Paul sent letters to help churches and individuals continue growing in their faith in Jesus and in their understanding of how to live as his followers. We too can grow in these matters and Paul’s letters continue to help us today. This interactive and engaging teaching session gives a good foundation for reading Paul’s letters. Teenagers will discover who he was writing to, what issues he was addressing and how to read and apply these letters to our situations.
You will need: Paper, pens, Pictionary phrases, prizes, powerpoint of quiz (optional), A/V equipment, Video, Summaries of Paul’s Letters (e.g. copy these from a Study Bible), small group questions.
Pictionary Phrases (15 mins)
Play this version of Pictionary in teams: one person from each team comes up and looks at a common phrase (from the list below). Using only pictures (no words, numbers or symbols) that person tries to communicate the phrase to the rest of their team. First team to guess it right gets a point. After playing a few rounds, award a prize to the winning team.
- “When pigs fly”
- “Raining cats and dogs”
- “Once in a blue moon”
- “Frog in your throat”
- “Up a creek without a paddle”
- “Tie the knot”
- “Apple of my eye”
- “Costs an arm and a leg”
- “Head over heels in love”
- “Costs an arm and a leg”
Link (3 mins)
- How easy was it to communicate the message through drawing?
- What means of communication would have been easier than this? [speaking it (in person) / writing it (using words)]
Paul was SENT out on three different missionary journeys, he planted loads of new churches and heaps of people began following Jesus. While he was with them, Paul taught them all about what Jesus had done and how they were to live now as followers of Jesus.
However Paul couldn’t stay with all the churches he planted forever! He had to keep on moving.
But after Paul left, often these communities were still learning and struggling to understand the implications of their new found faith in Jesus. They didn’t know exactly what it meant for how they lived their lives. They had questions and they had struggles.
So when he couldn’t be with them, Paul would write them a letter to encourage, teach or correct these communities.
Video (2 mins)
Paul’s Letters Quiz (10 mins)
Rules: No phones. No Bibles.
Quiz Questions & Answers
- There are 27 books in the New Testament, how many of them are letters?
- How many of the letters in the New Testament are written by Paul?
- Name the letters written by Paul
Answer: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon
(Award 1 point for every correct one, -1 for any incorrect one)
- How many of Pauls letters were addressed to individuals?
- Who delivered Paul’s letters to their recipients?
a. Postal service, b. Trusted friends, c. Slaves
- Which of these issues does Paul not address in his letters?
a. Conflict, b. Sex, c. False Teaching, d. Church structure, e. Spiritual gifts, f. Circumcision, g. Women, h. None of the above
Learning from the Letters (30 mins)
Talk to the person next to you:
- Have you ever received a text or a message that was meant for someone else?
- What was it like? Did it make sense to you?
Often messages written to someone else don’t make sense to us, as we only know one side of the story
Just like those Paul was writing to, we also need to grow in our understanding of what faith in Jesus means for the way we live our lives.
Paul’s letters are still really helpful for us in that. But when we read them, it’s a bit like we’re reading a message intended for someone else. In order to understand how they speak to us, we first need to know who they were originally written to and what context they were in.
Give each small group a summary of one of the following letters (e.g. copy the summary from a Study Bible): Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon.
Ask them to read through the summary and answer these questions:
- Who was Paul writing to?
- What issues were these people facing?
- What does Paul offer? (Encouragement, Correction, Teaching, Guidance etc.)
- Can you think of any similar issues we might face as churches/individuals today?
- What might this letter of Paul’s offer us as we face these issues?
Small Group Questions
- When did you last receive personal mail, such as a letter or a postcard? (From where/whom? How did you feel? Did you keep it? Why or why not?)
- Who was a key person in helping you come to faith in Jesus? Are you still in touch with them?
- How has your life changed since you first started following Jesus? (Understanding of God, Lifestyle, Goals etc.)
- Imagine Paul was writing a letter to you or your youth group… usually he has both praise and criticism for the believers looking to him for guidance.
- What would he applaud?
- What might he have concerns about?
- What specific advice might he give you about following Jesus and sharing the gospel in your context?
Pray for each other that God would continue to help you grow in your faith in Jesus and in your understanding in how to live life following him.
Note: Timings given above are approximate.