Note to the Teacher
The scripture we read today is the story of Jesus, the true vine. We will look at how we are designed to stay connected to the vine because that is where we will bear kingdom fruit. The ice breaker is a series of fun opening questions about gardening and a game option for both in-person and virtual groups. The discussion portion will dig deeper into what it means to abide in Christ, and the final activity is made up of several parts that all shine light on today’s scripture. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: Vine Time (10 minutes)
In this ice breaker, students will create a vine that they will have to stay connected to for at least sixty seconds. Below are both the in-person and virtual rules for this game. Before you get started, ask if any of your students have ever had a garden. If any have, ask them about it. What did they grow? How long did it take? What was the hardest part of having a garden? Did any animals eat the food? Have they ever grown anything on a vine? If so, what? How many foods that grow on a vine can your group come up with?
In-Person Option: Depending on the size of your group, you will want to make two or more equal teams. The object of this game is to see who can make the longest “vine” or line where everyone is connected without having to touch another or be closer than six feet apart. Start both lines at the same location (six feet apart) so that you will be able to see easily who has the longest line. Tell students they have five minutes to make their vine/line the longest possible. They are not allowed to hold hands; however, they are allowed to connect with one another by holding onto a shoe, shoelace, or anything that they can get their hands on. Teams may get creative with what they use to make their vines/lines the longest. You may want to put some boundaries around what they can and can’t use. That’s totally up to you! The winning team is the team that has the longest connected vine at the end of the five minutes.
Virtual Option: Tell your students that they are going to make a virtual vine using only their hands and arms. Have the person in the upper left-hand corner of the Zoom call reach out a right (or left if the screen is reversed) hand so that the person in the next screen can reach out as if he/she is holding the first person’s hand. Continue on with this until everyone is connected on the same screen. If you have multiple screens, you could have a competition to see who can connect the entire screen the fastest. Everyone on the will need to have their cameras on for this to work. Tell your students that they will have five minutes to try and figure this out. Good luck!
Congratulate your students for all staying connected to the vine and transition over to today’s scripture by asking everyone to give themselves a pat on the back!
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
The scripture reading today comes from the Gospel of John. Here, we see Jesus referring to himself as the “true vine.” Try to count the number of times Jesus says the word abide. If you’re really feeling smart, try also counting the number of times Jesus says, "bears fruit."
Read John 15:1-8.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- Jesus starts off the story with some rich imagery. Who is he talking about when he says, “I am the true vine”? [Answer: Jesus.]
- Who are the branches in this story? [Answer: Those who believe.]
- Who is the vine grower or gardener? [Answer: God]
- What do you think the fruit represents? [Answer: The fruit represents all the good we do in this world as we “abide” in the Holy Spirit.]
- What happens to the branches that don’t bear any fruit? What happens to the branches that do? (Reread verse 2 if necessary.)
- What does it mean to abide? [Answer: Abide in biblical terms means to stay with or connected to.]
- How many times in our passage does Jesus say the word “abide”? How many times do we see the words “bear fruit”? (You made need to adjust this question based on your translation) [Answer: Abide can be found eleven times in the passage, and bear fruit can be found seven times.]
- How can you and I bear fruit? What are some practical ways we can stay connected to the vine?
- What kinds of things come up in your life that cause you to become disconnected from the vine? What are some of the biggest problems teenagers face today?
- Jesus says at the end of verse 5, “apart from me you can do nothing.” What do you think he means by that?
- How can we “abide” in Jesus on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour, month-by-month basis?
- What would your life look like if you choose to “abide” in Jesus every hour of every day? What would our world look like if more people decided to really “abide” in Christ?
- Jesus says in verse 7, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Does this mean we can ask for a Ferrari for our sixteenth birthday and God will automatically give it to us? What do you think Jesus means by this? [Answer: Jesus is inviting us to depend on him as we live our lives connected to the vine and mission that God has called us to.]
- Ask students to reread the passage and then summarize it with only two to three sentences.
As we transition into the activity for today, ask students to think about their own faith and how they can better stay connected to the vine.
4. Activity and Discussion: Video or Object Lesson (20 minutes)
In the activity, students will watch a short video about today’s scripture readings. You may choose to show both videos if time allows. Also check out the virtual option that can be adjusted to be done during an in-person gathering.
Younger Student Option: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0yu1qyevwE (Time 2:32)
Older Student Option: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ea8yYulD2U (Time 2:38)
Questions to ask about the video:
- What stuck out to you the most in the video/s?
- What didn’t make sense?
- What questions do you still have?
- What was the main purpose of the video?
After watching one or both of the videos, reread John 15:1-8 and ask students design a picture that illustrates the scripture. They may choose to draw a vine and branches, or they may choose to do something else. Allow for some creativity and freedom as students make the passage come alive.
Virtual Option: (Or additional up-front option for in-person groups. When asking everyone to shine their lights, have students use the light on their phones if they have one.) Ask students to go and find a lamp in their house that they can bring and show the group. (Tell them to make sure the lamp they bring is not already plugged in.) Now ask your students to turn on the lamp. Obviously, the lamp won’t work because it’s not plugged in.
Now ask your students why is the light not shining? Now ask them what they need to do to get the light working? (Answer – plug it into a power source.) Have students plug in the light and marvel in its brightness. Say, “The only way we can shine our lights to the world is if we stay connected to the vine of Jesus.” Leaving the light on, have students turn off all the other lights in the room. Ask them, “What do you notice about the light now? What do you notice about the darkness?” Ask students to look at their cameras and notice the light on the screens. What are they seeing? Now have half of the students turn their lamps off. What do they see now?
Have all the students turn their lights back on and say, “There are two things to notice here. To allow our light to shine, we must stay connected to the source of power. In other words, for us to bear fruit, we must stay connected to the vine. What does it mean to bear fruit again?” Ask students if they notice anything different about the light when they put their lights together. What do you think is the purpose of this? The light of Christ shines brighter in the world when we are in the presence of other Christians.
- Who is the vine and who are the branches?
- What does it mean to abide in Christ?
- What can we do this week, month, and year to stay better connected to the vine?
Invite students to write down on a piece of paper two things they can do to stay connected to the vine. After everyone has finished, invite students to share what they have written. Thank those students for sharing; then 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.
Total time: 50 minutes
- Paper and pencils
- Lamps and power cords
- Colored markers, crayons or colored pencils.