The Pumpkin Gospel

A few days ago, I shared about how our views on Halloween have changed over the years from complete avoidance to an attempt at redemption. So, for today’s Mama Monday, I thought I would share a fun fall activity for redeeming a traditional Halloween object. You can teach a bible lesson, a science lesson, and be a purposeful parent at the same time! :)

Two years ago during the harvest season, I was searching for a good object lesson for our group of AWANA kids. I wanted something fall-themed and something that they could remember year after year. I found a lot of great Thanksgiving craft ideas and even Halloween ideas, but nothing that really struck me, until I ran across the Pumpkin Gospel, also known as the Pumpkin Parable.

I realize that carving pumpkins is traditionally a Halloween activity, one some Christ-followers might not deem very “Christian.” And it’s okay with me if we agree to disagree on that. :) But as I read the story of the pumpkin gospel, I knew the parable made sense and would really stick with children.  And I’m learning that even pagan holidays like Halloween can be redeemed!
Use this pumpkin carving technique and story as a powerful object lesson on the gospel! The Pumpkin Gospel works for AWANA, homeschool, children's church...

 

Kids love holidays.  They love pumpkins and carving pumpkins.  They also love stories.  Additionally, they need to be exposed to ideas over and over again for information to take root.  The Pumpkin Gospel was a perfect fit!

Preparations:  

You will need a table to stand at and a medium to large sized, prepared pumpkin.  To prepare the pumpkin:

  • cut out a hole in the top and clean out the majority of the goo, but save it.
  •  Next, cut out a face with eyes, nose and a smiling mouth, but save the pieces you remove.
  • Then, put the removed pieces back into place so that the pumpkin looks uncut.
  • Set aside a few of the cleaner seeds to use at the beginning.
  • Then, put the rest of the gooey seeds and pulp back in the middle of the pumpkin and replace the top.

The idea is to have the majority of the work done ahead of time so that you don’t have long pauses in your story/object lesson.  You will also need a cookie sheet or tablecloth to contain the pumpkin mess during your story, and a candle and matches.

Story:

Once there was a Gardener who planted seeds in His garden (show pumpkin seeds).  Each day the Gardener cared for the seeds.  He watered them, pulled weeds from around them, and sheltered them from the heat of the sun.  The seeds grew into seedlings, which developed into plants, until one day, they produced fruit – pumpkins!  The pleased Gardener looked out at His garden and said, “It is good!”

Use this pumpkin carving technique and story as a powerful object lesson on the gospel! The Pumpkin Gospel works for AWANA, homeschool, children's church...

One day, the Gardener went out into his field and picked a special pumpkin (place pumpkin on the table – on top of a cookie sheet or tablecloth, etc. with the uncarved side facing the audience).  It was a bit dirty from laying in the garden, so he brought it inside and gently wiped it off (wipe off exterior of pumpkin).  Now the pumpkin looked clean on the outside, but what about the inside?

The Gardener took a knife and cut open the top of the pumpkin (pretend to cut open the top again and take it off).  And what did He find?  A bunch of slimy, yucky goo! (show kids the goop – maybe even let them touch it if you have a small enough group).  The Gardener wanted His special pumpkin to be beautiful, so He carefully scraped out all of the goo inside until the pumpkin was as clean inside as it was on the outside! (Remove goo and throw away. Show children the clean interior)

But the Gardener still wasn’t satisfied with the pumpkin.  He decided it needed a face!  So, He carefully cut out two eyes, a nose, and a big smiling mouth (Turn the carved side of the pumpkin to face the audience. Poke out the eyes, nose and mouth you carved out previously).  Now the Gardener’s special pumpkin looked clean AND happy.

But the Gardener still wasn’t satisfied with the pumpkin.  So, He put a light inside of it (insert candle and light it).  The pumpkin glowed so beautifully!  The Gardener’s special project was complete.

When friends and neighbors saw the Gardeners special pumpkin, they marveled at how He took something ordinary from His garden, cleaned it inside and out, put His light inside, and made it something extraordinary!

Explanation:

We are like pumpkins and God is  the Gardener.  God creates us and cares for us. He “chooses” us from all of the other pumpkins, but inside we all have the yucky goo – sin. (Read Rom. 3:23 and Rom. 6:23)

Just like the Gardener cleaned out his pumpkin’s goo, God wants to clean out all our sin, too. So, He sent his Son Jesus to die for our sins, to take the punishment we deserved. (Read Rom. 5:8, John 3:16, and 1 John 1:9)

Just like the Gardener gave the pumpkin a new face, God makes us a new creation! (Read 2 Cor. 5:17)

Just like the Gardener put His light into the pumpkin to make it shine, so God gives us His light to shine through us!  (Read 2 Cor. 4:6 and Mt. 5:16)

So, when we let God clean out  our sin, by believing that Jesus died to pay the punishment that we deserve, He turns us into new creations that can shine for Him!  And when others see our light, then they might want to learn how to have a light of their own, too!

Use this pumpkin carving technique and story as a powerful object lesson on the gospel! The Pumpkin Gospel works for AWANA, homeschool, children's church...

In an alternate version, you can also demonstrate the difference between being saved by grace and trying to “earn” salvation through works.  All you will need is a second pumpkin with a face that is painted on (rather than cut out).  The story about this pumpkin is along the lines of wanting to be “chosen” but not allowing the Gardener to clean out the inside.

So, the pumpkin wears a painted face (tries to make itself acceptable on the outside), but inside, it’s still full of yucky goo.  Without removing the goo, there’s no room for the Gardener’s light, so the pumpkin cannot shine.

Many people try to make themselves acceptable to God in their own way ( just like Adam and Eve in the Garden).  They might go to church and act like Christians, and they might even believe in God.  But unless they trust that Jesus paid the price for their sins, then the sin remains on the inside.  They cannot become new creatures without allowing Christ to remove their sin.  So, the light of Christ cannot be in them.   (Read Eph. 2:8-10) This lesson would work especially well with older children, perhaps even youth age.

Note: I have recently learned that there are a variety of books available to help with this object lesson. This one seems closest:

And Here is one for little hands:

 

So, if you’re looking for a fall family activity or even an object lesson for your church or homeschool group, consider redeeming a little bit of Halloween and using the Pumpkin Gospel.  Year after year when children see pumpkins lit up, they can remember the story of Who put the light inside of them!

If you have other ideas or stories for redeeming Halloween, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Jen :)

Also sharing this post with: The Mommy Club at Crystal and Co.

*This post makes use of affiliate links. For more information please visit the About page for Being Confident of This. Thank you for helping to support this blog!

Comments

  1. says

    Nice to see your heart for redeeming the holidays regardless of their origins. I’m currently doing a series on being purposeful rather than just gluttonous at Thanksgiving over at Mommynificent!
    Thanks for sharing this!
    Tina

  2. Kayla says

    This is an amazing and fresh way to share the Gospel with kids. I’m so excited to use it tonight. Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Thanks, Kayla! I can’t really take credit for it since I saw it elsewhere, but I’m glad for the opportunity to share it with others. I think it’s a really interesting way to look at the changes God brings about within us!
      Jen :)

    • says

      Thanks, Hope! I’ve always enjoyed it, even as an adult. I can’t take credit for it, since I learned it from someone else, but I’m glad you found the instructions helpful!
      Jen :)

  3. says

    Jen…I am writing a post on how to redeem Halloween unto the glory of God and found this page on presenting the gospel through pumpkin carving. It’s well written so I wanted to let you know I am sharing it with my readers. It will post 10/30/14. Thank you for sharing such a great way to reach others for Christ even on Halloween. Blessings.

  4. Lancy says

    Great idea, I am a missionary in Portugal and always need these kind of ideas. I think I will save it to use here in the fall.

    • says

      It’ so much fun, Starla! And now when we see other jack-o-lanterns out, I can use that opportunity to remind our kids of the gospel. I just think it’s a neat way to shine a light in the darkness, especially around this time of year.
      Jen :)

    • says

      Hi, Lauren, I’d love for you to use this – that’s what it is here for! :) I can’t lay claim to the content since I heard it from someone else, so feel free to do what you like with it.
      Jen :)

  5. Lindsey Campbell says

    Thank you for this! I am using this lesson in my Wednesday night class at church! I teach ages 4-4th grade. Right now my regulars are all boys 1-3rd grade so they will love this! Class is 1 hr long so we will carve the pumpkin together outside. I think I may even let the boys draw it’s face on first!

  6. says

    Halloween has always been confusing for me as a Christian parent because their are so many voices out there telling you whether you should celebrate or not. Last year, I was totally against it and wanted nothing to do with it, but this year I’ve really felt convicted about finding a way to teach my children about Jesus through such a dark holiday. We carved pumpkins for the first time and talked about a book called, The Pumpkin Gospel. my daughters are only two and three but I do want to start doing this every year and get more in depth with it, the older they get. Great post!

  7. says

    Just found your blog, and happy I did :) I shared this on facebook too, as this was a new angle I haven’t heard before. I used to use barbies with my daughter to tell bible stories. Also, I co-host Family Joy Blog link up party if you’re ever looking for a new place to connect.

  8. says

    Hey dear, I just wanted to let you know that I’m using this lesson to teach Children’s Church today. Thank you so much for sharing it with everyone so that we can share it with others. God bless!

  9. Laurel says

    Thank you for sharing this idea. I would use dirt on the outside to wipe away the undesirable but use the seeds and inside as further lessons on how seeds planted can grow by the light of Christ, and the flesh can be used also to feed and help others. I would make pumpkin treats, packets of roasted seeds, or seed packets for their gardens next year.

  10. Kate says

    I’m an AWANA Sparks Director and we have used this lesson before and the children really understood and were very responsive to it. I had misplaced it and was so thrilled to see it listed on your website. What a blessing your website is to me in just the little while today that I visited. God bless and thank you!

  11. Nano says

    Loved your punkin message! will use it tonite with kids at church and thanks for sharing!
    One year at Halloween while making yard decor for the kids, i had made a 1X12 grave stone marker: name Birth year-death year and big R.I.P.-well what does that mean? Yep rest in peace! What God showed me that year has really stuck with me and i share with you:
    Why do we have to be 6 foot under to RIP? WE DON”T! not if we have Jesus in our heart; we should learn to be content and Rest in His Peace!
    Thanks, NANO

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