Bible passage: Acts 2:43-47; 4:32-37
Background: The passages in today’s session tell us about the life of the early Church. This is rich with discussion and learning, and even direction for how to continue to follow the early Church’s example today. If your group is a part of a local church, it might be particularly apt to share some of the group’s reflections with the wider church. This is an interesting opportunity to get a glimpse of how the young people see the church, covering the main challenges and encouragements from their perspectives.
Prepare refreshments for the group and welcome them to catch up with each other. As the group comes together, begin a conversation about church. What are the best and worst parts of church? The group’s answers may range from silly to profound, so feel free to go with the flow of the conversation.
You will need: a packet of spaghetti and a packet of marshmallows per team; tape measure
Split the group into two and put them in competition with each other. (You could have more groups if you have lots of young people.) Give each group a packet of spaghetti and a packet of marshmallows. Explain that the group has five minutes to build the tallest structure out of them. You may also want to make sure the surfaces they build the towers on are wipeable (ie not carpet)!
Give the young people this extra rule. Each member is only allowed to use one hand and the other must be held behind their back at all times! This should encourage team building and cooperation.
Tell the groups to start and set a timer for five minutes. The group with the tallest structure at the end wins.
You will need: Bibles; pens and paper
Split the young people into smaller groups and ask each to look through the two passages. Ask them to read the verses and then have a go at rewriting at least one of the sections using today’s language. They could also use examples of things the Church would do and share in 2017. (You might want to make sure at least one group is doing the first passage and at least one group the second.) If you have a small group, work on one or both of the passages together.
Give the group ten to 15 minutes to rewrite their passages, then ask them to share their versions with the rest of the group.
Use this time to unpack what the group thinks about the two passages describing the early Church:
- What was the job of the early Church?
- Who belonged to the Church? Who was the Church for?
- Why do you think members of the early Church lived so radically? What was important to them?
- What were the signs that this was a community of people with a new and different faith?
- How did the actions of the early Church show people what God was like?
- Do you think it would have been difficult to live like this?
- Is the Church today like the early Church? Why / why not?
- How are the lives and actions of the early Church a challenge to us today?
You will need: long strips of paper (10cm high by at least 30cm long); scissors
Give out the scissors and paper. Talk the group through how to fold the paper in order to cut out a paper chain of people. Make sure anyone who struggles with fine motor skills has help.
Once the paper people are cut out, ask the group to draw people on their chain who represent their church community. Encourage them to consider people in their local church, including their friends, and people who are different from them.
On the back of the people paper chain, ask the group to write down what it means to be joined together in church with these people. What does it mean to meet, worship and share together? Feel free to facilitate conversation and reflection throughout this activity as they make and write, and encourage them to share ideas or insights.
If you meet in a church, prayer walk around the church building. If not, think creatively about how you might do a prayer walk. Is it possible to take a small walk around your local community?
As you walk around, ask the group to think about the different segments of the church community. Who are they, what are their needs and what might they need prayer for? For example, you could walk to a kitchen area and pray about shared meals and hospitality, or you could walk towards where the adults meet, where cars are parked or where young children meet.
Think about how these different things going on in the lives of the church community might warrant different kinds of prayer.
Or you could use images, such as being inside and praying for people inside the church community, and being outside to pray for those outside the church community.
Or praying in light areas for people to be a light and a witness to the world, and in dark areas for those who are going through a time of darkness.
Invite the group to pray out loud or, if that feels like a stretch for your young people, you could walk to different places and discuss how you might pray in each, and either take time for silent prayer, or pray out loud on behalf of the group.