Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    BIBLE STUDY: Where/Who/What is God?

    With apologies to some of our readers, I have to admit that I am no fan of country music. But when I recently asked my youth if they had any popular songs they would like me to use as the focus for a Bible study, the immediate suggestions were two country songs, one by Josh Turner and one by George Strait. Both songs deal with how we experience God in our lives. Below you will find a complete plan for a discussion and Bible study based around the theme "Who/What/Where is God?" using the songs "I Saw God Today" and "Me and God."

    THEME: Who/What/Where Is God?
    Youth will be invited to consider how others understand God and how these understandings compare and contrast with their own understandings of God.
    • Youth will brainstorm a list of words to describe God.
    • Youth will investigate a series of scriptural images of God.
    • Youth will discuss the images of God in two different songs.
    • Youth will share their own understandings of God.
    Opening Up: Begin with a quick brainstorming game. Starting with the first letter of the alphabet, go around the room one person at a time and ask each person to suggest a word that describes or names God with each successive letter of the alphabet. For example, person one might say “All-knowing.” Person two “Big.” Person three “Caring.” And so on. Set a time limit (maybe three minutes) and see how far you can get through the letters in that time.

    Digging In: Share that there are many ways that faithful people understand/name/describe God. The different writers in the Bible talk about God in various ways. Ask several people to read the scriptures below and discuss briefly what sort of image of God is presented in each writer’s words:

    Exodus 3: 7-10 (God working through people)
    Exodus 13:21 (God working through natural world)
    Isa. 66:12-13 (God as a mother)
    Isaiah 64:8 (God as father/potter)
    1 John 4: 7-13 (God as love itself)
    (See many more possibilities here.)

    Reflecting: Pass out lyric sheets for the two songs. Beginning with Josh Turner’s “Me and God,” either listen to the song or watch the music video on YouTube. Next, invite the youth to imagine that Josh was just in the room sharing his thoughts on God and faith through his song. Use the discussion questions below to consider:

    How would you describe Josh’s thinking about God?
    Name some ways he describes God. What kind of relationship does he seem to have with God?
    What do you think of this way of talking (singing!) about God? Does it fit your understanding? Is it scriptural? How is it the same as yours? How is it different?
    If you were hired to make the music video for this song, how would you depict God (or would you?)

    Next, listen to George Strait’s “I Saw God Today” or watch the video (see above). Again, invite the youth to imagine that George was just in the room sharing his thoughts on God and faith through his song. Use the discussion questions below to consider:

    What do you think of the different ways the song describes God?
    The song says “I know He's here, but I don't look near as often as I should. I know I should. His fingerprints are everywhere. I'd just slow down to stop and stare opened my eyes and man I swear, I saw God today.” What do you think it means to say that God’s fingerprints are everywhere?
    Where do you see/find God around you?
    If you were going to make the music video of this song, how would you show God in the video?
    Why do you think both of these songwriters refer to God as “He?” Based on his song, how you think Josh would react to the other images from scripture we looked at earlier? What about George? What about you?
    What sort of differences do you see in the way they each think about God?

    Closing: Invite each person to share one place or way in their personal lives that they encounter God, whether it be in church, in the natural world, in other people, in prayer, etc. Close in prayer.


    Nathaniel Dame said...

    Some very interesting ideas. Thanks for the very well thought through outline.

    Tommy said...

    In response to the scripture end of the different intellect idea. I was curious if you contemplated non Biblical sources. I can think of a few phrases, or even story arcs that exemplify core ideas about God that are quite powerful. One that comes to mind is in a book called Lying Awake. It is about the story of a new nun who begins to have large migraines, and later those migraines turn into mystical experiences. She is given the opportunity to get rid of the migraines thus the experiences and has to decide whether she wants to do that and make life easier for her sisters or to get rid of them and thus making life less stressful for them.

    Kristin said...

    Thanks for this bible study! I love it! As a new youth minister I am starting to feel very overwhelmed and running out of resources for devotions. Your site has been an answer to prayer!

    Brian Kirk said...

    Tommy, I like your idea of including noncanonical examples. Perhaps the teens could be invited to think of secular examples of where they have encountered understandings of God, perhaps in films or fiction (and their own lives).