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Dave Magee

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Not all laws are just, and when the people making and/or enforcing the laws are hypocritical or worse, injustice can compound.  This activity looks at a moment in the Bible when just that was happening and offers students a way to connect it to laws they see as unjust in the modern day.

Explain to the Students that In Luke 13 we saw that the synagogue leaders in charge of keeping the law unfortunately were doing so in ways that were hypocritical and even sometimes prevented people for being cared for. Justice was not being done. Ask them to imagine that you all have been given the opportunity to change several laws or rules toward the goal of better offering God’s love and justice for the people of the world. These changes can be made at the national, local or even in your local school level. 

Get a large piece of paper and markers and take 5 minutes to get into small groups where you can brainstorm and write down what rules or laws you would like to see changed. After 5 minutes of listing ideas then each small group needs to spend another 5 minutes to decide and write down what the top 2 rules or laws they would want to change are, and what the new rule or law would instead be. 

After 10 minutes has passed ask each group to share their ideas for new rules or laws to better enact godly justice with the group and allow the group to ask any follow-up questions.

Two final questions after all ideas have been shared:

  1. How do you think God would feel if these new laws you had suggested were put into place?
  2. How do you think that the people of the world would be impacted if these changes were made?

Final reminder – Remind students that throughout the Bible God uses ordinary people (such as Jeremiah this week) to be God’s messengers, and even when unpopular to help bring about the changes God wants for the world. Maybe God is calling someone in the group to begin work toward making some of the changes the group just discussed…

 

God wants us to be agents of justice in the world. This activity will help your students for that video concept of Christianity

Tell the group – Like the people of the vineyard in Isaiah, you all have been charged with doing justice and seeking righteousness for the people of the world. Get a large piece of paper and markers and take 7 minutes to get into small groups of students to make a justice list with two columns, on the left side it should say “Where Justice is Needed” and on the right side “What We Can Do To Help”

 

Where Justice is Needed           |            What We Can Do To Help

 

On the left side think of people in the world, and even in our own community or your schools who may need justice, who need someone to help be their champion or advocate.

On the right side beside each group of people listed write down ways that you/the church/Christians can act to make a difference in their lives in practical ways

 

After 7 minutes has passed ask each group to share their ideas and allow the group to ask any follow-up questions.

 

Final question after all ideas have been shared – Are their any ideas that have been shared today that you think we as a youth group might be feeling called to act upon as a place where we might be in mission and service together for God?

 

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.

Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Jesus words ring as true today as they did 2,000 years ago, and this activity will help students understand that idea by using it as a tool in their own life.  This activity is part of a full lesson series.  You can find the entire lesson series at the Young People’s Ministry Worship Theme Lessons for Youth page.

Ask the students to then write down the 8 most important things in the world to them (don’t put limits on what they can write, the point is that hopefully there will be a mix of answers from material items to important relationships to perhaps for some expressions of faith), one on each piece of paper. Give them 2-3 minutes to write down their answers.

Then have all the students sit in a circle, or collectively around a table, or whatever creates a sense of community in your space with a common accessible space in the middle.

Tell the students you have bad news, they have to choose one of their items to give up, and to place one of their cards in a pile in the center. Go around in a circle and ask each student to briefly share what they dropped in the middle and if necessary why they chose that.

Continue this process 4 more times until each student only has 3 of their 8 cards remaining.

Now ask each student one at a time to share what is written on the cards they held onto and why they chose to hold onto those – most students will have likely chosen to hold onto cards representing people they care deeply for, or perhaps cards representing God and their faith.

 

To conclude remind students that Luke 12:34  states “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” and conclude by asking, “What does this activity reveal that each of us treasures the most?” Hopefully they will see that joy is found more in people and meaningful relationships than in material things.

 

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.

Animals are fun all on their own, but this icebreaker takes that to a whole new level. Ahead of time, collect old magazines that have animal pictures (like National Geographic) along with scissors, tape, and plain white paper.

Start by giving each student a blank piece of paper and tell them that they are going to create a new animal. They can go through all of the magazines looking for animal pictures finding pieces they want. Then, they cut out parts of the animals they can use and tape together their new animal on the blank page. After they are done creating the picture, they need to name it. For example, someone might create a duckraffe (a giraffe with a duck head), etc.

When they are finished, have them share the animals, the name, and something they like about their creation. If you don’t have enough time to get the magazines let them draw it on the paper or a whiteboard.

Epiphany is all about the wise men and their quest to find and worship Jesus.  This activity is all about experiencing the searching and finding in this story.

Important – before the class meeting time the teacher needs to hide (well!) a number of items in the class meeting space. The items should be desirable such as pieces of candy or something else a student would want. Also hide several non-desirable items such as random household items. The students will find them and then have to discern which are the true items they were supposed to find.

Announce to the group – “Before we gathered here today I hid something in the room. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but when I say go I want everyone to begin looking. I’m not going to tell you how many items are hidden, but I’ll tell you when to quit looking and come back to your seats. Go!”

Questions once the items are found:

  • Who found which items?
  • I didn’t tell you ahead of time what you were looking for, how did you know what to try to find?
  • Which of these items do you think are the ones that were intended as the true worthy items to be found?
  • How does it feel to have found the items that were valuable? To find the ones which weren’t really as valuable?

Final Word – As we seek to find Jesus in our lives we may find lots of different things, some which lead us to Jesus, others which may merely lead us in another direction or fool us into desiring them instead of Jesus. The magi weren’t alone, they had the star to guide them and each other for companions on the journey. Put others in your life and on your path who will help you to best find God.

Jesus’ parents lose him on their way back from Jerusalem.  This activity will help students explore the story by enacting the seeking and finding element. This is the active element of our Advent Lesson series called Prepare the Way.  You can find all the lessons at the Prepare the way Page.

Ideally this activity would happen in a space larger than a classroom to allow for movement.

Tell the students – We are going to play a game like Hide and Seek, we’ll call it Hide and Search in honor of our lesson. We will need one volunteer to be blindfolded, they are the searcher. We need one volunteer to be the one being searched for. The rest of you are the crowd. 

Take the searcher away from the group space and blindfold the searcher. Have the person being sought for in the space find a hiding space (must be accessible to someone blindfolded). Bring in the searcher once the person being sought is hidden. The one being sought will call out to the searcher to try to help them find them, but the crowd will also call out to try to confuse the searcher. The activity is done when the person is found by the searcher. Play more than once if time allows.

Questions after the Activity:

  • Ask the searcher – how difficult was it to find the person hiding?
  • Ask the person hiding – what made it difficult to call out to the searcher?
  • What might the distracting voices of the crowd represent in our lives?

Final Word – Our lives are filled with lots of people searching for differing things, and with lots of distractions. God desires for you to find God, but we must identify and remove distractions which may keep us from God.

For generations people have used music to help express the deepest parts of our faith.  This activity will help student use their musical imaginations to explore the story of Mary. This is the active element of our Advent Lesson series called Prepare the Way.  You can find all the lessons at the Prepare the way Page.

Break students into small groups and pass out a sheet of paper and markers to each group of students.

Tell the groups – You have 10 minutes to write your own Christmas carol about the Mary story. It needs to somewhere mention Mary, but doesn’t have to rhyme, and it can just be a handful of lines long. Start by choosing a style (hymn, broadway showtime, rap, country, etc.).  Then spend the time writing your carol. Feel free to make them fun!  

After 10 minutes has gone by have the students share their carols, and if bold they can sing (or rap) them for the group.

After the Activity:

  • Ask the group for a show of hands – Which group wrote the best carol?

Final word – When we sing Christmas songs together in church we aren’t just singing a song, we are together remembering the Christmas story. Be inspired to really focus on the words of the carols the next time you sing and see the Biblical Christmas story proclaimed.

God want our heart AND our actions.  The life of faith is not one lived only in the spirit, but in the flesh as well.  This activity will help students think about the actions God is calling us to do in our world by taking the story of John the Baptist and translating it into their own lives.  This is the active element of our Advent Lesson series called Prepare the Way.  You can find all the lessons at the Prepare the way Page.

Break the students up into small groups of several students each and give each group a piece of paper and markers.

Tell the groups – In Luke 3:7-18 the people of the crowd asked John the Baptist what they needed to DO, you are going to make a sign with a list of what God might be telling the people of the world today that they need to do. Title your sign “What You Need To Do! “ followed by your list. You have 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes have gone by have each group briefly share their list.

Questions after Activity:

  • Which items shared from the group signs do you think were the best?
  • You were asked to title the signs “What you need to do”, before telling others what to do what do you personally need to do?

Final Word  – “While Christmas is a time of joy and expectation, it is for a Savior who didn’t just come to the world at Christmas but changed everything about the world. This Christmas season focus on what you can DO to help others to see Christ.”

John the Baptist plays a big role in the scriptures for this Sunday in Advent, and his role as a messenger preparing the way is an incredible entry point for students to explore how they can live out key concepts from this story. This is a companion piece to the complete, free youth advent material called “Prepare the Way” available from Discipleship Ministries as part of our ongoing effort to provide free youth resources for your church.  You can find a link to the full curriculum at our Worship Lessons for Youth page.

You will need a large piece of paper or poster board, markers and any other art supplies you’d like to add for this group activity.

Begin by splitting the group into smaller groups of 3-6

Tell the group – Like John the Baptist, you all have been charged with sharing an important message with the world. First you need to decide on a message that you think God would want you to share with the world.  Then, get a piece of paper and art supplies and take 10 minutes sign with your message on it . Make them fun and attention-getting!

After time has passed ask each group to share their sign and tell the group why they chose that message.

Final question – What can you do this Christmas season to be like John the Baptist and help share the message of Christ with the world?

The scripture for the first Sunday in advent (Luke 21:25-36) is full of prophecy and predictions about the future.  Those kinds of predictions and the longing they express are at the heart of advent.  This losing for renewal and change are what the people, and all of creation, were feeling in the first century awaiting the arrival of Jesus.  This activity will allow students to engage their imaginations in the task pf exploring this powerful passage.  This is a companion piece to the complete, free youth advent material called “Prepare the way” available from Discipleship Ministries as part of our ongoing effort to provide free youth resources for your church.  You can find a link to the full curriculum at our Worship Lessons for Youth page.

Tell the students to imagine you had to offer some predictions for the future.

Split students into groups of 2 or 3 students and give each a sheet of paper and a pen/pencil.

Say: You have 10 minutes to make several predictions for the world in three categories:  5 years from now, 20 years from now, 100 years from now.

After all students have had time to write down predictions ask them to share theirs briefly with the group. For fun, consider having the group vote on the most likely predictions.

After all have shared ask one final question – What is the difference between your predictions and those predictions/prophecies God offers in Scripture?