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!
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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!)