In this group exercise youth will create their own transformer. If they need examples you can highlight the power rangers joining together to make their mega machine, or the transformer movies where they transform from cars to massive robots.
They can begin with whatever form they would like it to be and can have it take any form and have any abilities. This can be a great way to introduce them to Matthew 17:1-9 and get them engaged talking about Jesus transforming into something that left the disciples overwhelmed with awe.
To take it to the next level grab craft supplies like toothpicks, construction paper, tape, etc and let them create a 3D model of it!
Paul planted a church in Corinth, and in 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 he talks about how though it was his work at the beginning, others came behind him and watered that plant. This activity will help students think about this scripture from the inside.
Put the youth in teams of 2-4. Together they will take on the roles of planting and watering their own church. Tell the youth that in each group one/two of them are going to be church planters. The planters determine where they plant the church (city, suburbs, rural, etc…), how they will meet people and build up the church. Tell the planters they have five years to plant a church community and determine what it will look like.
The other one to two people in the group will be replacing the planter in five years and they will be the waterers. How will they continue to help the church and the people grow? What will they do differently? What plan of growth will they have to help the church deepen its faith?
Take a moment to read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9. Give students an opportunity to share how their imaginative exercise helps them understand the scripture.
Helping students dive below the surface of a passage can be difficult. This activity will give students a reason to look deeper and find words to express what they see.
Give youth five minutes with your chosen passage (1 Corinthians 2:1-12 and/or 13-16 is a great one for this) and tell them they will be given a chance to give a two minute sermon. Tell them to come up with one sentence that explains how this passage applies to their life as the basis for the sermon. For those groups with more timid students, encourage them to get in groups and appoint a presenter. Once they are finished have them give their small sermon to the group.
Be sure to leave time for a group reflection afterwards about giving a sermon where we struggle with trusting in our wisdom verses seeking God’s wisdom. Which wisdom is easier to rely on when we only have five minutes? This exercise can also help show that many different sermons, teachings and lessons can be learned from the same text.
Playing up the creativity and allowing students to engage with what they are most passionate about will make this icebreaker rock! Give students a piece of paper and invite them to create their dream team. Give them the freedom to choose what kind of team they would like them to be. It could be a sports team, superhero team, musical team, group of actors for a movie, well known business leaders, etc…
After a few minutes invite youth to share what kind of team they created and why they chose the people they did.
What qualities and characteristics did they consider when picking the people for their team?
Since the youth will most likely choose the best and most qualified for whatever team they decide, this activity is a perfect transition into discussing 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 that pushes back on that bias.
This icebreaker is a perfect lead in to a discussion on spiritual gifts. Before you dive into spiritual gifts, ask youth to share what gifts and/or talents they each have (i.e. music, art, great student, good with technology, etc…) After they have shared, ask them to think about how they can use those gifts for the church community and the common good.
Here’s the important part!
Keep in mind there may be some kids who struggle to believe they are good at anything and have something valuable to offer. Use this time to encourage them and name the gifts you see in them. Sometimes we do not realize the gifts we have until others name them in us. Naming the gifts in the life of a teen is a profound, identity-shaping form of encouragement.
If you have a group where you think it would be safe, ask each student to share a gift they think the person next to them has and take turn building each other up by identifying the good gifts God has given your group.
Joy is an essential element of not only advent but life together as Christians. Begin this activity by reflecting on Matthew 11:2-11. Talk about where they have experienced joy in their day-to day life. Then, ask them to look around the youth area and talk about the joyful memories they have. What things in the room spark joy or remind them of something joyful. After the discussion create your own joy spark together using one of these options:
- Print out individual or a large size prayer labyrinth template and invite youth to write their prayers of thanksgiving and joy throughout the labyrinth. If you are able to print out a big one, the whole group can write all their prayers on the one showing the communal nature of our faith and joy together. Or if the group does individual ones, you can put them all together in a collage or poster and hang on the wall.
- Paint/draw a mural for the youth room, inviting everyone to draw pictures of joy. If you have time and the artists to help, you can do this in the spirit of Isaiah 35:1-10 and have a mural of a desert and invite the group to draw flowers, greenery and water on it and name the flowers, the grass, sun and waters with what brings them joy
- Begin putting together a photo collage from youth group nights, previous trips, etc…
- Create a fun board for announcements to share joyfully about upcoming youth activities and trips and for youth to also be able to share their own announcements about events and activities in their lives that bring them joy that they would like to share
The world Isiah describes in Isaiah 11:1-10 is one filled with hope. This activity will use your students’ creativity thinking to situate that hope in their world.
Begin by reading Isaiah 11:1-10 out loud a couple of times asking the students to close their eyes and let their imaginations loose as they listen.
Depending on the size of your group you can do this activity as a whole group or in small groups. Invite the students to imagine they get to create their own country. For the sake of the exercise they can pretend there is an unlimited amount of resources available. Their task is to create a world reflective of the hope Isaiah shares. If your youth were the ones in charge, what kind of country would they create to give those in their country a life of hope, peace and love.
Invite them to think about the following questions:
- Who will rule your country? And how will they be chosen?
- How much of a budget will those in charge be responsible for? What will they use their budget for?
- What will the country be known around the world?
- What will life look for those who live there?
- What values will guide the decision making of those in charge?
After 10 minutes, invite the group to share their country with everyone else and why they made the decisions they did. Then you can ask the other groups, if the country presented is one that offers hope to the world.
The first Sunday of the Advent focuses on peace. For this activity youth will be invited to make an individual and/or contribute to a group peace flag. You can give youth individual pieces of paper or construction paper, or you can use a large piece of butcher paper for the whole group.
If you’d like a whole lesson that includes this activity, check it out at: https://umcyoungpeople.org/the-latest/are-we-there-yet-peace
Take a moment to ask students what peace means in their world. What would peace look like at school, online, at home, etc?
Tell students that they are going to create a prayer for peace. Invite them to write and/or draw their prayers for peace on a piece of paper. They can be prayers for peace in their homes, in their communities, peace in their online worlds (we know social media is seldom a peaceful place), and peace in and around the world. They can write or draw prayers for more peace in our schools, neighborhoods, and in our local and federal governments to create policies built on peace.
If you have chosen to do a group flag, attach all the peace flags together to create your group flag and hang it up in your small group space as you discuss.
Invite youth to share about what they wrote and drew.
Close your time in group prayer asking for prayer requests and also asking for where youth would like to pray for more peace in our world.
*You can find information about The Peace Flag Project here: http://thepeaceflagproject.org/workshops/how-to-make-peace-flags/