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Session 1: Introducing the Journey [1]

Choose a special time for this study
It will work best if you can find a somewhat scheduled and consistent time to set aside for this study with your son or daughter. I suggest a weekly time or date, when you can set aside some undistracted time alone with your child.

Suggested outline
The following is a suggestion of how to guide the conversation for the first session.

1. Opening up

  • Begin by asking them a question and then sharing your own answer to the question.
    • Ask: Has God ever felt especially near to you? Can you describe a time when God felt near, like when he clearly answered a prayer, or comforted you in sadness or pain, or stirred your heart in worship?
    • Answer: Parents, as you answer the same questions, use this time to tell the story of how you first trusted the Lord Jesus. Feel free to cite different examples of God’s presence but highlight your first experience of his presence when you came to faith.

Transition: as we talk about experiencing God, most people start to ask the question – how do we connect with God?

2. Connecting with God

  • A lot of people actually struggle to connect with God. They don’t what He is like or how to experience Him. Why is that? Why might we struggle? (Brainstorm with your child)
    • Some common struggles include: 1) we cannot see God. 2) People who are followers of God often seem like hypocrites; like they believe one thing and then act in a completely different way. It makes us wonder if we can trust them. 3) Sometimes our experience of church is boring. Maybe that makes someone think that God is boring. 4) The Bible often seems very different than what the rest of the world believes. Some people think that the Bible is all about rules that burden people. They think it kills your fun and keeps you from having a full life.
  • Ask: do you struggle to connect with God, or to know Him? Why?
  • Answer: explain how your life would be different had you not encountered Jesus. Where would you be today? Would you have more “life” or less? How has Jesus rescued you? (be open and honest about how He has rescued you from your own sin)

Transition: how can we know for sure what God is like and how to connect with Him?

3. About Mark

  • The Gospel of Mark starts like this: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
    • The word “gospel” means “good news.” This guy Mark, who wrote this biography, is announcing some good news. He begins the whole thing by saying ‘I’m announcing the good news about Jesus the King, who is the Son of God.’ And he’s about to tell us who God is, what He’s like, and how to know Him.
  • Ask: If you wanted to meet someone famous today, who would it be (pick someone like an athlete or musician, etc.)? Would it be easy to setup a time to hang out with them? How would you do it?
    • If you wanted to hangout with someone very important or famous you would need them to come to you. For instance, you would need Steph Curry or John Cena or Taylor Swift to reach out to you and make themselves available. With Jesus, Mark is about to tell us that He came down to meet us. If that’s true, then that means we don’t have to guess what God is like or how we know Him. He’s come to tell us.
    • Now some people wonder, how can I be sure Mark is telling the truth. Here are some things you should know about Mark:
      1. History tells us that John “Mark” worked alongside Peter, as a younger Christian. Many historians think that the stories in his Gospel are the eyewitness accounts relayed from the apostle Peter himself. The Gospels are not asking you to turn off your brain and just believe the stories. They are presenting themselves as eyewitnesses accounts. That’s exactly what Luke says when he writes the Gospel of Luke – that he was compiling an orderly account of eyewitnesses. Mark does the exact same thing in his account.
      2. The Gospel of Mark was the earliest written Gospel, written only 20-30 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Up until that point so many people saw the risen Jesus that they didn’t need a written account – you could just ask the people who saw him. Paul said that on one occasion AFTER his death, over 500 people saw Jesus alive! But for the spread of the message and the continuation of the true account, eyewitness accounts needed to be written down. That’s exactly what Mark gives us a very short after.
      3. Mark died for believing what he wrote in his Gospel account. He obviously really believed that it was true.
    • Summary: all that to say, if we’re going to consider the biggest question you could ask – how can you know God and find true life – then at the very least you need to consider Mark’s eyewitness testimony about the most influential man that ever walked the earth – Jesus.

4. The BIG Picture GOAL

  • Parents, whether you cover all of the above or not, be sure to get across the big picture for this session. From this initial session with your kids you want them to understand:
    1. The most important questions you could consider are:
      • How do you know God?
      • How do you experience the true life he offers?
    2. If anyone is going to explore those questions they would be foolish NOT to read the biography of Jesus, the most influential spiritual leader in history. It’s an incredible opportunity to get to read eyewitness accounts of his life, like here in Mark!
    3. As their mom or dad, tell them why this story has impacted your life. Why does it matter and what does it mean to you? Facts don’t move hearts, but stories do. The Gospel is a story that impacts your story. Start to share it.

5. For next time…

  • Choose a recurring day and time to do this study.
  • Kids and parents: Read Mark chapters 1-4. If this will be a challenge for your son or daughter, read it together over a few days. Read it, or listen to it using a Bible app, like the ESV Bible app or the YouVersion Bible app.
  • Parents, look over the next lesson… coming soon!

[1] I am indebted to the work of several others for these sessions and outlines including: Stephen Phelan’s content at Movementmentoring.live, Timothy Keller’s book Jesus the King and his sermon series entitled “King’s Cross: The Gospel of Mark”, and the teaching material available at ChristianityExplored.org.

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