Betsy Marvin


The disciples had to trust in God to provide for their needs and in each other as they went out to share the love of Jesus. Just as we needed to trust those around us to catch us when we fall.  Using this classing team building game, students can begin to explore the trust the disciples needed to have in each other and Jesus.

The Trust Fall:

  • Have one student stand on chair or table. You can blind fold them if you desire.
  • Have the rest of the group line up two by two, facing each other.
  • The group then links arms with the person across from them creating a “bed” for the falling student to land in.
  • On the count of three: the student on the chair/table, with arms crossed in front of their body, keeping their body straight, the student will fall back into the arms of the team.

Repeat with as many students as are willing.

            Discuss Game:

  • What did it feel like to fall? Was it hard to trust your classmates? Why or why not?
  • What did it feel like to catch? Were you nervous about being able to catch them? Why or why not?
  • How did you have to trust – both the fall and catch participant?
  • How does this help us understand Mark 6:6-13.



Through the touch of his hand, Jesus restored Jairus’ daughter.   Ask students to consider who else they know in their world that needs Jesus’ restoring touch.

Give each student a piece of paper, and have them trace their hands and cut them out. They probably haven’t done this since Kindergarten!

Once they have their paper hands, have them write on the palms of their cut out a word of encouragement or a verse of encouragement that person might need.

Challenge: Just as Jesus reached out to the woman and the daughter, ask “who can you reach out to and give the touch of life?  Who else do you know that could use the gift of the touch of Jesus’ hands?”  Encourage the students to share their paper hands this week!  

Read Matthew 9:27-28. Before healing the blind men, Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” (v. 28). When you get down to it, do you really believe that God can bring spiritual change and restoration to your life? Why or why not?

From the stories in Mark 5, what stands out to you about Jesus’ power? His purposes?

Required Materials:

  • Paper,
  • scissors,
  • markers

Art has the power to bring our imagination to life. When we use that art to engage with the scriptures, it can draw students deeply into the scriptures as they meet God with the full power of their imaginations,  This hands-on activity helps students explore one of the most well known passages in the Bible through art.  If you’d like a whole lesson on John 3:16-17, check out that lesson called “Recovery” here:


  • Pastels, colored pencils, pencil, chalk
  • Large white and black paper

Play music to help set up the quiet time needed to draw. Set up the art focus by just asking these questions, the art will be their answers:

  • What does it mean to recover? What images come to mind when you hear that word?
  • How would you illustrate John 3:16-17?
  • What comes to mind when you think of what Jesus has done for you?

To help students get their imaginations going, consider asking them to close their eyes while you read John 3:16-17. Tell them to pay attention to the images their imagination produces as you read.

Give students time to explain their art to each other and hang it somewhere others can enjoy their visual expressions of this important passage.





Life and sin get so mixed up that it can be hard to pull them apart.  Sometimes, we need an outside source to help us identify the things in our lives that are contrary to what God is calling us to do and be.  This illustration can help students connect the idea of intervention and removing sin from their life with a powerful visual (and refreshing drink!).  If you’d like a full lesson on intervention, check our wilderness at Intervention (

Straining Pulp illustration Illustration:  

Pour a small amount of heavy pulp juice into cups for students and have them drink it.

  1. What do you think about this juice?
  2. What might make it better?

Now pour juice through the micro-strainer into a bowl or pitcher, and have them taste the juice again. Think of it like this: Pulp is the “junk” in our lives that hinders us from fully living for Jesus so we need help – intervention (pour juice through the strainer) to remove the junk (pulp should be visibly in the strainer) so that we can live free of it (pure orange juice in cups).

The Christmas story centers around a journey, and it is a journey we can follow as well by taking time to reflect on where and how the Biblical narrative intersects with our own journey.  These two short discussion lessons will help you do just that.  We’d suggest starting with one of our great games like Christmas Charades to get everybody talking  and then use these questions to go from there!

DISCUSSION 1: Servant-oriented  (focus on Mary’s story)

Review Luke 1:26-56 and 2:1-20

Has God ever intruded on your plans?

Why did God choose ordinary people to carry out his plan?

Most of the Bible’s heroes weren’t so hot on the idea of being God’s servants when they got the job. If being the Lord’s servant meant getting kicked out of school and alienating your friends and family, would you want the job?   Why or why not?

If God sent an angel to ask you to be his servant, would you feel like you have a choice? Why or why not?

What difference would it make in your life if you actually prayed daily, “Lord, I’m your servant”?

What are the reasons God would want you to be his servant? What are the reasons he wouldn’t? Talk about that.


DISCUSSION 2: Angels (the messengers) Students tend to be very curious about angels….


Luke 1: 8-25 – Zachariah

Luke 1:26-38 – Mary

Luke 2:8-20 – Shepherds

Matthew 1:20-25 – Joseph

Take time to look up other angel references in Scripture outside of the Christmas story. (Garden of Eden, visitors to Abraham, Jacob’s ladder, etc.) Google – “angels in the Bible” and you’ll have plenty of references plus other info

Do you believe in angels?

What would it take for you to believe someone who told you he was an angel – a messenger sent by God?

Have you ever encountered an angel? What do you think one looks like?

If angel appeared in your school, what are the chances he could find a servant”? (not a virgin, a unselfish servant)

Do angels show up in our regular lives – or just for special events and special people? Talk about that.










In ministry, what are we really all about? It’s an easy answer, we want students to know Jesus. Yet, it’s easy to lose sight of this in weekly ministry. We can get caught up in numbers instead of lives and our own issues rather than theirs. It’s easier to think programs rather than processes and work our agenda rather than respond to their lives. We can get focused on the desire to see behavior change when what we really want is heart change.

If we really want to see lives that reflect Jesus, we need to look to the heart. Heart change is the only way to true behavior change and only God creates heart change.

As I look back, I can see a season where we got caught up in behavior changes. Not spiritual disciplines, but the “don’ts”. Don’t do drugs, don’t have sex, don’t lie, cheat, steal. These are all great things to teach but like many New Year’s resolutions, behavior change doesn’t last. After a few months, the resolve to change fades as life takes over and we easily fall into the bad habits we were striving to change.

When we seek to help students discover heart change, the rest follows as our hearts determine our steps. It takes longer, its harder, and it forces us to ask why. Why are they addicted to porn? Why is she cutting? Why are they not coming anymore? Why do they hate their parent? It’s the why, the heart issue that can take years to dig down to but is worth it as freedom comes

When we make a heart decision, it changes something deep within us and then our desire to live different naturally flows from the heart. It’s like knowing why. For many things once we know why, then we can walk in the what. Yes, we don’t want to see people fall to drug or porn addiction, we don’t want them to lie, cheat, or steal – but until the heart is convicted the behaviors don’t stick.

As I looked around the circle of students, they are all dealing with something – a behavior they don’t want, an addiction that kills their soul. Yet, instead of going after the behavior – let Jesus convict the heart.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8a

As we draw near, our hearts become more in tune with his desires for us. As we draw near, our hearts are pricked with the understanding of who we want to be because of him. And, as we draw near, we are convicted of the behaviors that aren’t in his plan for us…and from the heart the conviction changes behavior.

It’s hard to always look to the heart issues instead of just dealing with behaviors. Asking why he is failing (besides just seeing laziness), or why she floats from boy to boy (instead of saying she’s easy), or why he/she is addicted to porn (instead of just putting lots of programs in place to block it – although that’s good to).

When we dive into heart issues we see, fears. Fear of abandonment, perfectionism, rejection, and insecurities that lead us to hide, cover, and live in shame. Yet, when we look to what’s underneath the behavior, God brings light into that place. The light, with the truth of God’s word, brings the healing that brings heart change that leads to behavior change

Yes, it takes longer. Yes, it’s harder. Yes, we’ll see a little sling-shotting as they slide and slip. But, it’s worth it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity lately.  I’ve read that we cultivate meaning when we are creating.  I know that the creative process is messy, chaotic, insightful, and wonderful.  I understand that creating takes time we often don’t feel we have and I’ve heard that creativity is the way that something travels from our minds to our hearts.

We can see sunsets and giraffes and know that God is creative.  But, often, when we think of ourselves, creative isn’t a word we use.  I heard recently that most people stopped believing they had creative ability in elementary school.  A teacher or a fellow student criticized their artwork and in that moment, they became defined by those words.  Many have vowed to never put themselves out there again.  Creating anything involves vulnerability and for so many it’s just not something they are willing to do.  Yet, when we are creating we are cultivating meaning.  (Brene Brown)

Yet, what if creativity is a way that a truth travels from the head to the heart?  Not the only way, but a way.  

How about you?  Would you say you are creative?  Why or why not?  If not, when did you decide that you weren’t creative?

Some people are proud they are creatives

As we seek to help students to understand truths, how often do we encourage them to get creative with the truths so that they internalize them?

Memorizing verses is a bit lost today, and my class was struggling to get their verse memorized.  In class, I asked the group of students to take a couple verses and get creative with them.  They were struggling to memorize verses and I wondered if we actually tried to illustrate or at least rework the verses if they would internalize the verse and therefore at least internalize the message of the verses.

It was interesting to watch.  One looked up Pinterest and copied and idea she found there.  One got to work but kept her paper completely covered as she worked.  Another just got the job done and went to work on something else, and the other three openly tried to get creative as they processed the verses – one in picture form and two in word form.  

We cultivate meaning when we are creating.

What about you?  When was the last time you allowed yourself space to create beyond the next small group questions or message for Sunday?  Although this is creating, I’d love to push you to think beyond work.

So grab some crayons from your kids, go buy a really great journal with paper you can’t wait to write on, grab a camera and look at your world through a new lens, allow yourself to create.

We were created in his image and he is one creative God.  

You are creative.

You have a contribution to make.

You can help unlock the creativity in your students.