Background: Read the article by Pamela King and Steven Argue for a broader idea of how joy and purpose are connected. In summary, people find joy when they have purpose. Purpose has four essential elements to it:
Purpose can lead to joy. And, joy is more reliable than happiness because it is grounded in these four elements rather than driven by circumstance and emotion. There is nothing wrong with happiness! But joy endures even when our circumstances change. We can pray for each other that we might have joy. In this lesson, Paul’s prayer for his Philippian friends references joy and seems to include these four purposeful elements.
The Meeting Space: Consider finding a place with a view. This could in a high-rise office of one of your parishioner business people, an observation deck, someone’s house with a view, or in a park on a hill. Plan ahead and get appropriate permission. If you cannot use an alternative site, consider projecting panoramic views off your computer, TV, or screen. If you cannot project panoramic pictures, consider meeting in a different room in the building you use. For consistency, this lesson will assume that you’ve found a special meeting place “offsite.” Adjust accordingly if this is not the case.
The Invitation: You will likely meet during a regularly scheduled youth group time. For this session, plan ahead by communicating with parents/legal guardians that you will be meeting in a different location. Let the parent/legal guardian know where you will be meeting, but ask them to hold off telling their teenagers as you will be communicating with them via text message.
Do you know WHERE you’re going? Watch for details. #joyonpurpose
Do you know WHY you’re going? Seek for details. #joyonpurpose
Do you know WHEN you’re going? [Add info about the day/time/place your group will meet. #joyonpurpose
Purpose is the fuel for joy [Add info about the day/time/place your group will meet.] See you tonight! #joyonpurpose
The Venue + Gathering
To help students understand their purpose and how their purpose leads to their joy.
Gather (10 minutes)
Leader [Say]: Let’s start our time together by thanking God for the chance we have to be together. I want you to address a text message to my number. [give them your number]. Say you’ll explain in a second.
[Pray]. Jesus, thank you for your presence in our lives today, whether we realized you were present or not. You’ve seen the best and worst of our day so you understand how we’re feeling right now- whether happy or sad, content or restless, at peace or upset.
[Invite]. Ask student to text you a word that describes their day today. Tell them you’ll read the words but not give out names.
[Read]. For us, today has been … [read the texts out loud]
[Continue to pray] Thank you for accepting us just where we are at and that we can be together right now. You say that you are with us when we gather in your name. Thank you that we can seek you because you seek us. Amen.
Leader [Say]: Tonight, I want us to reflect on what it means to have joy on purpose. To do this, I’m going to need your help. For starters, what do you think we should do with this box?
Leader: Take time to hear what students say about why they should unwrap this box. Build up the anticipation. Have fun with this mysterious moment!
Engage (30 minutes)
Leader [Say]. I suppose we should unwrap the box then?
Leader [Say]. Let’s pull out the big cardboard poster boards and place them around the room
After everyone is done posting their answers…
Leader [Say]: Okay, now, want you to break up in groups around each of the poster-boards. Then say:
NOW: Give students a 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper that has the following Scripture passage on it:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. [Philippians 1.3-6]
Leader: Have a student read this passage.
Leader [Say]: Tonight I want to talk about joy. In fact, we’re already talking about joy! Think about the things you just reported. Then ask…
Leader [Say]: You all did great. As you probably experienced, describing joy can be difficult. But, I think we all know it when we feel it, right?
Leader [Say]. What’s interesting is that your poster board answers seem to get at what brings us joy.
This is joy!
It’s bigger than “happiness” because the feeling is only part of it.
Joy has a sense of purpose to it.
We have #joyonpurpose
Some would say that #joyonpurpose has these four elements that we can practice:
Intro: We discover joy when we remember that each of us brings something to our world that our world can’t live without. Only you can do it! The world needs you!
Okay, in your groups, go around and share an answer to one of these four questions.
Leader: Given each group time to share their answers and talk with each other. Then say:
Leader: Point them to the Scripture passage: Philippians 1.3-6
When we have purpose, we find joy.
This is what Paul prays for, for his friends:
Notice what he says:
Reflect (15 minutes)
Leader: After you offer this short teaching, have students get back into their small groups and answer the following question:
Q: Of all the promises connected with Joy and Purpose, which one is the hardest for you to believe?
Here, the leader may offer a prayer for the whole group or s/he may instruct the students to pray for each other in their small groups.
Send Forth (5 minutes)
Leader: Offer some inspiring words to your students in light of these truths we just discussed.
Leader [suggest]: That the group use the hashtag #joyonpurpose when they post something that connects with their purpose/gifts/talents and points them toward joy. Remind them to look for #joyonpurpose in their lives and online- when we do something that brings us joy or see one of our friends having joy on purpose, respond to them with this hashtag– #joyonpurpose
Leader [Group Picture]: Take a group picture. Offer a final blessing and then dismiss them.
Jesus, thank you for reminding us that we matter, that we have gifts to share, that our gifts and talents can make the world a better place, and that our purpose in life can connected with others we love and care about. Help us to discover this kind of joy throughout our week. Amen.
After the group dismisses, Send a text of the picture to the whole group with the hashtag #joyonpurpose
This resource includes supplementary materials:
Introduction for Leaders