Key Passage: Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation.”

Big Picture Question: What happened when Saul heard Jesus? Saul loved Jesus and told others about Him.

Christ Connection: Saul had hated Jesus and His followers, but then he met Jesus. Jesus came to earth to save sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus changed Saul’s life! Saul, also known as Paul, spent the rest of his life telling people the good news about Jesus.

Dear Parents,
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Over the next six weeks, kids will learn about Paul’s life-changing encounter with Jesus. Saul was a devout Jew who was born in Tarsus (Phil. 3:5) and inherited his Roman citizenship from his father. (His Roman name was Paul; his Hebrew name was Saul.) So when people began talking about this man named Jesus and claiming that He was the promised Messiah, Saul took notice.

Saul believed strongly in the Jewish faith of his ancestors. He violently persecuted God’s church and tried to destroy it. (Gal. 1:13-14) He dragged believers from their houses and put them in prison. He approved of the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Saul thought he was doing the right thing by defending Judaism, but God’s purposes could not be stopped.

As Saul was on his way to arrest believers in Damascus, the Lord stopped him in his tracks. Jesus revealed Himself to Saul, and Saul was never the same. Saul was convinced that Jesus is Lord. Saul later described the experience as being like dying and receiving a new life. (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:17) God had a purpose and a plan for Saul. He had set Saul apart before Saul was even born. (Gal. 1:15) God said, “This man is My chosen instrument to take My name to the Gentiles” (Acts 9:15).

Salvation, sometimes called conversion, happens when a person recognizes his sin, repents, believes in Jesus, and confesses Jesus as Savior and Lord. Jesus changes a person’s heart, and as a result, his or her life is changed too. Jesus appeared to Saul and changed him inside and out. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15) Jesus called Saul, who was once an enemy of Christians, to spend the rest of his life telling people the gospel and leading them to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Family Activity: Pop some popcorn and talk about how the heat source causes the popcorn kernels to change. Eat the popcorn together as you open your Bible to Acts 9 and briefly review Paul’s conversion. Talk about how Paul’s life was very different. Talk about how God changes Christians from the inside out to be more like His Son, Jesus.

Key Passage: Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.”

Big Picture Question: Why did the people hurt Stephen? They wanted Stephen to stop telling people about Jesus.

Christ Connection: People hurt Stephen because he followed Jesus. Jesus told His friends that people would hurt them for loving Him. (Mark 13:9-13; John 16:2) When people are mean to us because we love Jesus, we can be brave because people also hurt Jesus. Jesus died on a cross and is alive!

Dear Parents,
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story is about the first Christian martyr, Stephen. Stephen was one of the seven men chosen to serve as leaders in the early church at Jerusalem. (See Acts 6:1-7.) God blessed Stephen, and God gave him power to do wonders and miracles like some of the apostles.

Some of the Jews accused Stephen of blasphemy and dragged him to the Sanhedrin, a group of Jewish leaders that acted as a legal council. Stephen addressed the group. He drew from the Old Testament, which the leaders in the Sanhedrin would have known well. He reminded them of Abraham’s faith in God and of Joseph’s plight in Egypt. He talked about Moses and the Israelites who rejected God’s plan. But God did not give up on them.

Stephen also showed how the Old Testament pointed to a coming Savior and how that Savior was Jesus. Stephen pointed out that the Jews’ ancestors had rejected God’s prophets. And they were just like their fathers; they rejected the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. Not only did they reject Jesus, they killed Him!

The Jewish leaders rushed at Stephen. The Holy Spirit filled Stephen, and he looked into heaven. He saw God’s glory, and Jesus was standing at God’s right hand. The Jews forced Stephen out of the city, and they stoned him. As he died, Stephen called out, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!”

Stephen was killed because he was a Christian. Jesus told His followers that they would be persecuted—hated, hurt, or even killed—for loving Him. (Mark 13:9-13; John 16:2) Jesus also said that those who suffer for Him would be blessed. (Matthew 5:11) Stephen was not afraid to die because he saw Jesus waiting for him in heaven. We can face suffering in this life because we know great joy is waiting for us in heaven.

Family Activity: Open your Bible to Acts 7 and review some of the Bible stories your kids learned that Stephen mentioned in his address. Stephen reminded the Jews of all that God had done for them, including sending His Son, Jesus, to save people from their sins. Make a list of things God has done for your family. Then pray, thanking God for the items on your list.

Key Passage: Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.”

Big Picture Question: Who can help at church? Everyone can help at church.

Christ Connection: Jesus’ friends believed that everyone in the church had an important job to do to serve God’s people and help spread the gospel. Jesus wants us to serve others so that people all over the world can hear and believe the news of His death and resurrection.

Dear Parents,
This week, our journey takes us to Jerusalem where the early church was booming with growth. There were two groups of Jews in the first church: Jews who spoke Greek and Jews who spoke Hebrew. The Greek-speaking Jews were from foreign countries, and the Hebrew-speaking Jews had been born in Israel. Tension existed between the two groups. The Greek-speaking Jews complained that their widows were not being cared for properly.

The Old Testament law was clear that God commanded His people to care for the orphans and widows. (See Ex. 22:22; Deut. 10:18.) The early church continued this Jewish custom, but the Greek-speaking Jews claimed their widows were not getting their share of the daily distributions.

The twelve apostles were quick to address the issue. They gathered all the believers together. The apostles explained that God had called them to preaching and teaching. They were not above handling problems among the people, but they wisely led the church to choose seven leaders to oversee such duties.

The church did not choose just anyone to serve; the men were reputable, full of the Spirit, and wise. The chosen seven were Stephen, Philip, Prochorus (PRAHK uh ruhs), Nicanor (nigh KAY nawr), Timon (TIGH mahn), Parmenas (PAHR mih nuhs), and Nicolaus (nik uh LAY uhs). Now the apostles were free to devote themselves to prayer and preaching, and the widows were properly cared for.

Everyone in the church has a role in God’s work. The apostles believed that everyone in the church had an important job to do to serve God’s people and help spread the gospel. The seven men who were chosen used their abilities to take care of others. Jesus wants us to serve others so that the message of His death and resurrection can be heard and believed all over the world.

Family Activity: Read Acts 6:1-7. Talk about how seven men were chosen to help take care of widows, women whose husbands had died. Think about an elderly person you know who may have recently lost a spouse or loved one. Talk about skills God has given your family members. Talk about ways they might serve and choose to do one of the suggestions this week.

Key Passage: Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.”

Big Picture Question: How did Peter help the man who could not walk? In Jesus’ name, Peter healed the man who could not walk.

Christ Connection: The Holy Spirit gave the disciples power to tell people about Jesus. He gave Peter power to heal a man who could not walk. People who believe in Jesus shred what they had so that no one needed anything. The Holy Spirit helps believers today so we can tell others about Jesus and help them too.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Over the next three weeks, kids will be learning about the early church. After the Holy Spirit came and the disciples began preaching the gospel, more and more people believed in Jesus. They met together and shared what they had like one big family. God blessed them, and the church grew. (See Acts 2.)

Peter and John were among Jesus’ first disciples. They were fishermen, and when Jesus called them, Peter and John immediately left their work and followed Him. (Matt. 4:18-22) Peter and John still followed Christ after His ascension. Though Jesus was no longer with them physically, the Holy Spirit empowered them to do God’s work.

One day, Peter and John encountered a man at the temple gate. The man was lame from birth, and he depended on the generosity of passersby. When the man looked at Peter and John, he likely hoped for or expected money. Gold or silver would have provided food or clothing, but Peter gave him something even more valuable. “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:6) Peter reached out and helped the man to his feet. He was healed! Not by Peter’s power, but by the power of Jesus working through him.

After Jesus returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit gave the disciples power to keep working. Peter healed a man who was lame with the power of Jesus’ name. God was working in the early church. They lived very differently from the people around them. God gives the Holy Spirit to believers today so the church can tell others about Jesus and show them His love.

Family Activity: Read Acts 2:40-47 with your kids. Talk about how the members of the early church lived a lot like one big family. Plan a special meal with another family in your church. During the meal, devote yourself to the apostle’s teaching (reading the Bible), breaking the bread (eating), fellowship (enjoying time together), and prayer.