Week 6: The Light of Home
Note to the Teacher
This week, we dive into the idea of the power of the community of faith. This is much deeper than a “what’s in it for me” conversation. It is a celebration of the good things God gives us through the community of faith.
1. Ice Breaker: Artisanal Handshakes (10 minutes)
There are many rewards for being part of community. Sharing special jokes, corporate knowledge, and memories with people are powerful parts of what bonds us as a group. This ice breaker will create symbols of that in the form of a handshake.
Get students in your group to pair up and create their own handshake. Ask them to practice it at least three times. Then tell them it’s time to change partners and create a new handshake. If your group has the blessing of being small this week, take the time to do this with everyone. If not, keep going as time allows. One you have finished, randomly, throughout the lesson, say “handshake!” When that happens, students must get up and do one of the special handshakes they created with another person. An online version of this activity would simply be a coordinated hand sign or set of actions on video chat.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
This passage is full of profound symbolism as well as practical information on what we receive from being part of a community. As someone reads, invite the students to focus on the latter.
Read John 1:(1-9), 10-18.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- Take a moment to list the good things this passage says that people experience from being connected to who Jesus is and always has been.
- Look at that list and ask, “Who has experienced one of these?” Tell that story. For example, “Has anyone recognized themselves as a child of God? How did that come about?”
- What are the best things about being in our youth group and/or church?
- When you have questions about faith, how can these things about our youth ministry and church help you? How does having a community of faith help you through times when faith is hard?
- Today’s passage says that Jesus came and lived among us. That is powerful and is something we should repeat. God in the flesh, Immanuel, came to live with us and have human experiences. We need to live as people of faith in our world, continuing to show an example of how Christ taught us to live. Big, and maybe odd question: Can we do that without being annoying or putting off others? What about living a life patterned after Jesus’ life seems interesting, welcoming, or intriguing to others? What about living that life may seem annoying, disconnected, or separate from the community around you?
4. Activity and Discussion: Telling People about Home (20 minutes)
There are all kinds of benefits to being part of a Christian community; some that we find here in John and others that we have talked about in the discussion to this point. Inviting people to be part of a church doesn’t have to be weird or forced. And before we ever invite people to be part of church, we should be talking about it as a natural part of our conversations. We should be sharing the good things we receive from this community, so that when the time seems right to invite someone to “come home,” they are already interested and have a sense that they will be welcomed – doubts, imperfections, and all.
For this activity, we want to imagine making an online ad (that you will not use.) The goal of the ad, again, is not to post it on social media, but to help focus and clarify the good things we want to share about our faith and our community. If we want to welcome others to join in faith life with us and do what we do, we’d better know why we do it in the first place!
To begin, invite students to choose one of the positive attributes found in John or in the discussion that was had afterward. Then tell them to think of an image that symbolizes community and the best of what your youth ministry is all about. Maybe it is of a table filled with food or people going on a walk together. Ask youth to be as creative as they can; use the rules of improv as ways to build upon one another’s’ ideas. If you have students who have smart phones, invite them to find actual images. (Be careful here because you don’t want to leave out students who do not have smart phones. Consider pairs or groups with one person who has a smart phone, if this is the case.)
Once the image is set, ask students to come up with two sentences: one that describes what a person should expect to experience when he/she “comes home” to your church or youth ministry; for example, “A place where people love you no matter what” or “A family for everyone.” The other sentence should describe why your youth ministry and church create those experiences; for example, “Because we all deserve meaningful community;” or “Because God welcomes all, we welcome all;” or “We do things better when we’re together.” Once the students have those two things, ask them to write a three to five sentence paragraph that describes why your church creates the good things that it does and what youth will experience when they can attend and connect.
When all the “ads” are complete, ask the students to share them with the group. Not only will this be fun, but it will help students rehearse how to tell other people about their faith community in non-threatening ways. When they form words and hear others form words, it helps them imagine saying something to their friends and equips them with the words to say when they are around them.
Consider sharing the completed ads with youth leadership teams or church staff so that others can get a sense of what young people already involved in your church consider important about belonging and purpose. This may be eye-opening to adults who are not yet involved with youth ministry.
Total time: 50 minutes