Note to the Teacher
The scripture we read today talks about how Paul held onto his faith despite not having been personally with Jesus. The opening activity is a game that gets students thinking about what is important in life. The discussion encourages students to think about the life of Paul. The activity and discussion has students drawing spiritual road maps. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: ‘What’s More Important?’ (10 minutes)
This opening ice breaker is intended to get everyone thinking about what’s important in life. Have everyone stand up (or if you’re doing this digitally, they will simply raise their hands or keep them down). Tell them that you are about to say two things, and they are to decide which of those things is more important and why. For your students meeting in person, make one side of the room one answer and the other, the other answer. After you ask the question “What’s more important ______ or ______?” have students go to either side of the room. (Example, food—right side of the room—or water—left side of the room.)
Which of these do you think is more important?
- Water or Smartphone
- Bread or Donuts
- Exercise or Reading
- Soccer or Tennis
- Valentine’s Day or Easter
- Going to Church or Going to School
- Peanut Butter or Jelly
- Rap or Classical
- Movies or Series
- Books or Paintings
- Friends or a Career
Feel free to come up with some of your own! Allow students to share, but encourage them to keep comments minimal so that the atmosphere is light-hearted.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today is Paul talking about how we must turn back to the power of the resurrected Christ in our lives. Paul humbly compares himself to others who knew Jesus personally; however, he focuses on the power grace had in his life as he worked harder than anyone to grow the early church.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- What is some “good news” that you could share with the group right now? (Leader note – You may choose to write this on a flipchart or whiteboard. If so, you could come back to it at the end of your lesson time and add these pieces of “good news” to your prayer time. These could be personal items, stories from the community, or news that people are happy and excited about.)
- Why do you think the gospel is considered “good news”? (See verse 2.)
- What does Paul tell us to do with the gospel message in verse 2? (Hold it firmly.) Why is holding on to the good news important for Christians? How might the first readers “hold firmly” been helpful advice since Jesus had died? Why might it also be beneficial advice for us today?
- In verses 5-8, Paul talks about how Jesus appeared to a lot of people after his death and resurrection. What could be Paul’s reason for adding this to his story?
- Verse 9 says, “For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” What do you think it means to be called a Christian? Paul was happy to wear the label Christian. Do you think it is easy to publicly be known as a Christian now, or not? Explain what it is like if people know or think that you are a Christian.
- Have you ever felt like you didn’t “deserve” to be called a Christian?
- Leader Note: At this point in the lesson, it may feel right to share your own personal story of how you came to know the risen Jesus and found your faith. Why are you teaching these students? How has God had an impact on your life?
- Ask students if they can remember (and would be willing to share) the first time they encountered the “good news” of God’s love for them.
4. Activity and Discussion: ‘Spiritual Road Map’ (20 minutes)
Explain to your students that today they are going to look back over their own lives and create a spiritual road map. These maps will be different for each student and there is not right or wrong way to mark the maps. Begin by handing each student a piece of paper and a pencil (or markers for more creativity.) Students will work alone on this exercise. Have them turn their paper so it is in landscape orientation.
Tell the students they are going to make a roadmap that begins when they were born (on the left side of the paper) and ends with today (on the right side of the paper). Have students answer the following questions by marking down points on the maps with a several-word summary of what happened at that point in their lives. When they have finished marking down the points, they can draw a road to connect them.
Here are a few questions to get the group started:
- What was your happiest moment as a child?
- What was your saddest moment as a child?
- When did you acquire or lose a specific friend in your life?
- Who has made a major impact on your life? (Good or bad)
- Have you ever gone through a really tough time?
- When was your faith challenged?
- When did your faith grow?
- When did you feel closest to God?
- When did you feel furthest from God?
- When did you meet a person who had a big impact on your faith?
Feel free to add more questions to this exercise. The idea is for students to remember all the faith-shaping or faith-struggling times in their lives and to be encouraged by the fact that Paul went through struggles too. After they’ve spent some time working on this activity, ask the following questions:
- How did this exercise make you feel? What did you like or dislike about it?
- Was this exercise hard to do? Why or why not?
Remind your students that Paul, and the other apostles, had ups and downs. However, Paul calls us to hold firmly to our faith and to remember that “I am what I am by God’s grace.” God loves them more than they will ever know. Scripture helps us find our true identity as God’s son and daughters, members of the adopted family. As a baptized Christian, we are sealed by God’s Spirit.
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
- Pens or pencils
- One sheet of paper per person