Sunday, April 26, 2009

Galatians Bible Study

Ellen Rothweiller is a friend, youth ministry colleague, and fellow T.O. (theologian's offspring). She wrote a cool Bible Study on Galatians for one of her religion classes. In the spirit of koinonia Ellen has allowed me to share it with y'all.

A Bible study on Galatians

Warm-up Question:
Why do you make promises? Why do you break promises?

Read Genesis 15 and 17(have students read in turns)

  • What covenant did God make with Abram(Abraham)?
  • How did God fulfill his covenant/promise?
  • What became a sign of God’s promise to Abraham?
    (Be sure to make the connection between covenant and promise. This also may be a good time to discuss the symbolism and purpose of circumcision, as a physical sign of God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendents. Many youth may only know its purpose for today’s context.)

Opening Discussion:
What are some signs of a promise?
(jewelry, tattoo, etc…)

Give each student a piece of paper. Ask them to fold it into fourths creating four squares. Write the following titles on the top of each square:

Promises I've Kept

Promises I've Broken

Promises Others have Kept to Me

Promises Others have Broken to Me

Give students time to fill this out and think about promises in their lives. After most students have finished, invite them to share one promise from each quadrant as they feel comfortable. On a whiteboard draw the same squares and fill them in with key words as the students share their promises. Leave these words on the board for the remainder of the study, both as a reference for conversation and to keep these ideas fresh in the students’ minds.

Read Galatians 3: 15-29

  • What do you hear?
  • What does Paul say about the promise? (conditional??)
  • What does this mean for us?

Read Galatians 5: 6, 13-15

  • Why does Paul say it is not necessary to be circumcised?
  • What does Paul say about the law?
  • Where do we get this freedom Paul says we have?
    (Again leave these questions open for discussion. Affirm all answers, and avoid interjecting with your own ideas until necessary. Be open to any and all conversations this discussion may lead to.)

Revisit the promise quadrants. Ask youth to reevaluate their promises in light of what Paul said in Galatians. After some discussion on this, point out that in the middle of the four squares there is a cross. This signifies Christ as the unbroken promise in our lives, and God’s promise to Abraham and to us, his descendents, fulfilled through Christ on the cross.

Closing Prayer:
Close in prayer with a “squeeze prayer”. Have each student think of a promise God has kept for them. Join hands in a circle and offer a general prayer to open and then squeeze the hand of the person on your right. This signals their turn to share their promise, or squeeze the next hand to pass. The prayer continues around the circle. When the squeeze comes back to the leader, offer final thoughts and end the prayer.

Ellen's Notes on Galatians Bible Study

I was intrigued with the book of Galatians and thought it held some valuable faith building passage for young people. In my ministry as the Youth Director at St. James Lutheran Church I wanted to find a way to present this book of the bible, and the Gospel in it, to youth in a way that was relevant and understandable.

I patterned my Bible Study after the ELCA format used in Faith Lens. They have a warm-up question that serves to get the kids on topic by using language that they understand. In this case when talking about a covenant we are really talking about a promise. I also used the activity to bring their personal experiences into the conversation, which helps to keep them engaged and relating to the topic.

I questioned how much to include about circumcision. I decided because it is such a prominent theme and the issue at hand in Galatians it would be necessary to address it. I am also sure that many youth wonder why it is discussed so much in the Bible since nowadays it is considered to be more of a private matter. Also, it served as the symbol of the covenant for Abraham, and so I brought symbols of promises into the conversation so the youth would have a frame of reference.

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