In the Letter to Galatians, the apostle Paul teaches that legalistic interpretations of religion are wrong because the essence of faith is freedom through Christ. Yet this freedom is not only liberating but also empowering. Its evidence is the "fruits of the Spirit," spiritual gifts that are signs of conversion and privileges of a God-centred life. Youth activities which teach this lesson can combine some of each of the nine gifts: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Love, Kindness and Self-Control
Engage your group in a discussion about the different kinds of love - friendship, affection, familial, erotic and so forth (you can use C.S. Lewis' "The Four Loves" as a discussion text.) Discuss scenarios in which individuals act out of love, such as rescuing the victims of an accident, sacrificing on behalf of a child or parent, or giving thoughtful gifts to friends. With the oversight of your church's youth commission and the support of parents, engage the youth in a sensitive discussion about the Bible's teachings on sexuality and the importance of self-control as a guiding virtue.
Peace and Gentleness
Show your youth group video clips from speeches of Martin Luther King and other preachers of non-violence, such as Father John Dear. Engage the youth in a discussion of systemic injustice, and formulate ideas based on Biblical principles for how a follower of Jesus should respond. Have the youth share their experiences of peacemaking in their homes, schools and communities (such as resolving conflicts between friends, stopping fights or cooperating with parents.)
Faithfulness and Joy
Take your youth group on a trip to a serene location in nature (by a lake, on a hill top or a peaceful clearing in the forest, for example.) Lead a meditation on the beauty and goodness of nature as a sign of God's faithfulness and steadfast love. After you return, have them record their thoughts and feelings about the event in the form of a poem, drawing or other creative medium.
Goodness and Patience
Have your youth keep a journal for a week on efforts to become more patient. Invite them to focus on the basic principles of mindfulness or compassionate awareness of their surroundings, resisting immediate impulses, speaking temperately and waiting for others to go first. When the week is over, have them discuss their experiences with each other and what they learnt. Provide a reward for a week of patience, such as pizza or ice cream.
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