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/