Parable of the Talents
April 18 –May 16, 2004
Scripture: Mathew 25:14-30 NRSV
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
Objectives: The children will learn how Jesus used this parable to teach that God has given each of us talents and gifts and that we are to use these to do his work. This lesson will also touch on the concept that there are rewards for having a close relationship with God (being faithful).
Welcome and Introductions:
1. Greet the children and introduce yourself. Wear your nametag. Make sure the children are wearing nametags. If not, ask the shepherd to supply a temporary badge. Remember you are interacting with a different group of students each week that may not know you.
2. Explain the purpose of this workshop. For example, “Today we will use puppets to learn about the gifts and talents that God has given us and what we are to do with these. First we will read the Bible story for this lesson.”
Before starting the story, you can give some background. Example of a discussion follows. “We are going to read a parable that Jesus told to a crowd of people. Does anyone know what a parable is? A parable is a story used to teach a lesson. In what part of the Bible do you think we’d find this parable, Old or New Testament? New Testament. And how would someone know that? It is Jesus telling the parable, and Jesus’ words are in the New Testament. A parable is a lot like a puppet script. There are characters in the parable that represent different people and things. In this parable, there is a man who is a master of servants, and he is going on a journey or trip. This man is God. The different servants are different people. The man is going to give his servants some talents, which in this parable is a large quantity of money. If you have your Bibles, you can turn to Matthew 25:14 and follow along as I read the parable.”
From the NRSV:
25 14 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” 21His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” 23His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” 26But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy servant! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless servant, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Discussion after the Bible Story:
Does it ever feel like God has given you different talents from someone else, say one of your friends or someone in your family? Encourage a few answers. I wonder why God would give us different talents. Encourage a few answers. What if everyone were exactly the same? What if we were all good only at cooking? Who would fix all the meals? If everyone were good at cooking, anyone and everyone could fix the meals. Who would do all the things that have nothing to do with cooking? No one could and would want to do anything but cook. Can you see why we might have been given different gifts and talents? Did you know that God has a plan for each of us, what he wants us to do? Did you know that God gives us gifts and talents to get that plan done? Do you think that everyone always uses their gifts and talents exactly the way God wants them to? No. Sometimes, bad people just want to disobey God and do what they want to do. But sometimes, good people don’t do what God wants because they don’t know what that is. How can we know what God wants us to do? Pray often and ask God to show us what our talents are and what He wants us to use them for.
What about the servant who was thrown into the darkness? What do you think the darkness represents? Something bad—some kind of punishment—maybe just being alone. The servant was only given one talent to invest—it should have taken him a lot less time to invest or trade it than it took the others to find some way to make money with their amounts. God really gave him an easier task to do. Did he appreciate the fact that God had given him an easier job? Did he do anything? No. Was it fair that the servant was thrown in the darkness? Answers from the children will vary. However, the servant was lazy. He didn’t do what the master or God wanted him to do. God greatly rewards us when we do what He asks. And how was it we were to know what God wants us to do? Pray. Shall we try a prayer now? God, please show each of us what our talents are and some small thing you have asked us to do.
Note: There are 4 skits with differing numbers of characters in each. You may have to repeat one or more of the skits to give everyone a chance to perform.
1) Divide the class into groups of children for each skit.
2) Give out copies of the script to each child. The scripts can be highlighted for individual parts.
3) The puppets can already be out on a table. Let the children line up to choose a puppet. The puppets don’t have to match the parts they play.
4) You have several options about who can read the parts. You may pre-record the entire skit on cassette tape before Sunday. You can choose a narrator (use a shepherd or workshop leader) to read all the puppet parts while children act out with the puppets. You may also allow each child to read and act out his/her own puppet part. With this last option, you may encounter 1st and 2nd graders that don’t read well, but an adult can help them with their part by either reading it for them or prompting them with lines when they perform.
5) Allow the groups 5 minutes to practice their script. Space out all the adults in the room to help with the script practice.
6) After each skit, have the puppet operators return to the audience to discuss what happened in the skit as a group. Apply the skit to the concepts being taught in this workshop. See suggested discussion questions below.
7) If you have to repeat a skit to give everyone a turn, you may hold the discussion until the second time you have done the skit.
Skit 1 Discussion Questions:
Have you ever seen a talent show? What are some of the acts in the talent show you saw or in the talent show in this skit? Playing piano, tap dancing, acting in funny skit, doing magic tricks, being emcee, others… Do you think a talent show is more fun with lots of different talents? Probably What if some people didn’t want to share their talents? The show probably wouldn’t be as much fun. Why do you think God gives us different talents? Already talked during the Bible story about helping us do different jobs, also maybe it makes life more interesting.
Skit 2 Discussion Questions:
What is the purpose of an eraser? Use it to erase pencil mistakes. So an eraser is made for a special purpose. There are some erasers that are decorated or in a special shape and some are made only for erasing. (Could even have some examples to show if you have any at home.) Let’s assume the eraser in this skit is one of the big pink erasers that is not a special shape. Do you know what hoarding is? It is when someone keeps extra things to himself, even if he doesn’t need it. Do you think that in the parable, the servant that buried the talent could have been hoarding it? Maybe yes. The talent certainly did not get used for any good. Hoarding is bad when you keep or hide something you may never need just to keep someone else from using it. In the skit, the student was in a way hoarding the eraser and not letting anyone else use it.
Based on what you know about teachers, do you think the teacher would rather have papers with mistakes or have a used eraser? Probably would rather have a used eraser and have the mistakes corrected. Why do you think the teacher gave the other child the responsibility for the eraser? That child was not afraid to use the eraser for what it was designed to do. Do you think that God gives us things like the eraser—things He has specifically designed for a purpose that he wants us to use? Probably. Can you think of things he has given us? Water, food, trees, grass, etc. Do you think we should be afraid of using them? No
What if in the skit, the child with the eraser had been playing with the eraser, maybe rubbing the desk with it and wasting it? Would that be OK? No—that is not using the eraser for the purpose for which it was designed. That would not be responsible. So thinking about what God has given us, should we try to use the things God has given us responsibly, for the purpose God designed them for? Yes
Skit 3 Discussion Questions:
Who are the characters in this skit? Some children, their mother and their uncle. Do the children and the uncle seem to know each other very well? Sounds like they do not. Is the uncle trying to get to know the children? Yes, now that he lives in the same city, he is trying to get to know them better. Is it hard to get to know relatives, neighbors, and maybe new children at school in the beginning? Is it hard to agree to spend time with people you do not already know? May get different answers. Do you think the uncle is trying to get to know the children better? Yes Do you feel like you know God well? Will get different (if any) answers. What is the best way to get to know God better? May get different answers—church, prayer, etc. Did you know that God wants to know all of us very well because he loves us? Just like the uncle, God invites us to get to know him, by prayer, through the Bible, through church and other things based on God, and we can choose to come to him or stay away. If we are shy about coming to God, we will never know what nice things he has planned for us—what talents he has given us, what additional talents he would like to give us when we have shown that we will use the first ones he gives us, what plan he has for our life, how we can help others get to know him. What do you think will happen the next time the uncle invites the children over and why? Probably all go because one went and came back and talked about how nice and fun the uncle was. Do you think getting to know God is like that—that maybe some people get to know him and tell others how much God means to them, and then others want to get to know him. Do you think God would ever tell someone they weren’t invited to his “house?” NO! All are invited.
Skit 4 Discussion Questions:
Does everyone know what binoculars are? You may have to answer this: Binoculars are like strong glasses used to see far. There are special ones that can be used to look at the night sky for stars and planets, kind of like a telescope. Did you have the feeling that the children had used these binoculars before and why or why not? No, neither child seemed to have seen them before. I wonder why the father let the daughter borrow the binoculars? She was going to camp out, and she might have a good place to see lots of stars and a few planets. He obviously had an interest in this and wanted his daughter to have this special treat. Did the daughter seem to appreciate the special “gift” (it was the gift of using them for one night) that had been given to her? No What did she do that showed she didn’t appreciate it? She wasn’t careful with them—she was swinging them around, even after being told to be careful with the expensive binoculars. What happened to the “gift?” It was taken away from her by another parent, and the father agreed with that. Do you think she is going to be given this “gift” again soon? Probably not, not until she can show that she would be responsible with them.
Review the concepts covered and ask whether there are any questions.
Prayer: Close with prayer. Write your own or use this example. Thank you God for having a plan for us and for giving us gifts and talents. It is in the name of Jesus Christ that we pray.
Tidy and Dismissal: Ask children to help clean up as they wait for their parents to arrive. Close/lock the door and turn off the lights.
As the writer of this lesson and also as a Faith Quest teacher, I strongly encourage you, the workshop leader, to read the Bible passage yourself and only after practicing it before your first Sunday.
Catherine Devins, who helped Rev. Joan McCarthy bring the workshop rotation to the Kirk, suggests that “the workshop leader be sure to prepare a reading with emphasis and energy and excitement as appropriate.” Drawing from personal experience, she says, “When I teach, I do the reading and ask the kids to follow along. Often I set up the story in an animated way, then read with as much drama as I can get away with.”
Teacher preparation in advance:
1. Prayer is always a great way to start. Pray for God to use you to teach what He wants taught during this workshop and scripture passage. Pray for a loving and patient attitude toward the children. Pray for time management during the workshop.
2. Read the scripture passages and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study.
3. Please practice reading the scripture passage out loud several times. See Who Should Read section of this lesson for encouragement.
4. Make at least 6 or 7 copies of each script. You can highlight one character in each skit.
5. If you decide to pre-record the scripts, there is a tape recorder/boom box in the Praising Puppets cabinet.
6. Prepare a closing prayer.
7. Journal pages will be provided at the Bible Study or the first Sunday of the rotation.
Copies of the script.
Notes supplied by
SKIT 1 (5 characters)
Jody: “Are you going to be in the talent show? I am going to play the piano.”
Flora: “I am going to do a dance I learned in my tap class.”
Page: “I don’t play an instrument or dance or anything like that. I guess I don’t have any talent.”
Edwin: “The write-up on the Talent Show said you could do comedy or a skit or lots of other things. It also said they needed an Emcee to announce all the acts. I am going to try out for that.”
Marcy: “Anyone is welcome to do a skit with me. I want to write a funny skit, but I’ll need extra people to play the other parts.”
Page: “OK, I’ll be in the skit. I’d like to be part of the talent show.”
Children go down behind stage to show scene change. Then come up when narrator speaks.
Flora: “I’m glad that show is over. I was a little nervous about my dance.”
Jody: “Your tap dance was like something on TV. Everyone was great. That skit was really funny. I think that might have been one of the best things in the show.”
Page: “Thanks. It was really exciting to hear everyone laughing. I guess they did like it. I like the song you played on the piano.”
Edwin: “I liked the music and dancing, but it was nice to have other types of acts in the show, like the skit, and like the guy who did the magic tricks. It would have been boring to have everyone doing the same thing.”
Marcy: “I agree. Edwin, you did a great job as Emcee, too.”
SKIT 2 (3 characters)
Megan: “Can I borrow that eraser?”
Wendy: “No, it belongs to the teacher, and I don’t think you should use it.”
Megan: “I saw you using it.”
Wendy: “The teacher lent it to me because I left mine at home, but I am trying not to get it dirty or use up much of it. You can just cross out your mistakes.”
Teacher: “Wendy, it’s OK to use the eraser. I gave it to you to use, so I don’t mind it getting used up and dirty. That’s what erasers are for. If you are trying to keep it nice and new looking, the eraser is useless. Megan, why don’t you hold on to the eraser. Let Wendy or anyone else use it if they need it.”
SKIT 3 (4 characters)
Mother: “Uncle Troy wants to take you kids over to his house to play today. Now that he has moved to our city, he’d like to spend more time with you.”
Bailey: “What are we going to do over there? He doesn’t have any kids, so his house doesn’t have any toys.”
Mark: “I’d rather stay here and play with my friends.”
Glen: “I’ll go. I think if Uncle Troy wants to have us over and get to know us better, he’ll come up with something fun to do.”
Bailey: “You can go. I’m staying here.”
Mark: “Me too. I’m staying home.”
Mother: “OK, it’s your choice. Glen, I’ll take you over to Uncle Troy’s.”
Glen puppet walks off the stage with Mother. Other puppets go down behind stage to show time passing. Then puppets come back up and Mom and Glen puppets walk up.
Bailey: “Here comes Glen and Mom. How was Uncle Troy’s house? Are you ready to have some fun now?”
Glen: “Actually I just want to rest. Uncle Troy brought out his skateboard, and he used to be pretty good at it. He showed me the things he used to do. It wasn’t as fancy as the tricks now, but it was still pretty interesting. He told me lots of stories about when he was my age, and what he did back then. I had a good time. I’m going back there as soon as he asks me to come again.”
Mark: “I wish I had gone. I couldn’t find anything to do around here. Do you think I could go next time?”
Mother: “I’m sure Uncle Troy would like anyone who wants to to come over. He’s your uncle, so he wants to know you and for you to know him.”
SKIT 4 (4 characters)
Father: “Here are my special binoculars. You can take them with you and use them to look for the planets tonight.”
Gayle: “When did you get those? They look really expensive. Do those things turn? What do they do?”
Father: “The binoculars are very expensive, so be very careful with them. The dials are for adjusting the focus. Just turn this dial until you can see clearly.”
Hunter: “Look. They have this special case. I’ve never seen this before. Can I use them too?”
Father: “You are a little too young. This is a special treat for Gayle. Gayle is using them tonight because she is going on a camping sleepover. She may be able to see some planets without all the city and streetlights around here.”
Puppets go behind the stage to show time passing. The next day, only the father and Hunter are on stage, then Gayle and another puppet walk up.
Parent from Sleepover: “Hello, here are the binoculars that Gayle had. I took them away from her because she was swinging them around her head. They looked really expensive, and I was afraid that they were going to get broken.”
Father: “Thanks for doing that. I am surprised she was being rough with them. I had told her they were expensive, and it was a special privilege for her to be able to use the binoculars.”
Hunter: “I know I’ll never get to use them now!”
Gayle: “I didn’t break them.”
Father: “It may be a while before I trust you with such responsibility again, Gayle. But Hunter, when you’re old enough, you’ll have a chance just like Gayle did.”