Parable of the Talents


April 18 – May 16, 2004


Antioch Arcade


Scripture:   Matthew 25:14-30 NSRV


Memory Verse:

“Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others.  So use your gift well.”  1 Peter 4:10 (CEV)



  1. Jesus taught us about God’s kingdom using parables.
  2. God has given each of us special gifts and talents to use, not hoard.
  3. God’s faithful followers use their gifts to serve God and others.
  4. Everything in life is a gift from God so we must use our gifts responsibly (time, abilities, possessions).



1.     Older children will locate the parable of the talents in their Bibles. Younger children will learn that the story is in Matthew.

2.     The children will become familiar with the details of the story.

3.     The children will understand the symbolism in the story and think about using their gifts to serve God.



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. Today we’ll hear the Parable of the Talents and play some games that help us understand 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 located. For grades 3-5, make sure everybody has a Bible. The shepherds will have extra Bibles.  Help the students find Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. (Get the shepherds to go around the room and help with this.)


After they’ve found Matthew, help them find chapter 25, then verse 14. Some of the children will confuse chapters and verses. Show them that chapter numbers are the big ones, and also are at top of every page.


3.     Read the story or tell it, using the summary below as a guide. If you read it, use the New Revised Standard Version. (Note: the kids will have the CEV, so this is not a good time for them to follow along in their Bibles.) Unless this is the first Sunday of the rotation, let the children help you tell the story. This will give you an idea of how much they already know. Other ideas for reviewing the story in later weeks are:


  • 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 the story is completely 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).


  • Photocopy the passage (remove verse numbers), cut it up and see if they can put it back together correctly.



Jesus used stories called parables to teach people about God. Our story today, the parable of the talents, didn’t really happen. It’s a story Jesus told to help people understand what God is like and how God wants us to live.


In Jesus’ time, “talent” was a word for a certain amount of money. We don’t know exactly how much, but we know it was a lot. Some scholars say it was 1,000 coins, or 15 years wages for a laborer. Today, “talent” means a natural ability.


Story Summary

This is the story that Jesus told: The kingdom of God is like what happened when a man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned. The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed the first servant five talents—a lot of money. He gave the second servant two talents, and the third servant got one talent. Then the man left the country.


As soon as the man had gone, the servant with the five talents went off and used them to buy and sell things, and he earned five more talents. The servant who had two talents did the same with his money and earned two more. But the servant with one talent dug a hole and hid his master's money in the ground.


A long time later the master of the servants returned. He called them in and asked what they had done with his money. The servant who had been given five talents brought them in with the five talents that he had earned. He said, "Sir, you gave me five talents, and I’ve doubled your money."


“Well done!" his master replied. "You are a good and faithful servant. You have been trustworthy with a few things, so now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!"


Next, the servant who had been given two talents came in and said, "Sir, you gave me two talents, and I have earned two more."


"Well done!" his master replied. "You are a good and faithful servant. You have been trustworthy in a few things, so now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!"


Then the servant who had been given one talent then came in and said, "Sir, I know that you are hard to get along with. You harvest what you don't plant and gather crops where you haven't scattered seed. I was scared of losing your money, so I hid it in the ground. Here is all your money!"


The master of the servant told him, "You are lazy and wicked! You know that I harvest what I don't plant and gather crops where I haven't scattered seed. You could have at least put my money in the bank, so that I could have earned interest on it."


Then the master said, "Now I’ll give your money to the servant with ten talents! Everyone who has something will be given more, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken from those who don't have anything. You are a worthless servant, and you will be thrown out into the dark where people will weep and gnash their teeth."


Application: (10:15)

1.     Activity 1 - Hand each child a small bag containing about a dozen pennies. Tell them: In this game, you’re going to go around and give your pennies away, one by one. When someone gives you a penny, you must give that person two pennies in return. Let’s see what happens.


Play for 3 minutes, then call time and ask what happened. See who has the most and who has the least pennies.


2.     Activity 2 - Have the buzzer box set up on a table. (One of the round tables from the main room is good for this. See end of lesson plan for instructions on using the buzzer box.) Divide the children into four lines, with the first person in each line holding a buzzer.


3.     Explain that you will call out a question and the first player to press the buzzer gets to answer. (If more than one person buzzes, the one who buzzed first will have both lights on.) After each question, the four players move to the end of their line and the next four in line take the buzzers. Keep the game moving. (See end of lesson plan for questions; feel free to add some of your own.)


Be sure they know the answer before buzzing. If they are buzzing and then taking too long to think of the answer, use the timer in the supply bin and give 5 seconds to answer after buzzing (this has not been a problem in the past).


4.     After everybody has had a turn, mix up the lines for the next round so the most knowledgeable or fastest-fingered kids will be not be competing against the same three players every time.


5.     Scoring is optional. Be aware that this game encourages competition, since only the quickest-thinking kids get to answer. The gentlest way to play is not to keep score -- don’t treat the lines as teams, just lines of kids waiting their turn. If you want to keep score, award 5 points for a correct answer. No points for a wrong answer; let anyone who knows the correct answer tell it. Ask the shepherd keep score on the white board. (You can use a different scoring system if you prefer, but keep it simple.)
Note: First-graders sometimes have difficulty operating the buzzers  – they especially get confused about turning off the sound. You can turn the sound off entirely if you prefer. If you’d rather not tackle using buzzers with first-graders, you can just divide them into two teams and alternate asking questions of each team. Let children take turns answering. (Or you might have a better idea! Feel free to devise your own game for them.)

Grades 1-2: If you have younger children in the early weeks of the rotation, skip the more difficult questions, e.g., Whom does the master represent? and just ask the ones pertaining to the details of the story. If you have them in later weeks, try the harder questions on them.


Reflection Time: (10:30)


Discuss: The servants who used their talents wisely made more money for their master. The one who buried his talent ended up with nothing. In our game with the pennies, what happened when you used your pennies? You got more. What happened if you didn’t use your pennies? You ended up with less. God has given each of us special gifts and talents to use, not to hoard.


In the story, who does the master represent? God. Who do the servants represent? People. Just like the master in the story, God has given us gifts to use. I wonder how many gifts we can list that God has given us. Important: Ask the shepherd to list the answers on the white board. The children will refer to the list when they write their journals. Accept all answers but be sure to cover a range including abilities (music, athletics, math), possessions (money, home, toys), personality traits (fruits  of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control), and relationships (family, friends).


Everything in life is a gift from God.  In the story, the faithful servants used the master’s money to serve their master. To be faithful to God, we must use our gifts to serve God and other people.


Recite the Bible memory verse learned in the Great Hall. “Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others.  So use your gift well.”  1 Peter 4:10 (CEV)


Journals: At 10:35 a.m. pass out the journal pages and ask the shepherds to pass out pencils/markers. Optional: Give the children a sticker or some other memento (a penny) to paste onto the page as a reminder of the workshop. Pennies can also be given to put in the Pennies for Hunger jar or offering next Sunday.


Read the prompt out loud and encourage the children to think of the whole range of gifts they have and various ways of using them to help their grandfather. For inspiration, they can refer to the list of gifts the class made. If they have artistic talent, they can make him a card. If they have money, they can buy him a gift, like a tape to listen to, or some flowers. If they have a good sense of humor, they can tell him jokes to entertain him. If they have patience and kindness, they can stay nearby and bring him food, drinks, books, and other things he needs, etc. Remind them that no matter what they do, they will use kindness or one of the other spiritual gifts.


Kids who finish their page early can turn it over and do the word search on the back.


At 10:45 ask the students to close their journals and sit quietly.


Closing: (10:45)


Encourage the children to bring an offering next week. Remind them that the offering from this rotation will go to New Vision Home, an orphanage in Jamaica. Our money is a gift from God, and one way we can use it to serve God is by sharing it with people who need it.


Prayer:  Close with a brief prayer. Suggestion: Go around the circle and ask each child to name one talent or other gift God has given them. End by saying, “Thank you, God, for everything you have given us. Show us how to use our gifts to serve you and other people. Amen.”


Tidy and Dismissal: Ask children to collect pennies, 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.     Practice reading or telling the story so it will go smoothly and you can hold the children’s interest. Be dramatic.

4.     Check out the room before your first Sunday workshop so that you know where everything is located.

5.     Optional: Bring a CD or taped music for background music while you are gathering or playing games, meditative music for Reflection time. Display the memory verse on the wall.

6.     Practice using the buzzer box and be sure you understand how it works.


Supply List

Extra Bibles

About 20 bags of pennies

Buzzer system


Dry-erase marker

Stickers or other mementos for journals (optional)

Journal pages




Susan Lingo, Kids-Tell-Em Bible Stories.

Sunday School Sources, “Parables: The Talents.”

Desoto Presbyterian Church, Dallas,Parable of the Five Talents, Mustard Seed and Yeast.”

Storytelling ideas:

Questions for game


  1. True or false: The master expected results from each man. T
  2. True or false: The master expected the servants each to have the same number of talents when he returned. F
  3. True or false: Each man gained something with what he was given. F
  4. True or false: The one-talent man lost his talent before the master returned. F
  5. What did the man with one talent do? Buried the money.
  6. Why didn’t he trade with it to make more money? He was afraid of losing it; he wanted to keep it safe.
  7. How did the master feel about the 5-talent man? Happy
  8. True or false. The master was just as pleased with the 2 talent man as he was with the 5 talent man. True.
  9. How did the master feel about the 1 talent man? Angry, disappointed.
  10. How many talents did the 5 talent man end up with total? 10
  11. How many talents did the 2 talent man end up with? 4
  12. How many talents did the 1 talent man finally end up with? None
  13. What reward was given to the 5 and 2 talent men? They were given greater responsibilities. Also, the 5-talent man was given the 1-talent man’s money.
  14. Define talent in Biblical times and now. Biblical times, an amount of money. Now, a natural gift or ability.
  15. True or false: The men in the story were Jesus’ neighbors. False: Jesus made the story up.
  16. What is a parable? A story Jesus told to teach people about God.
  17. Whom does the master represent? God
  18. Whom do the servants represent? All humans.