I didn’t grow up in church, and though I was in church regularly from ninth grade on, I didn’t become an official member of a church until after college. Through the years, as I’ve studied what the Scriptures say about the church and been committed to local churches, I have grown to love the church. It has become a family to me, and the roles it plays in my life are numerous. At the same time, I have seen many others who seem confused about the role that the church should play in their lives. They think that going into nature to meet with God is a better plan for them than committing to a church, or they consistently prioritize things like sports, sleep, or academics over the church. On top of that, sometimes other ministries end up “competing” with the church and taking members away from deeper involvement. Based on the conversations I’ve had with other youth workers, I know I’m not the only one who has been concerned by these things.
In this study, I hope to help you lead your students to understand what the church is, how it works, and why they need it in their lives. As I’ve written it, I’ve become even more encouraged by God’s design for the church. How great is it that God came up with the idea of the church, so we could grow into Christ together, have others look out for our spiritual health, hear the Gospel consistently and faithfully proclaimed, enjoy diversity that is a taste of heaven, and walk through life and hardship together (just to name a few benefits of the church)! The church is God’s gracious and loving provision for his people, and I long for students to be equipped in the knowledge that will lead them to understand and appreciate that.
This study was designed to follow the format of the previously written Bible 101 and Prayer 101 studies. It was written with a classroom setting in mind, but it can be adapted for other settings such as a small group. Adapt it as needed to fit within your time slot. I would encourage you to add in illustrations and examples as well. Feedback from students through my years in youth ministry has always led me to conclude that illustrations really help the students to remember and grasp what is taught.
In Acts 9, Saul has been persecuting the church, and Jesus asks him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” revealing that the way we treat the church is the way we treat Jesus. We must love the church if we love Jesus. My hope and prayer is that this study would spread knowledge and love for God’s design for his church, and thus bring more glory to Jesus. May we grow in our love for the church as we grow in our love for Jesus, who first loved us.
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Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs—these are the things God says are to flow outof the gratitude of our hearts. Therefore, as Paul writes, these songs should be used to put the Word of Christ deep in our hearts, teaching us wisdom and thankfulness. This Bible study is intended to be a companion piece to the RYM Worship album entitled “Promised Land.” It’s an attempt to walk through the album song by song, studying the Scripture and the meaning behind the lyrics, teaching our hearts to grow in wisdom and gratitude.
The album is a mixture of the old and the new with six original songs I have written and six other hymns and well-known worship tunes, all of which are meant to be sung congregationally. The curriculum is designed to be a 12-week small-group study focusing on one song per week as you dive into the music and discuss it with your group.
There are several goals for this study: First, we hope and pray that the word of Christ will “dwell in you richly” as you walk through this study with each other. Second, we hopethat you will find Jesus more and more beautiful as you learn these songs and themeaning behind them. Third, we simply hope that you would learn these songs so that you can have new ways of expressing worship and praise to your Creator both personally and as a group. And fourth...well...okay, we could probably just keep going on and on with these goals, so let’s just leave it at three.
At the beginning of each lesson, you’ll listen to the song for that week before learning about it (you can stream the music on Spotify or YouTube by searching for RYM Worship and the name of the song). The reason for listening is because these songs are more than just lyrics; the music and the melody induce an emotion that supports the lyrics. In other words, the music itself helps tell the story. So, if you love the music, great! If you hateit—how dare you?! Just kidding. If you hate it, that’s fine, too. In fact, our goal forthis study is to teach you to be more than just consumers of music. We want you to engage with the songs, perhaps in ways you normally don’t and, in turn, learn from this experience to engage more deeply with other songs as well.
And there’s the fourth goal.
I’m excited about this album and this study, and I hope and pray that God would move your hearts to worship Him through these songs and lessons. For now, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite lyrics from one of my favorite hymns on this album “Jesus I My Cross Have Taken”:
Think what spirit dwells within thee, Think what Father’s smiles are thine, Think that Jesus died to win thee, Child of heaven, canst thou repine?
Think that Jesus died to have you with Him. Think about all He’s done for you. Thinkabout how great His affections are for you. Think about what it took for God—the One that we have so greatly offended with our sin--to look down on us and smile. Think about that,and let your hearts be moved to worship as you study these songs.
And yes, we’ll talk about those crazy, ancient words like “repine.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that something is wrong with the world. Evil is all around us. People do terrible things. Nature is both a benevolent and a destructive force. As we get older and begin examining our world, we notice that life just doesn’t add up. It’s not fair.
Why do we spend so much of our life trying to make things right? We try to make things right with our parents. We have to make things right with our friends. We need to make things right at work. Why is it that so much of life is not right? The Bible tells us the answer. Our world is not working the way God designed it to work. People don’t live the way God designed them to live. The Bible tells us that God created a happy and holy world, where all creatures lived together in peace and harmony. But everything changed when Adam and Eve rebelled against God by eating the forbidden fruit.
Ever since that time, mankind has been estranged from God. We have been running away from God. As Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This means that you aren’t right with God. You never have been. All the problems in the world around us? They stem from the fact that mankind is not right with God. This mess we see around us is our mess, and there is no way we can fix it. This is the bad news.
But if I’m not right with God, how can I get right with God? What is the solution? Is there something I can do? The purpose of this study is help you answer these questions and more. We have to start with the bad news, because Adam and Eve’s first sin is what brought this mess upon us. Because of their rebellion, we stand under the wrath of God. We inherit their brokenness. From there we will take a long look at Christ’s work on the cross. We will discover together how Jesus deals with God’s wrath and secures for us eternal life, how he reverses the badness brought into the world by Adam and Eve.
Prayer 101: Introduction
(Excerpt from 12-Week Study)
“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1)
In the first sentence of Tim Keller’s book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, he says the following: “In the second half of my adult life, I discovered prayer.” This statement gave me great pause in my attempts to write a study on prayer. But Keller goes on, and this time quotes the great D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
Prayer is nonetheless an exceedingly difficult subject to write about. That is not primarily because it is so indefinable but because, before it, we feel so small and helpless. Lloyd-Jones once said that he has never written on prayer because of a sense of personal inadequacy in this area.
Let me just say that I already felt inadequate to write on prayer simply based on my own personal struggles – I’m inconsistent, I’m easily distracted, I’m undisciplined. Then I read of theological greats like Keller and Lloyd-Jones feeling ill-equipped and almost gave up. I’m humbled and intimidated at the task ahead, but then it occurred to me – isn’t that a good place to be when thinking or writing about prayer?
I say all of that – not simply because it’s true – but because I’m fairly certain most of you teaching this material feel intimidated by the subject. Maybe you share the inconsistencies and distracted mindset I so often have? And if you aren’t intimidated by teaching on prayer…you should be. But remember, that’s a good place to be.
In many ways, prayer is a difficult thing to define. If we’ve grown up in the church, we’ve heard people pray, we’ve prayed, and many of us have been taught about prayer, but it’s a mysterious thing. In one sense, we don’t know what’s going on. That is, we cannot fully grasp what it means for a wretched sinner to come into the presence of a holy and just God who spoke all things into being. Our finite minds simply cannot grasp that.
In another sense, we do know what’s taking place. We know that a holy and just God welcomes sinners into his presence because he looks on us through the righteousness Christ accomplished and the Holy Spirit is interceding for us with “groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26b). However, even knowing this truth from Scripture, we are talking about something that’s beyond our finite capacity. We are talking about something that is too deep for words.
Yet, the Scriptures are not silent on teaching us to pray, and God expects his children to pray; therefore, it is our job to teach it to the next generation. However inadequate you feel in your own life, remember that teaching from a point of weakness and humility is a great starting point.
Like our other study, Bible 101, this study is aimed at middle schoolers but could be easily adjusted for high schoolers. The lessons are designed to be taught in a thirty to forty-five-minute time slot, but they also could be modified to fit into your schedule.
As is the case with our other studies, this is available for free. RYM seeks to serve the local church, and offering resources for free is one way we do that. We also hope to periodically revise our resources in order to improve upon them, and offering them for free guards you from a need to continually make additional purchases.
With that said, RYM is a certified 501c3 organization. We are sustained by God’s grace alone, and his grace is made manifest in various ways. One of those ways is financial support from churches and individuals donating to this ministry. If you feel led, please give financially to support this work and others we are involved in.
One last word about the study. Be encouraged by the great privilege it is to teach students truths from God’s Word. Prayer and Scripture reading are a Christian’s daily sustenance – we simply cannot live without them. God has chosen you to teach on prayer to these students. By his grace, you can be passing on biblical truths about this great gift that can impact students, families, and churches in years to come. Pray that this would indeed be the case. Remember, you are praying to a God who does more than we can ask or imagine.
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Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (Dutton, 2014), 9.
Bible 101 - Introduction
(Excerpt from the 12-Week Study)
On episode 1026 of “Ask Pastor John,” John Piper was asked the following question – “What’s the last thing you would tweet?” He replied, “I thought about saying, ‘Read your Bibles and pray for insight,’ because there is so much that needs to be known about God that cannot be put into one sentence.” Instead of saying that, he summed the gospel up in 140 characters.
However, a longtime pastor and theologian thought about boiling his last words down to: Read your Bible and pray. He said that there’s so much that can be said which is difficult to fit into 140 characters. Therefore, he’s encouraging God’s people to open up the Word and ask the Spirit to work through their reading.
This is exactly what this study seeks to do. More specifically, it seeks to teach students (and parents and youth leaders) what the Word of God is and how they should read it. There are so many things about life we must be teaching the next generation, but if we boil it down to one thing, Bible reading is essential. Can you think of anything more important? If we raise a future generation of Christians who know how to learn, live, and love God’s Word, we will be raising a generation prepared for whatever this world throws their way.
Bible 101 is broken into twelve weekly lessons. It is an introductory study on the doctrine of Scripture . . . hence, 101. While the study is aimed at middle school students, it can easily be adapted for high school students. It would also be a good refresher for any student or adult. You know your church context best and where your students are – theologically speaking – so you may think this is well-suited for your high school students.
Each lesson should fill a thirty-minute time slot, but again, this could be adapted. If you need it to extend the lesson, feel free to add some original illustrations or examples from Scripture. If you have less time, modify the lesson to fit your time slot.
While this study is designed for a classroom setting, it can easily be used for small group or one-on-one study. You can even share copies of the material with students, read through it individually, and then come together to discuss it.
The point is the major leg-work is done for you; now you can amend it to fit your local church needs. Whether that’s shortening or lengthening the time, teaching it to older students, or using it with one-on-one discipleship, use it to fit your needs.
Lastly, Bible 101 is completely free. When we say “completely free,” that means not only monetarily free, but with no strings attached. That means you don’t have to sign up for our newsletter, you don’t have to share this on a social media platform, etc. Reformed Youth Ministries seeks to spread the good news of the gospel by reaching students for Christ and equipping them to serve. Part of that goal is fulfilled through the production of resources.
It is our prayer that you use this Bible study material to spread the beauty of the gospel to the next generation and that you, too, are more enamored with the treasure of God’s Word in the process.
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Piper, John. Ask Pastor John. Desiring God (April 10, 2017). http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-s-the-last-thing-you-would-tweet
 One advantage to offering free Bible study material is the ability to update and make revisions. Throughout the years, RYM may improve upon and revise particular sections of our material. When we do so, we will make that known but the consumer won’t have to purchase new material. We hope this is a way to serve the church in a more faithful manner.
© Reformed Youth Ministries