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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
God's Heart and Mission
Before you start
MEETING AIM: The aim is pretty simple: it’s to show that God’s heart is our mission. This meeting will help you and your young people to explore the connection between what Isaiah prophesied some 700 years before Jesus, and what we do every week in 21st Century Britain.
Setting the scene
Despite the very simple thought at the top of this piece, a meeting based around Isaiah can actually be a very complicated thing. Say that the passage we are looking at really only makes sense when we consider what Jesus did with it later. He used this as his mission statement text. He took the scroll, read it and declared that he was the fulfilment of it (Luke 4). The starter quiz will help to make that link.
Starter for ten (10 mins)
Famous words quiz. This quiz will need quite a lot of adaptation for your groups. The basic idea is that you take a bunch of famous quotes/ song-lyrics/ poetry etc and you get your young people to identify them.
You may want to use quotes that are often used or joked about in your group. Famous song lines can work well (there are a number of lyric sites on the web try http://www.allthelyrics.com). For more general quotations try http://www.thinkexist.com.
If you enjoy using technology you could set up a suitable itunes playlist (other digital music services are available!) Play the beginning lyrics (try to avoid introductions with famous riffs), and get your young people to guess where they are from. Try to make the game a little competitive to add some tension.
End this game making the point that many words are not famous for what the words themselves say but for who said them and in their context. Isaiah 61 is important for who said it too. Explain that Jesus used these words to explain a little bit about what He (God) was about, and to show what God cares about.
KEY POINT: This passage shows the things God cares about. What is God’s heart? (what does God care about?)
Activity: God for a day - part 1 (10 mins)
Setting up: You need to create a space that looks a little bit like a military strategic planning room. You need a big table with a map of the world, or your town, city, village, or even a local school. If you can add props (toy people, model cars etc) then all the better.
Gather your group around the board and ask them: what would you do in the area on the map if you were God for the day? You may need to split them into smaller groups to plan (you could give them smaller copies of the map to work with). At some point they need to come back to the bigger table and draw or present onto the map what impact their being God for the day has on that area.
Study section (15 mins)
Ask: How do our thoughts about what God cares about match up with what God says in His Word? For some groups this question will be a good starter- you could lead them in finding various places where God’s heart is revealed. You will need to steer a little to get to the Isaiah passage eventually. Then use the questions below.
Using small groups or pairs with leaders interacting get your young people to look up (or give them on paper) the passage from Isaiah 61. You could have it in the Message or another contemporary version to help.
Reset the scene saying that Jesus effectively said that this was what He was about. Ask some questions:
Deliberately leave the questions dangling there (it will come together at the end), and return to your strategy area.
God for a day - part 2 (5 mins)
Having seen what God really cares about, is there anything you would change on the map? Leave some space for your young people to change what they would do in the world/ local area. Try to encourage conversation at this point, so that your young people can process their thinking.
As the suggestions on the map draw to a close, pose the question: so how will God do it? You may need to make the point that God uses us: we are His option A for making the earth more like God wants it to be.
KEY POINT: God’s heart is our mission. We are God’s hand and feet! What God wants to do He does mainly through us.
Getting down and dirty (10 mins)
Finish the session by taking some time to think about what the challenge of God’s heart really means for your group. Try to be specific. Try to come up with some practical activity which reflects their involvement in God’s mission. Will they campaign for death row prisoners? feed the local poor? go to hospital to pray for the sick? Preach in the streets? This is an ideal moment to plan some later activity into your programme (see also notes for adapting here).
And finally… (10 mins)
Gather around the table. Have some pens and pencils available and encourage your young people to write their prayers for the area on the maps and plans. If they know people in particular places that need prayer then they can write their names. Keep these maps up somewhere until you have done your practical service (if possible). They will be a useful way of checking answers to prayer.
Notes for adapting
For younger groups… you may want to split the meeting into two separate sessions to allow time for activity planning. As ever you may need to be very concrete in asking questions e.g.: who is imprisoned in this town? What about people who can’t get out of home? In your practical planning you will need to be realistic about what they can do.
For older groups… try to allow the space for your older teenagers to make the links for themselves. You may want to explore a little more about what ‘good news to the poor’ is. You could use a second session to bring in a speaker to talk about global or local poverty and responses to it. Whatever you do practically try to allow them to lead and own.
For un-churched young people… your main obstacle may be that you find that non-Christian young people don’t care about what God thinks. It is possible to do this session without going into the Isaiah stuff explicitly. Show them the local area and ask: what does it need? Why? What are you going to do about it?
For churched young people… Some groups will have had enough of the social action and poverty awareness stuff. Use this session to help your young people to dream bigger and to really engage with what God could do in a day!
Jude Smith is based in Bristol, UK
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