Main Point: As followers of Jesus, we need to have fellowship with other Christians to help us stay encouraged, challenged, and faithful.
Discussion Starter: Staying on Fire
(This discussion starter can actually be used in a number of ways. You can just “describe” this to the students…or you can actually do it in front of them. This resource will be written as though you’re opting to actually do this in front of them. You probably can’t do this inside, given most building’s indoor sprinkling systems (and common sense). If you opt to “do” this instead of just “describe” it, you’ll need a grill, charcoal briquettes, lighter fluid, matches, and a pair of tongs. And make sure to rehearse these steps and statements so you can clearly communicate the point.)
Standing beside a grill, ask your students: “Do you guys ever grill out? One of my favorite things to do is grill out with the family, cooking up burgers, chicken, steaks, ribs…basically any and every animal known to man. I like standing next to the flame feeling its heat, listening to the crackling of the fire, and smelling the meat begin to sizzle. Ahhhhhh….life is good when I’m grilling!
“And you know what? The last time we were grilling out as a family, I looked into my grill at the fire…and thought of you guys. Let me explain.
“We were grilling burgers and dogs and I had everything ready to go. I had my grill, the charcoal, the lighter fluid, some matches, and lots of raw meat! I began by pouring several handfuls of charcoal briquettes into the bottom of my grill. (As you say this, do it in front of them.)
“The next thing I did was to make sure those briquettes were all stacked up nice and tight together. It’s amazing how important that step is. I generally just make a pyramid-looking shape.
“The next thing I do is douse all those charcoal briquettes in a bath of lighter fluid. (Do this in front of them, as well.) Guys, I really like a big, hot, scorching flame, so I use a LOT of lighter fluid. In fact, I generally soak the briquettes at least twice with lighter fluid. This is tough because it requires patience. I soak them once, and then have to wait about a minute or so, and then I soak them again. But the wait is worth it! Because once I strike the match, oh baby! We got fire! (If possible, take the extra minute or so to soak the briquettes twice. Just kill time by talking about how good the food is gonna taste, or something.)
“And now it’s time for the most thrilling part: lighting the fire. Because I’ve used a lot of lighter fluid, I stand back far enough to avoid killing myself during the moment of combustion. Are you ready? (Now strike a match and light the briquettes on fire.)
“Ahhhh….fire! There’s nothing like the smell of charcoal getting hot. I can almost taste the meat now! Mmmm…I’m so happy right now! (Take about 30 seconds to let the flames get nice and hot.)
“Like I said earlier, the last time I was grilling, I thought of you guys, and THIS was the point when I did. See, I had this really big flame going just like this one; all the briquettes were on fire. Everything was going great. The briquettes were all stacked up, the fire was making a lot of smoke. The grill was getting hot, and the meat was about to go on when I looked at the fire and had this thought: the charcoal briquettes are burning nicely…but only because they stay together. Every single briquette was on fire, and burning hot, but only because they were together.
“But just to test my theory, I grabbed my tongs and carefully lifted one of the flaming briquettes out of the fire. (Do the same thing in front of them now.) I safely set it on the table and watched something happen to that briquette. Let’s see if the same thing happens to this one.
(After you place the flaming briquette on the table, the fire should extinguish fairly quickly. After it does, drive home the main point of this demonstration.)
“Did you see that? Did you see what happened? The briquette that I pulled out of the flames – that WAS on fire – soon died out. It lost its flame. Do you know why? Because it was separated from the rest of the briquettes. And you know, if I were to do this again and again, the exact same thing would happen every time. The briquette that’s lifted out of the flame and set aside by itself will always go out. It will always lose its fire.
And so will you! As a Christian, if you live your life closely to other Christians, your flame burns long and bright. But if you separate yourself from godly friends and relatives, you will eventually lose your flame. That’s because we need each other! Interestingly enough, even though this briquette has lost its flame, hope isn’t lost. Wanna know why? Because if I toss this briquette back into the pile of other briquettes, within moments, it’s back on fire again! The same is true for you. If you put yourself back into godly relationships with your Christian friends, you regain your fire.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we begin, let’s take a second to share our names and our favorite food cooked on the grill.
- ASK A FEW: Did you know what was going to happen to the briquette when it was taken out of the fire?
- ASK A FEW: Is it easier to live a godly life in close relationship to other Christians, apart from other Christians, or it doesn’t matter?
- ASK A FEW: Was there ever a time in your own life when you felt like you were “on-fire” but then lost your flame so to speak? (Leaders – If it’s appropriate and students are willing, you might have a couple of them share their experience.)
- ASK A FEW: What were your relationships with godly people like during that time? Were you close to others, or had you drifted apart?
- ASK A FEW: Why do you think it is so difficult for Christians to try to be “on-fire” by themselves?
Read the following passage:
Psalm 133 (NIV)
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.
Read the following passage:
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Tonight we saw the importance of staying together. Like those briquettes, if we separate ourselves from one another, we lose our flame. That simple exercise we did earlier paints a powerful message in our hearts: we need each other as we live our lives for Jesus.
The cool thing is, when everybody is doing their part, the flame in our lives and in our ministry burns hotter and brighter than at any other time! That’s a good enough reason right there for us to stick together and live our lives the way the two Bible passages said to.
But, some of us in here right now are thinking about other people we love who have drifted apart from us and our ministry. That saddens our heart. But let me remind you, just like that briquette that was separated from the rest, when we are placed back in the group, we rekindle our flame.
Let’s take a few moments and pray for those students that God has placed on our hearts. (Give students ample time to do this.)
Finally, I’d just ask you to put some feet on those prayers. Send that person a text, give them a call, poke them on Facebook, or even better, write them a letter THIS WEEK and let them know you miss them and that you truly love them. I know for a fact that’ll make a big difference in their lives.
Close in Prayer
Written by KJ Stephens
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.