This idea contains an outline for a Messy Church in Lent with suggestions for crafts and activities, the celebration and the meal. It is based on the story of the temptations of Jesus and it explores the theme of how to be truly strong.
On your marks
We all face temptations in life, but how and where do we find the inner strength to say ‘no’ to what is harmful and instead choose what is best? How do we decide what is dangerous, especially if something looks ‘right’?
Christians believe that God’s words in the Bible can help us know the right path to take and that God promises through Jesus to make us strong enough to choose that way. Jesus faced temptations about the best way to rescue the world during his 40 days in the desert. He used God’s words from the Bible to help him know the right thing to do.
Bible link: Matthew 4:1-11
The theme is ‘How to be strong’ and is especially relevant for Lent.
- Build a tower: Use Giant Jenga blocks, plus some smaller ones for younger children with parents.
Talk about:How do you decide what is risky to do and what is safe?
- Sand art: Create a collage of a desert scene involving sand, glue, small stones, dead twigs and so on.
Talk about:What gives you strength to survive hard times?
- Salt dough pretzels: Pretzels are a special food for Lent, shaped like praying hands.
Talk about:Is prayer important to you?
- Decorate cupcakes with icing.
Talk about:What temptations do you find hard to resist?
- Work on a big world jigsaw as a group.
Talk about:How would you go about rescuing the world from the mess we get it into?
- Leave a prayer: Write a prayer on a blossom-shape and hang it on a special prayer tree.
Talk about:Who do you want to ask God to give strength to at the moment?
- A challenge: Build a stable tower of plastic cups (six on the base, then five, then four, three, two and one on top). Blow up a balloon and let it down slowly. Using only the air from the balloon, blow down the tower. Do this within 30 seconds.
Talk about:What different ways are there of being strong?
- Fill the desert with creatures and plants made out of air-drying clay (for example, cacti, lizards, camels and scorpions).
Talk about:What must it have been like for Jesus in the desert?
- Decorate a frame for a family Lenten calendar, based on a six-week/40-day challenge from Tearfund or Christian Aid (see the internet).
Talk about:How can we change the world?
- Exercise corner: demonstrate some fun ‘keep fit’ activities to make a person strong.
Talk about:To cope with the things that happen each day, is it enough to be physically strong?
Include a soft play area for the very young.
- Bible story: Present a visual retelling of the temptations of Jesus.
- Songs/music: Sing ‘Be bold, be strong’ and ‘Stronger’ from the Fischy Music album We’re On This Road.
- Prayers: Link back to the prayer tree in activity 6 above.
Offer mini pizzas with beans and cheese or salad, followed by cake or fruit.
Take home sheet
Give the Bible passage and instructions for making a Bible bookmark with the words of Matthew 4:4 on it. Include an Easter invitation.