Month: December 2017

Lesson 5: December 31, 2017

Faith to Unite: Ephesians 4:1-16

Teaching Strategy: Have participants list various groups within the larger Christian church, including different denominations. Then ask them to brainstorm past or present church controversies (within and across groups) that have threatened to undermine the unity in Christ described by Paul in this passage. How do believers (individually and in groups) express or contribute to OR fail to express or contribute to the ideal of unity described in Ephesians. What can be done to overcome divisions and disunity and facilitate the unity God intends – within local churches and within the larger Christian community?


Winter 2017 Theme: Faith in Action

Unifying Principle: Many people search all their lives for something that will make them feel grounded, whole, and in sync with life. Where can they find that something? Paul told the Ephesians that, even though they had many different gifts, their faith in Christ would bring them unity and help them grow together in love.


Lesson 4: December 24, 2017

Faithful Seekers of the King: Matthew 2:1-12


Teaching Strategy:  Create a litany as a group that uses the response “We seek Jesus.” Ask participants to write sentences about how contemporary Christians have found practical ways to be faithful seekers of Jesus. Use this litany in a worship service for the group or for the whole church.


The Christmas story invites participation. What does it mean to seek Jesus today? What challenges have you (or others) faced in seeking to discern where he can be found? When and where have you (or others) found Jesus today? What has your (or their) experience been? What are the gifts that would represent generosity and honor Jesus today? What happens in the lives of believers when they find Jesus and honor him?

Winter 2017 Theme: Faith in Action

Unifying Principle: People often search for the best ways to honor someone they look up to and revere. How can we best honor a special person? The Magi traveled a great distance from their own country to Bethlehem in order to give gifts and pay homage to Jesus, the child born King of the Jews.


Lesson 3: December 17, 2017

Faith to Persevere: Acts 14:8-11, 19-23


Teaching Strategy: Have participants talk about how they face doctrinal and practical conflicts that arise when Christians of different faith traditions seek to minister together, such as the prosperity gospel, same sex marriage, gays and lesbians in the pulpit, etc. How do these controversies affect their Christian life and ministry?


Increased – even extreme – polarization in the U.S. has affected not only partisan politics, but also the unity and ministry of Christian churches and denominations. For some believers loyalty to a particular party has become more important than living that is faithful to Christ and consistent with his teaching. Ultimate allegiance to God has been replaced by ultimate and unquestioning allegiance to America as they envision it. With regard to particular issues, such as acceptance of LGBTQ persons and marriage equality, or attitudes about the Middle East, the differences among Christian perspectives are profound and seemingly insurmountable. In these difficult times all Christians are challenged to live in accordance with their understanding of God’s will and at the same time seek the unity that is promised in Christ. We can do so only with God’s help.


Winter 2017 Theme: Faith in Action

Unifying Principle: Sometimes the good things we do are blocked by an unexpected obstruction, but we pick up and go on anyway. What gives us the strength to keep going? Even though he was stoned and persecuted, Paul’s faith in his message impelled him to continue to proclaim the good news of God.


Lesson 2: December 10, 2017

Faith to Discern: Acts 3:1-12

Teaching Strategy: Discuss how in your church community you discern between true and false teachings. What is the role of faith in this discernment?


The daily news is full of accusations of “fake news.” During the 2016 election, there were many made-up stories posted on social media such as Facebook. Following the election, one presidential advisor described inaccurate information as “alternative facts.” Last week a high level White House official pled guilty to lying to the FBI, a felony which carries the possibility of a prison sentence. There are numerous accounts of the President himself making false statements and changing what he has said from one occasion to another.

In these tumultuous and polarized times, it appears that the importance of facts and the meaning of truth itself are no longer widely shared assumptions. Believers are challenged to ask themselves how they discern between true and false teachings – in the church and in the world. What is the role of faith in this discernment?  “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 (NRSV)


Winter 2017-2018 Theme: Faith in Action

Unifying Principle: Sometimes we are at a loss when unexpected events interfere with our goals. How can we keep our commitments and forge ahead? Empowered by their faith in Jesus, Paul and Barnabas preached and taught about Jesus despite a false prophet’s efforts to deter them.