Valentine’s Day is almost here! What better time to share about the incredible love of God than this holiday, when everyone is already thinking lovely thoughts?

So, if you ask almost any church-going person to define Biblical love, odds are that they’ll start quoting one of two passages… either John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” or 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind…”. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have at least a basic understanding of what Paul was writing to the people at Corinth when he shared his definitions of love. But how many of us can say that we live it out in our everyday lives?

Our new Valentine’s Day release, Love Actually Is, explores exactly what it looks like to live a life that reflects God’s love. Check it out now!

 

 

Wondering how to use our new video in a church service? Read on for some suggestions!

 

Valentine Cards

If you have a kid in elementary school, you’re probably familiar with Valentine Mailboxes. The theory is that each student makes/decorates a box for her classmates to deposit cards into on Valentine’s Day. We’re going to use that concept for our first suggestion.

Ahead of the service, construct six shoebox-sized boxes that have a small opening in which to place a small paper. On each of the boxes, write one of the qualities that love IS/DOES:

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Protects
  • Trusts
  • Hopes
  • Perseveres

Place these boxes either on the stage, or at another location in your auditorium that is easily accessible.

Also before service, print these heart cards (they’d be extra awesome on cardstock if it’s in your budget/supply closet), and make sure each person attending gets a card. You could place one on each seat in the auditorium, include them in your Sunday bulletin, or recruit a couple of people to hand them out as folks enter the auditorium.

After showing Love Actually Is, invite everyone to take out their heart cards. Prompt them to think of one of the “love chapter” qualities that they can put into action over the next week. Encourage them not to be vague, but to think of a specific task that they can reasonably complete over the next 5-7 days. Research shows that we are more likely to achieve goals when we get SUPER specific! Once they’ve set their mind on a task, ask them to write a word on their heart to symbolize the action step. This could be a name, a descriptive word, a location… whatever helps them identify their goal.

Once everyone has completed this activity, invite them to place their hearts into the box that most describes the action step that they wrote on the card. You could either sing a worship song or play soft instrumental music during this time. We think it would work well either before or after the sermon, so do whatever works best for you!

As an alternate (in case time or space prohibits the above steps), you could eliminate the boxes altogether, and ask people to keep their heart card as a reminder to complete the task they identified during the activity.

 

1 Corinthians 13 – A Responsive Reading

After you’ve shown Love Actually Is, invite your community to pause for a moment and reflect on what it means to exhibit Christ-like love. Then, explain that you’re going to slowly read through 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and as you do so, you’d like people to either stand or raise their hand when they hear a quality of love that they’d like to be better-developed in themselves:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Once you’ve completed the scripture reading, invite your congregation to join in this responsive reading* based on the passage (click here to download a PDF of the reading):

God of Love,
We confess we are sometimes impatient, and often unkind.
We are quick to envy, and find subtle ways to boast.
There are times we are rude, and lift ourselves up as we put others down.
Loving God, teach us to love.

God of Love,
We confess that we are quickly angered.
We are quick to record how often we’ve been wronged.
There are times we celebrate the misfortune of others.
Loving God, teach us to love.

God of Love,
We confess that we put ourselves first.
We’re reluctant to give, we are slow to sacrifice.
There are times we hesitate to protect.
Loving God, teach us to love.

When we are tempted to judge, to assume the worst…
May love remind us to trust
When we are tempted to despair, to assume all is lost…
May love remind us to hope
When we are tempted to give up, to assume it will never happen…
May love remind us to persevere

All:  Loving God teach us to love. Amen.

(Credit: Dan Loewen, re:think worship)

*Congregation reads the lines printed in bold.

 

Loving Well

After your community has watched Love Actually Is, encourage them to think of someone in their lives who has loved them well, and has done a good job of exemplifying this kind of love toward them.

You could take this activity one of two ways:

First, you could have an “open mic” time where you invite people to come to the microphone and share briefly about this person who has loved them well. We suggest a specific prompt to encourage everyone to be respectful of others’ time. For example, “I have been loved well by ____. He/She demonstrated that love is/is not _____ by _____.” (Have them choose one of the qualities about love from the 1 Corinthians 13 passage: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.  For example: I have been loved well by my Aunt Teresa. She demonstrated that love is kind by giving me a place to stay when I had an argument with my parents.

Or, as an alternative activity, you could provide these heart cards to each person, and encourage them to take a moment and write a quick note to the person they identified as loving them well.

 

Short-Term Small Group: Compassion

If you have a group of people who seem extremely motivated to learn more about developing the characteristics of love described in 1 Corinthians 13, we’d like to encourage you to start a new Small Group for your congregation. Our new Short Films For Small Groups collection contains 6 weeks’ worth of videos and thoughtful discussion, and we especially think the Compassion: Short Films for Small Groups product would be fitting for this topic.

 

We hope that at least one of these ideas has resonated with you, and that you’re excited to focus on love with your church community! If you use one of our ideas, we’d love to hear about it- send an email to connect@journeyboxmedia.com and tell us how it goes.

Don’t forget to click the button below to purchase and download Love Actually Is!