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An Heroic Ministry
Verse of the day
YWI - working with...
YWI is pleased to work in association with
Fuller Youth Institute, US
Sophia Network, UK
In step with the Spirit
Before you start
MEETING AIM: To understand that the Holy Spirit will produce positive characteristics in our lives when we keep in step with Him; to be aware that our sinful selves will naturally want to behave in ways that are not of the Spirit and how we can combat this. The thrust of Paul’s letter to the Galatians is that we are saved only by faith in Jesus. Taking this passage in isolation you could be under the impression that the less you sin the more likely you are to get into heaven. So it is essential that you keep the passage in context with the entirety of the letter.
BACKGROUND PREPARATION: You will need: equipment for making cocktails and a prize; a delicious cake; a picture of a fruit tree; outlines of crosses, sets of sin lists and glue; music; mugs and decorating materials.
The Bar brawl (15-20 mins)
Split the group into teams and give each team access to a plastic cocktail glass, different fruit juices, lemonade, different chunks of fruit and things to decorate their cocktail glass with (like umbrellas, straws and sparkly things). Tell the teams that they are to create and name a new fruit cocktail that will be served to the group at the end of the session (i.e. as long as it’s drinkable!). Let them know that it is a competition and that a prize is at stake. After they have created their masterpieces, have an impartial taster decide on the winner.
The cake (5 mins)
Have someone bake a delicious, mouth-watering cake and give everyone in the group a slice (be sure to check for nut allergies etc…). Ask them not to eat it yet. When everyone has their slice ask them to lift it in front of their face and look at it (play up its deliciousness by drawing attention to the icing and texture etc…); ask them to smell it and then get them to take a tiny taste with their little finger. Having built up its deliciousness, tell them that this cake is not good for them. Warn them that they are free to eat this cake but if they do they will be seriously ill. Now allow those who still want to eat the cake to do so. Get those who chose to eat to explain their motivation. Then read Galations 5:16-26 together.
KEY POINT: Acknowledgement where it’s due: I have adapted this from an example Rob Bell uses about gossip in one of his talks.
Questions (5-10 mins)
· Use the cake activity to explore the ideas about the sinful nature that Paul introduces in verses 16-21.
· If we know that God has said something is wrong, why do we still want to do it?
· Some things on the list of ‘wrong things that the sinful self does’ can feel good and be fun e.g. being sexually unfaithful or getting drunk. Does being a Christian mean that you can’t have fun? (Allow for some honest expression without condemnation here.)
· Verse 21 says that if you have done anything on the list you won’t inherit God’s kingdom. A lot of Christians do some of these things; does that mean that there will be hardly anyone in heaven?
KEY POINT: This is a good time to go over the main emphasis of Galatians as discussed in the Meeting Aim.
Juicy fruit (7 mins)
Show the group a picture of a tree laden with fruit. Use this to facilitate a quick discussion about how a tree produces fruit and what fruit actually is e.g. pollination, seasons, the need for water and light, feeding people and animals etc… Then ask:
· In verses 22-23 Paul uses the idea of fruit to describe the characteristics that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives. Why do you think he uses the image of fruit?
· In what ways is the fruit of the spirit in our lives like a tree growing fruit?
· According to verse 22 how do you get more love, joy, peace etc. in your life?
· How might having the fruit of the Spirit in your life help you not to do the things on Paul’s ‘sin’ list?
KEY POINT: A tree does not choose to produce fruit or not, it just does. However, outside factors can affect fruit production – its quality and quantity. In the same way, as we keep in step with the Spirit he produces certain characteristics in our life. Behaving in ways that grieve the Spirit can affect this process. Galatians talks about us being revealed in the world as Christians no longer because of factors like circumcision but because we display the fruit of the Spirit.
Nailed to the cross (5-10 mins)
Give each member of the group a piece of paper with an outline of a cross drawn on it and verse 24 written on the top. Write each ‘sin’ from the list in verses 19-21 on separate slips of paper and give a set to each individual. Get them to spend some time praying about any sins that are an issue for them and that they don’t want in their lives anymore. Give them some glue with which to stick them onto the cross and then give them the opportunity to throw the whole thing into a bin.
KEY POINT: It’s really important that you emphasise that although this passage is severe in its warning against sin, the gospel is about forgiveness, wholeness, love and acceptance of sinners.
Line dance (5-10 mins)
In verse 25 the Youth Bible says that we should ‘follow the Spirit’. The NIV translates this to say that we should ‘keep in step with the Spirit’. As an example of this, devise a very simple line dance or series of steps to a song with a distinctive beat and quickly teach it to the group asking them to ‘keep in step with you’.
Emphasise the fact that we are asked to keep in step with the Spirit not that we ask Him to keep in step with us. Ask the group to give practical suggestions of how they can do this.
Response: It’s a mug’s game (15 mins)
Give each individual in your group a blank mug and provide materials with which to decorate them (be aware that some such materials require baking in order to achieve permanence). Ask them to decorate the mugs with thoughts, words, ideas and images from Galatians 5:22-26. Put on a worship CD and ask the group to complete the activity quietly and as an act of worship. At the end of the activity encourage them to take the mugs home and every time they drink from it to ask God to increase the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.
Notes for adapting
For younger groups… You will want to make sure that they do not get tangled up with guilt and shame over Nailed to the cross. Let them confess, be forgiven and then move the meeting along.
For older groups… Give plenty of time for open discussion and expression of feelings.
For unchurched young people… Make Line Dance the focus of the meeting and provide examples of how they can keep in step with the Spirit e.g. reading the Bible, praying, being obedient when they hear him speaking etc...
For churched young people… Try to get them to go beyond the usual pat answers by asking them to clarify what they mean and get them to explain any Christian jargon that they might use.
Lesley Thompson is a writer and youth worker based in Surrey, UK