Preparation for Persecution Lesson Plan Activity
Time Needed: Three hours minimum.
Learning Level: Appropriate for Middle School Children through Adults
- Students will recognize that Christians are persecuted throughout the world, sometimes having their Bibles outlawed.
- Students will be reminded that the Holy Spirit has created and sustained their faith, giving them all that they need to know for salvation.
- Students will be encouraged to continue to memorize Scripture and carry God’s Word in their hearts.
Objectives will be assessed by the instructor throughout the discussions and activities. Questions for an optional written reflection are included at the end.
- empty notebooks
- comfortable furniture
- small group meeting space
- large group meeting space
(Technology such as internet access and computers, PowerPoint or document software, and a projector and screen are helpful but not crucial to this activity.)
Preparing for the Activity
You will need a minimum of three hours to complete this activity. It may be better to plan this for an extended afternoon or evening for the youth, or a day-long event for adults. In your advertising, be vague and mysterious. Create suspense by letting your audience know that for this church event, Bibles are NOT allowed.
1. Introduction: Discussion of the Persecuted Church
- Persecution throughout history: List and discuss some common times of Christian persecution, such as persecution under Nero in the Roman Empire, martyrs being burned at the stake in the decades before and after the Reformation, or Christian and Jewish persecution in the Holocaust. Feel free to bring in some other compelling, but lesser known examples of persecution and martyrdom, such as Perpetua and Felicity, or Pol Pot’s systematic genocide in Cambodia.
- Persecution throughout the world: Tell the audience about some key places throughout the world where Christians are persecuted, and how. Or have smaller groups from your audience research and report persecution in nations such as Belarus, China, Cuba, and Sudan. (Options: http://www.persecution.com for more information. The Prayer Map on this site is an excellent resource and lists information about persecution in individual countries. Or http://www.christianfreedom.org/persecuted-christians-map/)
- Persecution beginning in America: Brainstorm more subtle ways that persecution is taking place in America (such as Christians being considered ‘bigots’ or losing their jobs for the belief that homosexuality is wrong, or the marriage penalty for health insurance: http://www.wnd.com/2010/02/124658)
- Jesus promises persecution and Christians in the Bible experienced it: Read and discuss the following passages (or look them up if your audience has brought along Bibles): Mark 10:29-31; Acts 8:1; Acts 13:50; 2 Timothy 3:11–12; Philippians 1:9
- The benefits of persecution: Many Christians in persecuted countries pray that Americans will be persecuted for their faith, so it will grow! Read and discuss: Acts 11:19 (the scattering of believers brings the Gospel into the world), 2 Corinthians 12:10 (God is made strong in our weakness), Matthew 5:10–12 (the persecuted are blessed, and will receive a great reward in Heaven), 1 Peter 3:18 (Christ suffered; when we suffer, we become more Christ-like), James 1:2–3 (persecution produces patience).
- The key point to drive home is that Jesus has foretold of persecution to His followers, and today Bibles are limited and confiscated in many persecuted countries, but God doesn’t leave His people without tools.
2. Main Activity: Piecing together the Bible
The main activity involved in this lesson is testing our own collective Bible knowledge. How well have we memorized the Bible? What if we were in a country where Bibles were confiscated? Would we still have God’s Word in our hearts? As a group, your task is to “rewrite” the Bible from memory. Use your knowledge of the Bible to write down as much of it as you know and remember, starting from an outline of the Books of the Bible. Divide your audience into smaller groups.
Assign certain books of the Bible (or sections, such as the ‘minor prophets’ or ‘pastoral epistles’) to various smaller groups. Try to have those groups outline the book as best they can. Then, have the members of the group fill in specific passages as best they can. For example:
Group 1 is assigned Genesis. They outline that Genesis 1 and 2 are the account of creation. Genesis 3 is the fall into sin. Genesis 6 is the beginning of the account of Noah. Genesis 11 is the Tower of Babel. Genesis 12 is the beginning of the account of Abraham, etc. Then, they can recall specific passages in those chapters, like “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...” Genesis 1:1. Another group might be working on the Gospel of Matthew, while another group works on Romans in a similar manner.
When the members of a group exhausts their memory of whole book, they can report to the main group and have their knowledge recorded, possibly on a shared Word document or PowerPoint presentation, and the full group can critique or add other parts that the smaller group did not recall. Then, move on to assign that group another book of the Bible until all have been covered. It will be beneficial to have the smaller group type up their outlines, and have a full group recorder copy and paste the small group outlines into the full group outline.
Once the books of the Bible have been exhausted, assign the chief parts of the Small Catechism to various groups. Encourage them to recall the proof passages for the various parts to flesh out the full group Bible outline. This can also be done with the liturgy and hymns, especially because they spur on the memory Scripture passages.
3. Recap of Activity/Discussion of Preparing for Persecution
Once your group outline of Scripture is completed to the best of your ability (this will probably take several hours!), discuss and reflect on the fact that you were able to remember, at minimum, enough to present the Law and the Gospel clearly—everything needed for salvation. God has preserved His Word in your heart! Lead the discussion in the direction of encouraging the audience to continue to practice memorizing Scripture in their daily lives. One of the best ways to prepare for persecution is to hide God’s Word in our hearts. Challenge the audience to memorize a whole chapter of Scripture (perhaps a chapter that no one in the group was able to recall), or even a whole book. Perhaps plan to meet again in a month or a year to fill in more on the Bible outline.
End with a prayer for the persecuted church, and ask that God would build us up in His Word, hiding His word in our hearts (cf. Psalm 119:11) that we may be filled with the Holy Spirit to face the coming persecution.
4. (Optional): Written Reflection on the Activity
If desired, have the individuals in the audience write answers to reflect on the following questions:
- Were you surprised to learn about any of the martyrs or examples of persecution in the world? What examples shocked you the most? Why?
- Was your group collectively able to recall the Law and the Gospel, as well as pertinent Scripture passages? What does this tell you about the character of God?
- How much Scripture were you individually able to remember and contribute? Was it more or less than you would have predicted?
- What passages of Scripture do you think would be beneficial to have memorized?
- What hinders you from memorizing Scripture? How can you combat those challenges?
This lesson plan was originally posted at Into Your Hands LLC. It has been reprinted here by permission of the author.
Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson lives in Mankato, Minnesota, with her husband Ryan and their children, whom she homeschools. She is a certified Classical Lutheran Educator (Consortium for Classical Lutheran Educators), author of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood (2018), and editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More (2016).