Reaching Out: Our Call To Minister: Introduction

What's New:

About this study unit.
All of us want to involve our young people in the life of the Church, and we know it is not an easy task. Young people are pulled in a hundred different directions by what they encounter in books, at school, on TV, and with their peers – and precious few of those influences reflect values even remotely Christian. Our children can easily reach the mistaken conclusion that the Church is irrelevant to their lives and decisions because it is in conflict with many of the ideas which are accepted by out society.

This unit is intended to accomplish the following:

  • To educate teenagers about and involve them in Christ-like service
  • To instill in teens the idea that the Orthodox Church, while a place of action where people do things, is also a place where people constantly reflect on what they are doing in prayerful effort to discern what God wants us to do.
  • To familiarize teens with the Orthodox Church in America’s Resource Handbook for Lay Ministries
  • To motivate teenagers to serve and minister to others

By the end of this unit the student should:

  • Understand the importance of the relationship between reflection [prayer] and action [service]
  • Understand why the command to serve others is required of all people who call themselves Christians
  • Understand that they have been given special gifts and talents by God in order to help people in need
  • Be able to list some of the God-given gifts, talents, and abilities.
  • Be able to identify people within their parish and local community who need the assistance or ministry of others
  • Be able to list several ways that can minister to people in their own communities
  • Be prompted to do things to help people in need
  • Be able to outline the process of planning, running, and evaluating Christ-like service projects in their community

Age and grade level:

  • junior and senior high school youth between the ages of 13 and 18

Reproducing this unit:

  • This unit was designed to be reproduced locally. Every teacher and staff member should have his or her own copy.

Additional resources:

While there are many resources which you may wish to utilize while exploring this unit, the Orthodox Church in America’s Resource Handbook for Lay Ministries is the primary resource needed for this unit. You will need a copy for yourself, with copies of parts for each participant listen in each session’s Materials Needed section.
Note on the Resource Handbook. The Resource Handbook is published in a number of installments each year and contains articles written by lay people and clergy describing the kinds of ministry being done in our parishes. These include ‘internal’ ministry to seniors, youth, families, singles, students, and others within the parish, as well as ‘external’ ministry to those in the community who need food, clothing, a place to meet [ie Alcoholic Anonymous, Over Eaters Anonymous, Day Care, etc], or just someone who cares. Copies of the Resource Handbook may be ordered from the Orthodox Christian Publicans Center, PO Box 588, Wayne, NJ, 07470; 201/694-5782; Fax 201/305-1478; or online at

Be flexible and creative!

Most sessions are planned for one hour, but you can be fairly flexible depending on class discussion [if these are fruitful, you won’t want to break them up too soon] and on how much you yourself take part in discussions. Decide based on your knowledge of your particular group: do they talk freely on their own, or do they need you to lead discussion by prompting, asking questions, giving examples, asking for clarification, etc.

Understanding that class sizes vary greatly, the unit is designed so that even if your class is very small, perhaps even on or two students, you can still do the activities.

While first providing the biblical basis, the unit is designed to involve teens in actually doing service as early as possible. It covers four major areas of Christ-like service: (a) feeding the hungry; (b) visiting the sick, imprisoned, homebound, etc; (c) giving clothing, medicines, etc; (d) welcoming strangers.

The unit is designed around the assumption that each project will be repeated two to three times in order to give teens a certain familiarity and comfort zone with each type of service.

Throughout the unit questions are followed by basic answers in order to assist the teacher in guiding discussion. Try not to give or look for the exact written answer. Rather, encourage students to discuss the question enough so that they will come-up with an answer which includes the main ideas contained in the given answer, but in their own words. The more they can discuss these main ideas the more they will learn.


Remember that your preparedness and your interest in the subject and in the participants are invaluable. If you think that what you do together is important, the example will rub off on them. You are a major influence on them, either positively or negatively, at a time when they may, consciously or unconsciously, be making a life-long decision about how active they will be in their lives as Orthodox Christians.

Please read and thing about each session well before the time you teach it. You may want to gather materials, consult with your priest about some point of information, or get data from the parish library, public library, or an Orthodox book service before each session. In addition, it is always a good idea to reflect on the lesson for several days before presenting it. Good ideas often come over time.

Begin and end each session with prayer [ie O Heavenly King, It is Truly Meet]. You may want to refer to the Book of Needs [available from the St Tikhon's Seminary Bookstore at 717/937/4939] for appropriate prayers when beginning and ending a project. It is important that participants understand that doing God's will is always achieved when we continuously call on His name for guidance. Check with youth parish priest about what would be most appropriate.


The unit contains five sessions, one pre-planned service project and two sessions/reflections on planning two other service projects. Needless to say to accomplish all of this will take some time. The unit is designed to get participants actively engaged in serving others as soon as possible while still providing them with the Christian understanding of what they are doing. After completing sessions one and two participants take part in a pre-planned service activity and debriefing session about their experience [see end of session two and evaluation sheet]. Subsequent sessions and projects can directly follow or can be inserted throughout the year as the teacher feels is most appropriate. We have included two final sessions with biblical reflections that the teacher may choose to cover at a later time based upon the teenagers' interests and their area's resources. Only you know your students' and parish's schedules. Design it to fit your needs.

Possible outline

Session 1: Called to Care
Session 2: Gift to Give followed by a pre-planned project
Session 3: You Gave Me Food and Drink [Begin planning project;use future class/group time to work on the project; Project and Evaluation]
Session 4: You Visited Me [Begin planning another project; Project and Evaluation]
Session 5: A Life-style of Love
Session 6: You Clothed Me [Begin planning another project]
Session 7: You Took Me In [Begin planning another project]

Retreat/camp possibilities

If the unit is being done as a weekend retreat, participants can go straight through the first two sessions, participate in a pre-planned project [see the end of session two], cover the first half of sessions three and four, and begin planning personal projects after session four.


This study unit provides a sheet called 'Evaluating Our Ministry Project' to debrief participants about each of the projects in which you engage. Each time you finish a project make copies of the sheet for yourself and for each member of the class. Fill out the sheets together as a group [maybe over pizza], going over participants' experiences and what you as a group did and did not accomplish. Be sure to allow time for evaluation as you plan the sessions. Have students keep the evaluations sheets as well as student worksheets in a notebook or folder for easy reference.

Proceed to Session 1