A few years ago, I was searching for a fall-themed object lesson for our group of AWANA kids. 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.
Although traditional pumpkin carving is associated with Halloween, this object lesson is all about the Light – how Jesus changes us from the inside out. When children learn this lesson, they will remember it year after year during the Fall season.
You see, I’m learning that perhaps even pagan holidays like Halloween can be redeemed!
Kids love holidays. They love 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 is a perfect Fall fit!
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 while you’re teaching the Pumpkin Gospel. You will also need a cookie sheet or tablecloth to contain the pumpkin mess during your story, and a candle and matches.
Pumpkin Gospel Story:
Once there was a Gardener who planted seeds in His garden (show clean 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!”
The Pumpkin Gospel
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 of the Pumpkin Gospel:
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!
Religion vs. Relationship Pumpkin Gospel Alternate
In an alternate version of the Pumpkin Gospel, 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 alternate pumpkin gospel object lesson would work especially well with older children, perhaps even youth age.
Make the most of Fall and the fun opportunities it brings!
Use the Pumpkin Gospel to build your family’s faith. You could even go beyond that – host a fall party, invite your neighbors, and make this fun pumpkin activity part of the experience. It’s a fun, no-pressure kind of way to share your faith with your neighbors!
*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!
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!
Pumpkin Gospel FREE Printable
This year I’ve added a special bonus for newsletter subscribers. Just fill in the information below to access the free printable version, which includes preparation instructions and the Pumpkin Gospel parable for you to read! You will need to confirm your subscription before you receive access to the library of printables. (Hint: Look for it in your Welcome email!)
Also sharing this post with: The Mommy Club at Crystal and Co, Salt and Light Linkup
Actually Mummy... says
What a lovely idea – I love the idea of making it a tradition! I’m here from the pin-it party and will pin to my craft ideas board
Thanks! I know our kids drew a lot from the lesson, so we plan to continue it.
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!
Jen Avellaneda (@Jen_Avellaneda) says
A beautiful illustration of what God does for us! I love your story and way of redeeming what, for some, is a not so pleasant day! Blessings today from UNITE Linky, Jen
This is an amazing and fresh way to share the Gospel with kids. I’m so excited to use it tonight. Thanks for sharing!
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!
Ronda @ New Song Women says
This is really great, Jen! Found you on Pinterest, and this will be a fantastic addition to our family board for fall! Thanks! 🙂
This is a beautiful analogy! Thanks 🙂
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!
carly trahan says
LOOOOOVE this idea! thank you for the inspiration
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.
I’m glad to hear it! I wrote a post last year about redeeming Halloween, too. Why should we let the Enemy have that day for himself, right?!
I love the story-sorry I didn’t find it in time for this year. Thank you for sharing it
I, too, am sorry you didn’t find it in time for this year, but I hope you’ll remember it for next year! Thanks for stopping by here.
I love this!
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.
Glad to hear this was helpful for you!
Starla J @ Pressing In and Pressing On says
Love this. I’ve never heard this before and it’s so sweet. I’m going to use this with my kids.
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.
Lauren Wasyluk says
This is beautiful! I would love to use it in an upcoming Sunday school video as an object lesson. Would that be alright?
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.
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!
Yay! I’m sure they loved it! 🙂
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!
It really comes down to your personal convictions, Leigh-Ellen. And those can be hard to differentiate from the opinions of others. I wrote about that this year in a post called “It’s the Great Halloween Debate, Charlie Brown.” If you’re still not feeling completely certain, I’d encourage you to check that one out.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
What a lovely project! I love how God’s message is shared through a holiday that is somewhat questionable. I look forward to sharing with my friends!
Brian Bixel says
This is a great object lesson which kids really get a grip on. I took it a step farther. We talked about the yucky stuff inside us(sin) and prayed over a particular thing individually we knew we did like disobeying. The kids grab a handful and ask God to remove it from them and throw it away. Sin is nasty to touch also. Love your article.
Dolores Thomson says
Every time I try to get the download it goes to the sign in page. I ended up signing in twice hoping another page would open for the download or I would receive an email for the link. I am not sure how to get the download now. It looks great
I am having the same issue. I just want the pumpkin parable download. I signed up for the email but do not want to download any new programs to my computer. I am stuck in a loop. Very disappointing.
Tami, I’m so sorry to hear you’re having difficulty getting to the download. You do not need to download any new programs to your computer. Once you have confirmed your subscription via the confirmation email, you need to look for the Welcome email. That email contains the link to the printable. You do not have to have a dropbox account in order to download and print it off. The link should take you directly to the printable! 🙂 Hope this helps!
I am having difficulty getting the printout as well. When I click on the link it takes me to the drop box but then it says there is nothing there. It says “the folder being confident of this does not exist”
Donna, you’re not the only one having an issue – so sorry! It is fixed now, and you can access it in the latest newsletter email that just went out this evening. Thanks for your patience and your help in addressing the issue!
Dolores, please check your inbox for a confirmation email. Once you have confirmed your subscription, you’ll receive a Welcome email with the link to the printable. Hope that helps!
Kim Norton says
Jen, I’m afraid I’m having the same difficulty downloading the free printable as has been mentioned above. I am clicking on the link included in the welcome email and can’t get past having to download Dropbox. Help?
Hey, Kim, I just changed the links in the Welcome email to go directly to the pdf instead of the whole folder. You should be able to print it out without downloading, logging in, or anything like that. If your subscription was confirmed, you should have received a new email from me today that also contains the new link. So sorry for the inconvenience!
Please double check the link
Thats the link and it leads to a dead end
getting error on dropbox ;
The folder ‘/Being Confident of This Subsc…’ doesn’t exist.
Please share new link for this pumpkin gospel as I would love to print and use for teaching!
Thank you! I will check this right away! So sorry for the inconvenience!
Anthony, I’ve changed out the link, and everyone who is subscribed should have received my newsletter email this evening, which contains a link to the Pumpkin Gospel. Thanks for helping me solve the issue – I appreciate it! 🙂
I’ve checked my inbox and clicked the freebie link and it takes me to dropbox where it says the file doesn’t exist.
Angel, I apologize. I was trying to send subscribers to the whole folder so you all could download anything you wanted in it, but apparently dropbox didn’t like that. 😉 So, the new link is in place, and I sent out a newsletter email tonight containing a link to the Pumpkin Gospel. Look for it in your inbox!
Trying to access the Pumpkin Gospel from the welcome e-mail, but dropbox says the file doesn’t exist when I click on the link =( Help please?!?
Cami, I sent out a regular newsletter email tonight containing a link that goes directly to the pdf. Hopefully that helps you! 🙂
Cynthia Harris says
It does not take you directly to the link. I’m trying to print it too. The link takes me to download dropbox
Hi, Cynthia, you can just click out of that box that asks you to download – it’s like any pop-up. Just ignore it! Once you click out of it, then you can view and print the printable. 🙂
Hi, I signed up and opened the link in my welcome email, but Dropbox says that the folder doesn’t exist. Am I able to download the free printable somewhere else?
Thanks! Love your content!
Hi, Myranda! Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂 Apparently the link to the folder was broken. I sent out a new email tonight that has a link directly to the pdf. Hopefully that solves the issue!
Cheryl Webb says
I subscribed and received my confirmation email, but I still cannot get the Pumpkin Gospel. HELP please.
A new email went out this evening, Cheryl. There was an issue with the link (which of course, worked fine last year!). Check your inbox for the latest email and the link in that should work. 🙂
Hi. Thank you for sharing this story. I love it. I want a to print it. I have subscribed like 5 times and I don’t see anything in my email. Zero. Nothing. I was hoping you could help me out.
I’m so sorry to hear that. Have you looked in the Welcome email? If you did not “confirm” your subscription, you won’t have received it. But if you confirm, then you’ll receive a welcome email with the link to print or download the file.
Oh, and check your spam folder, just in case it ended up there. I can’t control which tab gmail sends my emails to – wish I could, though! Haha 🙂
This is great! I’m going to use it with my Awana group this week. I also bought some glow sticks for the kids and we’re going to sing “This Little Light of Mine.” Thanks for sharing your idea!
Amanda, that’s such a great idea! I’m so glad it will be useful for you!
Good morning, Jen. I love both of these pumpkin object lessons. I teach 1st and 2nd grade Sunday School. I’m thinking I will try the carved pumpkin lesson next week just before Halloween…I’ll build up some interest this Sunday so they are expecting. Bless you for publishing this pin and sharing your creativity.
Hi, Michele! I’m currently making plans to do the same with our children’s ministry at church – the kids really enjoy this lesson even though it’s basically the same each year. 😉 I can’t take credit for the idea because I got if from another church event, but it does make it easier to have a plan typed out already. Thanks for leaving some encouragement here for me today!