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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