1. LEADER PREPARATION

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1 the master storyteller Week 1: The Lost Sheep This includes: 1. Leader Preparation 2. Lesson Guide 1. LEADER PREPARATION LESSON OVERVIEW In Luke 15, Jesus paints a picture of a shepherd who is concerned for his sheep. While all 100 of the sheep are equally important to this loving shepherd, he is willing to leave behind 99 of them to search for the one missing sheep. In the same way, God cares for our well-being so much that he sent a shepherd to make things right. This week s lesson focuses on helping students understand and experience the loving care of Jesus, our shepherd. LESSON OBJECTIVES 1. WHAT: Just like a loving shepherd, Jesus personally cares for each of us and wants to lead us along God s path for our lives. 2. WHY: Students face many temptations in life, but they can pursue a Christ-like course by following Jesus as their shepherd. 3. HOW: Teenagers will be encouraged to rest in the care of the loving shepherd and reflect that care to others, while learning how to tell modern-day parables to communicate the message of God s love. PRIMARY SCRIPTURE Luke 15:1-7 SECONDARY SCRIPTURE Psalm 23 and Isaiah 53:6 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. Read Luke 15:1-7.

2 As a teacher, Jesus knew he could effectively connect with his audience by using familiar ideas and images including sheep and shepherds. Most of us don t have much interaction with sheep these days, but it was a common occupation in Jesus time, especially in the land of Israel. Sheep and shepherds were also central to the religious heritage of Jesus audience, thanks to stories and characters from the Old Testament (the only part of the Bible written at that point). David was a shepherd boy long before he became king of Israel. Moses tended sheep for his father-in-law Jethro. Before Rachel met and married Jacob, she was a shepherdess. Amos was a shepherd before God called him to be a prophet. So, Jesus audience would have had some understanding of the role, importance, and dedication of a shepherd. A shepherd s flock was his livelihood he could safeguard his investment by carefully taking care of these animals, or destroy the herd through irresponsibility and inattention. Sheep aren t always the easiest animals to lead the key is helping them become familiar with their shepherd s voice. It s almost like a child s ability to recognize a parent s voice in a large crowd. Ultimately, a shepherd s job is to protect the sheep, to take care of them, to lead them to food and water in short, to do whatever they need to thrive. The parallels with Jesus as our shepherd are apparent: He came to earth to find the lost sheep, to bring us into his family that we might spend eternity with him. 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. What do you have in common with sheep? See you at small group tonight so we can talk about it. Feeling a little lost? Come hang out at small group tonight for some help in getting back on track.

3 Parent 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. Dear parents, This week in our small groups, we talked about the love that Jesus shows and how he attentively and intentionally meets our needs. We looked at the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15 and discovered how a shepherd will do anything to get his sheep back. And we discovered in Psalm 23 that like a shepherd, God takes care of us in many different ways. When your teenager is facing a confusing or stressful situation, ask if you can pray together to ask Jesus to help. I d also encourage you to talk with your teenager about this week s small group lesson. Here are some questions that could help launch your conversation: Why did Jesus describe himself as a shepherd? Why do we leave God s paths to pursue our own? What are some of the consequences in your life if you choose to leave God s path? What makes it hard to trust Jesus with things that are really important to us? Also, challenge your family members to care for each other and the needs of others more specifically and intentionally. Do you have a neighbor who had surgery and needs someone to mow the lawn and bring dinner? Is there a family in your church that has a hard time driving one of their own to youth group or band practice? Find some way to care for others as a family. Thank you so much for allowing us to be with your teenager in our small groups. It s a great privilege and joy!

4 the master storyteller Week 1: The Lost Sheep 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 SAY SOMETHING LIKE: I want you to imagine for a moment that one of your family members has disappeared. It s quite likely that everyone in your family would search everywhere and do whatever it took to find that person. In this clip from the movie Cheaper by the Dozen (rated PG), the Baker family realizes that one of the children, Mark, is missing. The whole family begins to search for him, looking everywhere they can. Eventually they find him on a train headed to the city where their old home was located. Start the clip at 1:20:45, as the family pours out of the house. Stop the clip at 1:23:45, as Tom and Mark hug. How is this family s reaction similar to or different from the way your family would respond in this situation? Think back to when you were younger. How did it feel when you got lost or had run away from home? Who was responsible for finding you? How long did it take? What emotions did you experience once you were reunited with your family? Have you ever been the one who was searching for a lost person? If so, what happened? If Jesus is just like a shepherd searching for lost sheep (us!), how do we typically make it hard for him to find us? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: We may not like the analogy because it compares us to sheep, but the care our parents provide is similar to what shepherds do for their sheep. That s right. Sometimes you re like sheep. We all are, in fact, according to the Bible.

5 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) The shepherd cares and (2) The shepherd seeks. 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 Luke 15:1-7 together as a group. Consider allowing one or more of the teenagers to read the text. SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Let s spend some time seeing what this relationship between a shepherd and a sheep looks like. 1. The shepherd cares Why did Jesus describe himself as a shepherd? Why did the shepherd in the parable leave the 99 to find the one? Is one sheep really that important? What is a specific time when Jesus has been a shepherd in your life? How did Jesus care for you? What did you learn from this experience? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Jesus often described himself as a shepherd, and sheep and shepherds appear many times in the Gospels. Just like a shepherd provides care for sheep, Jesus wants to take care of us. He wants us to know his voice and listen and obey so he can guide us out of danger and lead us to green pastures. He meets our needs and knows what s best.

6 2. The shepherd seeks When have you experienced Jesus love for you in an unmistakable way? How have you felt pursued by Jesus in your life? Think of a time you felt kind of lost in life what helped you feel found? Read Isaiah 53:6. Why do we leave God s paths to pursue our own? What are some of the consequences in your life if you choose to leave God s path? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: When sheep get separated from their shepherd, they can feel alone and end up in trouble. The same is true in our relationship with Jesus. When we wander from him or ignore his voice, we feel alone and sometimes find ourselves in situations that are not the best for us. When we read the words of Isaiah 53:6, we can take comfort knowing that we are loved so deeply that God will do whatever it takes to find us when we re lost and then care for us like a shepherd lovingly cares for his sheep. additional discussion [optional] Think of a time when you experienced something that you didn t necessarily like, but it produced something positive in your life. How did you sense Jesus involvement in that experience? When have you been frustrated in your relationship with Jesus? When have you experienced a time that he seemed silent? What was that like? Sometimes we turn to shepherds we know aren t good for us or who invite us into bad habits, instead of depending on shepherds that want the best for us. When have you turned to other shepherds besides God to meet your needs? Pair up with another person from the group. Read Psalm 23 together. Identify and write down all the different shepherd tasks and images included in this passage of Scripture.

7 After a few minutes, bring the group back together and ask these questions: What shepherd tasks and images did you find in these verses, and what is the spiritual significance for each? Why did David compare God to a shepherd? If David were writing this psalm today, what other character or analogy might he choose instead of describing God as a shepherd? Explain. This week, how can you rest in the care of the loving shepherd and reflect that care to others? 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 ll offer 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: Jesus was the ultimate storyteller. He probably was that guy everyone wanted at a party because in minutes, he could have the whole crowd focused on his every word. His stories had purpose, and he connected with his audience intentionally. Jesus used parables a story with a purpose to show listeners how God cared for them and interacted with their lives.

8 Jesus told parables featuring everyday characters and situations from his culture. He didn t talk about professional sports, spaceships, or computers, obviously, because they didn t exist. He talked in the language of his day and focused on common elements of life. Stories haven t lost their power. We experience them when we watch movies, we tell them over the dinner table, and we read them in works written by inspired authors. Stories remain a dynamic tool for communicating the great love of Jesus. What we re going to do right now is look for 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. What s the theme or big idea from this week s parable? [NOTE: In this first lesson, you examined a story about something that was lost. This theme can carry over into a teenager s life by remembering what it s like to feel lost or alone or isolated, or what it feels like to be reunited or connected or saved from a dangerous situation.] 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. But because this is the first week, your students may struggle to think of relevant stories. You might come prepared with one or two examples from your own life, to get your teenagers ideas rolling. Remember, it doesn t have to be a literal, one-for-one story that mimics Jesus parable. It could be a story of being lost as a child or losing something that was valuable and how hard the teenager searched to find this important item.] 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 it felt when I realized how much God loves me or it s cool to realize God cares more about me than I care about the most important thing I own. 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.]

9 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. 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. 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. The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need (Psalm 23:1).

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