Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on rethinkingyouthministry.com and is reprinted here with permission.
by Brian Kirk
In this short discussion starter, written for middle school youth but adaptable for other ages, participants explore the idea that the church as the Body of Christ only exists as we come together in community, each sharing our own unique gifts for ministry.
Students will discuss the body of Christ metaphor in I Corinthians.
Students will identify particular gifts they can use for ministry.
Students will create a body mural identifying ways they can work together as the body of Christ in the coming school year.
Using a set of post-it notes on which are written different parts of the body, place a post-it on the back of each person. Explain that they will have three minutes to figure out which body part they are by asking anyone else a “Yes” or “No” question. A few quick rules: You may not directly ask if you are _____ body part. You may not ask more than one question in a row of the same person.
Get a used Jenga-style game. Write words on each block representing different gifts, ministries, or activities within the church (e.g. pastor, teacher, communion, mission, choir, singing, praying, etc.). Invite the young people to help you brainstorm other examples and write those on other blocks. Play the game as usual, removing one block at a time from the tower of blocks, inviting youth to see this as symbolic of what it would be like if we removed any of these gifts or ministries from the life of the church. What happens when we are missing different gifts?
Explain that you’re going to consider what Paul, a writer in the New Testament and leader of the early Church, meant when he described the Church as being like the body of Christ. Brainstorm with the class first by asking them to consider in what ways we might see the Church as being like a human body.
Next, invite young people to read with you the passage from 1 Corinthians 12 (consider using the version from The Message, a Bible in contemporary language), and consider what this tells us about what the church should be like.
What if your eyes decided to take a vacation and not work for awhile? How would that change the way you do things? What if your feet decided to stop working? How would that change the way you live? How are we different as a church or as a youth group if someone is missing? What sorts of things can we do as a whole group, that we couldn’t do (or at least not as well) by ourselves? How does the church benefit from having all sorts of people with different gifts and talents?
Ask for a volunteer to lie down on a large sheet of paper and trace her outline. Write “The Body of Christ” at the top of the sheet. Pass out markers and invite the group to work together labeling how they might use different parts of the body to be in ministry to each other, the church, or the world together in the coming year. For example, next to the ears someone might write, “listen to each other.” Next to the hand one might write, “serve food in a homeless shelter.” Next to the mouth, a person might write, “invite people to youth group.” Next to the feet a person might write, “go and help in the community garden.”
When they finish, invite the students to consider their own gifts/talents/abilities for ministry and to write their names on or next to the body parts that represent ways they can be involved in ministry. For example, a student might put her name next to the mouth if she would be comfortable calling people to remind them to come to youth group. Or a student might put his name by the knees if he is open to praying for the group.
Affirm the importance of each person in the group as part of the body of Christ and part of this fellowship where youth come to learn from each other. Offer a prayer of thanks for the chance to be part of the body of Christ and asking God to help each person understand his or her particular gifts for ministry.