Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

One of my favorite units in our study of the New Testament is the unit on parables. Our textbook provides some good ways of looking at and categorizing parables, but my favorite part is when we take the time to look at some famous parables and begin to unpack what they can mean in our day to day lives. For both of these lessons, I will provide the worksheet or graphic organizer we use in class, but you could certainly use this as a prayer journaling activity or homework assignment. I find we really get a lot out of the class discussion piece of working through the parables together.

The two main parables that we focus on are “The Sower” and “The Lost Son”, although for next year I am looking to create some resources for “The Talents” and “The Good Samaritan”.

Here is the graphic organizer for “The Sower”. I really want students to take the time to think about each type of soil and where they are in their faith life at this moment. I fill out the organizer along with them and try to be really open with them about the type of soil I am in my own life. I tend to struggle with anxiety and worry, so I often find myself fitting into the category of the thorny soil, where the cares of the world overtake the seed of faith. I am lucky to teach in an agricultural area, so students really understand the idea that you can work the soil to produce better crops and soil. No soil situation is permanent! Maintaining a relationship with God requires constant work, not unlike farming.

For “The Lost Son” we read the story through several times, looking at the characteristics of both sons and the father. Then students think of a time when the acted like each of those characters and write about it on the organizer. I normally talk out examples from my own life to help students start thinking about each scenario. The next step is to have students write an essay describing which character in the parable they are most like and why. I also use this as an opportunity for them to learn how to use the Bible to prove their points within an essay and to properly cite Bible verses.

What other parables would you like to see resources for? Let me know in the comments or on the facebook page!

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