Huddles: November 13, 2019

Togetherness Runs Deep

Basic Instructions

Below is the plan for you to follow as you lead out this study. At the end of this post we have attached the full curriculum that includes some very helpful Bible background and commentary to help you as you prepare to lead. Our prayer for you is that the Lord will bring this Scripture to life in your life and that your leading will be an overflow from that! Let us know if you have any questions.

The Main Idea

In this passage, Jesus calls us to love each other in such a way that the world takes notice. This kind of love is an intentional choice and can’t be dependent upon emotion or convenience. This lesson will help your students move toward a practical, noticeable love for their Christian friends that serves as the backbone of the togetherness God intends us to have with our fellow Christ-followers.

The Lead-In

  • Give a piece of paper and something to write with to every student.

FIRST, explain that you’re going to play a game to see how well everyone knows each other. Give students three different prompts: Number and name(s) of sibling(s), grade and school, and extracurricular activities.

THEN, when students have finished, have them fold their papers and put them in the middle of the room. Mix up the pile. Then have everyone pick up a piece of paper. (If a student draws their paper, throw a couple of pieces of paper back in and reshuffle. You may have to do this a few times to get it right. Have fun with it.)

NEXT, take turns having students read aloud from the responses in the papers they have drawn. When the student has read all three responses aloud, allow the group to discuss who they think the paper belongs to. Once everyone has gone, lead students in a short discussion. Ask:

  • Did you learn anything new about anyone?
    • Answers will vary.
  • How successful were we at assigning these facts to the individual? What does our ability/inability to assign these facts to the right people say about how well we know each other?
    • Answers will vary.
  • Why do you think that is? 
    • Answers will vary.

FINALLY, begin to transition to the Digging In portion of your lesson by saying something like:

  • Think about it: we were all in this room together. And yet, there were things we didn’t know about each other. And let’s be honest: even if we knew all of the responses to these three questions, there are still things we each have going on in our lives that we keep bottled up inside. But what if we truly knew one another? What if being together meant going way beyond just meeting together regularly? That’s what this session is about. And it’s a pretty important topic. Let’s jump in and see what the Bible has to say about the whole thing.

Digging In

FIRST, instruct students to think about how they would define love. Have two or three people give their definition. Lead students in a brief discussion to get them thinking about the idea of how we commonly see love expressed. Ask:

  • Where in the world around you do you see examples of love?
    • Answers will vary/
  • What are some messages the world communicates about the meaning of love?
    • Answers will vary.

Explain that you’re about to see what Scripture has to say about love, especially as it pertains to the love we’re called to show to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

NEXT, instruct students to turn to John 13:34-35. You’ll want to make sure you set the context for the passage using the Bible Background, especially the Details and the Main Point, to help students know exactly when the verses they’ll be studying occur in the timeline of Jesus’ ministry. (You’ll also be pulling in some passages from elsewhere in the New Testament, but you can give context to those as you go.) Once you’ve set the context, read or have a student read the passage. Then, lead students in a brief discussion. Ask:

  • For the sake of getting on the same page, even though it’s obvious, what was Jesus’ commandment to His disciples?
    • Answer: To love one another
  • In verse 34, what qualifier did Jesus put on the kind of love His disciples were supposed to model?
    • Answer: They were to love each other as Jesus had loved them.
  • Let’s come up with a list. Think for a moment about the way in which Jesus loves us. Write down some phrases or words that describe this love.
    • Answers will vary.
  • So, not only are we supposed to love each other, the love we have is supposed to look like the love Jesus has for us. What does this expectation make you feel like?
    • Answers will vary.
  • Let’s be clear: Jesus was talking to Believers. How do we know this is the case?
    • Answer: While elsewhere in Scripture Christians are called to be people who demonstrate love for all people, this was a specific call to Jesus’ followers to love one another. First, He was talking only to His disciples. But we know that Jesus was speaking about a love for our fellow Christian brothers and sisters because of the comparison to the outside world. Jesus said that “all people” would recognize Jesus’ followers by the love they have for each other.
  • One simple question: when you look around at the people in this room or in your youth group, do you have a Christ-centered love for them? Better yet, based on observing you with one another, would the world say that you did?
    • Answers will vary. While this is a “yes/no” question, it’s designed to make students think about this concept. Allow them a moment to process before you move on.

Help students see that this was a vitally important moment in the timeline of Jesus’ ministry. He was hours away from His death when He was speaking to the disciples. Jesus knew these were some of the final conversations He would have with His closest followers. His words here almost work as a way of summarizing the lessons He had been teaching the disciples for the last three years. Say something like:

  • Jesus is helping His disciples see that love was the strongest bond that could connect them with the growing number of Christ-followers all around them. They would need it in the coming days and weeks after Christ’s arrest, death, burial, and resurrection. Love is the tie that binds us together as the church. Let’s take a look and see two specific aspects of what this love looks like.  

THEN, have someone read Galatians 6:1-2. Give some context for the passage and then explain that one of the main ways we show love to one another is to, in Paul’s words, bear each other’s burdens.” Lead students in a brief discussion. Ask:

  • What does it mean to get caught in a transgression?
    • Answer: It simply means that some aspect of the sins we struggle with are brought to light.
  • This is a passage about the love we have for each other. What does verse 1 have to do with loving someone?
    • Answer: When we love each other, it should break our hearts to see one of the people in our community struggling with sin. Out of love, we should gently and lovingly go to this person and do our part in helping them deal with whatever it is they’re struggling with.
  • What should be the spirit of any intervention we have with someone about sin that they can’t seem to get out of?
    • Answer: As Paul says, gentleness, which comes from a place of love.
  • What does it mean in your own words to bear someone’s burdens?
    • Answers will vary. But make sure students understand that the picture Paul is painting here is encountering someone under a heavy load and offering to carry a portion of their load to make their weight more bearable. When we apply this to our lives, the idea is that we help each other with the trials and tough times we’re dealing with.
  • How does this demonstrate love for others?
    • Answers will vary.

Explain to students that a desire to help each other out in tough times is the definition of what it looks like to bear each other’s burdens. It’s all about deeply investing in the spiritual and emotional lives of our brothers and sisters. Say:

  • When we think about what it means to be together, it’s way more than just being in the same place. When we demonstrate our love for each other by investing in the troubles our friend might be facing, we are living out what it looks like to be together in more ways than just in the same room. Let’s look at one final way we show love for each other. 

NEXT, read or have a student read Acts 2:42-45. Explain that this is one of the first snapshots of the early church we see. Lead students to examine the passage. Ask:

  • First, just describe what’s going on here. What stands out to you as important?
    • Answers will vary. Be prepared to note any significant parts of the passage you notice as well.
  • There’s a love being depicted here that is a generous, giving love. Where do you see evidence of it in the text?
    • Answer: Multiple places. Generous with their time (prioritizing time spent meeting together); generous with their possessions (“had all things in common”); generous with their money (“distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need”).
  • What has to happen before you can meet someone’s needs? Know their needs?
    • Answer: First, the person in need either has to be open and transparent about their needs, or you need to be so close to them that you inherently pick up on the needs. Next, you need to be willing to meet the need. Finally, the person in need must be humble enough to accept help. It all depends on the relationship and an underlying love that drives this level of engagement.
  • What are the needs you see most common in your youth group?
    • Answers will vary.
  • What do you see being done to meet those needs?
    • Answers will vary.

FINALLY, wrap up your time in Bible study by helping student see that being “together” as a youth group (and as a church) isn’t possible without a commitment to being together in the same space. This is the physical aspect of being together. But what you’ve seen today is that being together in the same space physically is only a small aspect of the kind of togetherness God calls us to. Say:

  • Hopefully, you’ve seen that the kind of togetherness Jesus craves for the Church is a deep investment in each other’s lives motivated by a Christ-like love. This is the vision God has for our church and this youth group. The challenge for us is to answer the question, “how”? How do we put this kind of love into place?

If students don’t have any additional questions, transition to the Wrapping Up portion of your session.

Last Word & Application

FIRST, remind everyone that the expectation of togetherness is pretty clear. Nothing about what you’ve just read in Scripture is confusing or unclear. The only question is whether or not we’re willing to do something about it.

THEN, have students openly discuss where they believe they are as a youth group when it comes to living out the examples they just studied. Regardless of whether they feel like they aren’t doing a very good job or they think they’re crushing it, encourage them to think about what it will take to get to the “next level” of togetherness. To do this, help them think regarding obstacles and opportunities.

NEXT, lead them in a discussion to consider what they believe are barriers to experiencing a deeper “togetherness.” Ask something like this:

  • What do you believe are barriers to experiencing a deeper “togetherness” amongst our brothers and sisters?
    • Answers will vary.

THEN, do the same for the opportunities. Lead them to discuss how they may overcome the obstacles and work together to make their youth group, and ultimately the church, a place where a biblical “togetherness” is a reality. Ask:

  • What are some practical steps we can take to overcome the obstacles and make our youth group a place of unity?
    • Answers will vary.

FINALLY, encourage students to be hopeful about the task ahead of them. Remind them that identifying any trouble spots is an amazing first step toward dealing with them.

Ask students if they have any questions or additional comments. If there are no more questions, close in prayer for your group.

Click here to view the full lesson!