The festival of Pentecost lesson plan

The day of Pentecost can be a difficult lesson plan to present to the children.

This free Pentecost lesson plan looks at Acts 2 and needs no extra input from teachers – it is ready to use.

Many Christians celebrate Pentecost Sunday and take comfort from the Holy Spirit.

This teacher’s copy of the Festival of Pentecost lesson plan is printer-friendly.

Disciples on the day of Pentecost. The festival of Pentecost lesson plan.
Stained glass window. The festival of Pentecost lesson plan. Image by falco from Pixabay

1. Resources required for Pentecost lesson plan:

None required.

2. Starter for Pentecost lesson plan

Q. How many of you have got a pet?

I want you to imagine your pet, or imagine owning a pet, and you are going away on holiday for a long time.

Q. How is your pet going to be fed and looked after?

Cattery, kennels, or neighbours have a house key to come in and feed your pet.
You make a plan of what will happen.

Pentecost is Jesus’ plan to care for his followers after he had left the Earth to return to heaven.

3. Main teaching for Pentecost lesson plan:

For three years Jesus had a group of followers who went with him everywhere. They heard his teachings and they saw the miracles that he performed.
Christians believe that Jesus knew that he was going to be crucified, die and be raised from the dead on the third day.

After forty days he would then return to heaven and would be away from his followers (his disciples).

a) Wait until you receive the promised Holy Spirit

So, the Bible tells us that Jesus had been taken back to heaven and His followers were meeting together in Jerusalem because He had said to them:

Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 1:4-5 NIV

Then came the Jewish celebration, the day of Pentecost, which was a feast that celebrated the bringing in of the Barley harvest from the fields.
Many people were in Jerusalem to celebrate, but 120 of Jesus’ followers were waiting and praying in a room.

b) The Holy Spirit came with flames, strong wind and foreign languages

Suddenly there was a massive gale blowing around in the room where they were all seated and they saw something that looked like flames separate and come down to rest on each one of them!

Mosaic of the day of Pentecost. The festival of Pentecost lesson plan.
Mosaic of flames on the disciples at Pentecost. Image by Holger Schué from Pixabay

Nothing got burnt by the flames because it was the Holy Spirit of God who came down and filled each person.
They all began to speak in foreign languages praising God and speaking about Him.

c) A crowd gathered wondering what was happening

With all the noise and the strange things happening, many people started to gather outside the house.

Jesus’ followers were now leaving the house, still speaking in different languages.
Everyone was utterly amazed, and they were saying: “Why are these men speaking in our own native tongues?”
There were at least fifteen different languages being spoken and everyone was asking: “What does this mean?”
Whilst others made fun of them and said, “They’re drunk!”

Q. What would you have thought if you had been there?

d) Simon Peter explains to the crowd about the coming of the Holy Spirit

Peter started to tell the crowd in a loud voice that they weren’t drunk, but this was in fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy where God had said that He would pour out His Spirit on all people.
That at that time their sons and daughters would prophesy, and the young men and old would see visions from God.
Even poor servants, both men and women, would receive God’s Holy Spirit, and they would all prophesy.
There would also be signs and wonders in the sky and upon the earth, but everyone who would call to the Lord would be saved.

After Peter had told the crowd about this prophesy he said:

Listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man who was fully approved by God. There had been many miracles, wonders and signs, which God did through Jesus as you yourselves know and have seen. Jesus was given over to you according to God’s plan and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing Him to the cross! But God raised Jesus from the dead – it was impossible for death to hold onto Him.”

Acts 2:22-24 NIV

Then Peter read another prophecy which King David had said hundreds of years earlier.
In this prophecy, God would not allow His ‘Holy One’ to decay in the grave.
Peter then continued to talk to the crowd:

I can tell you confidently that king David died and his body has decayed in the grave, but he was a prophet who looked to the future and he spoke about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Yes, God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of this fact.
Now He has been raised up to God’s throne and He has now poured out the promised Holy Spirit, which you have seen and heard.
Therefore let everyone know this, that God has made Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and the long awaited Christ!”

Acts 2:29-33 NIV

Q. Imagine if you had been one of those in the crowd, what would you have thought?

When the people heard this, they felt extremely guilty and they said to Peter, “What shall we do?”
Peter replied:

Turn from your self-centred life, and turn to God. Be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you also will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This promise is for everyone, or all to whom the Lord our God calls to.”

Acts 2:38-39

e) At Pentecost many turn to God

Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptised.

Q. How many people do you think got baptised?

(Teachers note: See What is Christian baptism?)

The Bible tells us that about 3000 were added to the 120 people that day.

When Jesus was crucified, His followers became too scared to do anything.
It looked as if it was the end of the matter.
Then Jesus rose from the dead and His followers believed in Him, but they were still very scared and powerless to do anything.

It was only when God sent the Holy Spirit upon them that they became fearless and they went everywhere proclaiming about Jesus’ death and resurrection and how their sins could be forgiven.
For these people, believing in Jesus and receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a life-changing experience.

This was Jesus’ plan to make sure his disciples and all his followers from then were okay within this world.

Many Christians believe that the church was officially started on the day of Pentecost.

4. Plenary for Pentecost lesson plan:

Q. Have you had any sort of ‘life-changing experience’, or a situation that has changed your view on things?

Either take a short time to discuss these questions, or leave it with them.

Design a poster to illustrate the true meaning behind Pentecost.

(Teachers note: There is a Pentecost worksheet to accompany this lesson plan)

5. Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Why did Jesus send the Holy Spirit at Pentecost?

Jesus had risen from the dead, but he was about to return to heaven, so he wanted his followers to have ‘a Helper’ so he told them:
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away the Helper will not come to you. But if I go I will send him to you.” John 16:7 ESV

What is the key message of Pentecost?

The main point is that God will pour out His Holy Spirit upon anyone who turns to Him. All the points are here in Peter’s speech (Acts 2:14-39)
1) God will: “pour out my Spirit on all people” Not just Christian leaders.
2) “And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” God will speak through his people.
3) “And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below” As the end of the world gets nearer, there will be more unusual signs.
4) “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” God is willing to forgive those who turn to him.
5) “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs” Jesus Christ is our salvation.
6) Jesus was “handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge” Jesus died as part of the plan of salvation.
7) “You, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” Even though it was God’s plan, those responsible were still guilty of doing that.
8) “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.”
9) Jesus is “exalted to the right hand of God.” That signifies a position of power, of being a King.
10) Jesus “has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is a believer’s helper and teacher.
11) Jesus “has poured out what you now see and hear.” Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to his followers.
12) Peter replied “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Repent means to turn away from our selfish life and turn to God and surrender to him.
13) “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” The Holy Spirit was not just for the believers then, but also for all of us now.