Summary: Partnering with God equips the church for the task of service to others. Christ’s body, or the church, is called to this service and able to carry out this service through the power of God that comes from relationship with Jesus. This study encourages us to rely on God’s guidance, strength, and compassion when undertaking service, rather than our own human capabilities. Many non-religious people spend their days serving others and exhibit great strength in doing so, but as Christians we are called without question to be “the hands and feet of Christ.” This unique approach to service is both beautiful and difficult. It requires connection with God, relationship with Christ, and study of scripture to fully understand what is different about this kind of service. St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use word if necessary.” As individuals, as a youth group, and as a church, we should always be striving to show the love of Christ through our actions and service of others. We do this, not for our own praise or adoration, but in joyful obedience to the call that God has given us.
Week 1: The Commission From God
(1) What is the commission?
Ask: Have your parents ever asked you to do something you really did not want to do? Did you do it anyway? Why?
Explain: The next few weeks, we will be talking about how we as Christians and the church can better serve other people. Sometimes this type of service means we will have to love people we don’t like very much, or do difficult work because it could help someone else. Often, this type of service is not very fun. So why do we do it? Simple. We do it because God tells us to.
Read: Matthew 28:16-20
Ask: What are we called to do in this passage? (go, tell, baptize, make disciples, teach) What are we reassured of in this passage? (God is always with us)
Explain: People help other people everyday. They show kindness, they give to charities, and they raise awareness for important causes. You do not have to be a Christian to serve other people. But you do have to serve other people as a Christian. It is a part of our commission. This is what makes Christian service different. Matthew 28 is a part of the “Great Commission.” A commission is a sending out, or a calling, of people to go to do something. God is commissioning his people into service through this speech by Jesus. We serve to be obedient to this commission God has given us.
(2) In what manner do we live out the commission?
Ask: Have you ever done anything around the house without being asked? (Let people share examples) Why did you do it if no one asked you? Were you hoping to gain something? Have you ever felt like you went on a service project or mission trip because of ulterior motives?
Remember: As Christians, we should always be striving to show love in our actions and in our service. We do this not for our own praise but for the joy of being obedience to God. We should be happy to do what God has asked us to. If we are serving others for our own ulterior motives, we aren’t truly living out the commission.
(3) Do we have to do it all by ourselves?
Ask: Have your parents, or friends or coaches, ever asked you to do something that was really hard? That you thought you might not be able to do alone? What? (Let people share examples)
Read: 1 Corinthians 12:20-31
Think: If this passage is a metaphor for the church then…
What it is saying to us about our ability to serve others as a church? (we all have our roles, we need to work together, we have help in service, we are not alone)
*Finish: God has commissioned, or called, each of us into service of others. As Christians, we should happily obey this call. We can be glad to know that we have the help of our Church (1 Corinthians 12) and of God (Matthew 28:20) in this process. We can rely on our Church’s diverse map of people and God’s guidance, strength, and compassion when undertaking service, rather than our own human capabilities
Week 2: The Example of Christ
(1) Christ served others constantly
Read: Matthew 20:28
Explain: The hard thing about serving others can sometimes be knowing where to start. The great thing is that we have the ultimate example of human service through the life of Jesus Christ? All we have to do is look at what Jesus did. (Just like the WWJD bracelets say!)
Activity: Write down your groups answers and try to come up with as many as you possibility can. There is a lot of scripture about Jesus’s ministry after all!
- Where did Jesus go during his ministry? (Literally where did he walk, what places did he visit)
- Who did Jesus spend time with during his ministry? (people groups, individuals, etc.)
- How did Jesus’ touch people’s lives? (meeting their physical and emotional needs, touched people literally in order to heal them, touched other figuratively with his compassion)
(2) It is not always easy
Jesus did so much in just three short years of ministry. Some of it doesn’t make a lot of sense to us in the modern day. Think about the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Why did he do that?
What does that tell us about his service of others? (It is sometimes difficult, it is a selfless act, its not about us, we can serve all types of people from friends to people who hurt us—like how Jesus washed the feet of Judas) *Draw attention to the way that Jesus served even when it was difficult here.
Ask: Looking at all the answers on the board, how would you sum up the ministry of Jesus?
(3) But Jesus shows us exactly how
Read: Philippians 2:1-8
Ask: Point out the places in the passage that show how Jesus did ministry and served others?
*Finish: Philippians does a great job of summarizing the ministry of Jesus . We can look to his life to see how we should act as individuals, as a youth group, or even as a church. His ministry tells us so much about why and how we should serve others. Jesus was loving, active, caring, humble, and selfless. Quite simply, serving others is not about us. It is about serving, obeying, and glorifying God. Christ knew that and we can see that through his actions. Hopefully, his life can help us learn how to do the same.
Week 3: The Joy of Serving
Start: All this talk of serving others can seem like a lot of work. It might make you wonder why you would put in all that hard work for someone else? Or what do you get out of doing all this? Or this really is not fair. Sometimes it may not seem fair to do all these things for other people… and thats okay. It’s not supposed to be fair. God never promised that everyone was going to have all the same amount of stuff and the same about of gifts. The fairness comes when we pull our gifts and resources together and work as a body of Christ.
(1) An Old Testament example of having “enough”
Read: Exodus 16:14-20
Ask: What time period is this story from? (Israelites wandering in the wilderness?)
Why did God tell them to only “take as much as they needed”? (trust, fairness, sharing) Did they? Why was Moses angry with them? (They were selfish, they didn’t trust in God)
(2) We all have enough
Ask: Was there ever a time that someone else needed help and you helped them? (let them share examples, bring up some times they went on mission trips or the youth group did service projects)
Explain: We all have more than enough stuff. In our country, we do not lack things but unfortunately we often lack joy, contentment, and peace. Other people, who do not have as much as us, often find fulfillment in friends, family, and God rather then their stuff. We can learn a lot from that kind of lifestyle.
Ask: Have you ever gone on a mission trip and thought you received more than you gave? What did you get from the trip that was so valuable?
(3) Service is a lesson that we need
*Finish: What if? We “serve” because we need it? We need to do things for other people to have full hearts…to feel the joy of taking action….to remember to have gratitude….to see love being lived out…to experience others gaining hope in hopeless situations. We talked about earlier how sometimes service is hard work and it can make you wonder: what’s in this for me? But there is a lot in it for you! Sometimes serving others or giving of yourself to others might seem unfair. But in reality, they might just have some of the thing you need too. In reality, the simple act of doing something for someone else might give you all the joy you need.
Activity: Wrap up your study with a small service activity so that you can take action and really do what you have been talking about over the past few weeks! Emphasize that you are doing this because God commissioned us all to serve others, we saw the examples of selfless love in Jesus Christ’s life, and you can experience deep joy in the service of other people!