Thirty years ago this June, we were introduced to a creature that was accidentally left behind by other members of his species from somewhere in space. Affectionately called “E.T.” by the young boy who discovered him, the two formed a friendship that went far beyond the limitations of verbal communication. Despite being hounded relentlessly by the government scientists who wanted to study this alien creature, the duo finally were able to find a way for E.T. to return to where he belongs.
It is this friendship portrayed by Steven Spielberg that still resonates with us today. This friendship is tested in a number of ways: it breaks through an extremely difficult communication barrier; it survives the constant dodging of a particular government agent who has quite a few keys; and it triumphs over death itself. Such friendship is truly a gift to be cherished, and the emotions of such a friendship are a treasure to keep forever.
With such a friendship in mind, how often do we equate discipleship with friendship? As I watch and re-watch this movie, I find that through this friendship, Spielberg paints a perfect picture of what the life of a disciple looks like. A disciple is one who is curious about something or someone; one who follows and wants to learn more about that something or someone; and one who finally risks everything to follow that something or someone. Yet, thats what friends are, too. We are curious about each other, and want to find out more about each other, and for our best friends, even sacrifice for each other.
As leaders (and really, as Christians), we have been called to make disciples, but what if we thought of this commission as helping others form friendships with Christ? I challenge you, as a leader, to think about that during this study as you discuss friendship and discipleship with your students!
Download a PDF of Bible Study: E.T.
The Aims and Goals of this Study
The over-arching goal of this study is to discuss our discipleship and friendship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Some questions that can expect to be raised throughout the study would be:
- What is the definition of a disciple? What is the definition of a friend? How are they the same, or how might they differ?
- What does being a disciple of Christ look like in todays world?
- To what extent are we willing to go to be disciples and friends of Christ?
A Few Notes on the Format of this Study
Ultimately, it was extremely difficult to pare down the discussion of discipleship into one stand-alone study that could be given in the time frame of an hour (though I did include such a stand-alone lesson at the end of these studies). Therefore, I included three studies, each of which could be undertaken in an hours time:
- Finding a Friend: Curiosity
- Forming a Friendship: Being Like-Minded
- Following a Friend: What Follows from Being Like-Minded?
For each study, I utilize a modified form of “liturgy” that can be found in Mark Yaconellis book Contemplative Youth Ministry. This Liturgy of Discernment allows for time to fellowship together, listen together, reflect together and share together. I have found such a liturgy to be not only useful, but very impactful as it brings a sense of order, but flexible order, to the time together.
The times for each section are approximate times, not times to be strictly adhered to. Allow plenty of time for discussion, and if your group is particularly engaged in one section, dont force an abrupt transition.
Lastly, I suggest you watch the clips beforehand to familiarize yourself with what will be seen, plus it may spark some further discussion questions in your mind that may not even have been provided in the study.