1. LEADER PREPARATION

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1 the master storyteller Week 4: The Talents This includes: 1. Leader Preparation 2. Lesson Guide 1. LEADER PREPARATION LESSON OVERVIEW God has gifted us all with different roles and responsibilities. We are called to use our resources, skills, passions, and talents to serve God and others. This week s lesson focuses on a parable Jesus told about different measures and different outcomes. God s desire is that each of us would take what is in our lives and use it for God s glory. LESSON OBJECTIVES 1. WHAT: God has given each of us unique resources, skills, passions, and talents. 2. WHY: We are called to use our resources, skills, passions, and talents to serve God and others. 3. HOW: Students will be encouraged to honor God by identifying and using the resources, skills, passions, and talents God has placed in their lives. PRIMARY SCRIPTURE Matthew 25:14-30 SECONDARY SCRIPTURE Genesis 12:1-3 TEACHING PREP The short overview below is designed to help you prepare for your lesson. While you may not want to convey this information word-for-word with your teenagers, you ll definitely want to refer to it as you lead your small group lesson. At first glance, the parable of the talents may seem unfair. The one person who didn t take risks with the master s wealth actually did nothing to lessen the wealth of the man in charge. He was safe with what he had been given; some might argue he was just wise and cautious. He took what he was given, protected it, and returned it in its original condition. He did nothing bad. He did nothing at all. But doing nothing that was the problem.

2 Read Matthew 25: This parable comes at an interesting time in Jesus ministry. It comes just before he was crucified, and the parable is part of a two-chapter discourse on the kingdom of heaven and Jesus eventual return. Jesus seems to encourage his disciples to go out and do something in his absence. Jesus is about to leave; in the parable, the manager is gone. We know Jesus often spoke about and hinted about his departure, but his disciples didn t seem to understand what Jesus was saying at the time. They would later grasp the significance of continuing Jesus work. They are specifically called to do so in Acts 1, and it is in that book that we see them mobilizing and changing the world for Jesus. Because we use the New Living Translation, you ll see references to silver instead of talents in the student handout this week. A talent is simply a measure or weight of something. While the parable talks about money that was either used or waster, the same truths carry over to the other blessings in our lives. THE BEFORE & AFTER [optional] Text Message Questions We ve provided a couple of different text message questions to send out to your students prior to your meeting. Feel free to use one or both of the questions below. As with the rest of the curriculum, edit these questions to fit the needs of your ministry. Parent Did you realize you re a super talented person? Let s talk about it tonight at small group. Are you using your talents in the best way possible? Come to small group tonight. We ve provided you with an below that you can send to your parents following the lesson. Our hope is to encourage parents to continue the conversation at home. Feel free to edit and customize the to fit your ministry needs.

3 Dear parents, This week in our small groups, we looked at the final parable for our four-week series, the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Jesus used this story to teach the importance of using the gifts, talents, and resources God gives us. Encourage your student this week to find ways to honor God by using a particular skill, gift, or talent. Talk about the menu of career options. Discuss how your teenager could serve right now using those gifts, talents, and skills. Share what you loved to do when you were a teenager and how you ve used your skills and passions to honor God. Here are a couple of questions related to our small group lesson that could help fuel your conversation: What are some blessings, resources, spiritual gifts, and talents God has placed in your life? How does giving our best honor God? How does not giving our best dishonor God? Thank you for your teenager s involvement in our small group ministry. We hope that you continue exploring the parables and never stop telling stories of how Jesus is working in your lives!

4 the master storyteller Week 4: The Talents GETTING THINGS STARTED [optional] 2. LEsson guide As you begin your small group, welcome your students and invite them into your meeting area. Open in prayer, and then launch the discussion below. Share a story from your teenage years about a time your parents or a teacher got annoyed at you for wasting something. Perhaps it s a story about a time you put little or no effort into something or wasted the opportunity to do something well or something at all. The idea is to help students realize that parents and teachers generally want us to work hard and do our best. These adults only get frustrated when we don t put much effort into something. What coach or teacher has had a positive influence on your life? How has this person helped shape who you are today? How do you respond when a coach or teacher pushes you to excel or reach a goal you think isn t possible? Why do you respond that way? How is the idea of excelling in athletics or arts or academics similar to excelling or growing as a Christian? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Those teachers or coaches will probably never be worldfamous, break Olympic records, or have their faces on the big screen, but the way they taught and coached with excellence could change your lives forever. We have all been given resources time, money, talents, skills, connections in the world, passions, intelligence, relationships all kinds of things that can be used in serving God, bringing God honor, and helping other people. An incredibly talented and famous musician can bring God glory by being the best musician in the world, but also by using her skills to invite people into worship. The man who makes millions in investments may be the reason that medical missionaries can financially afford to go serve people in other nations it s the financial genius backing the venture. The most popular girl on the soccer team can play an intense,

5 competitive game out on the field but be kind and inviting to the opposing team and respond with grace and patience when her opponents are frustrated. The key is discovering what we ve been given and then using those resources to bless God and then to bless others. If you came up with an opening activity, movie clip, or game that worked well with your group, and you d like to share it with other youth workers, please us at Teaching Points The goal of the Teaching Points is to help students capture the essence of each lesson with more discussion and less lecture-style teaching. The main points we have chosen here are (1) Discover your talents, (2) Search for opportunities, and (3) Serve from a desire to honor God. Remember: All throughout these lessons, it s up to you to choose (1) how many questions you use, and (2) the wording of the main points keep ours, or change the wording to make it clearer for your audience. Read Matthew 25:14-30 together as a group. Consider allowing one or more of the teenagers to read the text. SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Let s spend some time taking a look at how you can use your God-given talents to faithfully honor God through serving other people. 1. Discover your talents In this parable, Jesus uses money as the illustration to communicate his point. What are some other blessings, resources, and talents God has placed in your life? Be as specific as possible sometimes it s hard to talk about our good qualities! Why do you think God gives all of us talents and abilities? We can use our talents and abilities to do great things in the world, but God doesn t need us to change the world so why do you think God wants us to use our talents and abilities?

6 What does it mean to be faithful with your talents? Describe a time when you benefited from someone else s talents. SAY SOMETHING LIKE: You may not realize it, but you have time, opportunity, money, talent, material, education, technological, and many other resources at your fingertips. God created the church to be a dynamic, living group of Christ-followers who each contribute something to the whole. And that doesn t just mean adults. You have something to contribute, too. You aren t just the church of tomorrow; you re also the church of today! 2. Search for opportunities SAY SOMETHING LIKE: God will place you in positions where you can serve, and God invites you to seize the opportunities that come your way. As Christians we have the opportunity to use our spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, personalities, and experiences in ways that honor God and draw people to God. What s one way you ve discovered that you can bless others with your gifts and talents? If you could choose to serve God in any capacity, what would you be doing? Why? 3. Serve from a desire to honor God SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Gary Haugen is an example of someone who has found a way to honor God through his gifts and talents. He used to work as a lawyer at the U.S. Department of Justice and as a United Nations investigator. He now leads International Justice Mission, an organization that works with officials around the world to free people from slavery and other forms of oppression. Gary s position and influence gave him the platform for starting this international organization and now he helps save the lives of thousands, returning dignity and health to people who have lost their human rights.

7 What s God s stake in whether or not you give your best or don t give your best in school, on the field, on the stage, or at your part-time job? How does giving your best honor God? How does not giving your best dishonor God? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: You can impact your world for Jesus. We know that some parts of God s plan are not yet fulfilled theologians use the idea of an already/not yet kingdom. Jesus came and declared his kingdom, but he returned to heaven, promising that one day he d return. So the key is discovering what you can do today to use your resources, skills, and talents for the glory of God. Our time, talents, skills, passions, gifts, and resources are not our own. They are simply on loan from God with an expectation that we multiply them while we have them and we wait for God to someday tell us well done, my good and faithful servant. ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION [optional] What was most surprising in the way the boss responded to each worker s investment in Matthew 25? Why would the boss respond to the third worker the way he did? Pair up with another person in the group. Read Genesis 12:1-3 and then answer these questions together. Why did God bless Abram? What did God want him to do with his blessings? How have you been a blessing to others in your life? What is one step you can take this week to become a greater blessing to someone in your life? Activity [optional] Distribute paper, envelopes, and pens or pencils. Ask your teenagers to write themselves a letter detailing how they want to grow spiritually, with an emphasis on how they can use their gifts, talents, abilities, and resources to honor God. Encourage your young people to write about the person they hope to be in a month, at the start of next semester, in six months whatever makes most sense for your group.

8 Explain that you ll mail the letters on the agreed-upon date, and that no one will see what they ve written. Give your students 5-10 minutes. When they re done writing, have them seal and address the envelopes. Make a note in your calendar to mail the letters when you promised you would. APPLICATION [NOTE: The application section for this series takes a slightly different approach from most series in the LIVE Curriculum. We see this as a great opportunity for your young people to take the principles Jesus shared in his parables and translate them into a 21st century setting.] Each week, we re providing a step-by-step approach to help guide you and your students through the process of creating modern-day parables. As you go through this experience, you may discover additional questions that help your students gain the maximum impact from this activity. That s great! The key values here are helping your teenagers gain a greater understanding and appreciation of Jesus parables and discover engaging ways to have spiritually focused conversations with their friends. We encourage you to have paper and pens or pencils ready for your students. Some of your teenagers may do best by verbalizing their stories, while others will want to write down key details and ideas. SAY SOMETHING LIKE: This is our last time to take Jesus parables and find stories from your own lives that can have an impact on your friends, to help them learn more about what God has done in your life and what it means to be a Christ-follower. We ve done this three times already as a group, so you know where we re going, but let s start off by walking through our big-picture questions one more time. What s the theme or big idea from this week s parable? [NOTE: In this fourth lesson, you examined a story about developing trust and using the blessings God has given you. You can focus on how we all have skills and talents that we need to use well. Each person is a unique creation with a unique mix of gifts. The challenge is to be faithful with what we have.]

9 What story from your life is similar to the story Jesus told? [NOTE: The stories may flow naturally as your group discusses the big idea for this week. Remember, it doesn t have to be a literal, one-for-one story that mimics Jesus parable. Students might talk about how they were once given a small responsibility that has now turned into something big; they demonstrated faithfulness with their talents. They could discuss how they ve earned promotions at their job. Or they might have other examples of how they ve displayed and earned trust.] How can you use your personal story to help your friends discover more about why you re a Christian, why you love Jesus, or what your faith journey is like? [NOTE: The goal here is to help your young people communicate without being preachy or churchy. Your students can use phrases like this is how I ve benefited from being faithful at my job or it s cool to realize God has given me these talents and skills. Encourage your teenagers to think about the times and places when it might be natural to share their story, and consider which friends might be most receptive to the story.] Take a few minutes to let the students work alone on their stories. They can use their paper and pen or pencil, or give them some space so they can verbalize it a time or two. Then, have each teenager pair up with another student to share their stories with each other. Talk about the kinds of settings when it might be natural to transition into this story. Offer each other construction feedback on the story s impact and how it might be made even more effective. Because this is the fourth time your group has done this activity, consider having all your students share their stories with the entire group. Take time to pray as a group or as pairs that God would give your students an opportunity to share their stories during the next week, and that God would draw your teenagers friends to him as they share.

10 SUMMARY End your small group lesson here. Provide your teenagers with a quick summary or take-home challenge based on (1) the content of this lesson, (2) the dialogue that took place during the lesson, (3) your understanding of the issues and struggles your teenagers are facing, and (4) the big picture of your youth ministry and what your leadership team wants accomplished with the teaching and discussion time. FOR KEEPS [MEMORY VERSE] Encourage and/or challenge your teenagers to memorize the verse below. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away (Matthew 25:29).

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