Almost 2 decades ago, for Christmas, I got a series called First Century Diaries, and it’s the events of Acts retold by the people involved. One of my favorite characters in the book is Lydia, she’s this force of nature in her enthusiasm to help others. It’s especially fun to see her take on Paul and convince him to do what she wants. So, when I found a tween Bible study on Lydia, I knew I wanted to try it with my 8th-grade girls for a different take on a Bible lesson.
(there are affiliate links in here, Kathy Hutto books gave me a free copy of the Lydia study)
Most women/girl Bible studies
If a women’s Bible study is going to study someone from the Bible they will go to Ruth, Esther, and maybe if they’re feeling confident in the Protestant roots and don’t think they’ll be called secret Catholics, Mary the mother of Jesus.
All of those are good women to study.
But you know what? I’ve studied them about 70 million times in my many decades at Bible studies. All of my 8th-grade girls breathed a sigh of relief that we weren’t studying Ruth.
Princess has studied Ruth 3 different times through different Bible studies.
So, it was fun to see another woman chosen and go through a Lydia Bible study.
What is the Lydia Bible Study like?
The lesson is five parts long. I suspect, this study might have been done as part of a Vacation Bible School, because it kept referring to “Day One,” or “Day Two,” but we completed the study over five weeks.
I’m missing pictures this time
Side, completely unrelated note. I don’t have the pictures I usually have, because I don’t really feel comfortable posting pictures of other people’s kids on my blog. So imagine a group of five 13-year-olds gathered around a picnic table sitting in their swimsuits as we go through the Bible study, and afterward jumping into the pool for an hour.
Back to the Bible study
Each week you learn a little more about Lydia and talk about a different aspect of the first-century culture.
Where you can get the Lydia Bible study to join in
Wait, let me back up to the introduction
I MADE all of the girls read the introduction to the Lydia Bible study. They’re in junior high, and they all needed to hear this. Let’s not kid ourselves, junior high is hard.
In case you need to hear it, I’ll repeat it. Junior high is hard.
You are LOVED. Isaiah 43:1
You are WORTHY. 1 Corinthians 7:23
You are UNDERSTOOD. Hebrews 4:15
You are HELPED. Psalm 46:1
You are NOT ALONE. Isaiah 41:10
I think the introduction is when I fell in love with this Bible study.
I had them do the homework
I did this study with girls a little old for this study. Ideally, I think this study would be great for 10-year-olds. My girls were a little old for it, but we had some great discussions, so I was happy.
Aside from week one, they were expected to show up to Bible study with the study already completed.
Having now completed the study, I would also add in, because they were a little old for the study, read all of Acts 16 for each week.
Each week they came talking about how they enjoyed what they learned.
Whether it was a little bit about Jewish customs of the time and rules for how to form a synagogue, or how purple fabric was made because that was the business Lydia owned.
Each week had a small challenge at the end of the study. Many of the challenges were easy to think through. But, our group’s favorite challenge was the “encourage someone at your church who is feeling discouraged.” The week before we’d talked about the pastors and the difficulties they were having with ministering to people during the quarantine.
This week we talked about the parking team. My husband is on the team, and unsurprisingly there’s not a lot for them to do when most people are watching online, so they have lots of time to talk. Most of the people on the parking team are police officers. They’re discouraged right now. People are defacing the police cars, and generally attacking them.
We knew the people on this team personally. It wasn’t a general, “someone who is discouraged,” it was Mr. Tim, who went on the mission trip with us, or Mr. Kurt we’ve said hi to every Sunday (when we went to church in person).
They started suggesting ways to encourage them, and it got around to how they were encouraged when we dropped off cookies, and so we all agreed for the last week of our Bible study after we were done, we’d go by the police department, and deliver cookies and cards.
How the conversation went as we dropped off the cookies
I set this up ahead of time with our friend, Tim, because they can’t trust cookies dropped off by random people, those are often dropped in the trash because of suspicions of tampering.
I took a picture in front of the building, I can post this because between the masks and sunglasses it does great to obscure their identity. We headed in and talked to the officer at the check-in desk.
He thanked us, and said, “Okay, you can just drop them here,” indicating the very narrow ledge at the desk.
I looked dubiously at the ledge and said, “Ummm, I don’t think they’ll fit there.” He said give him a moment and then headed back through the maze of hallways and reappeared opening a conference room door.
We went into a small conference room and started unloading our cookies onto the table. His eyes slowly widened as we took out plate after plate and bag after bag of cookies. By the time we were done, the conference table was covered by all those cookies and a bag of cards.
After looking over the table, he shook his head and said, “I guess we’re going to have a good 4th of July this weekend, thank you, ladies.”
Those girls, young women, were smiling ear to ear as we went out and couldn’t stop talking about the reaction.
We worked on prayer at the end of each session of the Lydia Bible study
Each week the study ended with prayer time. Each week the prayer focused on a different part of their life relevant to what we talked about.
So, on the week we talked about the church, of course, we walked step by step through the people at the church. Some people mentioned our church didn’t have. So we thought about what was the closest position our church had and thought about how we could pray for them.
Get your own copy of the Lydia Bible study
Learn more about the book of Acts
Tips for discipling Tweens
I’ve been working with these girls for the past two years, and it’s only since the quarantine that I’ve only been working with the same five girls.
You don’t have the right to tell them what to do if you aren’t willing to spend time with them.
I’ll admit I’m going above and beyond by setting up all of these extra activities with the girls, but even when you’re at church. Don’t just stand there talking to the other adults, talk to the kids you’re working with. Ask how their week at school went, how that it’s going with that frustrating younger brother.
They won’t tell you what’s important if they don’t think you value them.
Be honest with them
Tell them about your life too. About a year and a half ago I had a friend of two decades, a friend who had been in my wedding, suddenly cut all contact with me, and publicly say on Facebook some untrue things. I told, in an age-appropriate way the troubles I was having (they didn’t need the whole 2-decade history or all of the current problems).
This did two things:
- They learned everyone has problems, and it’s not just them.
- I was willing to trust them. Why would they tell me their troubles, if I’m not willing to reveal mine?
This age is tricky, one moment you’re dealing with a 23-year-old and having an amazing conversation, the next they’re acting like a 3-year-old and throwing a fit.
We spent the past five weeks going through this Lydia Bible study, but we also spent half that time playing. We talked and laughed as we swam.
Last week we watched Hamilton together.
Yep, I’ve got a bunch of theater nerds! You won’t believe how happy it makes me to just sit and talk musicals.
Side note on have fun
This is not your be-all, end-all goal. Kids will have fun no matter what you’re doing if you let them. Allow them time to breathe into the moments. We laughed so much through our Lydia Bible study as we discussed different things or moments where someone misspoke and it became a big joke.
That’s it from me today.