HOW TO USE THIS RESOURCE

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2 HOW TO USE THIS RESOURCE We live in a world saturated with media, and let s face it, not all of it is positive. This is a tool to help teenagers have meaningful conversations based on the core themes from National Geographic Channel s SAINTS & STRANGERS. Both the film and the Bible have much to say about fear, faithfulness and loving others. This resource is designed for youth pastors, small group leaders, parents and students who want to make an impact. When used together, the movie and conversation starters can provide a great evangelistic opportunity. Challenge your ministry, small group and friends to watch both parts of the movie together and have a discussion about it afterward. Take the challenge even further by inviting students who don t normally go to church. This resource has three conversation starters. You can use one, two or all three in any order. Do what is best for your context. While there is no one right way to use this tool, here are a few ideas for you to consider as you customize this resource to fit your ministry: 1. Watch the movie and have an informal discussion afterward. Pick a time for your ministry, small group, family or friends to watch the movie together. Make sure you are leaving time afterward for discussion! 2. Use this resource as curriculum for your small groups. If your ministry meets in small groups, have your students watch the movie and then use this resource as your curriculum for the following few weeks again, you decide what s best for your ministry. 3. Engage families. Help your group s parents win by encouraging them to have a conversation with their kids about this movie. They could watch the movie together as a family then talk about it. Each discussion includes some questions just for parents. No matter how you decide to use this resource, we re excited about what God is going to do in your ministry.

3 UNDERSTANDING FEAR Ironically, a lot of us are afraid of talking about the topic of fear. Admitting that we are afraid of something is admitting that we are vulnerable... which, for many of us, can be terrifying! When we handle fear on our own, we react in one of two ways: It will either motivate us or cripple us. It can make us so scared that we can t will ourselves to move or it can cause us to act out of character. Whichever one we choose, we are still losing because we are doing it without God and allowing ourselves to be overcome by fear. Fear is a tool used to distract us from God s will for our lives. It is something that stems from the broken parts of ourselves. When we are scared, we either are too afraid to move forward and pursue God s will, or we are motivated to act on our own will and not God s. In SAINTS & STRANGERS we see examples of fear time and time again. The bond between the saints and the strangers was very strained, both on the boat and once they started to build a colony. The groups had different motivations for what they were doing and trust was not easy to build. The Pilgrims and the Native Americans were each uneasy because neither group fully trusted or understood the other. An example is the scene when the Native Americans visit the Pilgrims village to negotiate a peace agreement. The chief asks why the Pilgrims are still holding their weapons when his people had set theirs down in a show of good faith. In this case, the Pilgrims fear motivated them to become defensive. When the Pilgrims handled their fear on their own, we saw it hurt their community and create even more fear. However, when they depended on God in the midst of their fear, we saw it resonate with their entire community. CONVERSATION (Pick at least four to discuss.) Where did you see examples of the Pilgrims handling fear on their own? What was the outcome? Did you see any times when they trusted God with their fear? What happened when they did that? What does it mean to trust God with your fear? Do you have an example of when you let fear overcome you? What scared you? Why did it scare you? How did you react? Was there a time in your life where you trusted God with your fear? What was the outcome? What do you think would have happened if you hadn t trusted God? SCRIPTURE: 1 JOHN 4:18 (NIV) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. What do you think this verse means? How does this apply to your life? FEAR

4 UNDERSTANDING FAITHFULNESS Being faithful to God is hard, right? Because of the sin in our lives, we really struggle with faithfulness. Whether it is failing to trust that He is taking care of us when we don t see Him, or it is falling back into an old temptation, we all battle faithfulness in our own way. Faithfulness is a choice, and it isn t always an easy one. Every time we wake up in the morning, we have to ask ourselves: Am I going to follow my way or God s way? Am I going to trust myself or trust God? Trusting ourselves is easy because we can see ourselves. We see immediate results from our actions. Trusting God can be so tough because we can t see Him and, many times, faithfulness means waiting through a season where God seems silent. The reason the saints came to the New World in the first place was to be able to practice the Christianity that many follow today. The Pilgrims were being persecuted because they chose to practice a different kind of Christianity than was preferred in their home country. Each of them took a huge, faith-filled risk by making the long and dangerous journey across the Atlantic. In those early months in the New World, many of them died and it seemed harder and harder to stay faithful to the calling that God put in their lives. In their new colony, too, the Pilgrims found it hard to trust God. They struggled to find food and stay healthy. Many thought about returning to Europe but, luckily, a few of them reminded the rest that the journey to the New World was what God called them to do and that He would honor their commitment. CONVERSATION How would you define faithfulness? Has there ever been a tough time in your life when you didn t stay faithful to God? Share what that was like. Are any of you currently finding it hard to trust God? Why or why not? In SAINTS & STRANGERS, where did you see the Pilgrims show faithfulness and where did you see them fall short? What were the different outcomes? Which character do you feel showed the best example of faith? Why? SCRIPTURE: 1 CORINTHIANS 15:58 (NIV) Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. What does the author mean by your toil is not in vain? How can we apply this Scripture to our lives? FAITHFULNESS

5 UNDERSTANDING LOVING OTHERS Some people are really easy to love, right? The first people that might come to mind are your best friends or your family. Other people can be so hard to love. At times, it almost seems as if they are trying to make it harder to love them! Jesus made sure to emphasize the importance of this concept when he said in Mark 12:30-31: And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these. Those are powerful words! Notice how He said that loving others is equally important. You can t love God without loving others. It is as simple as that. Notice how Jesus didn t say, love your neighbor when it is convenient or love your neighbor when it is easy or love your neighbor when you want to. He said, Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus is saying, even when it is hard, even when it seems like you have nothing in common or even when you can t stand someone, love them! We can only truly start to love people when we start to see people as Jesus sees them. But, while the words might be simple, they can be really hard to live out. We saw this in SAINTS & STRANGERS. The two groups were often at odds with one another. The strangers were people rougher around the edges than the saints were used to dealing with, and sometimes they antagonized the saints. The saints, in return, weren t always helpful to the strangers, refusing to do things like repair the ship on the Sabbath. The Pilgrims and the Native Americans found it hard to love each other at first because they saw only what was different about them instead of looking for things they shared in common. They were quick to point out each other s flaws and found it easy to keep track of each other s mistakes. It wasn t until they started seeking out the best in each other that they started to form a bond and found what it was like to love each other. Seeing people as Jesus sees them does not mean being blind to the sin in their lives, it just means seeing past it. Jesus is calling us to see the good parts of our neighbors and appreciate people for the unique creation that they are. CONVERSATION Who in your life is easy to love? Why? Are you easy to love? Why or why not? Is there anyone that you find hard to love? Why? Is it possible to love someone but not like them? How do we begin to see people as Jesus sees them? Has anyone ever loved you when you were hard to love? Share how that made you feel. How is our relationship with God reflected by how we treat others? What are practical ways to love people who are hard for us to love? Where did you see the characters struggle with loving others? What was the outcome of that struggle? What was the turning point in the relationship between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans? What can we learn through their example? L O V I N G OTHERS

6 HOW TO KEEP GROWING Don t let the growing end here! Here are two quick thoughts to consider as you close with your group: We just covered three really big (really personal) topics... if one of the topics seemed to have resonated with your group, maybe try investing more time diving into it. Consider diving deeper into all three topics. If your group committed to keeping each other accountable about something, make sure you stick with it. To be frank, if you re not confident in your commitment with accountable, consider waiting until you can(reword). Sometimes making a commitment and not following through is more harmful than saying nothing at all. Consistency is key to growth!

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