Jesus makes all people free and calls us to be disciples.
To introduce the core concepts for the Practice Discipleship day.Supplies
Two sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper (it can be scrap paper from the recycling bin), tape, one index card per person, writing utensils, table, small bowl, candle, lighter, free-standing cross, long pieces of fabric or zip ties, sharp scissors, Bibles, Spiritual Gifts Assessment forms.
“Being structures of Jesus”
Give each person two sheets of paper. Ask them to roll the sheet diagonally from one corner to the other to form a tight tube. This is a “Strut.”
Divide the group into teams of five people. Explain that each team is to construct, using the struts and tape, a structure that symbolizes following Jesus. Give each team ten minutes to construct their structures. Let each team share with the entire group.
After everyone has shared, ask the following questions:
- What was the best part of building your structure?
- How was each person’s strut important to the overall structure?
- How is your team’s structure better, stronger because you had each other’s struts as opposed to building personal structures with just two struts?
- How is this like the church?
Encourage and Prayer
Leader (L.): The Lord be with you.
Group (G.): And also with you.
L: Please share the peace of Christ with one another.
Once everyone has passed the peace, ask them to sit in a circle. Pass out index cards and writing utensils. Each person should take one index card and one writing utensil.
L: Let’s take some time to touch base with each other. We will go around the circle and share one high from the past week and one low from this past week. Before we start, take a second to write your high and low on your index card.
When everyone is ready, go around the circle allowing everyone an opportunity to share.
L: This week, instead of creating a pile of paper in the center of the room, I would like you to pass your card to the left. Make sure that you know the name of the person on your right. You will pray for that person from the requests on his or her card.
Again, I will open the prayer this week. I’m also going to add to our prayer some requests for our faith community and the church in the world. Would anyone like me to pray for something in particular for our faith community or the worldwide church?
When I say “We pray for…,” it will be your turn to pray out loud. We will start with the person to my right and go around the circle. When we are done, I will close the prayer.
L: Thank you, Lord, for our faith community and your church throughout the world. Send us your Holy Spirit to give us the wisdom to know when you want us to act and the compassion to love all your children. We especially lift up … (insert the petitions that the group suggested here.)
Merciful God, we thank you that we can come to you with our hearts’ desires and joys. Hear us now as we lift up to you what is on the hearts of our sisters and brothers in Christ this week. We pray for:
After everyone is finished around the circle, close the prayer.
L: We bring all these things to you, Lord, believing in your faithfulness and in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Place a table in the center of the room. On that table, place a small bowl, a candle, a Bible, and a cross. The candle should be next to the Bible.
L: Please gather around the table. (When everyone is in place, continue.) I welcome you in the name of Jesus Christ. (Light the candle.) We gather around the word of God that lights our way. (Add water to the bowl.) In the water of baptism, Jesus makes us all one people. (Lift the cross as you say the next sentence.) Jesus makes people from different nations, different cultures and different ways of life into citizens and saints through his death on the cross.
You may sing a song here. “Sanctuary” or “Jesus, Remember Me” would be appropriate.
Another leader reads Ephesians 2:14-20, while you gather long strips of fabric.
Hand out long strips of fabric. Tie each participant’s wrists together.
L: Can you get yourselves free without any help? If I set out a pair of scissors on the table, would you be able to use them to free yourself?
Cut one person free. Ask them to cut the next person free. Pass the scissors around until everyone is free.
L: Please place what is left of your bindings under the cross. Jesus frees us to follow him and love others like he loves us. He frees us for helping others.
L: Lord Jesus, thank you for freeing us from sin and blessing us with your Holy Spirit, so that we are able to love others like you love us. Amen.
Ask everyone to return to their spots in the circle.
L: On the ELCA Discipleship Web page, discipleship is defined as “being called to walk with Christ, equipped to live like Christ, and sent by Christ to love and serve others in the world.” In baptism, Jesus calls, equips and sends us to be disciples. Let's now look at three Bible passages that highlight how we are called, equipped and sent.
Let’s look up Matthew 4:18-22. Would someone volunteer to read the passage?
- Peter and Andrew were going about their daily life when they received Jesus’ call. How do you hear Jesus calling you in your daily life?
- In verse 20 and verse 22, the men immediately left what they were doing and followed Jesus. Do you think you would be able to do that? What might make you hesitate to answer Jesus' call?
When God was ready to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, God appeared to Moses in the burning bush. God called Moses to tell Pharaoh that it was time to let the Israelites go. Does anyone remember what Moses said to God?
Look up Exodus 4:1, 10 and 13.
- What is Moses’ reply to God’s call?
- What does God tell Moses?
- How does God equip Moses? Does God use anything that Moses already has?
- There is a saying that “God doesn't call the equipped. God equips the called.” Has God ever surprised you by equipping you to do something that challenged you?
Let’s go back to the Gathering theme Scripture from Ephesians 2:14-20. Would someone read just verses 15 and 16? These verses tell us that Jesus made it so that we no longer have to try and uphold an impossible law. Instead, Jesus makes a way for a new kind of living where we are freed from the power of sin and the burden of being imperfect. This means we are freed to be called disciples even if we can’t be perfect. What do you think that means for how we live our lives?
We’re going to do an exercise that will help us understand what our spiritual gifts are. Our spiritual gifts are special abilities and passions God gave each of us to help accomplish God’s mission in the world.
According to 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, there are many spiritual gifts and they are all given by the same Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 14:12, Paul reminds the Corinthians that they should excel at their spiritual gifts for the purpose of building up the church.
Let’s answer some questions to start to see where God may have gifted our group.
You have a couple of options at this point for taking the Spiritual Gifts Assessment.
- If you have access to computers with Internet access, you could have your participants go to http://www.elca.org/Growing-In-Faith/Discipleship/Evangelizing-Church/Assessment-Tools/Finding-Your-Spritual-Gifts.aspx and take the assessment online. They should print off the Assessment Results screen.
- You could have had your students do the online assessment at home, print off the Assessment Results screen and bring it to this session.
- You could print off hard copies of the assessment form (link here to improved hard copy[CS1] ). You can then have your participants take and score the assessment at this point in the session.
Let’s go around the room and share our top two spiritual gifts. Did anyone’s spiritual gifts seem obvious to you when you heard them? Which ones? Do you think your top two spiritual gifts make sense for you? How have you seen them manifest in your life? If you don’t agree with your spiritual gifts, which gifts did you expect to be in your top two?
We’ll keep coming back to your spiritual gifts as we get ready for the Gathering, during the Gathering, and after we come home. In the meantime, show your results to friends and family. See what they think. One quiz doesn’t tell the whole story. The Holy Spirit uses our whole faith community to help us see how we are meant to build up the church.
What would happen if we all had the same gifts?
Consider watching this clip from The Incredibles:
Questions to consider:
- Was it important that every family member has a different gift in this battle?
- How many different abilities were used in this clip?
When Moses is called, he initially tells God that he cannot do what God has asked him to do. In response, God tells Moses to look at what he already has in his hand. Sometimes we feel like Moses — God’s call to discipleship can be overwhelming! Yet, we already have gifts and tools in our hands that can be used in service to God.
- Where do you see need in your community? Your city? Your nation? Your world?
- What do you have in your hand that can be used to address those needs?
L: Quickly find someone with whom you have not been partnered and partner up with him or her. Make the sign of the cross on your partner’s forehead as I say these words: Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. Amen.
L: Citizens with the saints, children of God, go love like Jesus in the world.
G: Thanks be to God!