For Youth Workers Post
“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for March 28–April 3, 2016.
MAKING THE CONNECTION
“I grew up in a faith tradition and an environment that valued independent thinking and independent living. My family taught me to rely on my own resources first; then to lean on family; and finally, if absolutely necessary, to ask others for help. In my religious tradition, spiritual development was my responsibility too. We eschewed creeds, bishops, and any structure that threatened the autonomy of our conscience and discernment. We thought we were following Jesus; and in some respects, we were. We were also following a stoic and distrustful ideology that was not especially Christ-like and, in some ways, stood in the way of my following Jesus.
“Following someone involves trust. Trusting someone involves an open, committed, and inquisitive relationship. We always follow something (an ideology, cultural influences, our own egos), and we follow people (teachers, preachers, politicians, heroes). Who or what do we trust enough to follow ultimately? Who will be worthy of our discipleship? Jesus says, “Follow me.” And our faith communities, traditions, practices, and scriptures offer us trustworthy paths for learning that Christ is indeed our faithful guide toward abundant life.” —Steve
MEET THE WRITER
Steve Matthews was a youth minister for more than fifteen years. He lives in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and is the Executive Director of the South Coast Mission Hub (a collaborative of churches sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts). Steve is also a spiritual director and a consultant working to systematically redevelop parish ministries struggling with decline. He was a writer for The Way of Pilgrimage: An Adventure in Spiritual Formation for the Next Generation.
STUFF YOU WILL NEED
- index cards
- pens or pencils
- copies of John 10:1–6
- copies of the closing prayers from This Is Church
- Print-Friendly Version of this session
- “I Will Follow,” by Chris Tomlin, inspires us to follow Jesus.
- In this “Leap of Faith” film clip from Despicable Me, someone with a history of being untrustworthy invites a child to follow his guidance.
Begin this time with an opening ritual: a moment of silence, a short prayer that group members say together or a candle-lighting to symbolize Christ’s presence. Take a moment to claim this space and time as holy.
Ask group members to tell one of two stories:
When was a choice you made to follow someone a good decision?
When did a decision to follow someone lead you down a troublesome path?
Encourage people to listen prayerfully to the responses without comment.
EXPLORING THE WORD
Scripture: John 10:1–6
Invite group members to reflect on the stories they told. You may also want to show the “Leap of Faith” clip from Despicable Me. Then ask:
What characteristics make someone trustworthy enough to follow?
Record the group’s responses on newsprint.
Read aloud the scripture passage as group members follow along. Then invite the group to read it aloud with you. Ask:
What do you notice about the passage?
What stands out?
What makes the shepherd dependable and trustworthy?
Invite group members to brainstorm, asking:
What teachings or lifestyles does Jesus invite you to follow?
Record on newsprint the group’s responses. Encourage group members to make an exhaustive list. If the group is large, you may choose to make this a competition between teams.
After looking at the list, say something like this: “Knowing how to live as a Christian and what to do as follower of Jesus seems clear.”
What keeps us from following Jesus into this kind of life?
What are obstacles to our trusting Jesus as our faithful and loving leader?
How do we come to know his voice?
SHARING IN PRAYER
Invite each group member to read aloud one or more of these prayers from This Is Church:
Heavenly Father, You gave your Son, Jesus Christ to show us the Way of justice, truth and peace. Help us hold his example before our eyes, in the way that leads to a better world on earth and eternal life in the Heaven. Amen
O Lord, whose way is perfect, help us always to trust in your goodness, to walk in the way of faith, and to follow in the path of simplicity. Teach us to cast our cares on your providence, that we may possess a quiet mind and a contented spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
God, our Shepherd, give to the church, a new vision and a new charity, new wisdom and fresh understanding, the revival of her brightness and the renewal of her unity; that the eternal message of thy Son, undefiled by the traditions of men, may be hailed as the good news of the age; through him who maketh all things new. Amen. Percy Dearmer
Christ the good shepherd, grant to all whom you have called to positions of leadership in this and every land, strength, wisdom and integrity, that they may feed the people committed to their charge, and lead them beside the waters of peace. Amen. Adapted from Michael Councell
Almighty and ever-living God, give us new strength from the courage of Christ our shepherd, and lead us to join the saints in heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, with the blood of the eternal covenant: make us perfect in every good work to do your will, and work in us that which is well-pleasing in your sight; and may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen
TAKING IT FURTHER
Psalm 34:8 invites us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Some people see following Jesus as a once and for all decision. Others see it as a perpetually renewable decision. One way we can grow in our trust of Jesus as a faithful leader and friend is to dare to try on some new behaviors that invite us to trust him in small ways. Distribute the index cards. Invite group members to write down one small way they will deliberately lean into Christ’s faithfulness this week. How will they dare to taste Christ’s goodness and faithfulness and to follow him?
—from devozine In the Habit (March/April 2016). Copyright © 2016 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.