For Christians, following Jesus is sometimes compared to setting out on a journey or embarking on a race through life. There are several Bible passages that pick up on this theme (see Bible passages with a sports theme). But how does that journey start? The following idea explores the story of the call of the disciples and links this to being part of a team.
No particular props are needed.
For another idea on this theme go to Dedication – what a load of differences!
- Divide the class into five groups and give them jobs to mime as they become fisher-men and women on the shore of Lake Galilee in the time of Jesus. The jobs for each group are:
- Mending fishing nets
- Sweeping down the decks of a superior boat (owned by the family of James and John)
- Counting and cleaning the latest catch of fish
- Doing the accounts on the latest sales of fish (counting money!)
- Checking the ropes and sails for the next trip
- Encourage each group to get into role together. For example, talk to them about:
- How badly the nets are torn
- How tiring sweeping the decks is
- The smell of the fish
- The amount of money they have made
- Their plans for the next trip and so on.
Encourage them to form and express opinions about their work, its good and its bad sides, and their hopes and fears.
- Pause the action and introduce Jesus. Nobody is needed to play this role – just ask the class to imagine he has arrived. Explain that Jesus is a local teacher and holy man, who has impressed everyone with his stories and even some miracles.
Then give each group the invitation that Jesus gives in the Bible stories: Come and follow me. In other words, ‘join my team and start a new kind of life… a new adventure’.
- Give each group a few moments to work out together what they will say ‘in character’. They may decide to reply in different ways within each group.
- Will they go?
- Will they stay?
- What do they feel about it?
- What are their hopes and fears now?
- What will happen next?
- What will their families say?
- What will their friends think?
- Explore the responses together. Create two new bigger groups – of those who decide to join Jesus’ team and those who decide to stay. Set up a dialogue between the groups. Can either side persuade some from the other group to change his/her mind?
- The Christian life starts out with a choice. It’s like joining a sports team/becoming a competitor. It’s a big decision.
- Link this activity to starting a race as an athlete.
- What other parallels can be drawn?
- What will Christians need to keep going?
- What are athletes running for?
- What gives them their sense of purpose?
In the ancient Greek Games, the athletes would dedicate their performance to the gods, or the city they were representing. They were saying: ‘I’m here to run for them, not for me’. It was like putting on a team shirt – taking on a new shared identity.
The first Christians dedicated themselves to God – by being baptised with water. It was a sign that they were saying goodbye to an old life and taking on a new one. ‘I’m starting a new life now’, they’d say. ‘I’m living for Jesus.’ For the Ancient Greek Christians, it was like being adopted into a new family. It must have felt like that when Jesus first picked his team of disciples. It was like picking players for a team.