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Ethos: Fruits of the Spirit

by Manon Ceridwen James

Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools


To explore the school’s ethos by looking at the fruits of the spirit.

Preparation and materials

  • Find out what the motto of the school is.
  • Read around and have available Galatians 5.22–23 (NIV).
  • Note that this would also be a good ethos-setting assembly for the start of a new school year.


  1. Explain a bit about Paul, on of the apostles. Talk about how he was one of the leaders and teachers in the Early Church – probably the most influential one of all.

  2.  Continue by noting that Paul wrote letters to the churches he had started or the ones he was supporting to give them advice or sometimes to tell them off. The letter to the Galatians – that is, the people of the church in Galatia (in Turkey) – was one of these.

  3. Next, say that the part you will be looking at today – Galatians 5.22–23 (NIV) – talks about the kinds of people we should be and how we should treat one another.

    Ask the children to listen to what Paul said: 

    The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

  4. What he meant by ‘fruit of the Spirit’ was that all members of the churches should show certain qualities or characteristics, as individuals and as a group, a church. Maybe if he was writing today he would have included Church schools.

  5. Explore further the idea of characteristics by playing the following short game.

    Ask everyone to stand up. Then ask everyone who has brown hair to sit down. Then ask everyone whose birthday is in January, February or March to sit down. Ask those who enjoy playing a sport to sit down. 

    How many people are left? 

    Explain how we are all different and like different things. In other words, we have different characteristics.

  6. Qualities are more difficult to explain, but discuss the following questions with the children.

    – Are you a noisy person or a quiet person?
    – A lively person or a still person?
    – Someone who likes to fool around or someone who is more serious?

    These are qualities. It is not necessarily better to be noisy or quiet, lively or still, but it makes us who we are. Some qualities are good ones to have, though, such as being kind, caring or friendly.

  7. Talk about how groups of people can also have qualities and characteristics. A school will have a motto (say what your school’s is). Explore a little with the children what the motto means. Explain how, at some stage in the school’s life, the headteacher and the governors decided that this is what they wanted the school to be like, this was what was important about their school, something to aim for – its ethos.

  8. Explain that Paul wanted the churches to have certain qualities and characteristics, too. He probably would have liked the school motto (make connections here if there are specific links that can be made).

  9. The fruits of the spirit are like a motto, an ethos, for every Christian, but they’re not just about what kind of people we are but also about how we are to one another.

  10. Ask the children if there are any words they perhaps do not understand. Explain them briefly if need be, then repeat them: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Time for reflection

Say the verse quoted in Step 3 again slowly, emphasizing and giving space to each `fruit’:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Which one of them do they find most difficult?


‘Let there be love shared among us’ Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 430, 2008 edition)

Publication date: August 2014   (Vol.16 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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