The power of our stories
And some hints on thinking about sharing yours
I have just returned from a women’s weekend away. There was fun, great teaching, weird American food and testimonies of what God has done and is doing in the lives of some of the women there. Some of these were told in full or in snippets from the stage, others as I got to know people and wanted to know how their lives were going or how they’d ended up a sister of mine, some where unthinkingly testimonies as people asked for prayer.
There is real power in hearing what God has been and is doing in people’s lives – when carefully told it counters the conservative tendency to explain the theology without being relatable; the arrogance of assuming we’re somehow better than others; the image of somehow being ‘sorted’ when we still struggle. It emphasis and gives rise to questions about the gospel – forgiveness, adoption, salvation, sanctification, revelation. We can say why we believe and shake people out of their current worldview. We can encourage, instruct and edify each other. There is power in our stories because God is powerful.
On this how to… page are some articles I found useful as well as some tips for sharing your testimony either with your youth group or for getting them to think about sharing theirs.
and all the drama of a situation
The last of our first person dramas captures Onesimus’ side of the story Paul tells in his letter to Philemon. I find having a story told in this way, whether it’s read off the page or acted out, is a great addition to reading from the Bible; helping kids connect the historical events to real people who are a lot like them.
I like the worksheets too – obviously or I wouldn’t have written them – as a way of engaging your mind on a different level. I nannied a couple of children who loved to take their dolls to the park then pretend to be Mary and Joseph hiding from Herod. Games, dramas and activities grounded in real truths can help to young children to work out their feelings and responses in a way that being asked a question in a study cannot.
That said I’m a firm believer that even young children can participate in a ‘proper’ Bible study too. Like these youth orientated studies on Philemon.
Let me know what kind of activities you do with the kids to open up their responses. I bet you have some fantastic ideas.
Depression and Hope
and discussion starters
According to the BBC 1-in-4 girls and 1-in-10 boys aged 14 show signs of depression. That means there’s probably someone in your youth groups who is suffering.
The good news is Jesus is Good News for all your young people. If you want to start the discussion off can I suggest my friend Philippa’s blog – A Certain Brightness – as a great place to look for the interplay of hope in times of depression. She’s very real and very excellent. Worth checking out.
who helped Paul escape that one time
I loved taking a minor player from Acts and fleshing him out into a real relatable character. You can read as much as we know about the real Jason in Acts 17 and then read this worksheet to find out how someone like Jason can become someone like Jesus.
Also there are instructions on how to tie a toga! Bonus!
If you want more on Paul and his missionary journeys check out there are some youth work sessions on that here.
Looking at letters
Helping kids access non-narrative texts
They’re one of the things we spend most of our time on in Church and Bible studies, they’re where most of our theology comes from and they’re crucial to how we interpret the Bible. Yet the New Testament letters (19 out of 27 books) are infrequently covered in a way that’s appropriate for children.
The next three first person story and worksheet help to bridge that gap. While it’s not comprehensive; it provides age appropriate context and application for the theology Paul (in this case) teaches. It’s a start! I particularly love the character of Philippa I created to help kids get to grip with … wait for it … Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
If you want more on Philippians check out this Sunday School series covering the book in more detail.
All about Paul
Although Paul would probably like me to point out it’s actually all about Jesus
We’re starting the year as we mean to go on: overlong blog post subtitles and excellent new material to help you prep for your Sunday School classes.
This first in the new series features A Scary Day for Ananias – subscribe below to catch the rest of the series inspired by Paul’s letters!
Each lesson in our four-part series includes a first person description, great to read or to act out as a monologue, and a worksheet that covers story elements; has an engaging activity to complete & allows children to consider how they figure in this story: what more could you want.
And, yes, Paul would be happy: through him and his interactions we get to see Jesus.