Note to the Teacher
The scripture we read is from Paul’s first letter to the church of Corinth. The opening activity has students designing the perfect Christian. The discussion encourages students to see how Paul addresses the church and encourages them through positive affirmation. The activity and discussion has students writing their own letters to the church today and invites some honest discussion about how we can use our own gifts to serve God’s holy church. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: 'Super Christian Design Contest' (10 minutes)
Start by explaining to your students that they are going to work in pairs to draw, design, and build (if possible) the most amazing Christian ever. Depending on the size of your group and what supplies you have available, be as creative as you’re able. Working in pairs (or individually), have students design and build/draw/write about what 100% Christians would be. What would they look like? What would they wear? What would they do for fun? What would they eat, read, talk like, listen to, and so on? Tell students to be as specific as possible.
After five or six minutes, ask students to share their “Super/Ultra/Uber Christians” with the group.
Transition by sharing with students that today they will be looking at Paul’s first letter to the church of Corinth, where Paul was writing to a church that seems to think it is “holier” than everyone else. However, the opening to his letter is rather encouraging.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today is from Paul’s opening address to the church of Corinth, followed by a blessing and then a thanksgiving. We will also read from Psalm 40 about deliverance and salvation.
Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 and Psalm 40:1-11.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- What is unique about what we read from 1 Corinthians? How would you describe this opening to the letter?
- To whom is Paul writing?
- What is the tone of the first nine verses?
- Did anything stand out or seem confusing? Are there any words we need to look up and define?
- There were quite a few faults in the church at Corinth. Why do you think Paul chose to start his letter by giving the church praises and thanksgivings and not a list of rules and requests?
- What are some of the positive things about the church that Paul suggests? What are some of the positive things about our church today? What are some of the positive things about our student ministry?
- What are some of the gifts people in our church have today?
- Who uses their gifts to serve God within the walls of the church and/or outside the walls of the church building?
- How do you use your gifts to serve God?
- What do you feel is the biggest need in our world today? How could we use the gifts God has given us to be a blessing to this need?
- In our Psalms reading, what verse stuck out the most? Why?
- How does this psalm speak to you? How does this psalm give us hope for the future?
- How does this psalm connect to the reading from Corinthians?
4. Activity and Discussion: 'A Letter to the Church Today' (20 minutes)
Explain to your students that today you are going to have them write a letter to the church today. This activity could go quite a few different ways. Students may choose to work together or by themselves as they spend five to ten minutes writing a letter to the church today. They may decide to write a letter to your church, another church, or the “worldwide” or “universal” church. In any case, give students a few minutes to write a quick letter to the church. They may choose to ask the church a bunch of questions; for example, “Why don’t we use grape soda instead of grape juice for Communion?” Or they may decide to write a letter explaining to the church their dissatisfaction or challenges with the church today. After they have had a few minutes to work on their letters, ask the following questions:
- What was the overall tone of your letter? (i.e., positive, negative, angry, sad, hopeful…)
- How did your letter start? How did it end?
- What was the main point of your letter? If you could sum up your letter in a “tweet,” what would you say?
- Was it easy or hard to write your letter?
- Would you be willing to share your letter out loud? Would you be willing to share your letter with your student ministry staff or the church pastors?
- How can we be a part of the solution to our issues with the church?
Wrap up your lesson by reminding students that Paul was writing his letter to a group of people who thought they were “doing this Christian thing all right.” However, Paul’s reminds them (and us) that we need the grace of Jesus every day to restore us and remind us of his love and mercy for all people.
Close your time together in a manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys and concerns, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.
- Pens or pencils
- Assorted supplies for the ice breaker (see above)