonah 1, where he was a prophet but ran away from Him instead of obeying God; and Hebrews 10, where there is an explanation that it was an endless sacrifice of animals to God for their sins and that Jesus took the place as a final and complete sacrifice.

Help kids experience what it must have been like to continually make sacrifices every time the Hebrews sinned by asking them to count until they have reached the last number.  Stop kids after they have counted for a while and explain the concept of infinity, where numbers go on forever.  The Hebrews had to endlessly make sacrifices because they could never stop sinning on their own.  

Next, engage the children with a game called Pass It!  Have kids get into a circle and pass a ball to the music.  One appropriate song for this game is “The Song That Never Ends”.  Change it up and keep it interesting by switching directions, going faster, slower, etc.  Finally, when kids start to get tired, have them switch into a line formation.  Ask them to pass the ball and help them see that in a straight line, there is an end!  (Unlike the circle formation.)  Explain how Jesus was the one to make the ultimate sacrifice and end our need to make these sacrifices for our sins.

Week 3

For week three, now that the kids have gotten a bit of a background on sin and sacrifice, we can begin inviting them into the season of Lent.  Explore some Bible verses that explain why it is good to fast, take breaks, and abstain from the desires of the flesh: 1 Peter 2:11, talks about abstaining from sinful desires;  Matthew 4:1-11, talks about Jesus fasting from food; and  Matthew 4:18-20, where Jesus asks the brothers to follow him and leave their life of being fishermen.  Compare the three and explain the difference between resisting sin and giving up something that is “good” in order to depend on God more.  Explain to the kids that “Lent” is not in the Bible, but there are examples of people who gave something up in order to grow closer to God.  Lent is not a commandment but an invitation to let go of something to depend less on that thing and more on God.

Give the kids a “desert experience” by asking them to help you clear away any distractions in the room.  (Chairs, tables, toys, and cover everything with sheets.)  Explain that this is what it's like to be in the desert, except that it's really hot during the day and cold at night.  Ask kids to sit quietly and pray to God for 3-5 minutes.  Then, explain that when we aren’t distracted by our possessions, we are able to focus on our relationship with God.  

Engage kids by inviting them to draw or write down what they would like to give up at home for Lent.  Examples are TV, video games, iPad/YouTube, candy, snacks, sports, hobbies, or activities.  Remind kids that they are giving it up temporarily to see how much they don’t need this thing and how much more valuable their relationship with God is!  Ask them to give it up for one week and spend the time they would be doing that activity, talking to God and reading His word.

Week 4

Encourage kids by asking them how their week went and if they were able to give up the thing they planned to sacrifice.  Invite them into another week of Lent with the same or a different fast.  Explore Mark 12:30-31, where Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  Ask kids to help you write a large list of ways they can love others.  Help children experience what it’s like to love others by starting a collection box for them to bring in items that they like but would like to donate to someone who needs them more than they do.  Split your collection into three categories:  Toys, clothing, and food collections.  Be sure to give kids instructions on what items are acceptable such as nonperishable food, etc.  

Engage kids by playing the game “Do you Love your Neighbor”.  Watch this video to see how it’s done!

Week 5

On week 5, invite kids to do one more week of lent.  They can continue with the same item or switch to something else.  Encourage kids to keep bringing in items to donate as they learn more and more how little value possessions truly have and how much more their relationship with God is.  Explore Bible stories about the life of Jesus such as: Matthew 9:35, where Jesus taught and healed;  Matthew 23, where Jesus speaks the truth in love even if it’s not popular; and  Luke 10:38-42, where Jesus explains why our relationship with one another is most important.

Help kids experience the importance of a real relationship with Jesus by inviting them to accept Jesus into their hearts and follow Him!  Explain how it’s only with a personal relationship with Jesus that we become more like Him!  Engage kids by making a cross-shaped craft made out of clear contact paper and have children stick small pieces of colored tissue paper to give it a stained-glass look!

Week 6

Thank the kids for participating in the Lent season.  Help kids explore the truth about Lent by reminding them that it is not a commandment in the Bible but a great way to experience how important our relationship with God is and to be less distracted by worldly things.  Lent is a way of fasting temporarily to focus more on God or fasting from something that we find isn’t good for us and continuing to abstain from that thing.  

Engage kids by encouraging them to ask God whether He is calling them to continue to give that item up or if it was only a temporary break.  Everyone is different, and God will call each of us to give up different things depending on our weaknesses or strengths.  Help kids experience what Jesus’ life and sacrifice were like by watching The Story of Jesus.  Invite kids to come to Easter Sunday next week!

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