Note to the Teacher
The Scripture reading from today talks about spiritual gifts. The opening activity is an encouraging game called “That was nice of you!” The discussion encourages students to think about what it means to have and grow in their spiritual gifts and how they can use those gifts in their community, church, and world. The activity has students writing thank-you cards to people in the church who use their spiritual gifts to serve. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: ‘That was nice of you!’ (10 minutes)
Have your group sit in a giant circle. Give one leader a bowl of candy or some other treat. Have the person with the bowl start by saying something nice about the person sitting to the right. Once that person has finished, he/she can take a treat from the bowl and pass it to the person just complimented. Once everyone has said one thing nice about the person on the right, go back around the circle starting with the leader. However, this time move around the circle to the left. When the activity is finished, thank your group for being encouraging and uplifting to one another; move to the scripture reading for the day.
If you’re playing this game online, you may just want to go in order of where students located on the leader’s screen, with the leader calling out who is next and who should be complimented. If you want to go above and beyond, have youth tell you their favorite treats beforehand, and either you or a youth can deliver each youth a favorite treat before the lesson begins. If you are doing this, put a sticky note, or wrap the treat and tag it with something that says, “Do not open until we begin our lesson on (date).”
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today talks about spiritual gifts. One of Paul’s main goals is for us to understand that these gifts are not to be used solely by themselves and for individual gain, but to be used together to provide unity and communal growth.
Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- What words or pieces of the passage were unfamiliar or confusing? Verse 2 says, “when you were pagans.” What do you think it means to be a pagan? Is it fair to say that we are all pagans at some point? Why or why not?
- When did you first hear about spiritual gifts? How do spiritual gifts differ from things like natural talents or abilities, or even skills that we practice? How are they the same?
- Can you name any spiritual gifts either from the scripture we just read or other gifts you have heard about? (They start to be listed in verse 8, if you need a place to begin. Eph. 4:11-12 and Romans 12:6-8 are other passages that list spiritual gifts.)
- What are the benefits of such a wide variety of gifts being given to a wide variety of people? What are the drawbacks, if any?
- In verse 8, how would you compare and contrast the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, since they are listed separately?
- Do you think you have any of these gifts? How about your friends? Do you think it is easier to recognize a spiritual gift in yourself or in another person? Why do you think that is?
- Which gifts do you think today’s world could use more of?
- How do you know when someone has a spiritual gift, and how do you see them using it?
- What does this passage say is the point of having spiritual gifts? (See verse 7: “A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good.” They are for the common good, not just for the individual.)
- As time allows, walk through each gift and ask students what they think each gift means and how someone using that gift would act.
4. Activity and Discussion: ‘Thank You for Your Gift Cards’ (20 minutes)
Explain to your students that today they are going to be writing thank-you notes to members in the church who have used their gifts to serve those around them. Hand each student a piece of paper or card and something to write with. Ask them to think about all the people in the church who use their gifts to serve one another and the community every week. If youth are unfamiliar with those serving the church on leadership committees, consider providing a list of current Trustees, Staff-Parish Relations, Councils, Finance, etc., and see how many youth are connected to these vital leaders. Encourage them to think of someone different than in last week’s activity with the letter. Ask them to write as many cards thanking as many different people for using their gifts as they can. At the same time, ask youth to be as specific and as personal as possible in their notes. Put on some music (optional) and tell your group that they have between ten to fifteen minutes to write as many letters as possible. After they have finished, you can either ask them to take those letters to those individuals, or collect the letters and mail or hand deliver them yourself. Ask these questions as a wrap-up to today’s lesson:
- How many different gifts did you write about in your notes to people?
- How did it make you feel to write these letters?
- How do you think the people you wrote letters to are going to feel once they get your letter of thanks?
- How can we continue to thank and encourage those around us to use their spiritual gifts?
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
- Bowl of candy/treats
- Pens or pencils
- Blank sheets of paper
- Cards and envelopes
- Markers, crayons, or colored pencils