Fall is the season of pumpkins (at least where we live) and all sorts of pumpkin-related activities. As the mom of two active boys, I enjoy multiple visits to the pumpkin patch, choosing pumpkins, painting pumpkins, passing a pumpkin around the table as we say things we’re thankful for, and writing things we’re thankful for on a giant pumpkin in the middle of the kitchen table. Pumpkins are one of God’s good creations and I want to show you how to use a pumpkin object lesson to share the gospel with kids! If you like this, then you can download the FREE Gospel Pumpkin lesson from KidsEnjoyingJesus.com, which has this object lesson, plus a Big Idea, verse teaching, games, and other activities to fill a class hour. Another object lesson, The BIGGEST Pumpkin, is also available. That lesson focuses on how Jesus helps grow, because he is the vine and we are the branches.
(You’ll notice in the pictures below that Nathan carved his pumpkin ahead of time. This makes it MUCH easier to teach this object lesson with a group of children. This isn’t always necessary if you’re teaching your own kids, but the instructions below are written as if you’ve already carved the pumpkin ahead of time.)
Pumpkin Carving Instructions: Cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and goop and set them aside for later. Carefully carve a simple nose, eyes, and smiling mouth into the front of the pumpkin, but save the pieces you cut out and put them back into place so that it looks like the pumpkin is not carved. Wash some of the seeds to use in the lesson, but put most of the seeds and goop back inside the pumpkin and set the top back on.
(If your pumpkin will be sitting overnight before you teach this lesson, store the seeds and slime in the fridge to keep them from getting smelly and put them back in the pumpkin before you teach…Don’t just leave them on the counter and forget about them. Not that anyone we know has done that recently, but let’s just say it doesn’t end well.)
The Gospel Pumpkin Object Lesson
(If possible, enjoy this activity outside or set the pumpkin on a cookie sheet or plastic table cloth to catch the mess. Face the carved side of the pumpkin away from the children so they can’t see the cut lines as you begin the lesson.)
What things do you enjoy doing in the fall? (Let children share, and then share some of your favorite fall activities.) Maybe your family goes to the pumpkin patch to pick a pumpkin or two! As you walk around the pumpkin patch, what kind of pumpkin would you choose? (If possible, have the children walk around the room and pretend to pick out a pumpkin. Talk about size, color, shape, etc. Admire the pretend pumpkins, then have everyone carry their “pumpkin” (so heavy!) back to their seat.) You had your reasons for choosing the pumpkin you did. Maybe you liked its shape, or you chose an orange pumpkin instead of a white one. Or you wanted one that you could carry… or you wanted one that only your dad could carry! Whatever your reasons, you chose the pumpkin that was special to you.
This pumpkin (show pumpkin) is one that I chose for a special reason. I liked its color, I liked its shape… I just liked it. Choosing this pumpkin reminds me of a Bible verse. (Read Ephesians 1:4a.) God is the Creator of the whole world! He made everything! Pumpkins, puppies, planets… and you! God made you and he chose to love you. Before God made the world, he chose people who he would make holy so they could be close to him and enjoy his love forever. He didn’t choose people because of how they look, how smart they are, or how good they are. He chooses people to be made holy and be with him because he is so full of love! To be with God, we need to be made holy because God is holy. Holy means God is completely separate from anything wrong or bad. Nothing wrong or bad can be close to him. To be close to God forever, you must be made holy because you and I are messed up on the inside.
Look at this pumpkin. It looks pretty good, doesn’t it? But what is inside the pumpkin? (Allow guesses, then take the top off and pull out the seedy goop. Allow for proper expressions of disgust as you offer it to the children to touch or smell.) Pumpkins often look really nice on the outside! But when you look inside, you get seeds and slime. This reminds me of… me. I try and look nice on the outside. I take care of my hair. I try to dress nicely. I take a shower. I try and be kind to other people. I take care of my family. But inside? I am full of a nastiness called sin. Sin is the bad things that you and I do, say, or think, as well as the good things that we should do, but choose not to do. Sin is sometimes super obvious, like when you throw a temper tantrum because you don’t want to clean up, or when you lie to get out of trouble, or when you refuse to share your Legos.
Can you think of others things that are sins? (Let the children touch and feel the messy goop as they share their own examples of sin.) No matter how many good things we do and how good we look on the outside, the sin is still there on the inside. We think mean thoughts. We try and trick others so we can get our way. We forget about God and his goodness and do life our own way. But unlike the pumpkin, we can’t take the sin out of ourselves. We are stuck with it. And just like there aren’t any pumpkins without seeds and slime inside, there are no people without sin. (Read or quote Romans 3:23.) Sin affects every part of our lives, and sin keeps us from living life forever with God. Sin cannot be where God is. Because of sin, we deserve to be in a terrible place of punishment where God is not there. Isn’t that an awful thought? You need someone to clean your heart from sin, just like I need to clean out this pumpkin.
(Let the kids help you take the remaining seeds and pulp out of the pumpkin while you talk about Jesus, the Savior.) The only one who can clean your heart from sin is Jesus. Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus did impossible things that people can’t do! He is fully God and fully man at the same time. He never ONCE sinned—even when he was your age! He lived a perfect life, because you can’t. Jesus came to earth to show people what God is like and to take the punishment for your sin. Jesus allowed himself to be arrested, beaten, and nailed by his hands and feet onto a cross. Jesus had never done anything wrong. He did not deserve for those terrible things to happen to him! But because he lived a perfect life when you couldn’t, he was able to die in your place, taking what you and I deserve for our sin. To prove he paid for sin forever, Jesus came alive again three days after he died! Hundreds of people saw Jesus after he came alive again, then he went to be with God. (Read or quote 1 Corinthians 15:3-5a.) Jesus did this so you can belong to God and live with God forever. That is the best news ever!
When you believe that Jesus is God’s Son who died for your sins, he takes your sin away! You belong to God forever! That should make you super happy! (While the pumpkin is still turned toward you, pop the eyes, nose, and mouth pieces out and then turn it around to show the children the face in the pumpkin.) This pumpkin has a happy face! Jesus taking the punishment for our sin is the happiest news ever! But what do you usually do with a pumpkin that has a design in it? (You put a light in it.)
(Take the LED light, turn it on, and put it inside the pumpkin. Turn off the lights and let the children admire the bright light of the pumpkin.) Would the pumpkin be able to shine this light if I hadn’t gone inside, taken out the seeds and slime and then given it a smile? No! I needed to remove all of that first before it could shine. That reminds me of what Jesus does for us. He can take away our sin, give us JOY, and then, when other people look at us, they will see Jesus shining through us! Jesus helps us shine his light so others can know about him.
Do you know Jesus? Have you come to him and asked him to forgive your sin? (Read or quote John 1:12.) When you believe—trust completely—that Jesus is the perfect Son of God who died for you and came alive again, then you will become God’s child. You will belong to God forever and be able to go and live with him forever someday. I would love to talk to you from the Bible about how you can belong to God forever.
If you know that you do belong to Jesus, he wants you to shine his light! Your life can show and tell others that Jesus is real, and that he has changed your heart by taking away your sin. (Read or quote 2 Corinthians 5:17.) As you read your Bible, pray, go to church, and spend time worshiping God, he keeps changing your heart to be more like Jesus. Other people will be able to see how Jesus is changing you. You can also tell others about how Jesus can take away their sin too! You might even tell them by using a pumpkin!
Now it’s YOUR turn!
That’s all there is to it! With a little prep work, you can turn the popular tradition of pumpkin carving into an opportunity to teach kids about the gospel. If you’d like to watch a demonstration of this pumpkin object lesson, check out Nathan’s video below. You can even make things really easy on yourself by watching this video with your kids BEFORE you carve a pumpkin. The video can do the bulk of the teaching and then you can discuss it and review it as you carve pumpkins together. If you’d like MORE pumpkin themed ideas that point kids to Christ, click here! Enjoy!