Youth and adults
This lesson uses John’s letter to seven churches in Asia Minor (a.k.a. the book of Revelation) to take a look at the churches of the current day and then to focus on an evaluation of our own church and even our own hearts. The debrief is intended to lead individuals toward repentance.
- Printed copies of “7 Churches of Revelation – Chart” (can be found on the Lesson and Materials Download page at www.teachingthem.com)
- Flipchart with paper
- Print copies of “7 Churches of Revelation – Chart” (one per participant).
- Write the debrief questions and the individual reflection steps on a flipchart, but conceal them until it’s time to do the debrief. (Alternatively, you could put these on a PowerPoint slide and project it.)
- Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
o “In the book of Revelation in the Bible, John writes a message (really a letter) that comes directly from Jesus to seven churches in Asia Minor (current-day Turkey).”
o “The seven churches are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”
o “Chapters 2 and 3 are specifically addressed to each of the seven churches one-by-one.”
o “In these two chapters, Jesus gives an evaluation to the churches and calls several of them to repentance.”
o “Bible scholars typically believe that there are three ways of understanding these two chapters.”
o “The first is historical. These churches actually existed and had the strengths and weaknesses mentioned in the letter.”
o “The second is prophetic. These churches can also represent ages in church history from the beginning of the Church in the book of Acts to the present day.”
o “The third way to understand the descriptions of these churches is as types of different churches that typically all exist at any given time somewhere around the world.”
o “This third way of understanding is our focus today.”
o “We are going to use the descriptions of the seven churches to learn more about what can happen to any church depending on how it treats the claims, commands and the Person of Christ.”
o “The church at Ephesus had lost its passion.”
o “The church at Smyrna was under persecution but keeping their faith.”
o “The church at Pergamum was following worldly ways and false teachers.”
o “The church at Thyatira was compromising and tolerating false prophets and immorality related to sex, money and power.”
o “The church of Sardis was spiritually dead.”
o “The church at Philadelphia was small but spiritually alive.”
o “The church at Laodicea was so rich that they had stopped depending on God for anything.”
o “In your table groups, I would like to you to read through Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. You can do it out loud or individually.” (Allow time (5-10 min) for reading through the two chapters. As they do, pass out the handouts of the charts to each table – one per participant.)
o “I have passed out to you a chart that summarizes the descriptions of each of the churches.”
o “It tells what their Strengths and Weaknesses are from Jesus’ perspective.”
o “Then, it tells about Jesus’ Instruction, Warning and Promise to each church.”
o “Read through this chart individually, and underline or highlight anything you want to remember.”
o “Then, when everyone at the table is done reading, work through the questions on the flip chart at the front of the room.” (Reveal the debrief questions. Allow 15-20 minutes for discussion and individual reflection. Then do a large group debrief to capture what they learned.)
o “I want to give you an opportunity now to think about your own church and about your own spiritual condition.”
o “Take some time in quiet, individual reflect to work through these steps.” (Show the flipchart with the Individual Reflection steps, and allow 10-15 minutes for personal reflection. Afterward, give an opportunity for anyone who feels especially led to share something that God put on their heart.)
o “When a church or an individual has unconfessed sin in their life, it drives a wedge between them and God.”
o “It doesn’t mean that they lose their ‘lampstand’ or their personal salvation, but it puts distance in the relationship.”
o “In order to restore the relationship, the individuals in the church or the individual for himself has to confess and repent.”
o “There is no restoration without repentance.”
1. Do you feel these descriptions match churches that are in existence today? Why or why not?
2. Give some examples of churches today or from what you know of past churches or ages within the church.
3. How do you know that these churches are like the ones described in Revelation?
4. What do you think needs to be done for these churches (at least the ones that need to repent) to become the types of churches God wants them to be?
5. What do you think will happen if they don’t repent?
1. Which of the seven churches is most like your church?
2. Why do you think that is?
3. What needs to be done?
4. Which of the seven churches is most like your heart?
5. Why do you think that is?
6. What needs to be done?
7. Take some time now to talk to God in prayer.
a. Confess any sins of your church or in your personal life that the Holy Spirit has brought to your attention.
b. Repent of these sins, and commit to making changes that will please the Lord.
c. Write down your commitments and put them someplace you will remember to look at them often.