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Dave Magee

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There was a sign above Jesus that read “This is the King of the Jews” as he hung on the cross.  This activity encourages students to reflect on how other people see them and the impact that they are making in their world. 

Remind each student that a sign saying “This is the King of the Jews” was hung next to Jesus at the crucifixion. While none of us are called to be the king of the Jews, and hopefully all of us will long livelong healthy lives – if one statement could be made at the end of your life about the difference you made in the world, what would you hope it would say?

Have the students take 5 minutes to write a phrase in large print on their sheet of paper, and if they’d like they can decorate the paper as well if there is time. Encourage them to take this exercise seriously, and let them know that everyone will be sharing their signs.

When the time is up invite each student to share what they wrote on their sign, and why they choose that phrase (this may take a while, which hopefully will be meaningful).

You as a leader should make a sign as well, and share your sign at the end. Remind the students that God has given each of us the blessing of one life, and so many of the small daily things we do or worry about don’t have eternal significance. Instead encourage each of them to live their lives in ways that celebrate who God is and what God has done for them, and to share the kingdom of God with others.

Time is a finite resource and it’s one of the most valuable things students have at their disposal. This activity focuses on helping students to think about how they actually use their time in a normal week, and identify places they might be able to improve.

Give each student a sheet of paper and something to write with. Remind them there are 24 hours in a day, and you want them to document how they spend their time in a “normal” day. (You may get lots of protesting that every day is different, have them choose a normal school day, whatever that means for them).

Remind them to include every activity they do in a normal day, things such as:

sleeping
meals
time in class
time at before/after school activities
time studying
time on social media
time watching tv/streaming/etc.
time with friends
exercise
time in prayer/Bible study/serving the community
anything/everything else


Beside each activity they list they should write down how many minutes/hours a day they do this activity. Give them around 5-7 minutes to do this, and ask them
to write down how many hours & minutes their activities totaled.

After they are done ask the group:

Other than sleeping, what do spend your most time on in the day?
Other than sleeping, what do you spend the second most amount of time on?
What % of your time is time that you get to choose how to spend it?
Looking at your day, how can you glorify God through the things you are required to do?
Looking at your day, how could you better devote your flexible time to God?

 

If students are having a difficult time thinking this through, invite them to choose a weekday from the previous week and chart what they did on that day.

So much of our lives is lived in noise and is focused on the things we say, we can forget the power of silence. This activity will help students experience all the ways in which they can communicate and understand without words.

Have all of the students stand up in a circle. Tell them everything they do in this activity must be silent unless you instruct them to speak.

Ask the students to silently get in order of their birthday, by month and day. Designate one point in the circle as the start of January, and the point next to that one as the end of December. Once they all think they are in place, ask them to share their birthdays out loud, if anyone is in the wrong order pause to get the order straightened out.

Once more repeat this same activity with middle names instead of birthdays. Designate where letter A and where letter Z are in the circle so they know the order. Again when they are finished have them share their middle names out loud, correcting any errors as you go.

 

Follow-up questions:

  • What was it like doing this activity silently?
  • Did having to be silent make it easier or more difficult? Why?
  • While the Holy Spirit can act and speak in many ways, we do need to be listening.  We need to quiet ourselves an pay attention to the silent communication of the Spirit. ow much silent (non-sleeping!) time do you spend a day?
  • What could you do to add some quiet time into your day to listen for and be aware of God’s presence?

 

 

Close in the manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys/concerns from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.

The wife of the teens in your group can be difficult and confusing as different forces influence them and call to them trying to guide them in different directions. This activity will help them explore that aspect of life as they try to make a mark on a piece of paper.

Ahead of time draw a large target with circles on the paper hung on the flip chart stand.

Tell the students you are going to need one volunteer to be blindfolded. They will be taken out of the meeting space and blindfolded. Once blindfolded they are going to be holding an open marker, and the class will verbally instruct them to try to walk toward the hanging flip chart target and once they are close enough try to make a mark in the middle of the target.

Once a student has gone pick a new volunteer, and while they are out of the space move the flip chart target. Repeat 3-4 times.

Follow-up questions:

  • To the blindfolded students – what was it like trying to find the target?
  • To the class giving instructions  – what was it like trying to guide them to the target?
  • To the blindfolded students – how well did you think you did hitting the target? Other than removing the blindfold, what could have made it easier?
  • To everyone – how is this activity symbolic of our daily lives?
  • What are some of the “targets” God wants you to hit each day?
  • Who are the people in your lives who help guide you toward Godly goals?

SUPPLIES a large paper flip chart and mobile flip chart stand, a marker, a bandanna/blindfold, space to move around

Committing Bible verses to memory is an important spiritual practice, and this activity will help build student’s confidence by getting several verses memorized in one moment.

Break students into groups of 3 and give every group a sheet of paper with all the Bible verses on it. Give the students 10 minutes to try to memorize the verses as best as they can, they should be able to recite the verse as well as recite the location of the verse in the Bible.

After 10 minutes have passed make every group of students turn their sheets of verses over and put them down, or have them return the sheets to the leader if you don’t trust them to not peek!

Now tell the students you are either going to read an entire verse and see who can first remember what verse it is, or you are going to read a verse location (such as John 3:16) and see who first thinks they can correctly recite the verse. Read out as many as time allows, and make sure to pick different groups if the same group continues to raise their hands first.

SUPPLIES– sheets of paper to hand out to each group of students with around 15-20 short Bible verses all typed up listing the verse and location. You can pick some of your favorites, or do a quick internet search such as “Best short Bible Verses to Memorize”. Make sure to pick verses from a number of different places in the Bible.

Helping students share their own faith story is key to giving them the ability to talk to people about faith in General.  This activity will give them a space to practice in a safe environment, and is based off Luke 17:11-19.  Before you begin take a moment to read that passage and discuss it with the students

Break students up into groups of 2. Remind the students that in Luke 17 the men healed from leprosy didn’t do a good job of sharing about what Jesus had done for them. In groups of 2 each student will have 2 minutes to share with the other student their faith story, what Jesus has done for them. Remind the students that everyone has a different story, and that most stories don’t involve miraculous healings like many Biblical stories. Give the students 5 total minutes to each share their story with their partner.

Bring the students back together in a large group and ask the following questions:

  • How was it sharing your faith story with your partner?
  • What was challenging about sharing your story?
  • What made it easier or more comfortable to share your story?

Now, ask for a few students. to share their faith story with the entire group, again asking them to limit it to around 2-3 minutes. After any student shares have the group applaud and thank the student for being willing to share. Have 2-3 students share with the large group.

Conclude the activity reminding the students that we all have a story about God to share, for some it may be in a group, for others sharing with a friend, but to be ready to share your story about God when the moment of opportunity comes!

Close in the manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys/concerns from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.

Sharing your faith doesn’t require a bullhorn or a soapbox.  Helping students explore how they might share their faith is one of the best ways to prepare them to have the words to say when the opportunity presents itself.  This activity will help you do just that.

Have the students break up into groups of 2-3 students (no bigger) and share with them the following scenario – They are seated beside someone on a plane who has NEVER heard anything about God but expressed interest to them earlier in the flight. Unfortunately while on the plane flight the captain comes over the speaker and shares that there is a serious problem with the plane, and they are afraid that the plane may crash in 30 minutes if the problem can’t be fixed. The student’s challenge is to share what they think are the most essential things to know about God with the person in the seat beside them over the next 30 minutes (the person is interested in hearing).

If that scenario feels too dramatic tell them to imagine they are at school and someone asks them about their faith. Why are they a Christian, and why should someone want to be one?

Give students around 5 minutes in groups to write down what they feel are the essential things to share about God. Then spend 5 minutes or so having all the groups report back their responses and write those down on the whiteboard.

Once all of the responses are written on the whiteboard lead a discussion with the students to identify which of the responses they think are the most essential, and mark those down.

*** Important – When having done this activity in the past often students will share a list of major Bible stories, or theological concepts, which are all good and important. But if no one mentions to share about telling the story of how they have personally experienced the love of God and how Christ has personally changed their lives make sure to bring that out and write that down as an important item. Let the students know that when it comes down to it, the most impactful goal of those 30 minutes likely isn’t to tell someone a list of stories or facts, but to share the story of who God has been in their life, to share their own testimony backed up by all of those Biblical stories and truths.

the Bible is filled with stories of people struggling through tough times and personal pain.  This activity helps students explore that reality both in the Bible and in their lives.

Pass out a note-card and pen or marker to each student and share that every single person, no matter how they seem on the outside, sometime hurts, feels sad, or goes through struggles. Ask students to write down any hurts or sadness they currently may feel, or times in their life when they may have felt sad. Make sure to let them know that they will not be required to turn these cards in. Give students 5 minutes to write down their responses.

Let the students know that tis is a safe space to share.  Talk to them about. Confidentiality and that anything that is shared in the group needs to stay in the group. Ask if any students would be willing to share any times they have felt hurt or sad (carefully guide this time making sure it doesn’t turn into lot of long story-telling so everyone who wants to share gets a chance). If students. Are reluctant to share, don’t jump in and share yourself, be silent if the silence is long and awkward enough someone will likely speak up. Thank each student who shares for sharing.

Now give every student a band-aid, and ask them to write down a word or short phrase to remind them that God will never abandon them, and can heal any hurts or sadness they may have experienced. After the student has written down a phrase, ask them to put the band-aid somewhere on their body as a sign of God’s presence and healing power. Ask the students who are willing to share what they wrote on their band-aids.

Final word – tell the group that if any of them are hurting right now or even sometime in the future that it is important to share that with their parents and/or appropriate leaders, and that you are open to helping to connect them to appropriate care and support if ever they may need it.

SUPPLIES– You will need a note card or piece of paper for each student, a pen or marker for each student, and a normal sized band-aid for each student.

A great scripture to go. along with this activity is Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 spend time exploring the connection between he activity and this passage as you walk through the lesson.

Have fun using coins to play this hilarious game where students get to test their speed and dexterity as coins fly through the air. You can use this with any gathering, but it’s a great intro for a lesson about the parable of the lost coin.

Give each student one penny. Have them lift their arm up, bending their elbow so that their forearm is horizontal and their hand is touching their shoulder. Ask them to make sure their palm is. facing up. Now place the penny on top of their elbow so it is facing the ceiling. They are then going to quickly snap their arm downward, trying to catch the penny before it hits the ground. Students can try to do this as many tries as it takes.

If any students can do it easily give them a second penny, have them stack the coins, and try again. If they keep succeeding keep giving them more pennies to see how many they can do.

It was an act of love that God created humanity and without God there would be no living beings at all.  This beautiful fact means that we can experience God as we tap into the image of God within us and create things of our own.  This activity will help your students do just that.

Bring this lesson an artistic flare by allowing students to get to be the creators of art just as God is the initial Creator. You can find this and all sorts of other lesson activities at the Youth Worker Collective (www.youthworkercollective.com).

SUPPLIES– watercolor painting sets for each group of students, including paint and small brushes, a piece of poster board or large sheet of butcher paper for each group

Break the students up into groups with 4-5 students apiece and give them a set of watercolor paint and brushes and a large sheet of paper. Tell them they have 10 minutes to make a creation. Don’t give any other instructions about what to paint, this is intentional!

After 10 minutes pass ask each group to briefly share and explain if necessary their creation to the rest of the group.

Now ask:

  • What was it like being asked to create something without any instructions?
  • What do you think it was like for God to create the entire world in the beginning?
  • What does it say about God that amongst all the possibilities God chose to create humanity?