Calling the disciples


A way-in to the story of Jesus choosing his followers, as told in Mark 3:13-19.

On your marks

Possible links to this idea could be:

  • a series about the twelve disciples
  • building teams ready for activities in groups
  • working together as a supportive community.

Get set

You will need:

  • plenty of space!
  • five or six carpet tiles or small rugs or perhaps large double-page sheets from a broadsheet newspaper
  • CD player with some lively music
  • a length of rope or washing-line
  • Bibles
  • 20 minutes


1  Lots of games are played in teams. Asked the group to name as many different team sports as they can in a given time limit. Ask if they are in any teams? Which teams are their favourites? What makes a good team?

2  Put the carpet tiles/rugs/newspapers around the room as bases. While music is playing, children can run around the bases but not go on or over them. Once the music stops, they must get to a base, but each base can take no more than three, four or five children (vary this) depending on the number of the group. Speed this game up and reduce the number of bases, until you end up with three bases of about five or six children.

3  In their new teams, each group needs to try and fulfil some of the following challenges, allowing each person in each team one chance to be the leader. Backs, tummies and knees etc., can be used as supports unless ruled out by the instructions. No walls or furniture can be used to help. The result must be a connected team structure.

Arrange yourselves so that there are only 6 feet touching the ground
Arrange yourselves so that there are no feet touching the ground
Arrange yourselves so that there are 10 hands and no feet touching the ground
Arrange yourselves so that there are only bottoms touching the ground
Arrange yourselves so so that there only 4 bottoms and 2 knees touching the ground
Arrange yourselves so there are only 6 knees and 6 hands touching the ground

Why not make up a few more of your own?!

4  Teams need to work together. They need a leader and they need to use all the gifts available from the individual team members. Choose 12 children from the group and set them this next challenge:

Stretch out the rope/washing line across the room and ask the twelve to stand on it, as if on a tight rope. Now, in silence, this team must arrange itself to be on that rope so that the youngest is at one end and the eldest is that the other and everyone in between is in exact ascending or descending birthday order. No speaking is allowed and they must always have at least one foot on the rope.

5  Jesus chose his team of twelve very carefully. Read the list in Mark 3:13–19. They had to learn to work together with Jesus as leader to make a difference with God for good in the world. Christians are still called to do this as part of God’s team.

6  Talk about how different these twelve first team members with Jesus were. They had different characters and gifts. Use these questions to set the group thinking:

I wonder what each disciple felt like when he was chosen by Jesus?
I wonder if each had any idea what being part of the team was going to mean?
I wonder if they felt like saying no?
I wonder if Jesus might have chosen wrongly?
I wonder if some thought that the others in the team should not have been chosen?
I wonder what I would feel like if Jesus chose me to be part of his team?