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BIBLE PASSAGE: Acts 10
BACKGROUND: We all have our preconceived ideas, sometimes subconsciously, about who might make a ‘suitable’ follower of Jesus. Peter certainly did, and we are no different! Allow God to speak during your preparation for this session and to show you his heart for others.
Welcome the young people to the session. Share out your refreshments and chat about life. Share in their triumphs and commiserate in their disasters. Ask the group about the last time they talked about faith at school or at a club they’re part of. Was it easy?
You will need: a handkerchief or flannel doused in perfume
Keep the perfumed handkerchief hidden in your pocket. Announce an activity in which everyone has to shake hands with as many people as they can in two minutes, and see who manages the most. As you join in this activity yourself (aim to shake hands with about a third of the people there), keep your hand freshly dipped into your pocket. The net result at the end of the exercise is that not only will the people whose hands you shook directly smell of perfume, but so will the people whose hands they shook and so on.
Ask everyone to smell their hands and see how many can smell the perfume. Discuss the exponential spread of the perfume in this way. (Make sure you use a product that no one in your group is allergic to.)
You will need: a large white sheet (big enough for everyone to sit on); a Bible Spread out a large white sheet. Cram everyone on it and read Acts 10 to the group. Encourage the young people to bear in mind that we are all the ‘unclean’, who are now called ‘clean’.
Challenge the young people to summa- rise the message Peter gave the Roman household. Ask everyone to have a go at summarising the gospel in one minute. You could time it to make this more of a game, or if they feel unsure you could give them a couple of minutes to write something down and then read their ideas out in turn. Reassure them that there is no perfect answer, and that in one minute they will only be able to touch on a tiny bit of it!
Encourage them to try to find an angle that is personal to them, as Peter did.
Without criticising anyone’s effort, you could spend a couple of minutes discussing the merits of some of the ideas and explore the ways you could share the gospel. Do you always have to tell people everything? Is the gospel we would tell the same as the message that might be preached at church on a Sunday morning? Is it OK to change the way we tell the gospel? What does God want us to communicate to our friends? Is anything off-limits when it comes to leaving bits out? What would be the most creative and radical way to communicate the gospel?
Peter’s verbal gospel to Cornelius was reinforced significantly by his godliness and anointing, and also by the supernatural way the two had come to meet each other.
Use the following questions to explore the passage and the ideas around it:
- How would you feel if God told you to go to see a group of people you didn’t like and tell them about Jesus? How would that affect your attitude about sharing the gospel?
- How would you feel if this group of people you didn’t like became Christians?
- Who do you think your church primarily tries to reach with the gospel?
- Who or what kinds of people are you most likely to reach with it personally?
- How does the nature of your life reinforce or undermine the gospel you might share?
- What non-verbal ways can you think of to communicate or reinforce the gospel within your networks?
You will need: long sheets of paper (lining paper is ideal); sticky tape; marker pens Spread out a massive piece of paper on the floor (a couple of lengths of lining paper taped together would be suitable). Invite the young people to take a pen each and spend a few minutes writing every single group, culture, subculture, society, type of person, category and variation they can think of (everything from LGBTQ to Slovakians, Hindus, sporty people, rich people, poor people, homeless people, teachers, politicians, emos, skaters, nerds, bankers and students). They should fill the paper as much as they can within five minutes. It should be easy once they get going! Ask if anyone wants to explain what they have written. There may well be groups you’re not familiar with, particularly ‘tribes’ of young people. Your group will probably enjoy educating you!
Chat together about how ‘accepted’ each group is. Are there any groups the young people would want to be part of? Are there any they would naturally avoid? Why?
You will need: large sheet of paper from ‘Creative response’; coloured chalk Stand around the paper and reflect on all the people represented there. Ask a couple of people to spread chalk across the whole thing in the colours of the rainbow as a sign of God’s promise to love all people; to give them hope and a future, and to never turn his wrath and fury toward any of us.
Lead a prayer of love over these people groups. Invite the Holy Spirit to break into them, to use Christians in those contexts, and to raise up boldness and opportunities. Invite the young people to add their own prayers generally or for specific groups of people.
Say: “As Peter said, ‘I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.’” End with a declaration: “All are welcome here. All are clean.” Encourage everyone to repeat it back. Do this three times.
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