April 17– May 15, 2005

Antioch Arcade



Scripture:  Jonah 1-4, with emphasis on chapters 3-4


Memory Verse: “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” — Psalm 86:15 (NSRV)


Offering:  Haven House which provides a multitude of programs that have helped thousands of young people and their families overcome problems and become productive members of the community.



  • God is merciful and slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love.
  • God wants everyone to turn to God and know God.
  • Jonah was a reluctant prophet and had trouble accepting God’s mercy and love for his enemies.



1.     Older children will locate the book of Jonah in their Bibles. Younger children will learn that the story is in the Old Testament.

2.     The children will play a game that reinforces their knowledge of the events of chapters 3-4.

3.     The class will consider Jonah’s anger toward God’s love and mercy, and how we are like Jonah.



Welcome and Introductions (10:00):

1.     Greet the children and introduce yourself.  Wear your name-tag. Make sure the children are wearing name-tags. If not, ask the shepherd to supply a temporary badge. Remember you are interacting with a different group of students each week who may not know you.

2.     Open with a brief prayer (optional, as they have just prayed in Great Hall).

3.     Explain the purpose of this workshop. Our Bible story today is Jonah, and we’re going to play a game that will show how well you know the end of the story.


Scripture/Bible Story (10:05):

1.     Grades 1-2 will not use Bibles, but do open yours to show them where the story is. For grades 3-5, make sure everybody has a Bible. The shepherds will have extra Bibles.  Help the students to find the book of Jonah. (Get the shepherds to go around the room and help with this.)

2.     If necessary, review the organization of the Bible: The Bible is divided into two big parts, the Old and New Testaments. Each part is made up of books, which are divided into chapters and verses. Have them figure out whether Jonah is in Old or New Testament (it was written before Jesus’ time, so it’s in the Old Testament). Show them that if they open their Bible in the middle, they’ll usually land in the book of Psalms in the OT. Point out that the book name is at the top of each page. Jonah comes after Psalms, so if they don’t know the order of the OT books, they can look through the books following Psalms until they find it.


3.     Tell the class: Some people believe the story of Jonah is history (it really happened) and some people think it is a story that was written to teach a lesson. Whether it really happened or not is not very important; what’s important is the lesson we learn from it.


4.     Tell the story using the summary below as a guide. This workshop emphasizes chapters 3-4, so briefly summarize Jonah’s running away and encounter with the whale (big fish). Be more detailed with the rest of the story. Be dramatic! This story is long but has lots of funny parts (animals wearing sackcloth, Jonah being spitting mad to have such a merciful God, the plant that grows overnight and the worm that eats it), so you should be able to hold the children’s interest if you ham it up.


After the first week or two, you can let the children help you tell the story. This will give you an idea of how much they already know. (You may find that they know about the fish but not about what happens in Nineveh.) Other ideas for reviewing the story in later weeks:


  • Begin the story and let each person in the circle add one line to the story until it is complete. Variation for older kids: Use the timer in the supply bin (or just a watch with a second hand). First child starts telling the story. After 15 seconds, second student picks up the tale, even if in mid-sentence. Keep going around circle until complete story is told.


  • Tell the story back to them with inaccuracies and let them correct you. (Especially fun for the younger ones -- but don’t do this until the later part of the rotation).


Story Summary

Jonah Runs from the Lord

One day the Lord told a man named Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and tell the people there, "The Lord has seen your terrible sins. You are doomed!" Nineveh was a city in Assyria, east of Israel, and at one time the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The people of Nineveh were enemies of Israel.  Jonah did NOT want to go to Nineveh, so he ran away. Instead of going east to Nineveh, he got on a ship and sailed away to the west. (Optional with older kids: show locations on a map as you tell the story, or use wall map and point or walk/run east and west of Israel at appropriate points.)


But while the ship was at sea, the Lord made a terrible storm come up, and the ship was about to break to pieces. The sailors said, "Let's ask our gods to show us who caused all this trouble." They cast lots to find out, and the lot fell to Jonah. They threw Jonah overboard, and the sea calmed down.


The Lord sent a big fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish for three days. From inside the fish, Jonah prayed. Finally the Lord commanded the fish to vomit Jonah up onto the shore. And it did.


Jonah Goes to Nineveh

Once Jonah was back on dry land, the Lord told him again to go to Nineveh and preach his message of doom.


This time, Jonah obeyed and went to Nineveh. The city was so huge that it took three days just to walk through it. After walking for a day, Jonah warned the people, "Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed!"


The people believed God's message, and they fasted and wore sackcloth to show their sorrow. Even the king of Nineveh dressed in sackcloth, and he left the royal palace and sat in dust.  Then he sent out an order for everyone in the city to obey. It said: “None of you OR your animals may eat or drink a thing. Each of you must wear sackcloth, and you must even put sackcloth on your animals. You must also pray to the Lord God with all your heart and stop being sinful and cruel. Maybe God will have mercy on us, so we won't be destroyed.”


When the people stopped doing evil things, God did have pity and did not destroy them.


Jonah Gets Angry at the Lord

This made Jonah MAD. He was so mad he wanted to die! He said to God: “I KNEW it! I knew from the beginning that you wouldn't destroy Nineveh. That's why I ran away. You are KIND and MERCIFUL and PATIENT.  You ALWAYS show love, and you don't like to punish anyone, not even foreigners. That makes me so mad I can’t stand it! So just let me die! I'd be better off dead.”


But the Lord merely replied, "What right do you have to be angry?"


Jonah went outside the city and sat, sulking and waiting to see what would happen to Nineveh. The Lord made a vine grow up to shade Jonah's head and protect him from the sun. Jonah was very happy to have the vine, but early the next morning the Lord sent a worm to chew on the vine, and the vine dried up. Then the Lord sent a scorching wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head, making him feel faint. Jonah was so miserable he shouted, "I wish I were dead!"


But the Lord asked, "Jonah, do you have the right to be angry about the vine?"


"Yes, I do," he answered, "and I'm angry enough to die."


But the Lord said: “Think about it, Jonah. That vine grew up in one night and died the next.  You did not plant it or take care of it, but yet you’re concerned about it. Now in the city of Nineveh there are more than 120 thousand people who cannot tell right from wrong — not to mention all the cattle! Don't you think I should care about them?”


Application (10:15):

1.     Divide the class into several teams of three to five players. The teams will take turns spinning the game wheel and answering questions about the scripture. Have the shepherd keep score on the white board.


2.     Line the teams up and let the first person in line for the team spin and answer a question. Let him consult his team if needed, but he is the only one who can give the answer. If he answers correctly, award his team the number of points he spun for. No points for a wrong answer. 

Grades 1-2: Use the multiple-choice answers provided with the questions.

Grades 3-5: Give the team a chance to answer the question, but offer multiple choices if they’re stumped. If the class seems to already know the story well, you can mix up the order of the questions.


3.     After his turn, the player goes to the end of his team’s line. Go to the next team and continue until everyone has had a turn.


4.     Alternatives:

  • If the player answers the question alone, his team gets the number of points he spun for. If the team helps him, they get half the points.
  • Let the rest of the team, but not the spinner, use their Bibles.
  • Consider covering over the “bankrupt” and “lose a turn” sections of the wheel. They deprive the spinner of the chance to answer and make scoring seem more important than the story.
  • If a team is taking too long to answer, give them a one-minute limit and get the shepherd to time the game using the timer in the supply bin. Adjust the time limit if it turns out to be too short/too long.


Reflection Time (10:35):

Gather the class in a circle for discussion. Accept all answers and encourage discussion, but be sure the points in italics are made, by you if not by the children:


I wonder why God was so forgiving to the people of Nineveh? God is merciful and loving. God doesn’t want to destroy people. God wants everyone to turn to God and know God.


Let’s say our memory verse together: “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”


I wonder why Jonah wanted Nineveh to be destroyed? The story doesn’t tell us, but we know that the people of Nineveh were enemies of the people of Israel. Jonah had trouble accepting God’s mercy and love for his enemies. He didn’t want his enemies saved; he wanted them destroyed. He was a very reluctant prophet. He certainly did not want to do anything to save his enemies.


Do you have any enemies? Who are they? (Encourage the children to think of personal enemies, like kids they don’t get along with, and also on a global scale — Osama bin Laden, terrorists in Iraq, etc.)


Do you want God to be kind to your enemies? Sometimes we’re like Jonah and would rather see our enemies destroyed. We have trouble accepting that God loves our enemies just like God loves us. And just like Jonah, we don’t like to help our enemies.


Journals (10:35): Pass out the journal pages and ask the shepherds to pass out pencils/markers. Optional: Give the children a sticker or some other memento to paste in their journal as a reminder of the workshop. Read the prompt out loud and be sure they understand that the modern third-grade Jonah is supposed to think and respond as the biblical Jonah would. Offer suggestions if they’re stumped. (A few suggestions for what Jonah might say to the teacher:  “WHY did you accept Adolph’s apology? Adolph has done lots of bad things. He doesn’t deserve to be let off the hook. You should have punished him. If you’re not going to punish Adolph, I will. I’m going to knock him down on the playground tomorrow.” Etc.) If they don’t know how to spell a word, write it on the white board. Those who finish early can turn the page over and do the activity on the back.


Closing: (10:45)

Ask the students to put down their journals and sit quietly.


Encourage the children to bring an offering next week. Remind them that the offering from this rotation will go to Haven House. The money will help to provide a multitude of programs that have helped thousands of young people and their families overcome problems and become productive members of the community.


Prayer: Tell the children: For our closing prayer, I want everybody think of a person who is your enemy. It can be somebody you know or somebody that is an enemy of our country. I’m going to start the prayer, then we’ll have a moment when we all silently pray for our enemies, then I’ll close the prayer.


God, help us to remember that you love our enemies the same way you love us. Please bless each of the enemies that we are thinking of now……………… Help us to love our enemies and show us how to help them. Amen.


Tidy and Dismissal: Ask children to help collect papers, pencils, Bibles, etc. When the room is tidy, dismiss the class.


Teacher preparation in advance:

1.     Read the scripture passages and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study.

2.     Prepare opening and closing prayers.

3.     Room set-up (must wait until after Total Life Center closes on Friday). Check out the room before your first Sunday workshop so that you know where everything is located.

4.     Find the small blue fold-up table, stored behind the puppet stage. It is handy for organizing all your supplies. Optional: Bring a CD or taped music for background music while you are gathering, meditative music for Reflection time. A boom box is located in the Puppet workshop cabinet.

5.     In your bin of supplies are two books of maps. You might find one with Israel, Nineveh (or Assyria) and Tarshish (location unclear but possibly in Spain) to show the older kids as you tell the story.

6.     Display the memory verse in the room (not on the white board, as you’ll need that for scorekeeping).

7.     GAME WHEEL: The game wheel is kept in the main room of the activity building. You will need to move it into the Arcade room before your class, and move it back to the main room after class.


Supply List

Extra Bibles

Map (optional, in supply bin)

Dry-erase marker (in supply bin)

Game wheel

Pencils (in supply bin; the shepherds also have pencils)

Journal pages

Questions for game (answers are in italics)


After the whale spit Jonah onto dry land, what did the Lord tell Jonah?

  1. “You’re fired.”
  2. “OK, you’ve suffered enough. You can go on home now.”
  3. “NOW go to Nineveh and tell the people they are doomed.”


After his encounter with the whale, what did Jonah do?

  1. He finally obeyed the LORD and went to Nineveh.
  2. He went home.
  3. He got on another boat and sailed away again.


How big was Nineveh?

  1. Three square miles
  2. So big that it took three days to walk through it.
  3. So big that it took three months to walk through it.


How long did Jonah walk before delivering his message?

  1. One day
  2. Two days
  3. Three days


What did Jonah tell the people of Nineveh?

  1. Nineveh will be detroyed if you don’t repent.”
  2. Nineveh will be destroyed unless you and your animals wear sackcloth.”
  3. "Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed!"


True or false: When the people of Nineveh heard Jonah’s message, they believed him.



What did the king of Nineveh do when he heard about Jonah?

He dressed in sackcloth, left his palace and sat in dust.

He had Jonah arrested for disturbing the peace.

He laughed at all the people wearing sackcloth.


Which of these things did the king order the people to do?

Eat, drink and be merry.

Stop wearing sackcloth.

Pray to the Lord with all your heart.


Which of these things did the king order the people to do?

Feed your animals.

Put sackcloth on your animals.

Prepare a feast for Jonah.


Which of these things did the king order the people to do?

  1. Stop being sinful and cruel.
  2. Build a shelter for Jonah.
  3. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.


When God saw that the people had stopped doing evil things, what happened?

  1. God said “too little, too late,” and destroyed the city.
  2. God had pity and did not destroy them.
  3. God put them on probation for a year to see if their repentance was real.


When Jonah saw God’s mercy to Nineveh, how did he feel?

  1. Mad.
  2. Glad
  3. Sad.


What made Jonah so mad?

  1. The people of Nineveh wouldn’t listen to him.
  2. God’s kindness, mercy and patience with people who deserved punishment.
  3. Being swallowed by a fish.


Why did Jonah say he hadn’t wanted to go to Nineveh?

  1. It was too hot there.
  2. He was afraid because Nineveh was in enemy territory.
  3. He knew from the beginning that God wouldn't destroy Nineveh.


Jonah was so mad, what did he say he wanted to do?

  1. Spit
  2. Hit somebody
  3. Die


When Jonah left the city, what did he do?

  1. Sat outside the city gate and waited to see what would happen.
  2. Fasted, prayed, and gave thanks to God.
  3. Hurried home to Israel while he had the chance.


What did God do to keep the sun off Jonah?

  1. Told Jonah to build himself a shelter.
  2. Made a vine grow up to shade Jonah's head.
  3. Sent clouds to block the sun.


What happened to the vine?

  1. The sun dried it up.
  2. The wind blew it away.
  3. A worm chewed it up and it died.


After the vine died, what did God do?

  1. Sent a scorching wind and the sun to beat down on Jonah’s head, making him feel faint.
  2. Sent a cool breeze to make Jonah feel better.
  3. Sent a rainstorm to give Jonah a drink of water.


What did Jonah say when he was sitting in the hot sun?

  1.  “Lord, please help me keep cool.”
  2. “I wish I were dead!”
  3. Lord, help me to be loving and merciful like you.”


What did the Lord say about the vine?

  1. “You are concerned about the vine because you planted and took care of it.”
  2. “You have every right to be angry about the vine.”
  3. “You are concerned about a vine that you did not plant or take care of, a vine that grew up in one night and died the next.”


What did the Lord say about Nineveh?

  1. “In that city there are more than a hundred twenty thousand people who cannot tell right from wrong — and lots of cattle, too. Don't you think I should be concerned about that big city?”
  2. In that city there are only a hundred twenty thousand people. Why should I be concerned about them or their animals?”
  3.  “The people in that city know right from wrong. Don't you think I should destroy them for their sins?”