Walking Dead: Zombies and Prevenient Grace

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Week 1: Prevenient Grace

(View the series overview here, Week 2 here, and Week 3 here.)

For the Leader:

In essence, this week we are talking about Prevenient Grace. We used the zombie theme to identify with the students, but you saw right through that. Essentially, prevenient means “to come before.” Thus, prevenient grace is grace that comes before salvation. This can be a tricky subject to talk about with teenagers sometimes. It’s so natural to identify grace as something that God gives us in the form of salvation, or as not punishing us when we do something “bad,” but the reality is that God shows us grace EVERY DAY of our lives, ESPECIALLY before we have a relationship with him.

It’s good to look at this as grace that “prepares the way.” John the Baptist may be a good scriptural tangible of prevenient grace. He came before Jesus. He prepared the way for him. Often times, God prepares the way for Jesus in our lives, little seeds get planted, little signs get seen, none of which lead to an immediate acceptance of Christ. They are all preparing the way.

This week, spend a little time talking about the concept of the fact that we are, “the walking dead.” Talk about the fact that we don’t have a chance without Jesus. It’s a good time to talk about how all sins are equal too. I personally like to look at “sin” as a disease. It’s like…cancer.  The symptoms of our disease are the actions that we identify as sins.

If you have cancer, and you take cough medicine to cure your cough, it’s just treating the symptom, not the sin. Does that make sense? All of our “sin actions” are just symptoms of our overall greater condition…SIN.  We can fix our actions all day. We can make ourselves into good moral people, but we’re still sinful without grace.

In Scripture:

  1. Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV): “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…”
  2. 1 John 4:19: “We love him, because he first loved us.”
  3. John 6:44: “No man can come unto me, unless the Father who hath sent me, draw him…”
  4. John 12:32: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

Between now and Then:

Leading up to the first session of this series, shoot your kids a text, call, or a Facebook message to let them know you’re excited about seeing them. If you think it would get them excited, let them know we’re talking about ZOMBIES. But here’s the real goal for “between now and then,” at some point this week, make it your goal to learn the story of one of your kids. Whether it’s in a text conversation, over a Starbucks coffee, a pile of Taco Bell tacos, or on the field at a game, take some time to learn the “story” of one of your kids. For that matter, this is a good goal until you know ALL of them.

Middle school adaptation:

We know it’s tough to get too “deep” spiritually with a group of middle schoolers. However, we do encourage you to stretch yourselves as well as your group. Don’t be afraid to wrestle with some of this stuff with them. Often times they can handle a lot more than you give them credit for. However, there are times when you just need to cut loose and burn off some energy. Maybe try a game of “zombie tag” or “walking dead tag” with them.

– Explain that you are going to play “tag” with a twist. Once you get tagged you become a zombie. You then must run with your arms extended (like zombies do). If someone gets tagged by a zombie, they are “out.” The last person remaining is the winner. If the person who is “it” turns everyone into zombies, they are the winner. Don’t be afraid to come up with your own little twists that fit your group.

Activity:

One way to look at this type of grace is like a family getting ready for a baby. It would be crazy if they did nothing from the time they got pregnant until the time the baby was born. There are TONS of things TO DO. The nursery has to be prepared…clothes must be bought…showers must be thrown. You get the picture.

The same is true with God. Those things that happen in our lives before we know Jesus are preparing the way for Jesus in our lives. Sometimes those things are good. Sometimes they are tough to deal with. Get your group members (including you leaders) to spend some time thinking and writing. Write down the things in your life that you can see now were preparing the way for Jesus. (Ex: Maybe conversations with friends, parents; someone inviting you to church, etc.) Maybe church services or youth group activities, lost loved ones, etc. Encourage everyone to share. If they don’t want to, it’s fine. It’s still a good exercise.

Discussion questions:

Don’t feel the need to get through all these questions. And feel free to come up with your own. These are just a guide:

  1. Can you see areas of your life where God was working before you had a close relationship with him? How does that make it easier, or harder, to have a relationship with God now?
  2. Have you thought about Grace like this before? How do you feel about it? How does this make you feel about God? Do you think it’s cool of God to be present the whole time? Even before we knew we needed Him?
  3. Share the following scriptures together…
    1. Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV): “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…”
    2. 1 John 4:19: “We love him, because he first loved us.”
    3. John 6:44: “No man can come unto me, unless the Father who hath sent me, draw him…”
    4. John 12:32: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
  4. Do you think we should still share our faith (talk about God) to our friends and others that aren’t Christians? If so or if not, why?
    1. For the leader: if your group doesn’t bring it up, point out the fact that we could BE a part of this prevenient grace in their lives. Even if our talking to them doesn’t cause them to become closer to God, God uses that to “prepare the way”
  5.  Do you have any questions about prevenient grace? Did this raise any questions about…anything?
    1. For the leader: Its fine if you don’t know the answer to these questions. Talk about them. Be honest if you don’t know. Tell them you will do some research and find out. Feel free to send these questions to our youth staff. We may not know the answers either, but we’d LOVE to try and help
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Jason has been serving full-time in the local church since 1993. He has served everything from small churches to mega-churches. He is a graduate of Auburn University and Asbury Theological Seminary. He and his family currently serve as Minister to Students at Roswell United Methodist Church in Roswell, GA. He has a passion for teaching and training volunteers, equipping parents of students and cheering on his Auburn Tigers!

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