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BETTER TOGETHER Week 3: A New Command This includes: 1 Leader Preparation 2 Lesson Guide 1.

LEADER PREPARATION LESSON OVERVIEW As we wrap up our Better Together series, we spend this lesson focusing on the glue of a healthy ministry or churchlove. If were committed to becoming a body and a family with deep, authentic friendships, we need love. Its more than just words or a feeling. It is primarily an action, and Jesus commands his followers to love one another. Jesus also tells us that non-Christians will know that we are his followers if we truly love one another through actions. LESSON OBJECTIVES 1 WHAT: Love ought to be one of the main identifiers of followers of Jesus. 2 WHY: It isnt easy to love one another, but its a powerful demonstration and illustration of Gods incredible love for us. 3 HOW: Students will examine why Jesus commands Christians to love one another, and theyll consider ways to move beyond words and truly love one another. PRIMARY SCRIPTURE John 13:34-35 SECONDARY SCRIPTURES 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 and Ephesians 4:1-6 TEACHING PREP The short overview below is designed to help you prepare for your lesson. While you may not want to convey this information word-for-word with your teenagers, youll definitely want to refer to it as you lead your lesson. Read John 13:34-35. These verses are part of Johns extended presentation of the Last Supper, which runs through John 1316. At the beginning of John 13, Jesus washes his disciples feetan act of service and love. After Jesus predicts his betrayal and Judas Iscariot leaves the scene, Jesus continues teaching his remaining disciples, and he immediately focuses on an essential command: Love one another. He expresses it as a command, and he tells the disciples to love each other just as he has loved them. Jesus constantly and consistently displayed his sacrificial love for his followers and for all people. He gave, he served, he ministered, he healed, and he forgave. Jesus displayed his love through his actions. Look for ways in this lesson to encourage your students toward the practical expression of love. We talk this week about love being the glue that holds us togetherit binds, unifies, and strengthens us. We become more effective because of love. We become more like Jesus because of love. We have an impact on our world because of love.

If you do the Getting Things Started activity, youll need to gather some building blocks or other items that will separate when a tower is knocked over. (In other words, dont use something like Legos.) You will NOT be able to use these items again by the end of the activity, so dont choose anything overly valuable. Youll also need a fast-acting adhesive like SuperGlue or Krazy Glue. THE BEFORE & AFTER [optional] Text Message Questions Weve provided a couple of different text message questions to send out to your students prior to your meeting. Feel free to use one or both of the questions below. As with the rest of the curriculum, edit these questions to fit the needs of your ministry. Whats the glue that holds true friendships together? Lets talk about it tonight at small group. Is love just a feeling? Or is it something more? Find out at small group tonight.

Parent Email Weve provided you with an email below that you can send to your parents following the lesson. Our hope is to encourage parents to continue the conversation at home. Feel free to edit and customize the email to fit your ministry needs. Dear parents, Our small groups finished their Better Together series this week by focusing on the glue of a healthy ministry or churchlove. If were committed to becoming a body and a family with deep, authentic friendships, we need love. Love is more than just words or a feeling. It is primarily an action, and Jesus commands his followers in John 13 to love one another. Jesus also tells us that non-Christians will know that we are his followers if we truly love one another. Our students saw how love holds us togetherit binds, unifies, and strengthens us. We become more effective because of love. We become more like Jesus because of love. We have an impact on our world because of love. This week, find a few minutes to talk with your teenager about Gods love and how followers of Christ ought to love one another. Here are some questions that can fuel your conversation: The Bible says Christians ought to love their enemies. The Bible also says Christians ought to love other Christians. Do you think theres a difference between the two kinds of love? Why or why not? Jesus said, Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. How would you describe or explain the kind of love Jesus has for his followers? How can love toward other followers of Christ draw non-Christians closer to Jesus?

I pray that you and your family have a week filled with a deeper love for God, for each other, and for the people you see on a regular basis. God bless!

BETTER TOGETHER Week 3: A New Command 2. LESSON GUIDE GETTING THINGS STARTED [optional] Welcome your students and invite them into your meeting area. Open in prayer, and then jump into the activity below: Have your students build a tower of building blocks or other items that will separate when the tower is knocked over. (In other words, dont use something like Legos.) Have them build the tower as tall as possible, and then ask one of your teenagers to lightly tap one side and watch it slowly tumble into many pieces. Then repeat this activitybut this time, have students attach the blocks or other items together using a fast-acting adhesive like SuperGlue or Krazy Glue. Once the glue has dried, ask one of the students to light tap one sideand watch it slowly fall as one solid tower. ASK: Which part of this activity was more fun, and why? We sometimes like to see things fall apart and go to pieces, but what are some examples of things we dont like to see broken or busted or shattered? The only difference between the tower that fell apart and the tower that stayed together was the glue. How might this be similar to what we experience in churches sometimes we manage to stay strong and unified, but other times we fall apart into many difference pieces?

SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Today were wrapping up this Better Together series, and were going to focus on the glue of a healthy churchlove. Thats right: I want you to think of love as being the SuperGlue of our church! When we are bonded and held together by love, we stay strong and unifiedwe dont fall apart and become broken, busted, or shattered. If you came up with an opening activity, movie clip, or game that worked well with your group, and youd like to share it with other youth workers, please email us at ideas@simplyyouthministry.com. TEACHING POINTS The goal of the Teaching Points is to help students capture the essence of each lesson with more discussion and less lecture-style teaching. The main points we have chosen here are (1) Love one another, (2) Use Jesus as the example, and (3) Point people toward Jesus. Remember: All throughout these lessons, its up to you to choose (1) how many questions you use, and (2) the wording of the main pointskeep ours, or change the wording to make it clearer for your audience. Read John 13:34-35 together as a group. Consider allowing one or more of the teenagers to read the text. SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Lets spend a few minutes looking at three important ideas from these verses in the Bible.

1. Love one another ASK: How do you define the word love? How can you recognize true, authentic love? The Bible says Christians ought to love their enemies. The Bible also says Christians ought to love other Christians. Do you think theres a difference between the two kinds of love? Why or why not? Why do you think Jesus cares so much about us loving each other that he labeled it as a command, not just a suggestion or cool idea?

SAY SOMETHING LIKE: The Bible tells us in 1 John 4 that God is love. Love isnt just an idea that God supports. Its at the very core of who God is! If were striving to love one another, then were striving to build God-honoring character in our lives. 2. Use Jesus as the example ASK:

Jesus said, Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. How would you describe or explain the kind of love Jesus has for his followers? Whats the power of sacrificial love like Jesus has for us? Do we deserve Jesus love? If yes, how did we manage to earn that love? If not, why does Jesus still love us so powerfully anyway?

SAY SOMETHING LIKE: We cant earn Jesus love, but he offers it to us as a free gift. Jesus allowed himself to be crucified to pay the price for our sinsthis was sacrificial, selfless love. We can display this same kind of love for others by making sacrifices and caring about other peoples needs in real-world ways. 3. Point people toward Jesus ASK: What are some of the ways Christians try to point people toward Jesus? How effective do you think these methods or approaches are? How can love toward other followers of Christ draw non-Christians closer to Jesus? If love proves to the world that we are followers of Jesus, then what message are we sending if we arent displaying love for one another?

SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Sometimes we try to demonstrate that we are followers of Jesus through the T-shirts we wear or the music we listen to or the books we read. While theres nothing wrong with any of those things, Jesus says the best way to point people to him is to let the world see our love for one another. ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION [optional] ASK: Read Ephesians 4:1-6. How many examples of love in action can you find in these verses? Look at verse 2. Whats the power of making allowance for each others faults? How can this build solid friendships and greater unity?

Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. How would you summarize the description of love in this passage? [NOTE: One big idea is that love isnt just a feeling; its demonstrated through our actions and the way we interact with people.] Give us some examples of how youve recently seen these descriptions of love demonstrated in our small group, your family, or our church. As you read through these verses, which of these things do you do well? Which areas are opportunities for God to help you grow?

SAY SOMETHING LIKE: I need a volunteer to read this passage from 1 Corinthians 13 again. But every time you see the word love or it, replace that word with Jesus or he. This will help us remember how powerfully Jesus loves you and me. [NOTE: If this is too confusing for your students, simply take the lead and read these verses with the substituted words.] APPLICATION Ask students to find a partner for these questions. ASK:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how well are you following Jesus command to love other Christians? How can you continue growing in this area? When might your non-Christian friends see you demonstrate your love for other followers of Jesus? What are some settings when these different groups of friends might interact?

SUMMARY End your small group lesson here. Provide your teenagers with a quick summary or takehome challenge based on (1) the content of this lesson, (2) the dialogue that took place during the lesson, (3) your understanding of the issues and struggles your teenagers are facing, and (4) the big picture of your youth ministry and what your leadership team wants accomplished with the teaching and discussion time. FOR KEEPS [MEMORY VERSE] Encourage and/or challenge your teenagers to memorize the verse below. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other (John 13:34).