This two-part Bible study encourages youth to be an active part of their church and to be the church today and not just the future church.
Topics: Leadership, Spiritual Growth
Download a PDF of the We are the Church! Bible Study.
Who remembers this song?
Why not? First, Paul’s answer to Timothy is inspired by the Holy Spirit, so we can be confident that these are not just Paul’s thoughts on the matter, but God’s.Let’s search the Word to understand better God’s thoughts on His Church. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, emphasizing verse 27.We are each a part of the Body of Christ, the ChurchNo one can say “I don’t belong!” or “I don’t need you!”We are all a necessary part. (This also means that everyone else around us at church is a necessary part, whether we like it or not!)Read Colossians 3:3 and 11.v.11 “here” = with those who have died and been raised in ChristIn the Body of Christ we are not to be judged by our station in life.Christ in us, through our Baptism and faith in Him, that is what matters and gives us our place in the Church (and the church our individual congregation)
Show ’em what you’ve got! (Or rather, what the Spirit is doing in you!)
Read 1 Timothy 4:12 again, emphasize part b.Paul exhorts (strongly encourages, as in “You can do it!”) Timothy to…“Set an example…”“Be an example…”The Greek word here is example, but also could be model, or pattern.I like the idea of a pattern. What is different between an example and a pattern?The insinuation is that it is not just a one-time thing, but our example is an ongoing pattern, the way we live our life is a life overflowing with the Spirit.What kind of example or pattern do we set in our own lives?(This may be a hypothetical question, to get the youth thinking. Some may have a thoughtful response.)Read 2 Corinthians 4:6 .Because Christ is shining in our hearts we can be assured that we don’t need to search for a pattern to set, an example to be. We simply let Christ shine out. Sometimes, even when our lives feel junky, when we are faced with our own sinfulness and the sinfulness of others, we can have full assurance that forgiveness is ours. God the Father has set Christ in our hearts, we need only live in thatforgiveness and let Him shine out.So we can also be purposeful in our example then, living in thankfulness for Christ’s mercy and compassion in our lives…living for Him, instead of the moment, or a certain person we want to impress, or accomplishments we might boast about.
Think of some examples of how speech can be a challenge in our Christian walk.
- This is not just curse words or potty mouths, but gossip, talking back to our parents, talking down to others, etc.
- See the explanation to the 8th commandment in the Small Catechism if you are stuck.Think of examples of how we can “shine” Christ in our speech.
- Talk respectfully and kindly to one another.
- Build each other up with encouragement.
- See 8th commandment explanation again.
The Greek can also be translated “way of life”, how we live, our belief in action, what we watch, what we read, how we spend our time, who we let sit at our lunch table…Think of some examples of how our behavior or “way of life” can be a challenge in our Christian walk.
- Ignoring some people in preference for others.
- Putting other things before God in our life.
- See the explanations of other commandments for help.
Think of how we can “shine” Christ in our behavior.
- See Galatians 5:22-23 for help.
- Think of some examples of how loving can be a challenge in our Christian walk.
- See 1 John 4:10-11. Name some of the people you love, and how you show them.
Is everyone around us easy to love? God calls us even to love our enemies (including those who just plain annoy us).
- Think of some examples of how we can “shine” Christ in love.
- See 1 Corinthians 13:5-7 for help.
Read Philippians 1:27. Think of some examples of how we “stand firm” in the Spirit.In what ways can this be challenging to do?
This can be particularly difficult in youth.Read 2 Timothy 2:22. What “evil desires” are difficult to deal with in youth?This is what Luther had to say about temptation (well, one thing he had to say about it):“It is impossible to keep the devil from shooting evil thoughts and lusts into your heart. But see to it that you do not let such arrows (Eph. 6:16) stick there and take root, but tear them out and throw them away. Do what one of the ancient fathers counseled long ago: ‘I cannot,’ he said, ‘keep a bird from flying over my head. But I can certainly keep it from nesting in my hair or from biting my nose off.'” [SL 7, 445f.]What help can Luther’s advice be when we face sexual temptation (a narrow idea of purity) or any other temptation (a broad idea of purity)?Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. Remember that what you are going through is not uncommon to man, many before you have experienced it. Also remember, that God will provide a way out. Look for the way out! (Or better yet, look for a way to avoid the situation in the first place, if possible.)How can we “shine” Christ in the area of purity?
Conclusion: So, we are the Church. We’re not the church of the future, or just the up and coming leaders in the church. You and I, every one of us, are the Church, from the moment of our Baptisms, the conception of our faith, from the time the Word of God was first implanted in our hearts. Christ invited us in, so no one may dismiss us now. We can be the hands and the feet of Christ on earth, with each of our brothers and sisters beside us. How can you serve in God’s Church today? How can you or your youth group or your church in general reach out to a world in need of a loving Savior? How can you be a leader and servant to see this happen?
Challenge your youth to think of some practical ideas for their group or church or themselves.
Prayer: Thank you Jesus, for making me a part of Your Church. I thank You for this time and place that You have called me to. Help me to have open eyes to see the needs of others and to be bold in sharing You with my friends, my family and even people at other lunch tables. Thank You for sending Jesus to rescue me from sin and for leading me to You. May I be Your hands and feet on this Earth. In Christ’s precious name, Amen.