Going Deeper

Bridge to Heaven

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I have found this illustration to be equally effective with 5 years olds all the way up to adults. It is especially useful for those who don’t understand the function of Jesus.

Place a long piece of paper on the floor (I used the paper from one of those big rolls). Cover the paper with flour. Ask for volunteers (or have everyone do it) to take off their shoes and socks. Tell them to walk across the paper (they can’t jump) without getting flour on their feet (this is obviously impossible). Ask them how they think they can get across without getting flour on their feet. Eventually, place a couple chairs or a bench across the paper. Have everyone walk across the bench. They will successfully reach the other side without any flour on them.

Ask if anyone knows what the flour represents. Explain that it represents sin, and that we cannot avoid it as we walk in the world. Explain the significance of the bench (which represents Jesus). The bench is our bridge to the other side of the paper, just like Jesus is our bridge to God/Heaven.

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Broken Yet Beautiful

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Supplies Needed:
A Hammer
A large board
A heavy duty plastic baggy
A glass mosaic candle holder
A package of Glass mosaic tiles (at least one for each student)
Tea light candles (At least one for each student)
*I was able to buy a kit that makes two mosaic votive candle holders at a craft store. I then put one of the two together and used the second set of tiles for the illustration.*

I started the lesson right out with reading through the first main scripture passage.

2 Samuel 13:1-20 (Tamar and Amnon)
I had them read through the passage, kinda dividing it up between kids in little pieces and after each kid read theirs, I brought out some key points about what is going on in the passage. I like to try to give the kids an understanding of any contextual stuff that we might not know about as well as trying to get them to put themselves in their positions, asking what their reactions would be, how they would feel, etc. I won’t try to tell you too much about what things to say about the passage but here are just a couple things that I used as key points to the lesson:

Tamar Before the Rape:
Was kind hearted – cared for Amnon in his sickness
Was proper and modest – dressed as the virgin daughters of the king were required with her arms covered
Was beautiful – mentioned right off in the beginning
Was a virgin
Was obedient – Her father told her to take care of her brother and she was obedient to her father’s wishes.

Tamar after the rape:
Was not a virgin
Bared her arms in grief, lost her modesty as an outward sign of what had happened to her.
Her heart was filled with grief, overshadowing any kindness, compassion, obedience that was there before.
She was “desolate” – she lived her life shut away from people from then on because of her shame. This was not something she recovered from.

It was not Tamar’s fault she was raped, she did nothing wrong and yet the rape broke her in so many ways that she didn’t recover from it. This is a picture of how all of us can be. We are broken people because of four things:
1. Other people’s sins against us
2. Our own sins
3. Lies of the Devil (You are ugly, you aren’t smart enough, etc.)
4. Circumstances beyond any human control (losing a loved one in a car crash, etc.)

At this point I gave them all little tea light candles and had them light them and I also gave each of them a glass tile from the kit. Then I turned out all the lights and read the first situation off my list that can cause teens these days to be broken. After I read it I had the first person come up and put their piece of glass inside a heavy duty plastic baggy and hit it with a hammer to break it, then blow their candle out. Then I read another one and had the next person come up. Just continue to do this until everyone has broken their glass and blown their candle out. I actualy had more people than I had items on my list, so I did a couple people at a time a couple times. Just have to play that by ear really. Here is the list I had:

People at school make fun of you.
One of your parents is an acoholic.
Someone abuses you.
No one cared enough to protect you from being abused.
You’ve given yourself away hoping to find love and now you just feel empty inside.
Your dad or mom tells you you’re stupid.
You believe it when they tell you you’re stupid.
You started drinking to dull the pain and now you’re an alcoholic.
You’ve lost someone you love.
You were raped.

These are just ten things I used, I had one more but I can’t recall what it was now, and if you want you can change any of these or add some to them. Just to let you know, the kids weren’t into it at first, they were giggly and not real focused and I thought at first, “man, this isnt going to have an impact, it’s going to flop.” But by the time we got three or four into it, they were really quiet and it was hitting home. So don’t stress if they don’t react the way you expect right away. It’s good to start with the less severe examples and move up as you go through your list.

Once the candles were all blown out and we were through the list I pointed out how before we went through these things the room had been lit up by all our candles, but as we went through the light started to die out with each person. Just like Tamar, our hearts can be covered in darkness because of the things we suffer through. But there was something Tamar missed. Take out the mosaic votive candle holder, light the candle, set it in the middle of the room/table or whatever, then read Isaiah 61 out loud to them. Explain that God can take their mourning and turn it to sadness and that he uses the broken pieces of our life to make something beautiful. Just because a thing is broken, does not mean it is worthless. Also point out that they won’t be the same as they were before they were broken, just like we couldn’t take the broken pieces of glass in the baggy and put them back together just like they were before. But God still sees them as beautiful and has a plan for them. I closed by asking them to find an adult and asking them to pray with us for whatever they recognized has broken them, they could share it if they wanted, if not then we just prayed a general prayer over them and while we were praying I had the song “Hold Me Now” by Jen Knapp playing. And that’s all there is to that lesson.

Just a couple pieces of advice on this, put the baggy on a board so the glass won’t scratch your table up, and you may want to have some small light on in the room too so that you can still read from your list. Maybe a night light or something, we had a little electric candle on the piano which was behind where i was standing so it was perfect.

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Building Memory Verse

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Get some large building bricks (in England, Duplo ones are about the right size).

Write a verse our from Scripture and the reference. Cut out each word and stick them to the bricks. Repeat this for however many teams of about 4-6 you have in your group.

Put the bricks in separate piles for each team at one end of the room. Have the teams stand at the other end. When you shout “Go”, one child at a time in turn runs to the bricks and brings them back. The next child runs to get a brick etc. When they have all the bricks, they have to put them in order. The first team to get the verse right wins.

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Building Relationship w/Christ

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Easy to do, Easy to understand and most of all – impacting to youth.

Once Christ is in our lives, he’s there, but are we using him? Recently when talking with my youth on this subject, I took a 5 foot long clear plastic tube (About 1/2 Diameter).

Put water in it to about half full. I explained to the kids that many things are in are lives and no matter how we move the pieces around, we still have everything in us to deal with. I moved the ends of the tube up and down and showed that the water stays level on both ends (You might want to blow the water out on the kids once or twice… catches their attention).

I then said… lets add Christ into the mix… I added 6 drops of Food Coloring to one end (Red is a good effect color, but blue is more dramatic). I then read some verses, and talked about that when Christ comes in our lives we start a relationship. The kids keep noticing the blue SLOWLY moving through the tube. I then said, lets talk with God… and I started moving the tube ends up and down stirring the water… of course the dye, begins to mix. One side is still clear however.

For my demo, I let it sit like that and did nothing until the next week. Then showed the kids that it had mixed completely… this is what happens. What we need to do is be more interactive with Christ and mix it up quicker.

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Burning Your Idols

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Text:
Read the first commandment (Ex 20:3)
Read the account in Acts 19 where the people burned all the articles associated with the Devil.

Materals:
Paper grocery bags, markers/crayons/whatever, lighter or matches and a safe place for fire.

Process:
Ask if anybody has ever seen an idol in person? Then why is this verse in the Bible? An idol is anything we worship instead of God. As this goes on, hand out paper grocery bags and markers. Have group make an Idol that represents what they are most tempted to place in front of God. Each can explain what their idol is about.

Provide an opportunity to burn their Idols if they are serious about keeping God first in front of these temptations.

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Canned Food Scavenger Hunt

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Just before Thanksgiving we divide into small groups, about 5-6, and set them loose on the town with adult drivers. Each team has a list of canned food items that are needed in our church food pantry. Points are awarded according to the difficulty in finding certain items, for example, green beans are worth less than potted meat. This is a fun way for the students to help build up the food pantry which we give to those who come to the church asking for help. It is amazing how much canned food we have collected during these scavenger hunts.

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Carrying Around Sins

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Materials needed: A couple of bookbags, and books

Have the youth walk around with an empty bookbag on their back; ask them to add a book for every sin they have committed. (lies, lust, sex, not praying, disobeying parents, not following the Laws of the Lord, etc…) The more books that are added, the harder it is to walk around.

Showing it gets harder and harder as we continue to walk around with our sins burdening us. Just let them go, confess them to God and let Him handle them.

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Cassette Tape Games

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Everybody has a bunch of old cassette tapes from when you would record services on tape rather than CD. We took some of the 90 minutes sized ones and had 3 games.

First, we split up into teams and raced to see who could empty theirs the fastest by pulling out all the tape. It must be in one piece to win.

Next, with all the tape lying in the floor, we challenged kids to use cassette tape to pull a truck. Each group had ideas that worked but one way is best. If you take all the tape from a 90 minute cassette, cut into 6 ft lengths, braid and twist together, you will be able to pull a truck on level ground. Wrap and twist 3 strands, then take 3 twisted strands and wrap and twist them. Then take all those twisted wrapped strands and twist and braid them together. Loop the rope over a ball hitch and pull. “Make sure someone is in the drivers seat to put on the brakes in case someone falls or to keep the truck from crashing!”

Third, take a long unbroken tape and have kids make art sculpture on the wall with scotch tape… like connect the dots or make a cityscape.

Last you can teach on a number of different biblical themes. I taught on being surprised in seeing God move in our life in unexpected ways, the same as we were to imagine a thin cassette tape pulling a truck.

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Celebrity Bible Chair

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A mix of Musical Chairs and Celebrity Head. Play the Musical Chairs game like you normaly would but with every person wearing a paper hat with a photocopy of celebrity’s face on it. You call them by their name (eg. Winnie the Pooh, Tiger Woods or Nicole Kidman). When the music stops, the person without the chair has to answer correctly a Bible question. Do a celebrity wild card every couple of questions where the person left standing has to answer a question about “themselves” instead (eg. What do you love eating Winnie?”) If he or she answers correctly then he or she gets to stay in the game. Keep on going untill there’s only one person left.

Meantime, if anyone drops their hat they are out. Winner gets 1 million points for their team. Bible questions will have multiple choice and be fairly easy. eg:
1. Who was the strongest man in the Bible?
a. Gideon b. Samson c. Goliath

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Take all the ingredients in chocolate chip cookies and put them in separate dishes. Everybody takes a spoonful or pinch of each ingredient. You will be hysterical at the faces made when they taste some of the ingredients. Most of it tastes prefer bad (except the chocolate chips). Vanilla extract tastes AWFUL. Then for everybody who tastes all the ingredients I gave them a couple of chocolate chip cookies. (I used Chewy Chips Ahoy since I’m too lazy to cook the real thing.) Then we talked about how life throws us things that may seem hard or painful at the time, but when you take all the ingredients from chocolate chip cookies and mix them together and even add a little heat the end product is pretty tasty.

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