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Dying to Live - A Lesson Plan on Death and New Life

Jesus tells us that unless a grain of wheat dies and falls to the ground, it will remain just a grain. This Dying to Live reflection will help youth consider the question of how death can lead to new life.

This free lesson plan, centered around the Gospel reading from John 12:20-33, invites young individuals to delve into the paradoxical truth that to truly live, we must be willing to let go, to surrender, and, in a sense, to die to ourselves. This theme, dying to live, is not just a spiritual abstraction but a practical guide for personal growth and discipleship.

In our lives, we often face situations that seem like endings or losses, yet these moments can pave the way for new beginnings and deeper connections with God. By embracing the idea of dying to live, participants will learn to recognize the opportunities for renewal and growth in their daily lives. Whether it's letting go of a habit, a dream, or even an attitude, this lesson illustrates how such "deaths" can lead to a richer, more fruit-bearing life in Christ.

Moreover, this lesson provides a safe space for youth to reflect on their own lives and identify areas where they might be called to let go, to die to themselves, in order to experience true growth and closer union with God. By integrating discussion, reflection, and practical challenges, the "Dying to Live" lesson plan offers valuable insights into the cycle of death and resurrection that is central to our faith and daily existence.

Engaging with this lesson plan is not just about intellectual understanding; it's an invitation to a transformative experience. Through scripture, discussion, and personal reflection, participants will discover the liberating truth that by dying to live, we open ourselves to the abundant life Jesus promises. Let's embark on this journey together, with open hearts and minds, ready to explore how the principle of dying to live can illuminate our paths and lead us closer to the heart of God.

Opening Activity

This Life Line reflection is an option that vividly illustrates the concept of "dying to live" through personal reflection and shared stories can be both powerful and insightful for youth. This Life Line reflection activity is designed to get the youth thinking about events in their lives, both good and bad.

The activity involves creating a physical representation of life's journey using a rope or string, scissors, tape, and small pieces of paper or index cards. Each participant will have the opportunity to reflect on significant moments in their lives—be they joyful, sorrowful, or transformative—and share these with the group, attaching their stories to the communal "life line."

By participating in this activity, youth are encouraged to contemplate and share personal experiences where a situation that seemed negative at the outset eventually led to something positive. This sharing fosters a deeper understanding of the "dying to live" concept, highlighting how our most challenging times often serve as catalysts for significant personal growth and renewal.

If you do not have time for all of the reflection questions, at least do this one:

  • Did you ever have an experience when an event which seemed very negative at the time ended up leading to something good?

Engaging with each other's stories, the participants will see a tangible manifestation of how interconnected our lives are and how each individual's journey contributes to the shared tapestry of human experience. This opening activity not only sets the tone for the lesson plan but also deepens the participants' grasp of the transformative power of embracing "dying to live" in their own lives.

Scripture Reading

Read the gospel reading.

John 12:20-33 (The Grain of Wheat) – the Gospel Reading for the 5th Sunday of Lent – Year B

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.

Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.

The Father will honor whoever serves me.

“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”

The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

John 12:20-33


We avoid death, right? But have you ever considered that death is a part of everyday life?

  • We see the leaves on the trees die every fall. This enables new growth in the spring.
  • Did you know that new stars form from the dust of exploding old stars?
  • Have you ever seen new plants emerging from a rotting tree?

Can you come up with any other examples?

Jesus tells us that unless a grain of wheat dies and falls to the ground, it will remain just a grain. But if it stops clinging to its stalk, lets go, and falls, then it will eventually grow into something bigger.

We should note that we must not hasten our natural death. Our lives and deaths are according to God’s plan and in God’s time. A grain of wheat which falls before it is mature will never develop into a new plant. The cycle of death and rebirth is about letting go and trusting in God. When we try to be in control, we deny God’s place as the author of life.

Now we could just be talking about the death at the end of our earthly lives. But just like in nature, we have deaths every day if we just know how to look.

Consider this. You really want to join the choir. But you are already busy with your schoolwork, basketball, youth group, and yearbook. You don’t have time for another activity. One of those things is going to have to “die” in order for you to grow in your vocal abilities. Or perhaps your dream of being in the choir will be the thing you have to let go of. If you cling to everything, then your activities will not thrive. You will not thrive.

For something more challenging, think about your habits. Is there a bad habit in your life which needs to die? For example, maybe you have gotten in the habit of sleeping in on Sundays and skipping mass. If you let that habit “die” and make the extra effort to get up and get dressed, you can go to mass and encounter Jesus there.

Small Group Reflection Questions

For a deeper engagement with the theme of "dying to live," consider incorporating the following small group reflection questions into your lesson plan. These questions are designed to facilitate thoughtful discussions and personal reflections, helping participants to internalize and apply the concept in their daily lives.

  • Personal Transformation: Can you think of a time in your life when letting go of something (a dream, a relationship, a habit) led to unexpected personal growth? How did that experience embody the concept of "dying to live"?
  • Spiritual Growth: Reflect on a spiritual practice or belief that you struggled with but ultimately led you closer to God. How did the struggle and eventual acceptance mirror the process of "dying to live"?
  • Forgiveness and Healing: Discuss how forgiveness, either giving or receiving, can be a form of "dying to live." How does letting go of grudges or guilt open the door to new life and relationships?
  • Service and Sacrifice: Share a time when you sacrificed your own comfort or desires to help others. How did this act of service enhance your understanding of "dying to live"?
  • Community Impact: Reflect on a situation where a community (school, parish, family) had to undergo a significant change or loss. How did this collective experience of "dying" lead to a new or strengthened community life?
  • Faith Challenges: Discuss a doctrine or aspect of your faith that you find challenging. How does engaging with this challenge, rather than avoiding it, represent a form of "dying to live" in your spiritual journey?
  • Letting Go of Control: In what ways have you had to let go of control in your life to allow God's plan to unfold? Share how this relinquishment has led to new opportunities or insights.
  • Cultural Perspectives on Death and Life: How does our culture view death and life, and how does this compare with the Christian understanding of "dying to live"? Discuss any conflicts or harmonies you've observed.
  • Future Hopes: Looking forward, what is one area of your life where you feel called to "die" to the old to make room for new growth? How do you plan to approach this transformation?
  • Reflecting on the Saints: Choose a saint who exemplifies the concept of "dying to live." What can you learn from their life and how can you apply their lessons to your own life?

These questions aim to engage participants in meaningful conversations that explore the depth and breadth of the "dying to live" theme, encouraging them to see how it plays out in various aspects of life and faith.


Embark on a journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth with this week's challenge, focusing on the transformative concept of "dying to live." Select one aspect of your life that you are ready to let go of, something that, while challenging, remains within the realm of possibility for you.

This could be a habit, a comfort, or even an attitude that no longer serves you well. Consider fasting from a certain behavior or indulgence if you're unsure where to begin. The goal is to create a void, making space for new growth and blessings to enter your life.

As you proceed with this challenge, engage in daily prayer, inviting God to fill the newly emptied space with His grace and goodness. Ask for the strength to let go and the courage to embrace the new life that awaits. At the week's end, take time to reflect: observe any changes, growth, or new opportunities that have arisen from your willingness to "die" to one part of your life.

This practice is not just about sacrifice but about opening ourselves up to the abundant life that God promises when we trust in Him and follow the path of "dying to live."


As we gather in unity and faith, let us open our hearts in prayer, embracing the profound journey of "dying to live." Today, we may choose to pray the Suscipe.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

In this sacred space, I invite each one of you to share your personal intentions, particularly those desires or burdens you feel called to release. As we offer up these parts of our lives, let us seek the grace to let go of what holds us back, trusting that in our dying to self, we open the pathways to truly live. May this time of prayer strengthen our resolve to embrace the transformations God desires for us, fostering growth, renewal, and a deeper connection with Him. Together, let us embark on this journey, supported by faith and guided by the promise that in dying to ourselves, we discover the fullness of life in Christ.

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Themes for the Dying to Live Lesson Plan

The "Dying to Live" lesson plan is structured around several interrelated themes, each designed to deepen understanding and foster personal growth through the lens of this central Christian concept. Here are the key themes:

  • Transformation Through Sacrifice: Exploring how personal sacrifices can lead to spiritual and personal growth, embodying the "dying to live" ethos.
  • Letting Go and Trusting in God: Understanding the importance of surrendering control and trusting in God's plan, recognizing that through letting go, we gain more than we lose.
  • The Cycle of Life, Death, and Resurrection: Examining the natural and spiritual cycles of life, death, and resurrection, and how these cycles reflect the core Christian belief in "dying to live."
  • Spiritual Renewal: Identifying opportunities for spiritual renewal that come from "dying" to old ways, habits, or sins, and embracing new life in Christ.
  • Sacrificial Love and Service: Emphasizing the call to follow Jesus through acts of love and service, which often requires a "dying" to self-interest and comfort.
  • The Power of Forgiveness: Delving into how forgiveness involves a form of "dying" to grudges, anger, and resentment, leading to healing and a more profound experience of life.
  • Prioritizing What Truly Matters: Encouraging participants to evaluate their priorities, recognizing that sometimes we need to "die" to lesser things to live more fully in what matters most.
  • Overcoming Fear with Faith: Addressing how facing and "dying" to our fears, with trust in God, opens the door to living a life filled with hope and courage.
  • The Call to Discipleship: Highlighting how discipleship requires a "dying" to worldly values and a commitment to living out the Gospel, embodying the "dying to live" principle in everyday actions and decisions.
  • Resilience Through Challenges: Teaching that life's challenges and hardships can be transformative, with the "dying to live" concept serving as a framework for understanding suffering in light of Christian hope and resurrection.

These themes are woven throughout the lesson plan to provide a comprehensive exploration of the "dying to live" concept, encouraging participants to reflect deeply on its significance in their lives and faith journey.

Background Material

The "Dying to Live" lesson plan is deeply rooted in Scripture, Catholic teaching, and tradition, offering a rich tapestry of insights into the paradoxical truth that life is often found through death. This theme is not only a cornerstone of Christian spirituality but also a profound call to transformation that echoes throughout the Gospels and the lives of the saints.

In the Gospel of John (12:24-25), Jesus presents a vivid metaphor: "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." This statement encapsulates the essence of "dying to live." It signifies the journey of discipleship, where letting go of our personal desires and ambitions leads to a fuller, more fruitful life in Christ. Jesus’ own life, death, and resurrection are the ultimate embodiment of this principle, offering salvation to humanity and demonstrating the profound love of God that calls us to die to sin and live in Him.

St. Paul further illuminates this concept in his letters, especially in Romans 6:4, "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." Through baptism, Christians participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus, symbolically dying to sin and rising to new life in Him. This sacramental reality underpins the Christian moral and spiritual journey, emphasizing the call to continual conversion and renewal.

The Catholic tradition celebrates numerous saints who lived out the "dying to live" ethos with extraordinary clarity. St. Francis of Assisi, for example, embraced poverty and suffering as means to draw closer to Christ, dying to worldly possessions and ambitions to live a life of service and humility. St. Ignatius of Loyola's Suscipe prayer beautifully captures the spirit of surrender to God's will, offering one's self fully to the love and service of the Divine in exchange for the freedom and grace that comes from divine filiation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church also touches on this theme, particularly in its discussions on the moral life, conversion, and the Paschal mystery. It teaches that Christians are called to "take up their cross daily" (Luke 9:23), an act of dying to oneself that is both a challenge and a pathway to true liberation and joy in Christ.

The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all justification that reinstates us in God's grace, 'so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.' Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace.

It brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ's brethren, as Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: 'Go and tell my brethren.' We are indeed 'his brethren,' not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 654

This passage elucidates the heart of the Paschal Mystery—Christ's death and Resurrection—and its implications for Christians. It beautifully articulates how through Jesus' death, we are freed from the bondage of sin, and through His Resurrection, we are invited into a new existence characterized by grace, justification, and adoption as God's children. This dual aspect of the Paschal Mystery embodies the ultimate example of "dying to live," offering believers not only a pattern for spiritual transformation but also the hope and means for eternal communion with God.

In essence, the "Dying to Live" lesson plan draws from these rich sources to inspire youth to embrace the paradoxical call to die to themselves in various ways—through letting go of sin, through acts of service, through sacrifice and suffering—in order to truly find life in Christ. This journey of faith is marked by moments of surrender, transformation, and resurrection, guiding believers to the heart of Christian discipleship and the fullness of life promised by Jesus.

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More Free Youth Ministry Lesson Plans and Reflections

For those who find the "Dying to Live" lesson plan helpful, consider exploring a broader collection of free youth ministry resources. Visit this comprehensive repository of free lesson plans and reflections to discover a wide array of topics designed to engage young minds and hearts in deepening their faith journey. Each lesson is crafted to inspire, challenge, and uplift, guiding youth through the complexities of living out their Catholic faith in today's world. Dive into this treasure trove of wisdom and let it enrich your spiritual journey and ministry efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions about the "Dying to Live" Lesson Plan

What does "dying to live" mean in the context of this lesson plan?

"Dying to live" is a central Christian concept that emphasizes the need to let go of certain aspects of our lives or selves in order to grow spiritually and live more fully. In this lesson plan, it signifies the process of surrendering habits, desires, or attachments that hinder our relationship with God and others, thereby allowing us to produce much fruit in our lives, similar to how a grain of wheat must die to produce fruit.

How can teenagers apply the concept of "dying to live" in their daily lives?

Teenagers can apply the concept of "dying to live" by identifying and letting go of things that hold them back, such as unhelpful habits, excessive use of technology for leisure, or negative attitudes towards others. By choosing to "die" to these aspects, they make room for positive growth, deeper relationships, and a stronger faith life.

Why is the Gospel of John 12:20-33 important for understanding "dying to live"?

John 12:20-33 provides a profound illustration of "dying to live" through the words of Jesus, who speaks about the necessity of a grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying to produce fruit. This passage helps us understand the importance of self-sacrifice and letting go for the sake of greater good, mirroring Jesus' own sacrifice for humanity's salvation.

Is "dying to live" only about giving up bad habits?

No, "dying to live" goes beyond just giving up bad habits. It also involves relinquishing good things that might be holding us back from even better opportunities for growth and service. It's about prioritizing our values and making tough choices to follow Christ more closely, even when it means letting go of something we love or value.

How does "dying to live" relate to the concept of resurrection?

"Dying to live" is intrinsically connected to the Christian belief in resurrection. Just as Jesus died and rose again, we are called to let go of our old selves to rise anew in Him. This process of dying to our self-centeredness, sins, and worldly attachments is what allows us to experience a resurrection of sorts here and now, leading to a deeper, more joyful life in Christ.

Can you provide examples of how "dying to live" might look for a young person?

Certainly! For a young person, "dying to live" could look like choosing to spend less time on social media to deepen their relationships with family and friends, giving up a leisure activity to volunteer in their community, or overcoming fear to stand up for what is right. Each act of letting go is a step towards a more meaningful, purposeful life.

What if a teenager finds it challenging to embrace the concept of "dying to live"?

It's natural to find the concept challenging, as it goes against many societal messages about self-preservation and gratification. Encourage teenagers to start small, choosing one thing they can "die" to that feels manageable. Through prayer, reflection, and community support, they can gradually understand and experience the freedom and joy that comes from "dying to live" in Christ.

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