MEETING AIM: To unpack Paul’s metaphor about the Church being like a body.
BIBLE PASSAGE: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
BACKGROUND: In the years soon after his radical conversion, Paul went on several long journeys to tell anyone who would listen about who Jesus was. He planted dozens of churches along the way and went back to visit and encourage them as well as sending letters to them instructing them on wise ways to live. Today’s passage comes from his first letter to the church at Corinth, Greece. It seems that there were some difficulties within the church community and Paul wrote to help sort some of them out. There may have been tension over who had which spiritual
gifts and which were most important and Paul uses the metaphor of a body to talk to the Corinthians about how important each member was to the community – no matter their differing gifts.
As you begin the session, invite the children to sit together in a circle and pass round a simple object. When a child has the object they can share their response to the question. If a child doesn’t want to say anything they can just pass on the object. Ask the children to share what they think they bring to the group in terms of personality. It’s a good idea to be able to say something positive that each group member brings in case they are struggling for ideas or don’t feel great about their contribution.
You will need: model of internal organs or pens, paper and scissors
If you can get hold of a science body model where all the organs fit into the chest, that would be ideal – perhaps you have a high school teacher in your congregation who would be able to borrow one. If not, draw a person shape and cut into pieces – hands, legs, head etc. Also draw some internal organs – heart, lungs, brain, and so on. Ask the group to put the model or person pieces together, talking about which bits do what and why they are important.
You will need: model or drawing from ‘Intro activity’; Bibles; paper; marker pens
Admire the model or person you’ve just finished putting together. Take out a piece and ask what would happen if the body didn’t have that thing. Replace it and take out another, asking the same question. Ask the group to find 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 and have them read it together – perhaps get each person to read a verse. Ask the group what they think Paul is getting at.
Talk to the group about the background to this letter: Paul had planted a church in Corinth and he’d heard that the people there weren’t getting on very well. They were quarrelling and fighting about who was best or most important and about the ways that different people thought things should be done. Paul wanted to show them that each person was important not just to God but also to the community. They all had something different to offer; just like each bit of the body does a different but important job. And just as in the body we treat different parts differently depending on what they do, so we should be able to recognise the differences in one another and not try to make everyone the same.
Make a list together of all the things that need to happen for a church to run well – not just a Sunday service! Look at the list together and talk about how many different people it takes to make all these things happen.
Some things we can all do, like looking out for other people, some things need you to have a particular ability in (perhaps like playing the piano), and some things people might have a passion for (such as serving tea and coffee and making people feel especially welcome). Talk about how a body has to work together to do anything; the two legs can’t walk in different directions, for example. This means there has to be some sort of agreement on what the body is going to do. What sort of things do we need to agree on in this group or church so that we aren’t trying to walk in two different directions?
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute:
- If you were like a bit of the body, what would it be and why?
- Do you think the world values some people more than others? Do you think that we do this in church too?
- How can we make sure that people know they are an important part of the church or our group?
- Looking at the list you made in the ‘Bible story’, where do you think you could contribute to being part of this church?
- Some bits of the body are very definitely connected to others (eg the foot and the ankle), are there ways that we might be particularly connected to others in the church?
You will need: gingerbread people biscuits; icing pens; icing; sweets and other decorations
Decorate gingerbread people together as you continue to reflect on Paul’s ideas about us being part of the same body.
You will need: an outline of a person printed out on card; scissors; felt-tip pens Cut the outline up like a jigsaw, ensuring there are enough pieces for each person to have one. Reassemble the picture in a central space. Gather the group round and ask them to choose a piece of the puzzle. They can add detail and colour to the front of their piece, but on the back they should write something they’d like to say to God about what you’ve talked about today. This might be what they want to offer in the group, or a question they have or a thought.
When everyone has written their prayer and decorated their piece, reassemble the puzzle with the written prayers face down. Say “Amen” together.
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