Note to the Teacher:
These passages can bring up some discussion around heaven and hell. This may be a discussion to have at a later date or during a gathering when you have more time to dive a little deeper. However, don’t ignore any questions that may arise around that topic; rather, invite students with those questions into a later discussion time.
Students will understand that those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, and imprisoned are very important to God and therefore should be important to us.
The Ice Breaker provides a fun way for students to see their differences and allows for a transition into the scripture about goats and sheep.
The Discussion enables students to explore the parable and understand Jesus’ lesson and why he chose to use these particular animals. It also allows students to make personal connections.
The Activity allows youth to discuss how they can make an impact on their community by serving the very people Jesus talks about in these verses.
Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but can be adjusted.
1. Opening Question/Ice Breaker (10 minutes)
“Goats and Sheep”: If you are face to face, you can have students physically get up and move to separate into two groups. If you are meeting virtually, just say their names and if they are in group A or B. Put students in two groups based on two categories you decide, but keep those categories a secret. For instance, the categories could be everyone wearing blue in one group and everyone not wearing blue in another group; students wearing shoes in one group; students wearing anything besides shoes in another. Once you have them separated, have students guess what the categories are. You can have someone else do the separating to get students involved as the leader. (You may want to pay special attention and avoid making divisions based on attributes that students are less sensitive about or physical attributes that students do not choose such as skin/hair color, weight, height, and so on.)
Transition: Today, we are going to talk about the parable of the sheep and goats and how God separates people.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Read Matthew 25:31-46.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- This is another of Jesus’ parables. What are the objects he is using to teach this lesson? Why do you think he chose these things?
- Have students “Google” the difference between sheep and goats and why shepherds separate them from one another.
- What do the sheep and goats represent in Jesus’ lesson?
- Why do you think Jesus chose these two animals as an object lesson?
- Do we have “sheep” in our community? Where are they?
- What are the works of mercy Jesus refers to in these passages? What are we doing to acknowledge and show God’s love?
- Why should we show compassion and mercy to these “sheep”?
- What can we do to improve?
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
Make a list of all the ministries within your church and the agencies in your community that help people who are in need.
- Where has your youth group or individuals helped to serve in these areas?
- Are there any “gaps” where people are not being served?
- How can you move/push these ministries to go from being transactional to being transformational (meaning from just meeting physical needs to building relationships)?
- Why should this be important to teenagers?
- How do the parables from the last two weeks fit into this lesson as well?
End your time in a time of prayer for those who are in need. Pray that God may help you be prepared to use your gifts and talents for the least of these.