September 18 | The Jesus Creed: Love God
- By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to KNOW what it looks like to love God wholly and why it is important.
- By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to BE ABLE TO recite the Jesus Creed regularly this week.
Read Matthew 22:34:40.
What questions does the expert of the law ask Jesus? Why is he asking this question?
In what way do you think he is testing Jesus?
What is the first part of Jesus’ answer?
Why do you think Jesus singles this out as “the greatest commandment”?
Have another leader or a student read some of the following verses off their phone… 1 John 3:1, Psalm 86:15, Ephesians 3:17-19, Romans 8:38-39, Psalm 136:26.
What words do these passages use to describe God’s love for us? What other words would you use to describe God’s love?
How do you know if you are loved by someone?
What evidence do you have that you are loved by God?
How could the passage above in Romans assure someone who doubted God’s love?
What would you think of a person who was loved so completely, yet did little or nothing to return that love? In what ways might you be that way with God?
Look back at what Jesus says is the first part of the greatest commandment… “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
What does it look like to love someone with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind? Can you give examples of what this might look like?
Read Luke 7:36-47.
How does the woman in this passage express her love for Jesus? In what way are her actions a good example of what it means to love God completely?
What are some ways you express your love for those in your life that you care about? What are some ways you express your love for God?
What could you do differently this week to follow the first part of the greatest commandment?
Close in Prayer
September 25 | The Jesus Creed: Love Others
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to KNOW what it looks like to care for others and why it is important.
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to BE ABLE TO recite the Jesus Creed regularly this week.
In what ways have you tried to make reciting the Jesus Creed part of your day or week? What has it been like?
Take a moment to think back to last week. What was the question that was asked of Jesus? What was the motivation behind the question?
What was the first part of Jesus’ answer?
Last week, you were challenged to do something to live out the first part of this commandment. Did you do something? If so, what? If not, why not?
Read Matthew 22:34-40.
What does Jesus say is the second part of the greatest commandment?
Who are some of the people that love and care about you? How do you know they do?
Who are some of the people that you love and care for? How would they know that you do?
Read John 15:13. What does this verse say about love?
Read 1 John 3:16-18. What do these verses say about love?
Based on these two passages, what words would you use to describe love?
What about sacrifice? What role does sacrifice play in caring for others?
How have people who care about you made sacrifices for you? What sacrifices have you made for those you care about?
Thinking back to last week, what sacrifices have you made to show your love for God? What sacrifices do you need to make?
Jesus uses the word “neighbor” in the second part of the greatest commandment. In what way could people use that word to justify not loving or caring about someone?
A man in Jesus’ time tried to do just that when he asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?” Read Jesus’ response in Luke 10:30-37.
Given that at the time of this story, Jewish people and Samaritan people were enemies, who would Jesus include as your “neighbor”? Who would Jesus exclude?
What does it look like to show love for the people you care about? What words do you use? What do your actions look like?
Given what we talked about and read in these passages, what would it look like to care for someone you don’t really know? What sacrifices could you make?
Given what’s been shared, what would it look like to care your someone you don’t like? What sacrifices might God be calling you to make?
What could you do differently this week to follow the second part of the greatest commandment?
Remind students to make reciting the Jesus Creed a habit this week.
Close in Prayer
October 9 | The Jesus Creed: As Yourself
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to KNOW that a hidden part of the Jesus Creed is loving yourself and who God created you to be.
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to BE ABLE TO practice self-care.
Look at the person to your left… how do you think God feels about this person? What leads you to that conclusion?
Think about yourself… how do you think God feels about you?
Read Psalm 139:13-18.
What words or phrases in this passage do you think reveal how intimately God knows us?
Reread verse 14. What is the author (psalmist) of this psalm praising God for?
What do you think “fearfully and wonderfully made” means?
Fear in the Bible often describes people’s reactions to how awesome and awe-inspiring God is. How does that relate to this verse?
The psalmist says to God, “your words are wonderful.” What is something God made that you think is wonderful?
Would you be willing to say that about yourself? Why or why not?
Why is it not arrogant or boastful to say you are wonderfully made? (Recognizing that we are wonderfully made lifts up our creator, not ourselves.)
What is the difference between selfishness and selflessness?
Share these verses with students… Psalm 119:36, Ephesians 4:2, James 3:16. Based on these verses, what does God value for us?
What does self-care mean? What is an example of self-care?
Can we practice self-care and still be selfless?
Read Genesis 2:15. In the beginning of the Bible, God puts people in charge of caring for creation. How does that relate to self-care? (If we are part of that creation, we should also be caring or ourselves.)
In what way could self-care become selfish? How can we resist that?
What are ways that you could practice self-care?
Who can say the Jesus Creed for us?
Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
What is one thing you can do this week to better love God?
What could you do to love others this week?
What could you do to care for yourself this week?
Close in Prayer
October 16 | LIVEJUST: Justice Defined
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to KNOW what justice and injustice looks like.
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to BE ABLE TO begin to reflect on how they are “living justly”.
Think of a time when you felt unfairly treated by someone else. Without sharing names, what happened?
Why did you feel it was unfair? How did it feel to be treated that way? What did you do about it?
Looking back, has there ever been a time when you treated someone else unfairly? What happened?
Why did you do it at the time? How do you feel about it now?
What was the definition of justice and injustice shared tonight?
In what way have you seen injustice in your school? In your community? In our world?
In what ways have you seen others stand up for justice in your school? Community? World?
Read Isaiah 58 (You may want to use the Message version with your students. Here is a copy you could print and share with them.)
In verse 1-3, what are the people doing that appears to be the right thing to do? What do they say of God at the end of this section?
Look at verse 3-5. Why is God not pleased by their choice of actions? On the outside, they appear to be fasting, but what’s going on beneath the surface?
How does it make you feel when someone does something for you? How does it make you feel when they complain and are miserable because they’re doing something for you? Have you ever done this to someone else?
How do you think God feels when on the surface we’re trying to live like the greatest commandment (refer back to Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind), but we do it with an attitude like those in verses 3-5?
Reread verse 6-9. What is it that God desires according to these verses? Make a list of some of the actions listed in these verses.
Why do you think this is what God desires?
Of the desirable actions we listed, which could you do by yourself this week? Which could you do with help? Which would be hard for you?
Look at verses 9-12. According to these verses, what will your life look like if you began to seek justice?
How would the people in your life respond if you began to seek justice?
Look back at the list we made. What can you do this week to seek justice?
Close in Prayer
October 23 | Live Just: Why Does God Allow Injustice?
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to KNOW why God may appear to be absent in the face of injustice.
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to BE ABLE TO recognize moments when they have been absent in the face of injustice.
What is the longest you’ve had to wait for something?
Read Exodus 3:1-9. If you had been one of the Israelites crying out to God for hundreds of years, how would His silence make you feel?
In these verses, what does God say He is going to do?
Now read verses 10-12. What is God’s plan?
God showed up to Moses in a burning bush. If God were to show up today, what would it take to grab you attention?
Now imagine, you are walking home from school or the bus stop and God shows up in this way. He says, “(Your Name), I have heard the cries of all those child soldiers in Asia and I’m going to rescue them from that life. I will be sending you to take care of it.” How would that make you feel?
How does it make Moses feel?
Look again at verse 12, what does God promise to Moses? How would it make you feel if God promised to be with you throughout the task?
Do you think God needed Moses to rescue the Israelites? Knowing what you know about God, could He have done it without Moses?
What do you think Moses’ life would be like if God had never used him to save the Israelites and instead did it on his own?
What kind of world would it be if God solved all the problems of the world with a wave of His hand?
What kind of people would we be if we lived in a world where God solved all the problems of the world with a wave of his hand?
Think about some of the issues of injustice we’ve talked about the past two weeks or you’ve heard about. Which injustice troubles you the most?
Is it possible, you are troubled because God is asking you to do something about it?
As a middle school student, how could you get involved in fighting injustice?
Close in Prayer
November 6 | Live Just: Injustice Next Door
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to KNOW what injustice looks like in their school and community.
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to BE ABLE TO be more aware of injustice around them and be able to respond to it.
Without naming names or going into details, what are some of the cruel things you’ve seen people do to other people in your school?
What are some of the reasons why people in your school might pick on others?
What could be some of the reasons why people don’t step in an stand up for those being picked on?
Read Esther 3:1-14. For what reason does Haman turn his anger on the Jewish people? What plan does he put in motion?
This wasn’t a secret plan. Everyone is told about it. If you were a Jewish person living in Persia at this time, what impact would this royal decree have on you?
Read Esther 4:1-17. What is the reaction of Mordecai and the other Jewish people?
What does Mordecai ask Esther to do? What is Esther’s initial reaction?
What does Mordecai say to convince her? What does Esther do first?
How would you feel if you were in Esther’s position? Do you think you would agree to do what Mordecai asked?
Think about a time when you witnessed injustice happen in your school or neighborhood. Is it possible that God put you there to do something about it? What could you have done? What did you do?
Read Esther 5:1-8. What happens when Esther goes before the king? What does she ask for? What happens at the banquet?
Read Esther 7:1-10. What does Esther do at the second banquet?
What is the king’s reaction? What is Haman’s reaction? What happens to Haman?
Could Esther have known how everything would turn out for her and her people? Why do you think she risked her life for this?
What can you take away from how Esther dealt with the injustice before her and apply it to when you encounter injustice?
What are some things you can do when you encounter injustice in your school and community?
Close in Prayer
November 13 | Conversation about Racism
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to KNOW God’s heart for His people of all races and cultures.
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to BE ABLE TO practice empathy and act as God’s agents of restorative justice particularly when it comes to racial reconciliation.
***LEADER NOTE*** This could be a tough Breakout conversation. What can you do to create a space that emphasizes vulnerability, honesty, empathy, and good listening?
Listen to these statements, each of which is a common comment made about racism in this country:
“I’ve seen evidence of racism but it hasn’t disrupted my way of life. As long as my life goes uninterrupted, what does it have to do with me?”
“I see evidence of racism in my own life/the lives of people I love but it’s too big. How could we actually fix all this stuff?”
“I haven’t known life without being directly affected by racism. It’s hard to believe things could actually change. I feel hopeless.”
Which response to racism do you most resonate with?
What interactions have you had with people who might resonate with the other responses? What were they like?
Why do you think people might shy away from the conversation of race?
Have you had any personal experiences or witnessed systemic racism? How did that affect you?
Read Genesis 1:26-27. What does the Bible mean when it says we are all made in the image of God?
Historically, have all groups been treated this way? Can you think of examples of this in the Bible? (Jews and Samaritans, Jews and Gentiles)
What about in our country’s history? How do we see this play out in our world today?
How do you think God feels about this?
Why is it important to define racism as sin?
Read Ephesians 2:10. How should this verse impact the way we see others who are different from us?
In what way does our society promote racial division?
What does racial reconciliation mean? What do you think that looks like in our world today?
As God’s agents of restorative justice, what should be our role in racial reconciliation?
In the talk, Matt referred to ARC, a framework for racial justice and reconciliation… Awareness, Relationships, Commitment. How could you take a meaningful step towards one of these this week?
A disciple named John had a vision of what the world would look like at the end. He recorded it in the last book of the Bible, Revelation. While it contains many confusing and scary images, it also shares this moment of people worshipping at God’s throne…
Read Revelation 7:9-10. How can this give us hope and encouragement right now?
Close in Prayer
If students ask about an idea or a concept you are not familiar with or comfortable explaining, here are some definitions that might help.
Race – A social creation that gives or takes power based on skin color and cultural background.
Segregation – The belief that the culture of a particular group of people is allegedly inferior and will always be inferior there those people should be kept separate from the supposedly (and often white or European) superior people and culture out of fear of negatively impacting the supposed superior people and culture.
Assimilation – The belief that the culture of a particular group of people is allegedly inferior and should be changed to become more like an supposedly (and often white or European) superior culture.
Antiracist – A person who is actively doing the work of fighting against racism through their words, actions, and thought processes.
Systemic or Institutional Racism – Racism that is displayed within our political, religious, educational, and economic institutions and systems.
Prejudice – A preset opinion about a people group based on culture, race, religion, or socioeconomic status because of false narratives learned through family, the media, conversation, or observation.
Internalized Oppression – The prejudiced beliefs we tell ourselves about our own race, culture, religion, gender orientation, and/or socioeconomic group that keeps us from being our fully authentic selves.
Cultural Misorientation – A specific type of internalized oppression that glorifies European culture, which Black people develop though the media, society, and family dynamics.
Whiteness – A belief system of cultural superiority that serves as the organizing conceptual framework of Western society. In this framework, blackness is based on what whiteness is not. All people, no matter what racial background, can step into and perpetuate the systems created by whiteness. White supremacy asserts the domination of whiteness throughout society and culture.
November 20 | Live Just: A New Justice League
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to KNOW what a middle school student can do to live just.
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to BE ABLE TO take a step towards living just.
Read Micah 6:8.
Given what we’ve talked about since October, what do you think it means to act justly?
Can you give an example of an act of justice?
What does it mean to love mercy?
How does a person who loves mercy treat those around them?
What is a person who walks humble with God like?
What would the opposite of this look like?
On a scale of 1-10, how are you doing at acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God?
What keeps us from living this way?
What do you need to do to overcome these obstacles?
How can others help you to seek justice?
Who are some of the people in your life that could come alongside you as you seek to live justly?
Think back over the weeks we talked about justice. What things stood out to you most?
What do you think might be your first step in trying to live justly?
Read Amos 5:24 aloud together.
Say: Maybe you are that first drop of water that leads to a river of justice through your school and neighborhood.
Close in Prayer
December 4 | The Best Christmas Ever, Part 1
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to KNOW that Jesus is a light to a world full of darkness.
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to BE ABLE TO turn to Jesus when they need his light this season.
What’s going to be different for you and your family this Christmas?
What are you going to miss this year? Is there something new and special your family is doing this year?
Tonight’s passage comes from a prophet named Isaiah. What do you know about prophets?
A prophet is someone with a special connection to God. God reveals to them a message or revelation for people.
Isaiah’s writings were written almost 3,000 years ago…about 700 years before Jesus.
Read Isaiah 9:1-7.
What would it be like to live in a “land of deep darkness”? What do you think this darkness represents?
Reread verse 2. Choose one word that best describes or represents what is happening in this verse?
Do this for verses 3, 4, and 5.
Verse 6 reveals what initiates the actions of the previous four verses. What kicks it all off?
Reread verses 6-9. What are some of the titles given to the child mentioned in verse 6?
The passage talks about the child ruling a kingdom. How does it describe the child’s reign?
Do you know who this child is? (If they don’t know or haven’t figured it out yet… this is where you blow their minds… It’s Jesus!)
In what way is there darkness in our world today?
The beginning of this passage talks about a great light coming into the world… We believe that light to be Jesus.
From what you know or understand about Jesus, how was he a light to the world at the time the stories in the Bible were written?
How is Jesus still a light in our world today?
What areas in your life could use a little extra “light” this Christmas?
In what ways could knowing Jesus better bring light into your life? What could you do to better know Jesus this Christmas?
Close in Prayer
December 11 | The Best Christmas Ever, Part 2
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to KNOW that Jesus is God choosing to be close to us.
By the end of Whirlwind, we want students to BE ABLE TO commit some time to be with God this season.
Read Isaiah 7:14. Why is this verse significant around this time of year?
Immanuel means “God with us”. While it’s not Jesus’ birth name, how does it represent who Jesus is?
Why do you think it matters that God wants to be with us?
When something amazing happens, who do you want to tell first?
How does important information get communicated in our world today?
How did God choose to announce the birth of Jesus? (who, what, when, where…)
What does that tell you about God?
How do the shepherds respond to the news?
Think about how God wants to be with us – not just us, but God wants to be with you – how does that make you feel?
Christmas is ultimately about celebrating the birth of Jesus… the moment God went to be with us.
How did the angels, Mary, and the shepherds celebrate this moment?
What can you do to celebrate this moment yourself? With your family?
Jesus is Immanuel and Immanuel means God with us. Jesus is God doing whatever He can to be with us… what can you do to be with God this season?
What would help you to follow through on that?
Close in Prayer