In a general sense, the goal of this lesson is to teach each of us about our place in the Universal Church and that can be a big, anonymous topic (certainly hard for your little ones to grasp), so we want to bring it down to a personal level.
- To do that, the lesson starts with the smallest unit, the individual. You’ll find a little paper doll for each of your family members. Cut them out, and draw yourself on the outside. While it may look like you, the secret is inside. Flip it open to see Jesus who has been present there since your Baptism! At this level of “church,” the lesson to be learned is that he is always, always, always standing outside the door to your heart waiting for you to let Him in, in deeper ways.
- The next level is the family, where the Faith is transmitted in a unique way. It’s through family life that we get lessons about love, virtues, sharing, forgiveness, encouraging, being a good citizen, and lots more. Your kids will be interested to hear you remind them that Jesus also grew up in a family and learned these same things.
- The third layer of “church” is our local parish where some unique things happen. It’s here where we typically receive the Sacraments. We receive good teaching in all sorts of ways and meet other families who are also following Jesus. We can join our efforts to do greater things for Him there than we could do alone.
- Our next layer happens at our diocese. It’s here that parishes are gathered and organized under the care of a shepherd, chosen specifically for us. Our bishop is one of the successors of the Apostles (lesson tie-in!) and has been sent by God to guide and lead us.
- Finally, the Universal Church covers all of this with a blanket of protection, guidance, assurance, sound teaching, and lots more. It is here that we are part of this huge, wonderful thing, and are invited to enter in as individual by Jesus standing outside the door knocking and waiting to be let in, in deeper ways.
I do have a couple of practical tips on this lesson as well. First of all, your youngest students will likely not be able to cut and assemble the manipulatives, but don’t let that be an excuse to skip this part. It is this youngest group who will benefit most by the lessons the various pieces teach. If your kids are little, simply assemble the pieces ahead of time and let them play with them as you teach.
Second, if you think this lesson is too long or too complicated for your youngest kids, simply focus on the lessons taught by the familiar “layers,” the individual entering into the life of Christ at baptism, the home, and the parish. The other lessons can wait for a few years until this lesson cycle comes ’round again.