This could even be turned into an all day learning activity for the entire group - assigning occupations and bags of wealth at the beginning, then go on with other "activities" (a church project, crafts, games, etc), with the "elders" periodically calling "meetings" to discuss the "situations that have arisen". (You might even have the children dress for the day with robes appropriate for their station in society and occupations, and use decorations and activities to make it a day in the life of the New Testament Church. At the very least, the staff should wear biblical "costumes".) Make postures of the verses below for the walls.
Read to the children Acts 2:42-47, and 4:32-35. Tell them briefly about the early church where people shared everything and helped each other. Then let them "play New Testament church", "pretending to be people in Bible times", discussiong and dealing together with situations like those below. Encourage them to express their feelings about giving. And help them to face some of the problems that arise and challenge them to the faith needed to respond as believers.
With younger children keep the problems simple, take up a offering and distribute the wealth accordingly. A collection for the poor. Money for the pastor or a missionary. Suggest other ways of helping - sewing clothes, using skills in building, sharing harvest bounty with the poor, sharing their home or food, selling land, providing employment, working together to meet special needs. Try to refer as they "play" to situations in the New Testament church where they did these things. Show them how God provides through the body sharing both needs and resources.
In preparation, think about the situations, how the children may react, and what Biblical principles are applicable. Do we take up an offering? Do we look for other resources? Can one member help another?
Wealthy Members: Wealthy Landowner; Roman Centurian; Caravan Merchant; Roman Senator's Wife.
Middle class Members: Jewish Priest; Money lender; Tax Collector; Well-to-do Farmer (with Olive orchards or grain fields); Goldsmith (Idolmaker).
Lower income Members: Scribe; Tailor; Tentmaker; Seamstress; Bazaar merchant; Carpentor; Sandalmaker; Baker; Fisherman; Shepherd; House servant; Farm laborer; Roman Soldier.
Poor and Destitute Members: Crippled Beggar; Blind Beggar; Widowed woman; Former Dancing Girl; Ex-thief; various Slaves; runaway slave.
Situation 2: There are some people in the church who are unable to provide for themselves. They have no family to provide for them. Some are living on the streets. Recently, they have been having to beg.
Situation 3: Our house church has been pastored by a fisherman with a large family. But fishing takes a lot of time, and the church has grown a great deal. People needing the pastor often find he is "off fishing". Should we get a new pastor?
Situation 4: A group of believers in Samaria have experienced severe problems. First a famine. Then persecution. People are meeting in secret. What can we do?
Situation 5: The church has decided to send missionaries to Antioch. Some feel the missionaries should move there and find work tentmaking or doing other work. Some feel that the church should pay their way completely. Some feel that the believers in Antioch should send them money for travel expenses and provide housing and food for them.
Situation 6: The deacons report that a number of widows in the church need clothing and shelter. Unfortunately there is not much available in the deacon's funds to help them. Anyone have a suggestion?
Situation 7: Several of the wealthy families in the church have sold the land they own and given the money they got from selling the land to the church. They have challenged others in the church to do the same. However some people in the church don't want to do this. Some people are saying they are being greedy because of this.
Situation 8: Someone suggests that everyone should combine their money and the pastor and elders divide it all equally among the members of the church so that no one will be rich and no one poor. They further suggest we move out of town and build a commune where we share all the work as well.
Situation 9: A wealthy member has provided a lot of money to the church, now he insists that the wealthier members should get special priviledges in the church meetings. James 2:1-4.
Situation 10: A wealthy member is planning on building on to his villa and needs to hire carpenters and craftsmen.
Watch your time and be alert to individual children who are showing signs of boredom or restlessness. If you can, try to involve their characters in the situations. And in your "pretend" situations describe to them how their giving and sharing of needs brought about blessing to the whole church.
Let them "experience" the decisions to be made and the blessings of participation in sharing and giving.
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