Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sunday School Lesson Recap: The Kingdom of God and How We Help Build It on Earth

The subject for this month is "Building the Kingdom of God on Earth", which has a lot of potential. I am excited about this month, especially since I want to incorporate a Christmas and New Year's slant the last two weeks of the month (focused on modeling Jesus' life as an aspect of building the kingdom of God and on New Year's resolutions as a way to learn repentance - both of which I am going to discuss in the context of establishing Zion).

Anyway, the lesson last Sunday was very much a discussion lesson. I started by putting the month's discussion topic on the chalkboard and writing "What?" on one side and "How?" on the other side.

I asked the students to define "the kingdom of God" how they see it. I got the following responses:

Those who follow God

All of God's children

Those who try to keep the commandments

Those who serve others

I was really happy with those answers. I have some wonderful students in my class.

At that point, I asked for any other definitions people might give, and I got the following:

Members of the Church

We then talked about who constitutes each group, and everyone agreed that all of them except the last one include members and non-members alike - especially if we define "God" as broadly as possible to mean "whatever people call God". Given that understanding, I mentioned that we would talk in the next lesson about how we "build up" those who follow God, all of God's children, those who try to keep the commandments, those who serve others and members of the Church - and I initiated the next conversation by sharing what my oldest daughter said after her first endowment session in the temple:

Dad, we work so hard to build up the kingdom of God that we forget to establish Zion.

I repeated that we would focus on building the kingdom through "missionary work" in this lesson and talk more about establishing Zion in the next one.

We talked about the difference between the Gospel and the Church, and the we talked abut how to share the Church effectively - since we will talk more next week about sharing the Gospel in the context of establishing Zion.  I asked how many of them had hunted and/or fished. Most of them had fished, and a few of them had hunted.

I asked how we fish now, as concisely as possible. One of the students said, "Rod, line, hook, worm." We laughed, and since I can't be that concise, I rephrased it as, "We pick a spot where we think fish are, pick bait we think they will want to eat, and throw that bait and hook on a line into the water where we think they are." I asked if there was any other way to fish, and one mentioned fly fishing. I described that style as, essentially, the same thing but using a different method of trying to attract the fish - a more quick-hitting method of putting the bait on the surface instead of deeper into the water to mimic a different kind of bait for different kinds of fish.

We turned to hunting, and the summary was, "Gun." (Teenagers can be hilarious.) We talked about how the only real difference between hunting and fishing as we had discussed was that when you hunt you can see your target and choose whether or not to shoot a particular animal, whereas with fishing you have to real it in to see what it is and whether to keep it or not. Hunting is much more like choosing a particular person to approach.

I then asked how people fished in Biblical times, and we discussed the difference in using nets cast into the water.

We ended the lesson by applying those methods to missionary work - discussing how we can target an area where we think interested people are, choose a topic (bait), throw it into the area and see who asks questions (takes the bait) - or we can focus on a particular person, wait for them to come into our view or seek them out and launch an attack (rifle hunting) - or we can cast a net (by talking with everyone about our lives and seeing who swims into the net).

We talked about how each person will respond to various methods differently and how it is important to try to understand people as well as possible before picking a method for any individual - to not assume one approach method will work for everyone. We talked about what can happen if we use the wrong method on people - for example, how the students would feel if someone else tried to convert them in a way that simply didn't resonate at all with them. We also talked about how people react when they feel "targeted" or "attacked" - how much more effective sharing anything is when the other person knows it's being done out of real love and genuineness.

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