Note: It is recommended that the word document provided in the "related assets" below should be used when printing the Leader's Edition of the I AM series.
I AM Leader’s Edition with Instructional Notes
Title: I AM Series: Session 2 I AM the Good Shepherd
Age: 8 to 12 years
Liturgical Time: Any
Doctrinal Content: Christ is the Good Shepherd, and we are His flock.
Direct Aims: The I AM series aims to help young people understand their relationship to Christ and to others based on the I AM statements.
Indirect Aims: An additional aim is for young people to understand specific ways that they may emulate Christ.
Materials for the Lesson Plan:
I AM Participant Workbook
Orthodox Study Bible Bible
No Man Ever Spoke as This Man: The Great I AM’s of Jesus by Fr. Anthony Coniaris
What is a shepherd and what does it take to be a good one?
How is Christ the Good Shepherd and who is His flock?
20 minutes: Good Shepherd game. The children will be split into 2-5 teams depending on the size of your group. One person on each team must be designated as the shepherd. The remaining participants are the sheep. Give the following instructions:
The sheep are to “graze” in the open area. The shepherds are to begin calling for their sheep. The sheep will need to listen carefully to hear their shepherd and make their way to him or her. The Shepherd is responsible for all of his or her sheep. They have only two minutes to gather their sheep. Once a sheep makes it to the shepherd they are safe. The shepherd should do whatever it takes to make his sheep safe. The sheep will be blindfolded until the game is over.
The participants will not know that during the game, some adults or fellow participants will appear as wolves and try to steal the sheep. We will see how the shepherds react.
Follow up questions might include:
- Was the game easy or hard? Why? What would have made it easier?
- Sheep, what made it hard to hear your Shepherd?
- Shepherd, what was it like to direct your sheep when they didn’t hear your voice?
- How is this like listening for the ways Jesus wants us to follow Him?
15 minutes: Begin the session by briefly reviewing the previous lesson on the theme I Am a King, then remind them of the Good Shepherd game they just played. Work through each of the Bible passages below, having participants take turns reading out loud. After each passage is read, have participants work individually, then as a class to identify the characteristic of a good shepherd that is being described in the passage. Use chart paper to keep track of the characteristics of the good shepherd on the wall.
Luke 15: 3-7
So He spoke this parable to them saying: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
A good shepherd: Each sheep in the flock is important, and the shepherd will spend more time and energy looking for the lost one, than on taking care of the whole group because he loves the sheep and it is his job to care for them.
John 10: 3- 5
“To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for the do not know the voice of strangers.”
A good shepherd: There is a strong relationship between the shepherd and his sheep; they follow him and know him because he cares so deeply about them and takes such good care of them.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
A good shepherd: sacrifices for the sheep because they are his and his responsibility; unlike a person who is hired to care for them and is less invested.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
A good shepherd: is present and attentive to the sheep, so they know him and listen to him. We’re usually drawn to people who show the most positive and nurturing attention to us. We’re more likely to follow those people than the ones who don’t give us positive attention, only pay attention to us when there is something to gain, or ignore us altogether.
15 minutes: Read the entire section called Concern for the Lost beginning on page 49. Ask participants to read the section below and answer individually, then share their answers with the whole class.
After reading Concern for the Lost, let’s think about the idea of getting lost. Most people think of getting lost as a bad or scary thing. Getting lost “in the moment” might mean you get behind on a task because you are daydreaming. Getting lost when we are traveling to a new place can be frustrating. You might be late or end up unable to make it at all. Getting lost or separated from your family at a store or amusement park might be scary because you don’t know where to go next. But we don’t usually try to get lost, it’s something that happens because we are distracted or aren’t paying attention. Think about a time when you got lost while you were traveling, separated from your group, or distracted while working on a project. Describe the situation here. You can take notes about the ideas your classmates bring up too!
10 minutes: Have a participant read the section entitled “I Know My Own” beginning on page 53. Have the participants read the section below and make note of ways in which Jesus knows us and how others know we belong to Him (we are “branded” by our baptism and Chrismation, we wear our crosses and say prayers in public, etc.).
End the lesson with a prayer.
I Know My Own
As you have learned, a good shepherd keeps track of every member of the flock for which he is responsible. He also makes sure that others know that his sheep belong to him. In what ways do we show others that we are part of Christ’s flock.
Take time to look at photos of the participants' baptisms. Briefly review what happens at the Sacrament of Baptism. Allow them to read some of the prayers. Especially those that pertain to their commitment to Christ. Focus on the part of the service where the Godparents stand at the entrance of the church building to reject Satan and then turn and accept Christ with the reciting of the Creed.
Written by Natalie Kapeluck-Nixon and Kira Senadak
Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
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