JOURNEYING TOGETHER: FOR YOUNG PEOPLE - Jesus teaches
Session 2 of 4
To challenge the young people to consider who they should love.
This session plan is intended for use either in person or online, depending on how you’re meeting. Adapt the activities to fit your particular situation.
It is easy it read this passage and not realise what it means for us personally. Some of us might have had lives where conflict and ‘enemies’ don’t play a huge role. However, if this applies to us, there will be those in our group – both young people and your fellow leaders – for whom this passage could be a massive challenge. Be sensitive as you explore what this might mean to the people in your group. What difference will this make to people’s lives?
STARTING OUT – 5 mins
As the young people arrive, serve them the refreshments you have provided. Try to have something a bit more interesting than biscuits and squash – is there someone in your congregation who could make a cake? Do you have the facilities to make toast and tea? As you eat and drink together, chat about the young people’s lives – do they have anything to share? Any triumphs? Any disasters? Share stories from your life too, if appropriate.
INTRO ACTIVITY – 10 mins
You will need: pens and paper
Encourage the group to think of people, or groups of people, whom they find challenging (certainly not anyone present). For example, I grew up in Ipswich. There is a strong football rivalry between Ipswich Town and Norwich City (sorry, Norwich!). They should jot down some of their ideas.
This may need a bit of careful managing so that it doesn’t end up just being negative about other groups of people or individuals, but handled sensitively and positively could be very helpful for the young people.
BIBLE EXPLORATION – 10 mins
You will need: Bibles; small credit-card sized pieces of card or paper; pens
In pairs or maybe on their own, ask the young people to read through the passage a few times, and substitute references to ‘enemies’ with names or groups of people who they find challenging (from ‘Intro activity’). So, for me the following might help my attitude: “But to you who are listening, I say: Love Norwich City players, do good to those who support Norwich City, bless those who curse Ipswich Town, pray for those who sing rude songs about us. If a Norwich fan slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also…”
Rather than reading the abstract ‘enemies’, naming the people they clash with in order to be more Christ-like towards them could be a massive eye-opener and challenge going forwards.
Once the members of your group have come up with a more specific and personalised passage, ask if anyone would like to share what they have written. What challenges does this bring up for them? Be sensitive as you discuss this, particularly as this might be a very real and ongoing challenge for some young people – their ‘enemies’ might be members of their family, those who live around them or people at school.
Now, in groups, list the things you love doing, from eating late-night cheese on toast to watching Pointless…Have two sets of the following words printed out on small, equal-sized cards: parents, best friends, money, siblings, enemies, sport, time alone, popularity, those who hurt you, church, gaming, mobile phone, TV, clothes, music, art, coffee, pizza, ISIS, politicians, ourselves.
Ask the young people to organise these into a top ten in order of how important it is to love (so they can’t use all the cards). This should provide a great discussion about what and whom we love most and how important it is to love those who don’t love us back or share our values.
CHATTING TOGETHER – 5 mins
Ask the group these questions, making sure everyone has the chance to contribute:
• What part of what Jesus says here is the easiest to put into practice?
• What is the most challenging?
• How literal was Jesus being in what he said about cheeks and coats and shirts? What does that mean for us today?
• What does this passage tell you about Jesus and God’s kingdom?
• What do you want to say to Jesus because of what you’ve read?
- • What difference is this going to make to your life?
CREATIVE RESPONSE – 10 mins
You will need: large sheet of paper; felt-tip pens
Challenge the young people to list as many people as they know (not necessarily ‘like!’) in three minutes! They can name anyone they have spoken to or messaged in the six months. No checking social media or contact lists! The person with most names wins. To help them, have them draw three concentric circles as guides – starting from their closest relationships in the middle and working outwards towards people they have less interaction with at the edges. It will be an eye-opener to see how many names there are and how different all those people are, and how varied their needs for us to meet and their hearts for us to love.
Ask the group to look at their lists or circles. Who in this word-picture do they find easiest to love? Who is the most difficult? Gather everyone into pairs and challenge each pair to come up with some practical suggestions on how they could love those people on their lists who are the most difficult to love. What can they do to put Jesus’ words into action?
PRAYER – 5 mins
You will need: reflective music and the means to play it
Put on some music to encourage a prayerful atmosphere. Have the young people spend some time praying blessings for each of the names on their paper – but starting at the outside edges, not the middle!
Afterwards ask if anyone has felt God speaking to them or if they have any thoughts about how their attitude has been challenged or changed by this session?
has an MA in Christian mentoring and wrote the Grove booklet Mentoring and Young People. He is a volunteer youth worker.
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