Read an Excerpt
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly love, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity" (Colossians 3:12-14).
If your small group of teenagers is like most small groups of teenagers (and adults too), it could use some help in the unity department. Getting people to show up for youth meetings is one thing; getting them to live like the body of Christ is quite another. So where does unity come from? And how can you foster this precious quality among the young people you work with?
According to Paul's letter to the Colossians, an atmosphere of unity results when we strive to embody the virtues of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and most of all love as we work, play, and interact with one another. But this kind of atmosphere must be created deliberately and purposefully-unfortunately it doesn't just happen.
Your teenagers crave unity and belonging, but they don't always know how or where to find it. And in our mobile, technological society, interpersonal and social skills have fallen into disuse. People nowadays seem to find it very difficult to relate to one another and to understand what it means to belong-to be an important part of a group. That's where UnityBuilder Devotions for Small Groups comes in. The devotions in this book will benefit the teenagers in your group in three ways. First, the devotions bring young people closer to the God who created us and who wishes to live inunity with us. Second, the devotions help the members of your group grow closer to one another and begin to develop a sense of unity within the group. And third, the devotions help teenagers learn new ways of relating with others in their lives.
Each of the forty devotions in this book begins with a challenge activity. The activity may be a physically challenging problem that group members must work together to solve, or it may offer a mental challenge that requires students to "put their heads together."
The second part of each devotion is an opportunity for reflection and debriefing of the challenge activity. Then comes the "heart" of the devotion-students are given a Scripture to look up, read, think about, and apply to the activity they just experienced. Your group members will understand the rich wisdom of God's Word in new ways as they experience the concepts by challenging themselves and each other.
Any challenge activity, by its very nature, entails a certain degree of risk. Taking risks in a safe environment provides many opportunities for both personal and group growth.
Following are some ideas to help create a safe, yet challenging and fun, environment as your group experiences these devotions:
*Always practice "challenge by choice." Emphasize to students that they need to participate in activities only as much as they are comfortable. Ask students to respect and support one another in their decisions about how much or how little to get involved.
*On the flip side, encourage students to stretch their comfort zones and try activities that may be somewhat scary for them. It is only by stepping out in faith that we learn God will catch us.
*In activities that may involve some physical risk, ask other adults to act as spotters. The adult spotters will help teenagers feel safer and will eliminate students' fear of getting hurt during a challenge activity.
*All the activities in this book include ideas "For a Greater Challenge." Use these ideas with teenagers who want to take the challenges further.
*Get involved! Your students will learn so much more from the examples you provide than from the things you say. Enjoy and learn from the challenges of these devotions along with your youth.
*Most of all, have fun!
God's blessings to you and your youth group!