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Dave Magee

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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?

Thinking through priorities is as important as it is difficult.  This activity helps students think critically about their priorities by forcing a choice and offering a time for reflection.  

  • Pass out a sheet of paper and a pen/pencil to each student
  • Instruct the students to fold the sheet of paper into 8 different sections.
  • Think of the 8 things most important to you. Write one of those things in each section.
  • Once everything is written down, tear the paper up into the 8 different pieces.
  • Then tell the students – “You have to sacrifice 1 of the 8 items you wrote down, you get to choose – please place one slip of paper into the middle of the group (on the ground or the table of whatever is the middle of your meeting space). Ask everyone to quickly share what they sacrificed and what made that less important than the other things.
  • Continue having them put an additional slip of paper in the middle one at a time asking them what they put in each time. Repeat this until each student is down to only 3 slips of paper remaining
  • Ask each student to share what their final 3 items were.

Questions for the Activity:

  • How difficult was it to sacrifice those 5 important items?
  • Are there things in your life that you might be able to sacrifice which might bless others by your sacrifice? (if students only mention material items encourage them to think more abstractly like giving of their time, their God-given gifts, etc)

We often overlook the things that are unseen, yet those things are often very important to the things that we do see.  This activity helps students reflect on that aspect of Psalm one by considering the roots of a tree.  

Pass out a sheet of paper and markers/crayons to each student
Tell the groups – “You have 5 minutes to draw any tree of your choosing. You will then share with the group your tree.”
After 5 minutes has gone by have the students all hold up their tree drawings and show one another.
Questions after Activity:
• Ask the group for a show of hands – How many of you drew roots on your trees?
• Why did you choose to draw or not draw roots? (they are unseen but we all know trees have them, there is more to someone than what we see on the surface)
• What role do roots play in the life of a tree?
• Psalm 1 compared the faithful to a tree – to be a healthy tree what kind of roots does a Christian probably need to have?
• What do healthy Christian “roots” need to be connected to?
• Without strong “roots” what may happen to someone trying to follow God?

If you have time, pass out another sheet of paper and ask them to use this sheet of paper to draw an illustration of Psalm 1

Creation inspired creativity.  This activity will enable students to use their creativity as they process what it means to care for creation and see it as created by God.

Break the students up into groups of 2-3.
Before you hand each group a can of play dough, tell them that “You will each get a can of play-dough. You have 5 minutes to create anything of your choosing. You will then share with the group what you created.”
After 5 minutes has gone by have each group briefly share what they made.

Questions after Activity:
• Which group do you think best utilized what they were given to make a creation? Why?
• What would happen to this play-dough if you were to mix another material into it?
• Would it be possible to ever separate just the pure play-dough out again?
• We haven’t been given play-dough by God, but something much more valuable by God, the entire earth. What are the essential items, the “play-dough” of earth, that we must be good caretakers of to honor God’s creation?

Even more creativityL:  If you have time gather other random things like plastic straws, empty water bottles, stickers, and broken sin flowers, and add several unique elements to what the groups are given and require that they incorporate everything they received into their creation.

Caring for creation is a spiritual task, and one that God calls us to do.  This activity will help students engage their imaginations to think through the types of things that need to change to fulfill that call of God.  It is a great conclusion to the lesson at https://www.umcyoungpeople.org/the-latest/mountain-sunday

  • Ask the group – “You all have been charged with making a new set of guidelines that all of humanity must follow for seeking to take care of the earth and its God-given resources.”
  • Designate one student (or a leader) to be the writer. Then have students share their ideas, writing all ideas suggested down. (hopefully there will be a lot)
  • Then say to the group – “We have a lot of good and interesting suggestions here, but this is probably too many for someone to remember, as a group let’s get this down to our top 5 guidelines people must follow.” (Allow students to discuss/debate/vote as needed to get down to a top 5.  They may be able to combine them into larger categories.)
  • After the class has gotten it down to the top 5 ask – “What would it take for people to actually start following these 5 guidelines now? What difference do you think that could make on Creation?”

One of the wonderful ways we resemble God is our desire and ability to create new ideas from the palette that God has created and given to us. This activity helps explore that piece of who we are and works perfectly with the lesson (https://umcyoungpeople.org/the-latest/planting-sunday)

Imagine you  had the opportunity to be the Creator and could create a completely new animal.

  • Get into groups of 2 or 3 students and get a sheet of paper and some markers/crayons. You have 10 minutes to 1) draw your new animal, 2) to list its characteristics, and 3) to give it a name.
  • After all students have had time to create a new animal they will then share their creation briefly with the group.
  • After all have shared ask one final question – The reality is that God is not only the Creator, but God also created something from nothing, What is the difference between God being able to create and your creation? (God could literally bring matter and creation into existence, while anything humanity creates is using the pieces of creation we have been given by God.)