How to prepare to hear youth champion choosing love?

Youth Worship 2017 LogoThis weekend, the Youth in grades 7-12 will lead worship at both Greenwood on Saturday evening and downtown Sunday morning. Why should you make sure that you and the kiddos attend one of these services?

Three reasons:

  • Little kids need to espy big kids in action. (Hey, I get to do that some day!)
  • The viewpoint the Youth will promote is wise: Choose Love.
  • There will not be any Cool Disciples workshops for grades 1-6 this weekend!

Do you suppose the “open door” in their logo, parodies to a degree, that old TV show Let’s Make a Deal – where contestants picked either door number 1, 2 or 3?  (The Bible story the Youth will reference does have three characters making choices about showing love.)

But choosing love is not random. And it is more than just choosing to love and care for someone else – it also involves choosing to allow God to love us!

This door opens two ways: to receive God’s love and to show love to others.

A little preparation for worship may be helpful. (And certainly a debriefing afterwards!) How about using three ways – all involving stories and song. (Something I’m sure that we’ll hear lots of in worship!)

the number one  The Parable of The Good Samaritan is depicted in artLet’s start with a review of a familiar Bible story: The Good Samaritan.

Read the story in Luke 10:25-37.

Which of the three in this parable that Jesus taught – the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan – chose a loving response to the beaten man by the side of the road?

What were the risks that each person faced? Why do you suppose the Samaritan chose love?


the number two  The cover of the book Forever Young by Bob DylanNext, how about a storybook based on a song? Forever Young by Bob Dylan (yes, THAT Bob Dylan) for ages 5 – 10, is about a young boy who is given a guitar by a street singer; his story shows how a gift to another can impact countless lives. (Ann Arbor District Library has this book. See if it is available!)

Do you suppose a simple act of giving (and loving) can still have an impact in today’s world?
Do you think it is better to give love or to receive love? Why?

the number three  And the third choice is a song by Pete Townshend: Let My Love Open the Door. The Youth have been learning this song and we’ll hear it this weekend.

Consider how these words could be God speaking to us, reaching out in love.
“I have the only key to your heart
I can stop you falling apart
Try today you’ll find this way
Come on and give me a chance to say
Let my love open the door
It’s all I’m living for
Release yourself from misery
There’s only one thing gonna set you free
That’s my love
That’s my love
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door.”


The Youth from FUMC at Soulfull Retreat 2017
Youth at Soulfull Retreat at Lake Louise Retreat Center, 2017

Come experience the youth as they share their faith in music, drama, and liturgy. Members of the senior class of 2017 will share their journeys with the congregation. (Always a tear-jerker for me!)

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Photo credits:
Choose Love logo designed by Wendy Everett. Group photo of youth at Soulfull Retreat at Lake Louise Retreat Center, by Peter DeHart, © 2017. Used by permission.
An icon of The Good Samaritan, photo by Ted, licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0). Orange Numbers in the Public Domain via

What is this mysterious gift with its hidden meaning?

I wonder what is in this wrapped package?A gift shrouded in decorative wrappings always presents an element of mystery!

Okay, so in this case, there was not that much secrecy. It was, after all, “hand-out-the-Bibles-Sunday” — so you were well aware of what object hid beneath this pretty paper.

Except, even when the paper has been removed, the gift is still mysterious!

Indeed, what is the Bible all about?

It does not provide the answer to all of our questions.

Then how are we to approach it?

Learn with the children… It started in the worship service.

Bibles are distributed in worship

This Bible must be something that is significant! After all, every third grader received a gift of one from the church. It was given out in a reverent sort of way – in front of everyone – in a memorable ceremony with each parent handing their child their gift as their name was called.

Pastor Doug showed us some of his Bibles. He has more than one! This Bible must be really important.


The mystery continued… we discovered that this gift was hidden beneath layers of gift wrap — five layers, to be exact.

layer one - gift wrap   layer 2 - brown

It turns out as we unwrapped, that each layer taught us something about the Bible! After the gift wrap layer there was brown paper. An old-looking wrapper reminding us this is a book of very old stories. There is mystery in wondering why some of these stores were told over and over and over again! And why were they considered so important; important enough to be written down?

The next layer is the funny pages! (Do today’s kids even know what those are?) The comics tell stories, so the mystery is: What story is God telling me, here and now? It is for us to figure out! Thank goodness for dinner table discussion and for Sunday’s Cool to help!

Layer 4 - gold paperThe 4th layer is shiny, gold paper. Gold is something valuable. What great value to discover that every story in the Bible points to God’s love for us!

But why!? Why does he love me? I am flawed!

Layer 5 - white paperAh, the last layer was a clue: it was nice, clean, new, white. No mystery here; I get a fresh chance whenever I flub up! (Thanks, God!)

Checking out their new Bible

Finally, we made it to the final gift: our very own copy of the Bible! We were instructed to find our current Rotation story: The Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.

How appropriate that we’ve been studying a parable! A parable is a story with a hidden meaning! I can trust that the mysteries will continue.

I wonder if I will allow the mystery to nourish me?

It’s time for the group photo…

The class of 2025!

Photo credits:
Last group photo taken by Tom Gardner.
Rest of photos from my archives.

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Revealing the hidden truth: Who is your neighbor?

boy eating at tableWho likes to play games? How about playing a game around the family dinner table? After all, dinner table games can lead everyone into dialogue. And what could be better than a family talking!

What game shall we play? How about a storytelling game! Chose someone to start the story. They can start to tell a tale about anything! After a couple of sentences, they choose someone else, who then continues the story where it left off. Of course it’s more fun if you move along quickly!

When your story finishes up. Ask your family these pointing-to-another-story questions:

  • A parable is a type of story. Who is known for telling lots of parables? [Jesus!]
  • Can you name some of Jesus’ parables? [There are over 50! Dig through a Bible to find some.]
  • What is it about a parable that makes it unique? [Parables are stories with a hidden meaning that are meant to teach us something.]
  • What do you suppose is the hidden meaning in the Parable of the Good Samaritan? (Need to review the story?)
  • The hidden meaning in this story was that our “neighbor” can be the person we least-expect! What is this parable teaching us today? [It asks us to look at how we view others. Isn’t everyone our neighbor?]
  • Pastor Doug has been talking about “Disruptive Christianity.” What do you suppose we could do that would help out a “neighbor?” How would doing that be “disruptive?”

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Photo credits:
Child at the table by Jenna P, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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What is a Good Samaritan?

Oops! Tire Pop!How would you define a “Good Samaritan?” Is it someone who stops to help someone who needs roadside assistance?

Not surprisingly, that is the modern-day meaning of a Good Samaritan, but that is not what Jesus was teaching us to do!

This coming Sunday the downtown Cool Disciples will start a new Rotation on the Parable of the Good Samaritan. I’m hoping that we’ll see the hidden meaning in this parable!

Here are some recommended steps you can take over the course of the next few days. Do these things at the family dinner table. Or wherever your family is gathered together.

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Your assignment: (Think of this as… Traveling down the path to deepening your family’s faith. And a way to get more out of Sunday’s Cool.)
  • Read our story in Luke 10:25-37.
  • The next time you gather, read the story in a different Bible version. (How about The Message?)
  • When you gather again, try telling the story from memory. Check a Bible to see how you did.
  • A fun thing to do after multiple tellings of the story is to tell the story incorrectly! “Once a man was traveling from Ann Arbor to Lansing.” Allow everyone to add a line to the story. See if anyone catches the purposeful mistakes.
  • Watch this animated video of the story.

Watch it a second time and tell the story as the video runs. (If reading this in an email, you can watch this video on YouTube.)

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Think of how much deeper the classroom discussion could be if everyone arrives with a general knowledge of the story!

See you in class! (Hope you’ve put church on your calendar.)

Photo credits:
Flat tire by OakleyOriginals, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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