This four part Bible study by Rev. Daniel Paavola uses vacations and travel as a metaphor to help youth understand the freedom found in picking up their crosses to follow Christ.

Topics: Christian Life, Following Christ

You can download a PDF of Bible Study: Follow Me!. If you use it, let us know in the comments!

Overview and Goals

Jesus calls us to follow him on a journey throughout our lives. This walk with Him is the focus of the following four-part study, which uses a family trip for its overall theme. Just as family members plan a trip, and energize, sustain, and evaluate each other during and after a trip, so the Christian family travels under the leading of Jesus. We find Jesus calling and recruiting us to follow Him. We discover that it is a trip that is both mapped out but still surprising to us. He equips us with a message that is sufficient for the journey, though we might not have all the outward gear we imagined. His encouragement answers the age-old question of travel, “Are we there yet?” Finally He looks back over the journey with us. Together we ask, “So, how was the trip?”

Session One: Recruited for the Journey–Let’s Go!

Session Two: Equipped for the Journey–Here’s What You Need.

Session Three: Encouraged on the Journey–Are We There Yet? Almost!

Session Four: Evaluated on the Journey–So How Was the Trip?

In using this study, I hope that youth and their leaders understand more clearly the remarkable grace with which Jesus calls us. While we don’t know the next steps on the journey, He does. Despite our stumbling, He still recruits us to travel with Him. This study may help us listen carefully for His directions. As we walk with Him, I also pray that we’ll have greater hope when the trip seems very, very long. “Aren’t we home yet?” is a discouraged question asked by many. But there is encouragement in the One with whom we’re walking and in the work that He’s doing in and around us. Finally, may this study relieve your fears of the final evaluation that Jesus might give us. He has invited us to follow and has promised to view us with grace.

Time and Materials Needed

The studies are written for a small group discussion format lasting forty-five to sixty minutes. It is assumed that the group members know each other fairly well and that they are comfortable discussing both a Biblical text and their lives. Each study has four parts, which can be adapted to the time available and the needs of the group. First, a discussion introduces the topic and allows the group to share their experiences related to this theme. Second, the leader using the notes provided and other studies to introduce the text. Third, the group discusses the text itself, connecting it to the context of the Gospel and other experiences of Jesus and His followers. Finally, there are application questions that focus on the use of the text and its ideas on the coming week.

The study focuses on the Gospel of Mark for several reasons. Mark’s Gospel often concentrates on Jesus’ relationships with His disciples and other followers in dramatic ways. The calling of the first four disciples in chapter one and the calling of Bartimaeus in chapter ten are good examples. Much of the action within Mark is between Jesus and individuals or small groups. This fits our theme of Jesus leading volunteers. For further discussion, leaders can turn to the parallel passages in other Gospels for many of the episodes, which this study uses.

There are several possible ways to introduce each unit of this study with the travel theme. Bring in maps, both new and old, from destinations as close as the neighboring state park to countries halfway around the world. Bring in souvenirs that shout “tourist,” even the tacky ones that are barely worth bringing home. Bring in the pictures from your family trips or from trips taken by some of the youth together, such as the National Youth Gathering or confirmation retreats. Be sensitive to those youth who have had very little chance to travel or whose choices in travel are unusual. As a leader, emphasize your own travels in a modest way, and perhaps focus especially on your misadventures such as the night the tent fell over in the rain.