Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. Tomorrow is a day that features football bowl games. Why do you believe team sports appeal to us, even more than individual sports competitions?
2. What team experiences have you had (sports, work, social organization, etc.)? What makes a team effort more satisfying than working alone?
Read Ephesians 4:1-6.
1. What makes a person worthy of being a part of a specific team? How do those qualifications compare to what makes a person worthy of being a part of Jesus’ team—his church?
2. Underline each of the seven “ones” in verses 4–6. Choose two or three of these and explain why each one leads to unity in the church. For example, the idea of the church being a single body shows us that each part is important for the health of the whole. One baptism is vital because every member of the church can point to the specific time when he or she joined the team by identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
Read Ephesians 4:7-11.
3. What are some things that are “apportioned?” (For example: the number of representatives a state has, the amount of tax burden each person has, the inheritance specific heirs receive, etc.) Are apportioned amounts the same as equal amounts? How can there be unity in the church if gifts are apportioned rather than having all gifts be the same?
4. Verse 11 is the subject of some debate. Pick one of these interpretations and try to support it: 1) Position as the gift to a person—Jesus gives certain individuals the gift of being an apostle or a prophet or an evangelist or a pastor and teacher. 2) Person as the gift to the church—Jesus gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers themselves as gifts to the church.
Read Ephesians 4:12-16.
5. What are some specialized equipment needs of a sport? According to Paul, what are the equipment needs of the church? What are the results of having a well-equipped church?
6. Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau taught that human teachers and leaders corrupt the inborn goodness of the immature and are unnecessary at best and harmful at worst. How would Paul respond to that contention?
7. Consider the commands to “tell it like it is” and “let the chips fall as they may.” How does a Bible standard for teaching differ from these instructions?
8. Make a New Year’s resolution based on what you have learned from this text.