Chapter OneYOU ARE GOD'S
As a freshman in high school, I began to follow God's ways and soon after felt
God prompting me not to waste my life. When I was first introduced to the idea
of serving, I knew I needed to. By the time I was a senior in high school I was
working with the junior high ministry at my church. The fact that I was doing anything
to express my love for God is a testimony of God's transforming work in me!
God used the youth minister at my church to recognize my potential and challenge
me to serve as an act of obedience to God. God also used my small group
leader to show me that God doesn't have to wait for followers to become perfect
before he can use them. This guy's personal life was a mess, yet he served God by
mentoring and discipling me throughout my high school years. As I reflect, I can see
a lot of reasons why I began serving God at a relatively young age. Through them
all God was at work, developing me into a person who ministers to others.
That's his goal for you too.
Since my teenage years, I've seen thousands of students develop their gifts and
serve in many ministries. Some have taught children's Sunday school. Others have
led junior high small groups. I've seen them stack chairs, greet peers as they arrive
at youth group, write dramas, pick up trash, and play in the band. Regardless of
their tasks, they had hearts sensitive to serving God.
You can serve in many ways, but one common truth binds all the opportunities
together: God designed you to spend your life serving him. It may not be in a full-time,
paid job or even within the local church, but you were created to serve. Don't
waste your life sitting on the sidelines watching God's work. Instead get in the game
and be part of God's plan. Your small group get-togethers and this book are two
tools that God wants to use to help you discover your gifts and develop your passion
to serve others. You're in for an exciting journey!
FELLOWSHIP: CONNECTING Your Heart to Others'
[goal: to have students share about their lives and listen attentively to
Name one thing ou love to do that you're pretty good at.
1 Here are some ideas to get you thinking: singing, acting, making
friends, playing sports, writing, caring for children, leading, talking,helping others, creating, dancing, building, setting up for an activity,teaching, and listening.
2 Can you imagine a way God can use you doing what you're pretty
good at within the church? If yes, how? If no, why not?
3 If you haven't discussed the Small Group Covenant on page 96, take
time to read it together and discuss it now. Make commitments to
one another that your group time will reflect those values. You may
want to have one person read the covenant to the group before you
begin each lesson as a reminder.
Use the Small Group Roster (page 98) to record the names and contact information of
the small group members.
DISCIPLESHIP: GROWING to Be Like Jesus
[goal: to explore God's Word, learn biblical knowledge, and make personal
Congratulations! You're an original masterpiece! There is no one
just like you! You're a unique individual, and God has great plans
for your life. God doesn't need anyone to accomplish the work of
his kingdom, but his plan is still to use you and me. He has something
special he wants to do through you!
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully
made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Terms that look like this are described in Learn a Little More near the end of the session.
4 Since God doesn't make any mistakes or have any accidents, why
do so many people have a hard time recognizing their worth?
5 Most Christians understand that God has created everyone,but why do Christians struggle with devaluing one another?
6 Since God created you, then why do you have so
many faults and hang-ups (as we all do)?
7 What's one thing you don't like about how God created you?
8 Verse 16 reads, "All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be." What's your initial response to this?
* What are the implications for your life?
9 What could your youth group look like if everyone treated one another as
wonderful creations of God? What would change this week if everyone
took this seriously?
10 Read Ephesians 2:8-10
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and
this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-9 not by
works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. -Ephesians 2:8-10
* What does it mean to be God's workmanship?
* Since we've been saved by faith, why does God want us to do
MINISTRY: SERVING Others in Love
[goal: to recognize and take opportunities to serve others]
The goal of this lesson is to get you thinking about serving in a ministry.
Consider the opportunities that are currently available and consider
creating new options for serving.
You may choose an area to serve in and later realize it's not a
good match. For instance, you may decide to teach third grade
Sunday school and a month later say, "I have the gift of teaching,
but those animals don't have the gift of listening." That's okay.
Take that as a cue to either learn more skills to make you a better
teacher and come back to it later or experiment with a different
On the other hand, don't give up on a ministry too quickly.
Give yourself time to adjust before you decide whether it's a
good fit. If you jump from one ministry to another too often, you'll
get discouraged and may develop a reputation for being uncommitted.
11 List three ministry opportunities you would like to get involved with or start.
12 Take a few minutes and go through the following checklist of questions with
each of the ideas you listed above.
Depending on the size of your small group and the time
you have remaining, you may want to do this on your
own or in groups of two or three.
* What would you need from God to help you succeed with this idea?
* What is it about this ministry opportunity that you feel passionate about?
* What natural abilities do you have that will help you with this ministry?
* Based on whether you're outgoing or reserved, what role can you see yourself
playing in this ministry?
* Are there any experiences that you have had that make you especially qualified
to help in this ministry?
EVANGELISM: SHARING Your Story and God's Story
[goal: to consider how the truths from this lesson might be applied to
relationships with unbelievers]
13 Are there any opportunities within your church or youth ministry
where an unbeliever can serve? If so, which ones? If not, why
do you think that is?
* How might an unbeliever's service lead him or
her closer to a relationship with God?
At the beginning of small groups such as this one, you should
decide whether your group is open to inviting friends to join. If
your group is open, list who you would like to invite and make
plans for talking with them. Your small group leader or your leadership
team may have already determined the group is closed at
this time. If so, a good group respects and follows that decision.
You may be able to invite friends to join you in the next
Read How to Keep Your Small Group from Becoming a
Clique (page 100) when you're at home.
WORSHIP: SURRENDERING Your Life to Honor God
[[goal: to focus on God's presence]
Some people refer to the church in sports terms when they say that most
people in the church are spectators rather than players. The bleachers
(pews) are filled with people watching the few who actually play (those who
serve). Is that true at your church? Is that true of you?
For the next several sessions, you'll be challenged to get out of the
bleachers and into the game by developing a heart for service. As you do
this, take time to focus on God's presence through prayer so you can sense
his leading in your life.
14 Share one specific way the others in the group can pray for you. This is a time
to write down prayer requests in the Prayer Request Log (page 132).
15 Spend time thanking God for the people in your group and for the unique qualities each
person has, which will lead to different acts of service and make your church stronger.
16 Before your group breaks, read At Home This Week together. (If everyone
in the group has already done this in another LifeTogether book, you can
skip the introduction if you'd like.)
You'll find three prayer resources in the back of the book. By reading and
discussing them, you'll find your group prayer time more rewarding.
* Praying in Your Small Group (page 126). Read this on your own
before the next session.
* Prayer Request Guidelines (page 128). Read and discuss these
guidelines as a group.
* Prayer Options (page 130). Refer to this list for ideas to give your
prayer time variety.
AT HOME THIS WEEK
Each week, you'll have at least four options to help you grow and learn on your
own-which means you'll have more to contribute when you return to the group.
Daily Bible Readings
On page 112 you'll find Daily Bible Readings, a chart of Bible passages that correspond
with the lessons-five for each week. If you choose this option, read one passage
each day. Highlight it in your Bible, reflect on it, journal about it, or repeat it
out loud as a prayer. You're free to interact with the Bible verses any way you want,
just be sure to read God's love letter-the Bible. You'll find helpful tips in How to
Study the Bible (page 113).
Memorizing Bible verses is an important habit to develop as you learn to grow spiritually
on your own. Memory Verses (page 116) lists six verses-one per week-for
you to memorize if you want to plant God's Word in your heart. Memorizing verses
(and making them stick for more than a few minutes) isn't easy, but the benefits are
undeniable. You'll have God's Word with you wherever you go.
You'll find blank pages for journaling beginning on page 121. At the end of each
session, you'll find several options and a question or two to get your thoughts
going-but you aren't limited to the ideas in this book. Use these pages to reflect, to
write a letter to God, to note what you're learning, to compose a prayer, to ask a
question, to draw a picture of your praise, to record your thoughts. For more suggestions
about journaling, turn to Journaling: Snapshots of Your Heart (page 118).
If you'd like to choose journaling this week, respond to this question: What's my
biggest fear about getting involved in a ministry to serve God?
Wrap It Up
Write out your answers to the session questions your group didn't have time to discuss.
This week share with the others in your group which option seems most appealing
to try during the coming week. The variety of preferences is another reminder of
how different the people in your group are.
During other weeks, take time to share with the group what you did At Home
LEARN A LITTLE MORE
Maybe you feel you're no longer a masterpiece because of the sin that's in your life.
You've made bad choices, and others have hurt you. Sin has left its mark on who
you are now, and you feel like a stained masterpiece. You may find it easier to see
the stains than the masterpiece, but the stains don't erase your value. God wants
you to change your focus. God will use even the stains from your past to restore the
masterpiece to greater glory. You'll need to discover the uniqueness God created in
you and express it through your life and service.
Written in your book
Several times throughout Scripture there is mention of a book (or scroll) that belongs
to the Lord. In Psalm 56:8 God's complete knowledge of the psalmist's sorrow is
written on a scroll. The prophet Malachi speaks of a scroll of remembrance that
records the names of those who fear the Lord (3:16). Perhaps the most popular term
is the "book of life," which contains the names of the faithful (Psalm 69:28;
FOR FURTHER STUDY