Small Group Study (Youth)
The focus of this week’s teaching from Ephesians 4:1-6 is on our calling to be the church. That means we are witnesses of Christ’s great love for us to the world through how we live our lives individually and as a group of people (the church). Each of us has the potential to impact those around us with Christ’s love—from the little things, like how you treat your family members, teachers, and coaches, to how you care for your friends or stand up for peers who get bullied or treated unfairly. These interactions can actually turn into significant moments that open the door for others to know Christ’s love.
We are also witnesses of Christ’s love to the world as a group of people—the church as a united group of Christians. One essential way we witness Christ’s love for us to the world is by being a church that is unified as one people, no matter our differences, for the sake of the mission Jesus calls us to. This can be extremely difficult sometimes. But overcoming those differences, working through them, and finding common ground as Christians through our faith in Jesus can be our greatest witness to our friends, peers, and neighbors. By loving one another, accepting one another, and living with one another despite all that can divide us, we model something incredibly rare and precious found only through Jesus Christ.
Take some time to read Ephesians 4:1-5 as a group.
Discussion Questions: What stands out to you as unique about what it means to live life as a follower of Jesus? What do you think is the significance of Paul’s use of the word “one” in verses 4-5?
Insights/Teaching for Youth Leader: Instead of “many” different ways of being and living our lives as individuals with our own purposes, Paul uses the language of “one” in verses 4-5 to remind us that we actually have a lot to unify around, despite our many differences in age, culture, status, race, gender, etc. For example, 1) we are part of one body now; 2) we are brought together by the one Spirit of God; 3) we have one hope that drives our purpose and gives meaning to our lives; 4) we have one Lord and Savior, and our one faith is in him; 5) we have one baptism, a sacrament that demonstrates our acceptance into God’s family; and 6) one God who is over all and works in and through each one of us.
Other sections from Ephesians help us get a broader picture:
Ephesians 2:4-18. Read this aloud together, taking turns. Note what stands out to you. What relates and connects with Ephesians 4:1-5? Feel free to write down your observations as other people are reading.
Discussion Questions: What does verse 14 reveal about how Jesus is “our peace”? What has he done between Jews and Gentiles? For what purpose does Jesus reconcile people to one another and create a church that is unified (see the second part of verse 15)? What kind of reconciliation is needed in our church, or your family, school, or town? Are there divisions that have caused pain in our community, or still do? What are some ways we can respond, or actions we can take in order to “life a life worthy of the calling” (4:1) as Christians?
Insights/Teaching for Youth Leader: As the body of Christ we have the opportunity to rise together as a building joined together as “a holy temple in the Lord” (2:21). The call to unity is for the sake of being one people together as much as it is to be witnesses to the power of the Spirit reconciling us to God and to one another.
- Encourage each person with the words that “in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (2:22). This is true of each of us—as individuals, as a group, as a youth group, and as part of the bigger church.
- Invite group members to share personal stories of when they came to know Jesus or when they have experienced God working through them, or in what ways they know Jesus is real, etc.
Application: Living out your gift, your part
Read Ephesians 4:11-16 together.
Insights/Teaching for Youth Leader. This is where we ask, what is my part in all of this? Paul writes that Christ gives gifts to the body, to each person, so that the church will be strengthened and built up. As each one of you finds your place, your part, in the body, that builds up the whole church.
- Apostles (historically their role in starting the church and being the first eye-witnesses of Jesus ministry)
- Prophets (those who bring words of encouragement and remind people of God’s promises in specific situations)
- Evangelists (sharing the good news of Jesus through personal story)
- Pastors and teachers (people who care for others of all ages, teaching Scripture to them)
- All for the sake of equipping “his people for works of service” (v. 12)
Ask each person to take some time to consider Paul’s list and how you might relate to any of those roles or gifts.
[Youth Leader, consider sharing your personal story of why you are leading this very group, or what brought you to this moment. What gifts are you displaying? How have you received the grace of others sharing their gifts with you?]
Don’t let the terms in that list confuse or intimidate you. Ask students, Do you like to teach others about what the Bible says? Have you encouraged friends or family in words or deeds about God’s truths? Do you share with others your personal story or testimony of coming to know Jesus? Do you serve in ministries within the church, or on service projects, or mission trips? Do you like to help others in times of need? If they answer yes to any of these questions, you can help them find the parallels on Paul’s list.
Jesus, you are our peace and you call us to live out our faith in you throughout our lives every day as witnesses of your love. We humbly ask you to show us how we can do better at reconciling with one another as we seek to be unified as the body of Christ through your Spirit of peace. Help me personally, Jesus, to do the good works that you have prepared for me to do as I try to take in the promise that I am your handiwork. Help me to have faith that you dwell in me and the courage to live by your Spirit’s direction and guidance every day, in all the decisions I make. Thank you for your incredible work on the cross and your rising again for my sake and for us, your church. Teach us, we pray, to continue to strengthen one another as your body so that we may better care for and love the people we interact with every day. Amen.
Ask your group, What will our community do next as a result of our study of this passage?
Some questions to consider based on your context:
- What ways can we initiate places to unify as a church together, not just as high school students or a youth group but as the body of Christ?
- What ways can we initiate or foster connections with other Christians in our town or other churches?
- In what ways does our youth group stand apart or together with the whole church? Are there ways that as a youth group we can model or initiate unity within our own church body? Are there ministries we can partner with in our church, ways we can put on an event together or set up a mentoring Bible study group or small groups?
- Are there ministries within our community that we can partner with to foster unity in Jesus (i.e., with other churches, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, refugee centers, etc.)?
- How can you encourage students in your youth group to “do their part” in your church? Do you have students who are willing to share their testimony on a Sunday morning, read Scripture and lead a devotional at an adult Bible study, or teach lessons for children during Sunday school? How might you encourage and initiate ways for students to build up the adult population of your church?