Title: The Parable of the Good Shepherd
Age: 3 to 8 years
Liturgical Time: Any
Doctrinal Content: Jesus initiates a covenant relationship with each person, and we are called to respond. This parable tells us that this relationship is close, that we are called by name, protected, and that every person is of infinite value to Jesus the Good Shepherd. Finally and most importantly we learn that every person is so valuable that He will lay down His own life for us.
Direct Aims: The direct aims are to proclaim that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and that He lays down His life for the sheep; to introduce Jesus the Good Shepherd's love for us, which provides the basis and inspiration for the child to return their love and "fall" in love with Jesus.
Indirect Aims: Nurture the children's relationship with Jesus. Discover that they are sheep and to help them fall more deeply in love with God. Also to introduce the idea of one flock; they exist in a flock (i.e. community) and that as Christians, they are not alone.
Sources: John 10:10-16
Materials for the Lesson Plan:
Text of scripture: John 10:10-16, Ezekiel 34, Psalm 23
Round green sheepfold, enclosed in fence with gate
Wooden statue of Good Shepherd painted white
10 white wooden sheep (allusion to baptismal gowns)
Candle, matches, and snuffer
Bible or Scripture booklet
Table or rug for display
Gather and settle the children. Introduce the parable: When Jesus was on earth, people knew He was different. They wondered who He was. One day He told a parable about who He was. He said, "I am the Good Shepherd." A good shepherd takes care of his sheep.
Proclaiming God's word: Light the candle, read the text solemnly and slowly. Present the materials, saying, "Let's listen again." Identify the sheepfold, Good Shepherd, and sheep.
Read the scripture again and slowly move the shepherd and sheep out through the gate of the sheepfold and around the table. Eventually end up with shepherd and sheep back in the sheepfold. Briefly lay down the Good Shepherd at the words "He lays down His life." Do not read and move material at the same time; rather, pause after each applicable passage and perform the actions.
Reflect together. Don't tell children the meaning! Let them discover it for themselves. Suggested questions:
- What do you suppose a good shepherd does to take care of his sheep?
- Does anyone remember anything from the parable that they liked hearing?
- They must be fortunate sheep, how loved and protected they are! Jesus said He knows the Father and the Father knows him. Do you think the sheep trust the Good Shepherd?
- I wonder about the sheep: was Jesus talking about real sheep that eat grass?
Shift the discussion to end with a prayer by saying something such as, "Is there anything you would like to say to the Good Shepherd? Is there a song we could sing?"
Copy the words of the parable and make their own booklet of this parable to take home. For the older children, have them make a booklet containing the parable of the Good Shepherd. This booklet will be made with special paper and they will write out or trace and then decorate the words of this parable. The parable will then go home with them to be placed in their prayer corners. The booklet should have an art response to the parable on the outside front cover and then on the inside of the booklet contain the words of the parable from the Holy Bible. The words can be written out beautifully and be decorated. It may be beneficial to have an example for them to see before working.
Notice: This lesson plan utilizes training and the general philosophy/method of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. Materials found in this document, however, have been created specifically to incorporate the theology and dogmatic teaching of the Orthodox Church. The author of this lesson offers special recognition to Mrs. JoAnne Padget, CGS Instructor, who provided instruction and guidance in the CGS method. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program requires intensive study and strongly recommends that teachers using their program enroll in and complete coursework through an authorized CGS instructor. More information about CGS is available at http://www.cgsusa.org.