MEETING AIM: To get to know Lydia, and to explore how we might have a risky, kingdom- expanding faith like hers.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Acts 16:11-15,40
BACKGROUND: Lydia seems to be the first person in mainland Europe to become a Christian. She is already a follower of God, but she responds to Paul’s teaching and her life changes. She is a bit of a mystery – why does she run a business and own a large home on her own, when it was unusual for women to do so without a man? However, she takes a risk in welcoming foreign men into her house and takes a risk in following Jesus. How can we take risks for God? Not stupid risks or ones that are needlessly dangerous, but ones that will further our faith?
Welcome the young people and share out any refreshments you have brought. Chat together about what has happened this week. Rejoice in the young people’s triumphs and sympathise with their difficulties. Use this time to build relationships and settle into the session.
You will need: clip from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (the link is available from youthandchildrens.work/links); items to create an obstacle course (see below); cover-up and clean-up equipment
Play the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade clip. After the clip, explain to your group that faith is often a risk and will sometimes require us to take a leap of faith.
Set out an obstacle course that involves leaping over some undesirable stuff like a big pool of water or a bucket of baked beans. Let the young people (and leaders!) take turns ‘leaping’ over – have some towels at the ready!
Ask someone to read the story of Lydia in Acts 16:11-15,40. Then present the group with Lydia’s biography: Lydia was a seller of purple cloth, kind of like the Marc Jacobs or Michael Kors of her day! She owned a house big enough for her household, and for guests like Paul and Silas to stay. A church ended up meeting in her house. She was a Gentile (non-Jew) who worshiped God and became a Jew. When she heard the gospel, Lydia became the first Christian convert in her town. She became one of the leaders of the church in Philippi – the church that the book of Philippians is written to.
Split the young people into small groups with a leader and a Bible each to examine the story. Encourage each group to create a drama to act out the story. They could just do Lydia’s story or read the whole of Acts 16, noting how Lydia takes Paul and Silas into her house again, once they are out of prison.
Lydia is a great example of risky faith – she would have been a known figure in her town, but she doesn’t hide her faith. Her household came to faith and publicly affirmed it through baptism. She shows outrageous hospitality, despite the next verses showing Paul and Silas getting into trouble with the authorities!
Continue your exploration of the passage by discussing these questions:
- What strikes you about this story?
- What does this story tell you about God?
- Are you like Lydia? Or not? Why?
- What kind of ‘risks’ do you take in your life with regards to your faith?
- How can we help each other in taking these risks for God?
You will need: large sheets of paper; marker pens
Explain that Lydia’s faith was marked by five things: believing, baptism, evangelism, hospitality and leadership. It’s now time to explore them. Put a sheet of paper in a different part of the room and write one of those five things on the top. Put a leader prepped alongside each sheet. Get your group to split up, move round every area and discuss how important they think each area is to the Christian faith. Why might each have been a mark of Lydia’s faith?
Lydia’s faith was given by God; he opened her heart. We do everything with and through God: it’s not us on our own. Because we’re not on our own, God wants to use us, cultivating a risky and active faith in each of us.
You will need: Post-it notes; pens; lining paper
Ask the young people to sit on their own around the room, where they won’t be distracted. Give each of them a Post-it note and pen, and ask them to prayerfully write on it one ‘risk’ they want to take for God. You might want to put some worship music on in the background. Have the lining roll spread in the middle of the room. When they are ready, get each person to come and stick their Post-it down on the paper.
Once everyone has had a turn, gather the group around the lining roll to be encouraged by each other’s decisions (you may want to say a group prayer).
End by getting everyone into small groups to pray for each other that God would help them to take their ‘risks’. End by encouraging them to retrieve their Post-it note from the lining roll, take it home and put it somewhere they’ll see it, for example on a bedroom mirror.
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