Here’s the way it goes – Jesus leads, we follow Him, and lead others to follow Him, who then lead others to follow Him.
Sounds like a great plan, right?
The key to being a good leader, is to be a good follower.
Use this lesson to help teens understand that when they are truly following Jesus, other people won’t have to guess who’s leading them.
– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
Youth Group Lesson – Following Jesus
Bible: Luke 9:23-27 (The Message recommended)
Bottom Line: Following Jesus means letting Him lead so that people shouldn’t have to guess who you’re following.
OPENING GAME: FOLLOW THE LEADER
Find an open space and have the students form a circle, sit down, facing each other.
Choose one student to be the “detective,” and have them leave the room.
While they are in another room, choose a student from the circle to be the “leader” – the rest will be “followers”.
Have the “leader” begin leading the circle in whatever actions they feel like doing.
Some examples are clapping, stomping, making funny faces, waving arms, etc.
Bring the “detective” back in and place them in the middle of the circle.
Their job is to determine who the “leader” is.
The “leader” may do as many actions as often as they like until they are discovered.
The trick for the “followers” is to avoid too much eye contact with the “leader,” so as to keep the “detective” guessing.
Once the “leader” is found out, they become the “detective” and must leave the room.
A new “leader” is chosen, and the game repeats.
Repeat for as many rounds as you like.
This game is fun because you really have to guess at who’s leading the group.
But when it comes to your relationship with Jesus, no one should have to guess who you are following.
What do you think it means to follow?
Give the students some time to answer.
The game we just played makes it a fun way to pass the time.
Social networks like Twitter make it just as simple as clicking a button.
You can follow coverage of any event, as long as it keeps you entertained.
Those are some of the answers our culture gives – but what does the Bible have to say?
Let’s take a look at what Jesus Himself expected of those who would “follow” Him.
Ask a student to read Luke 9:23-27 (The Message recommended):
Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn’t, you realize, pie in the sky by and by. Some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen, see with their own eyes the kingdom of God.”
There are a few things to learn from these verses:
First, anyone can follow Jesus!
Have you ever felt unworthy to follow Jesus?
Give students time to answer, and then share a time in your own life when you have felt unworthy to follow Jesus.
Many people may feel that the things they’ve done, the places they grew up, the circumstances in their life right now keep them from following Jesus.
Is following Jesus only for those who have it all together?
No! Right off the bat, Jesus says that anyone can follow Him, and He meant it!
His disciples were a ragtag bunch of fishermen, tax collectors, women (who were not treated that great in those days), and even thieves.
They had bad tempers.
They didn’t always understand what Jesus was saying.
They didn’t always do what Jesus asked them to do.
But they believed in Him and made the commitment.
No matter what you’ve done, where you grew up, or what is going on in your life right now, you can follow Jesus.
All you need is faith and commitment.
Second, following Jesus is a commitment.
What is commitment, and what are some examples of things you commit to?
Give students time to answer and share.
When you make a commitment, you are supposed to be “binding or pledging yourself” to something.
However, culture has begun to teach that commitment really isn’t all that important.
What is more important is your happiness and entertainment.
If you are happy and entertained, then commit to it.
If you become unhappy or bored, then don’t worry about it – just find something new.
What Jesus says in this passage, then, is shocking to some people.
In fact, if had he tweeted it today, many people would be hitting the “unfollow” button!
Jesus says that following Him is a commitment.
It’s a day-by-day journey.
And it is giving over control of your life to Him.
What is the most you have ever given up for a relationship?
Give students time to answer.
Right here, Jesus is asking for everything.
Anyone can follow Him, but they must make the commitment.
Are you willing to let Him lead?
Are you willing to give Him the “driver’s seat”?
Following Jesus takes work and commitment.
It is not just a fun add-on to your life.
It means letting Him lead your whole life so that no one should have to guess who you are following.
But third, following Jesus is worth it!
Jesus said that following Him would take commitment and surrender, but He also promised that it would be worth it.
He promised that if you give your life up to Him, you will find a better life under His leadership.
Have you ever found something great and it was so unexpected?
Share a time when, perhaps, you had to give something up and instead got something so much greater.
The way of Jesus is so often filled with paradoxes – things that seem so opposite but are true.
Jesus says that when you give your life up, you will actually find it in Him.
And Jesus didn’t come to give average life. He came “so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life that they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10 MSG)
Are you ready to follow Jesus?
Anyone can do it!
If you trust in Him and give your whole life to Him, He will lead you in a way that is more and better than you could ever dream of.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What are some of your favorite people or things to follow and keep up with?
Do you show that same kind of devotion to Jesus? Why or why not?
Do you find it easy or hard to commit to something for a long period of time?
What would help you stay strong in your commitment to follow Jesus?
Do people know that you are a follower of Jesus, or do they have to guess?