We Join The Outsiders

Acts 8:26-40, Philip & the Ethiopian Eunuch

Note to the Teacher

The key phrase in this Scripture (for this lesson) is “Do you really understand?” The Ice Breaker invites youth to wonder about the purpose of a variety of items. The Discussion encourages students to think about why the Ethiopian didn’t understand and how they have come to understand Scripture. The Activity allows youth to experience the frustration and joy of not understanding in full, but trying anyway. Times are based on a 50-minute lesson period, but can be adjusted.

Time Description of Activity
10 min

1. Ice Breaker: What is It?

This Old House had a segment called “What Is It?” One host presented an obscure, very specific tool, and everyone else had to guess what it might be for. Once everyone guesses, the one who understands the tool explains it.

  • Option 1: High Tech
    There are many clips of this segment on YouTube. Show a few to your youth. Pause before the answer is given to allow your youth to make their own guesses.
  • Option 2: Low Tech
    Bring in some of your own obscure tools or household items. These may include items that once were common that are not part of our youth’s lives. Consider items like: an old floppy disk, a letter opener, TV antenna, napkin rings, vise grips, paint can opener, zester, etc. Have the youth guess what each item is really used for.
5 min

2. Read Scripture 

Our Scripture reading today happens after Jesus has died and been raised, during the period when the Apostles were trying to establish the early church.
Read Acts 8:26-40.

15 min 3. Discussion

There are two main people in our story today. Who are they, and what do we know about them?[1]

  • Why do you think the eunuch would go all the way from Ethiopia to Jerusalem? Do you think he was satisfied with his trip?[2]
  • How does it feel to be left out? What are ways that the church has left people out?[3]
  • The Ethiopian read a passage from Isaiah 53:7-8. What did Philip understand about this passage that the Ethiopian did not?

Read Isaiah 53.

  • In what ways does this chapter describe Jesus? In what ways does it seem like a stretch?
  • If you had never been to church before, do you think you would understand this passage?
  • Who or what in your history helps this make sense to you?

For the next four weeks, our class is learning about the Power of the Holy Spirit. Where do you see the Spirit acting in this story?

20 min 4. Activity and Discussion
Take this lesson to the next level by getting student’s hands and imaginations involved using the activity Phillip, the Ethiopian, and a Marshmallow Sculpture from the Youth Worker Collective available at youthworkercollective.com/philip-the-ethiopian-and-a-marshmallow-sculpture-a-hands-on-activity

Close in the manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys/concerns from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.

50 min

NEEDED RESOURCES:

  • YouTube clips of This Old House (high tech option)
  • Computer w/ speakers or TV
  • Assorted “unknown” household items (low tech option)

[1] Philip might be one of the 12 disciples or one of the 7 men elected after Jesus’ death to handle administrative details (Acts 6). The other man in our story is an unnamed eunuch (YOO-nuck) from Ethiopia. During this historical period, a eunuch was usually a man who had been castrated. Often these men served rulers, because they were not seen as a typical, aggressive, male threat. According to Deuteronomy, a eunuch could not participate fully in worship life.

[2] He may have been acting for the Candace, seeking information about this emerging religion. He may have been making a spiritual pilgrimage. He is leaving reading Isaiah, but he is confused about it. He may feel like an outsider to the very thing he came seeking to participate in. He doesn’t appear to have received the knowledge, wisdom, or spiritual growth he was seeking.

[3] In The UMC: The Central Jurisdiction discriminated by race 1939-1956. Women didn’t have full clergy rights until 1956. The church is currently debating inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons. Other denominations: only unmarried men as Catholic priests, communion only for members, minimum age for communion,

Active Element

Want to get active with this lesson?  We have a great element called “Who Am I” that works great.  You can get it at the Youth Worker Collective: youthworkercollective.com/who-am-i-exploring-acts-4-through-name-tags.

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