Complete Meetings

All Things New

Great message for the new year…

How many of you make New Year’s resolutions? People make them because they feel like the new year is a new start, a fresh beginning to start over again.

But with God everything and every day is new!

Read Titus 3:3-7

‘Washing of Rebirth’ – NEW CREATION

Humans are a 3 part being…spirit, soul, and body.
Let’s examine this through the eyes of a computer geek. I’ll explain it in computer terms…
The outer case of the computer is the body.
The hard drive is our soul.
The operating system is our spirit.

When we are born again (rebirth, new creation), we still have the same case (body) we still have the same hard drive (soul) with all the mess on it, but God wipes out the old operating system and gives us a new one. This new operating system works far better than the old one. If we follow the manual that comes with our new operating system (the Bible) we can start to clean up our messy hard drive and get things straightened out. And the cool part is that we have 24-hour, on-site tech support!

Read Ezekiel 36:26 and 2 Corinthians 5:17

The word in the Greek that is used here for ‘new’ does not mean ‘new’ as in something new in time like, “I bought a new car, it’s a ’95.” The word means new as in new in nature, something completely different and far better. Like a caterpillar becomes something new when it becomes a butterfly. Before the metamorphosis, it was a slow moving caterpillar that was bound by gravity to walk on the ground. If it wanted to travel 1 mile it could take weeks, even months for it to get to it’s destination. But after its ‘rebirth’, it comes out a completely new creature. No longer bound to walk on the ground. It has a new freedom like it’s never had before. It can fly! It can soar high about the ground that once held it captive. If it wants to travel that same mile, it can probably do it in less than an hour. Its whole life has completely changed.

‘Renewal’ – NEW THINGS EACH DAY

God is not like a video game that you buy for your computer, play it for a while, beat the game and then just kinda get bored with it. He has a new expansion pack ready for you to download every day! He has new things to share with you every day to help you face whatever may be ahead.

Read Matthew 13:52 and Romans 12:2

The important thing to remember about this expansion pack is that you don’t just wake up with the expansion pack ready to play. You have to be willing to set aside the time to go on to the Internet and download the expansion pack.

Well, the same thing with God, you don’t just wake up renewed everyday. It takes some work and discipline on your part. You need to set aside that time with God every day to read, pray and just talk with God, and as you do that, He will show you new things, teach you new things, and help you in whatever way you need.

Mercy – NEW MERCIES EACH DAY

Another cool thing is that God has given us a reset button. If our computer crashes because of all the junk on our hard drive, God has shown us how to reboot our computer, run a scan disk to find the problem and then he’ll tell us how to fix it.

Read 1 John 1:9 and Lamentations 3:22-23

End by giving an invitation for salvation, rededication, or just a general renewed commitment…

Read more

Anger

Anger: Bible Base: John 2 13-22 Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Way in:
Demonstrate what pent up anger can do to us.
Give each member of the group a plastic 35mm film canister and a piece (about one third of a tablet) of Alka-Seltzer. They half fill the canister with water, then, all together, drop the Alka Seltzer in and push on the lid. Place all canisters on a tray. Explain that sometimes, when we get angry, the feelings inside of us well up, until….
After 20-30 secs each canister should then “blow their top” giving an impressive display.
Today we will be looking at anger, what it does to us, how we cope, and how Jesus displayed his anger.

Introduction of Anger.
Draw up Four Faces of Anger
(For illustrations I used pictures of faces showing the kind of anger – Clipart on Windows2000/XP has some, search on “anger”)

INJUSTICE
A rule, a belief, or an objective is being threatened or abused. Unfairness.

INJURY
You are disrespected, rejected, or ignored. Sense of insult or humiliation. Can be physical or psychological.

INVASION
Your freedom or personal space is being restricted or violated. Your identity is being attacked.

INTENTION
You have energy and determination to do something about injustices, injuries, and invasions. You challenge the status-quo.

– Get group to suggest situations that give rise to each facet.
– Which one, mostly, causes them to get angry?

Bible: John 2 13-22 read together as group.
– What was Jesus angry about?
– Did he direct his anger at certain people, or what they were doing?
– What “face of anger” was Jesus displaying.
– What does this reading tell us about getting angry and being a Christian?

Drama
First explain that when we get angry, we react in two different ways:
– Purposeful – showing self-control, and a degree of consideration for others.
– Spontaneous – Unplanned with little or no self-control.

Also our anger expressed can be:
– Constructive – where we respect other peoples’ feelings and boundaries, and don’t threaten either.
– Destructive – where you protect your own identity and violate other peoples’ feelings and identity, deliberately or unconsciously.

Hand out drama pieces to four pairs and give them a chance to rehearse.
Each drama piece shows an angry parent confronting a teenager who has come home late. Get them to work out whether this is on the doorstep when the teenager comes home, or the next morning. Each drama will portray one box in the matrix.


Draw matrix :
ððððððððððððððððPurposefulððððSpontaneous
ððððððððððððððð|————|————-|
ððððððððððððððð|ðððððððððððð|ððððððððððððð|
Constructiveððð|ðððððððððððð|ððððððððððððð|
ððððððððððððððð|————|————-|
ððððððððððððððð|ðððððððððððð|ððððððððððððð|
Destructiveðððð|ðððððððððððð|ððððððððððððð|
ððððððððððððððð|————|————-|

Drama Pieces

Purposeful and Constructive Anger……….
I’m angry. I let you go out on Friday night with the understanding you’d be home by eleven o’clock. Or, if you were going to be late, we agreed you’d call beforehand. When I didn’t hear from you, I was very worried. What happened? I want to talk to you about you going out, and the consequences if this happens again.

Purposeful and Destructive Anger……….
I can’t believe how irresponsible you were last night. You didn’t call. You made me sick with worry. Do you expect me to trust you with going out late at night now? We’ll have to see when you can go out like that again.

Spontaneous and Constructive Anger……….
What the heck has happened! I was expecting a call. I’m really angry. I stayed up because I couldn’t sleep. (Teenager tries to explain, but parent is not really listening and interrupts with emotional voice) I’m too upset to talk about this now. I’m going to bed. We’ll discuss this incident, and the rules for you going out, later on in the morning.

Spontaneous and Destructive Anger…………
(In a rage) You inconsiderate idiot! I should slap you! You silly, stupid… I’m here, scared to death, not knowing what has happened to you. You could have had an accident, been raped… How should I know! Do you call? No, you couldn’t care less. You just think about yourself, self, self… I’ll give you something to think about! You’ll never ever go out late again, d’you hear! Get out of my sight!

Get each pair to present their drama.

After each piece ask the group what word would best describe how the parent behaved. (Write it in the matrix).
Tips:
Purposeful and Constructive – Assertion
Purposeful and Destructive – Hostility
Spontaneous and Constructive – Passion, Suffering.
Spontaneous and Destructive – Rage

– How did Jesus behave?
– Why?
– What would be different if Jesus had behaved differently?
– How do they behave when they get angry?
– Does the Bible story teach them anything about how to behave when you get angry?

Quiet Time.
(Play some relaxing classical music and light a candle)
Think about the times people have got angry with us, and why.
Think about the times we got angry with someone and how we behaved.
Share with God any hurt you have inside
Admit to God where you think you might have done wrong.

Read more

Broken Yet Beautiful

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.

Read more

Do Not Be Conformed

Do Not Be Conformed

The purpose of this study is to teach youth to avoid the habit of imitating the pattern of sin in the world, and instead look to God and be transformed into something much more exciting.

Activate Your Audience

1. CHINESE WRITING

Have your “assistant” leave the room knowing the pattern. You ask the youth to come up with a short word that you can translate into Chinese (short — because your Chinese is not that good). After the youth have chosen the word, your assistant should come back inside. You draw Chinese looking letters on the board and your assistant guesses the word immediately.

Here’s the trick. For consonants, start a sentence with that letter. For instance, if the word is “moon,” you might say, “Maybe this is it.” For vowels, draw a Chinese type character using the same number of lines as the position of the vowel in the pattern AEIOU. Still using “moon” as an example, you would say, “Maybe this is it.” Then draw two Chinese characters, each with four lines, since “o” is the fourth vowel. Then say, “Now, do you have it?”

The point? There is a pattern that you have to know to figure out the solution.

2. THREE BY THREE

Place nine hymnals or same-sized rectangular objects on the floor in a three-by-three pattern. Have your “assistant” leave the room knowing the trick. Have the youth pick one of hymnals or objects to be “it.” Then, have your assistant come back inside. Using a pointing stick, deliberately point to the wrong hymnal, but place the pointer on the hymnal in the same position as the real hymnal. For instance, if “it” is in the upper right-hand corner of the pattern of hymnals, point to the upper right-hand corner of one of the other hymnals and ask “Is this it?”

The point? There is a pattern that you have to know to figure out the solution.

Build a Bridge

LUKEWARM DRINKS

Offer refreshing drinks before you continue or when the youth first come in from other activities. Only this time, have the canned drinks be lukewarm, and the water, and whatever else you might serve. Let everyone react to the situation, then offer ice to cool them down.

The point? No one likes a lukewarm drink. God doesn’t like a lukewarm Christian who tries to follow the pattern of the world.

Communicate the Word

I. LIVING PARABLE

Tell the story of the three riddles that Indiana Jones had to overcome in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The riddles were as follows…

1. Only the penitent man will pass. Indy had to bow his head to avoid getting it cut off.
2. In the name of God you shall walk. Indy had to step on the letters of God’s name.
3. The leap from the lion will take you there. Indy had to step off a cliff, so it seemed.

Transition: To get to where God wants you to go, you have to follow certain instructions, or the consequences will follow. If Indiana Jones had just ignored the instructions and gone on ahead his way, he’d be dead by now. We, too, have instructions to follow that will get us safely through the challenges ahead.

II. LIVING WORDS

A. The pattern of this world

1. Fame (Matthew 6:1)

Change who you are to become what other people are so you’ll feel accepted and people will like you. Look up to the popular people and get in line behind them to take their place when they are gone.

2. Fortune (Matthew 6:19 – 21)

Go to school so you can get into college, so you can get a good job, so you can make a lot of money, so you can buy a lot of stuff and save a lot of money, so you can retire when you’re old, so you can die and lose it all. What’s wrong with this pattern?

3. Power (Luke 9:25)

Just take over. Follow the example of all the other Hitlers and rise to the top no matter who you have to hurt and who you have to step on. Do your very best to become the most powerful person in your little world, be it school, or home, or work, or a big company, or a political organization, or a state, or a country, or the entire world. When you finally make it to the top you’ll hear a still small voice from above say, “How does it look from down there?” You know what we’re going to do tomorrow, don’t you? The same thing we do everyday — try and rule the world.

4. Pleasure (Hebrews 11:25)

It feels good, so do it. Listen to all the commercials and videos and movies and songs that tell you that there is a lot of fun stuff to do out there, especially the stuff your parents and youth ministers are telling you not to do, and enjoy the pleasure. After all, the mass media and your friends can’t be wrong, can they? It sure does feel good. As a matter of fact, it feels real good. I think I’ll throw away the rules I’ve grown up with and my reputation and my sanity so I can just enjoy these things. That’s the pleasure principle.

III. The Transformation of the Renewing of your Mind

0. Through God’s Word
1. Through Prayer
2. Through living your life the way Jesus would live it

In every situation you face in life, the world says to ask these questions…

a. What’s wrong with doing that?
b. What’s in it for me?
c. How much can I make for myself?
d. How good does it feel?
e. How good does it taste?

In the Christian life, there is only one question to ask…

Given my present situation, what would Jesus do if He were me?

Ask yourself what Jesus would do. Then do what Jesus would do under any and every circumstance regardless of the consequences to yourself or others. If you do that, then you will have broken the mold, thrown a wrench in the works, and gotten off the merry-go-round to become all that you were intended to be.

Do Something About It

Explain to the group that you cannot do what Jesus would do unless you know who Jesus is, and unless you know Him personally. To illustrate, show the video Secret Ambition by Michael W. Smith on the video cassette TwoxFour.

Sum up with specific challenges that fit your group. Discuss different practical ways that your group can do as Jesus would do: on school campuses, at home with family, in church when visitors come, etc.

Read more

Encouragement Under Pressure

Opening activity: Balloon Encouragements
Required materials: balloons, large garbage bags
Instructions: Have students blow up balloons by yelling encouraging words into them. Tie them off, then place them into a garbage bag for later use in the evening. Suggest phrases like “way to go”, “good job”, “I appreciate you”.
Contest variant: have each student yell their encouraging words into the balloon, and see if the group can tell what they said.

Transition: Tonight, we’re going to look at Encouragement Under Pressure. How do you feel when you’re under pressure (at school, at home, etc.)?
Does it ever help overcome the pressure you feel when someone says or does something to encouage you? If so, how?

Bible Study: For this meeting, we’re going to take a look at what the Bible says about Encouraging each other. We’re going to try and answer three questions – HOW, WHEN, and WHY should people encourage each other.

HOW do we encourage each other?
Hebrews 10:24-25
We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things. We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.

Activity: Encouragement Brainstorm
Instructions: In keeping with the phrase from this text, “let us consider how…”, have your students brainstorm different ways that they can encourage one another. Help them see that encouragement can take on many different forms – verbal, physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.

WHEN do we encourage each other?
Hebrews 3:13
Encourage each other every day while you have the opportunity. If you do this, none of you will be deceived by sin and become stubborn.

Optional Activity: Weekend Breathing
Instructions: Have a couple of students (preferably the ones who like to “ham” it up) pantomime what it would be like to decide on a Saturday morning that they were going to get all their breathing done for the week on just that one day – and then they would just “coast” on that one breathing session for the rest of the week.

Activity: Feeling the Pressure.
Instructions: Have each student stand on ONE filled balloon – it will probably pop. This demonstrates the concept that only one single encouraging thing, while helpful, might not be enough to counteract the pressure that each of us faces.

WHY do we encourage each other? (two reasons – )
1) makes us stronger
I Thessalonians 5:11:
Therefore, encourage each other and strengthen one another as you are doing.

2) builds up each other
Ephesians 4:29
You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.

ENDING activity: Encouragement Bean Bag
Required materials: large garbage bags filled with balloons (from opening activity), duct tape
Instructions: Tape the big garbage bag full of balloons shut. Have one student at a time sit on each filled garbage bag. It should not break, and this demonstrates that a habit of encouragement, done frequently and consistently, can help others withstand the pressures that life faces.

Remind students that we, as followers of Jesus, are not about tearing others down, but about building people up. Encourage them to consistently encourage each other, and point to your brainstorming session results to remind them of their own ideas on how to build others up.

Close in prayer, having each student thank God for the person on their left.

Read more

God Is Searching

God Is Searching

The purpose of this study is to teach youth that God desires a relationship with them so much that He will go to great lengths to show His love and get their attention, but He will never force His love on anyone.

Activate Your Audience

We’re All Losers

Ask several people in your group to respond to these questions. Have you ever lost anything that was really important to you, and then you found it later? It could be a thing, a pet, or even a person. How did you feel when you lost it? How did you feel when you found it? How long did you have to search for it?

Bring them Closer

Find the Five

You will need one five-dollar bill or other prize. Before the youth arrive, hide a five-dollar bill somewhere in the area. Make it hard to find, but not impossible.

Youth will almost always understand a biblical principle better if they experience the emotions involved in that principle. For instance, in this activity, they will experience frustration, anticipation, hope and finally victory or dejection — all feelings God must have when He searches for the lost.

Explain that somewhere in this room is a five-dollar bill. It has been lost. Whoever finds it may keep it. You have five minutes to find it. Watch the youth as they search for the prize. If time allows, discuss how it felt during the search. Ask how the finder felt and how the losers felt.

Transition: Those of you who participated in the search for the prize just became more godly. How? Because God is a God who is looking for something that is lost. Tonight we’ll find out what He is searching for and what lengths He’s willing to go to find it.

Music

Lead your group to sing some songs that focus on salvation — being found.

Communicate the Word (Luke 15:3 – 31)

You will need a Christian music CD or cassette to give away (or anything of value that comes in a package).

I. What is lost and how did it get lost? You are / were.

A. You are like a lost sheep (15:3 – 7)

Illustration: Ask: What’s the dumbest thing you have ever seen an animal do? Allow for responses. Share your own story if you have one. Explain: If you think that was stupid, you ought to see what sheep do.

Explain: Sheep, by most standards, are just plain stupid. If they see what they think to be better grass for grazing, they will sometimes stray from the herd for it. Then, the herd moves on and the sheep returns to find that it is lost. A sheep by itself, without a shepherd or a herd, is an easy target for wolves and other predators.

Some sheep do not wander very far from the herd, but they still become lost. They step just off the path of the shepherd and the rest of the herd looking for something interesting, intending to get right back. But, before the sheep knows what has happened, it’s thick wool has become entangled in the bushes and it cannot move. The rest of the herd moves on, and now the sheep is lost.

Finally, some sheep do not realize the danger of a moving stream of water. A thirsty sheep may head for a stream that the shepherd has deliberately avoided. When the sheep wades out into the water to get a drink, the water weighs down the wool and then it is carried downstream. If it is not found soon, it will drown. The sheep needed the water, but he tried to find it on his own in stead of going where the Shepherd led Him. The Shepherd would have led His sheep to still waters, where there was no danger of drowning.

Application: You are like these sheep. Some of you wander far from God looking for greener grass in other pastures besides the one God — the Great Shepherd — has placed you in. You intend to come back, but by the time you return from your adventures the other Christians you depended on have moved on with the Shepherd. You are alone and lost. You don’t know where to go now.

Some of you don’t ever wander far. You come to church and think you’re there with the other Christians, but in reality you are really checking the side trails for something better. You figure it will be okay to cheat on that test, laugh at a dirty joke, or make fun of someone else. After all, you’re just right off the path. Right? The danger is that you could become entangled in your sin. You may cheat your way through school and then cheat on your income taxes. You might begin to tell those dirty jokes yourself. You may learn that hurting other people’s feelings makes you feel better, so you begin to hurt them physically as well. Whatever the sin, you may find yourself so entangled that you can’t get out. Now you find yourself lost and you don’t know how to get out.

Or, some of you may have genuine needs, but you choose to go after them yourself instead of waiting for God to provide, like the sheep in the water did. You may hear your body tell you that you need sex, but instead of waiting for God to provide you with a spouse, you choose to go after sex now with someone else. Before long, the sin of lust weighs you down and you get swept away. You may need money, but instead of waiting for God to provide you begin to steal from your parents or your employer, and you sure don’t give an offering to God. Before long, you are trapped in greed and swept away.

Transition: Some of you have just wandered away from God, like these sheep, and you are lost. Some of you, though, may have become lost another way.

B. You are like a lost coin (15:8 – 10)

Illustration: Ask someone to give you one coin. Take the coin and hold it up. Explain: I am going to drop this coin from over my head. Then ask: Who can tell me which way it will roll after it hits the ground? Allow your group to try and guess. Drop the coin and watch where it rolls. Explain: You can’t really ever predict where the coin will roll — it’s chance. Sometimes chance or dumb luck causes something to be lost.

Explain: The woman had ten coins, each worth about a day’s wages. From our point of view, this coin was probably worth $100 or more (calculated from an annual salary of $24,000). Somehow, she dropped one of the coins in the house and it rolled out of sight. The coin was now lost.

Application: Some of you are lost, but you don’t really know how you got there. You just had bad luck, took a fall, and rolled out of sight. You didn’t do it on purpose, but it happened, and now you are stuck. Maybe you blame your parents — for splitting up or for treating you badly. Maybe you blame your circumstances — the amount of money you have, the way your hair looks, or the neighborhood you live in. Maybe you even blame God. After all, He could have made things better on your life. Regardless of who you blame, now you feel lost and worthless. Like a coin under a couch, it is dark. You see people walk by and you try to get their attention, but no one seems to care. You are stuck here, and you feel like life is just passing you by.

Transition: Some of you feel like life has dealt you a raw deal, like the coin that fell, and now you are lost. Some of you, though, may have become lost another way.

C. You are like a lost son (15:11 – 31)

Illustration: Give away a Christian music CD like this. Beforehand, remove the CD from the case and keep it hidden. Ask: Can I have a volunteer from the audience? Call someone forward, and explain: I have this CD that I would like to give to you. You can either take it now, or you can take it sometime in the future whenever I choose to give it to you. I would prefer you wait until later, but the choice is yours. Let the person respond by taking the CD. If they suspect a trick and refuse to take it now, ask if anyone else wants to take it now. When the person who took the CD sits down, ask him/her to open the CD case. Of course, it will be empty. Explain: If you had waited until later, I would have given you everything. But because you chose to take it now, you only get the case.

Explain: The son in this story demanded his inheritance from his father. He made a conscious and deliberate choice. He wasn’t stupid like the sheep, and it wasn’t chance like the coin. He didn’t want to live on his Father’s farm any longer. He didn’t want to do the work his father wanted him to do everyday. He made up his mind and he decided to take his father’s inheritance and go live the good life. He went to another country, spent his money on (probably) prostitutes, wild parties, drinking, gambling, a nice camel, etc. But, before long, he found himself completely out of money and forced to feed pigs for a living. He was so hungry that he wanted to eat the pig food. He went to find himself, but he ended up lost, lonely, and hungry.

Application: Some of you know what God wants you to do. But you have decided that there is more to life out there. You don’t want to live your life doing what God says everyday. You want to live the good life now. So, you have deliberately turned your back on God and begun to live each day in another country — another way of living, far from God’s place. You date whoever you want, go wherever you feel like, choose your own friends, and live life on your terms. For awhile you had fun (or maybe you still think you are), but it didn’t take long to realize that everything you thought was so great is actually boring. Now you are lost, blaming yourself for leaving in the first place, and wondering if God would even consider taking you back. You find yourself staring at an empty package, like the person with the CD case, wondering what to do next.

II. How do you get unlost?

A. You’ve got to realize you are lost

Explain: The sheep may be stupid, but it knows when it is lost. It knew it didn’t belong by itself, or caught in a bush, or drowning in the stream. The coin, if it had thoughts, would know it was lost because it wasn’t being spent or hanging around with the other coins. It knew it didn’t belong under the couch. The son realized he had done wrong, and he knew he was lost in another country. He knew he wasn’t supposed to be feeding pigs.

Application: God will never force you to be found. If you want to be found, you have to know you are lost.

B. You’ve got to know that God is searching for you

Explain: When a sheep is lost, the shepherd leaves the other sheep and goes searching for the lost sheep. He will call the sheep’s name, crawl through bushes, wade through streams, and give all He has to finding the sheep. When he finds it, He will lift it up gently on His shoulders and carry it back to the herd and throw a party.

When a valuable coin is lost, or a five-dollar bill, the person searching for it will go to great lengths. She will find a light, turn over the furniture, and crawl through the dirt to find it. Then, she will pick it up, put it with the others, and throw a party.

When a son leaves home, the father will not force him to stay. But he will wait patiently by the door. He will lay awake nights, wondering when the boy will return. He will look down the road every day, hoping that figure in the distance is his son. And on the day that his son realizes he is lost and begins to return home, the father will recognize him from a long way off and run out to meet him. He will take him home and throw a party.

Application: God is calling your name. He left His home in heaven to come down to earth and crawl with humans, hoping they would listen to Him. He went all the way to the cross, hoping that some would choose to accept His free gift of love. He won’t take you home if you don’t want to go. If you want to stay lost, you will. But if you let Him find you, He will pick you up, take you where you need to be, and throw a party. At this point, call the person who took the CD case back up to the front. Pull out the hidden CD. Ask: Would you rather have this CD to go with that case, or do you want to just keep what you have? Let the person respond and take the CD.

III. Do Something About It

IV. Explain: Some of you are lost and you have never let God find you. You have never realized you were lost and that God was searching for you. You are hiding from God. Today, right now, you can choose to have a fuller life. Just like an empty CD case is better with a CD, your life is better if you let God inside. You are an empty package without Him. If you realize you are lost, then just ask God to come into your life. If you do, He will throw a party in your honor. Use your best judgement in leading any individuals to Christ who may want to respond.

V. Some of you are Christians, but there are parts of your lives that are lost. You have given God certain areas, but not others. You’ve told God He can have some parts of your life, but not all. You’ve told Him that you will obey Him in some areas, but not in everything. God, because He loves you, is searching for the parts of your life that need improvement. He will never stop searching until He finds you willing to give him your music life, your sex life, your dating relationships, your friendships, your relationships with your parents and siblings, etc. He won’t stop until He finds you having a regular quiet time, obeying His Word, telling others about Jesus. What part of your life are you holding back? Think of at least one area of your life that you have hidden from God. Realize you are lost and give that area of your life back to God. Let Him be the one in control. If you do, He will throw a party in your honor.

VI. Pray for all the decisions your youth may make. Ask God to help them keep their commitments. Follow up as much as possible with any decisions that your youth have shared with you.

Read more

God Is The Best

God Is The Best

The purpose of this session is to teach youth some of the basic attributes of God — that He is always there, that He is all-powerful and all-knowing — and because God is like this, He wants to have a relationship with us.

Activate Your Audience

The Best Thing

Ask ten people in your group to finish the following statement (if you have less than ten, let everyone respond): “The best thing I have ever seen or heard in my life is…” Allow each person to respond, then write the responses where everyone can see them. Briefly discuss what makes each thing so great.

Bring them Closer

Set the New World Record

Break your group in half to form two distinct groups. Make sure each group is about the same size. Give each group exactly five minutes to come up with some idea that has never been done before — something that would possibly put them into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first and best group to ever do that particular thing. It must be something that involves every member of the group. Then, at the end of the five minutes, ask each group to demonstrate what World Record they are going to set.

Transition: Explain to your group that tonight you are going to look at some of the World Records that God holds. He’s the oldest, strongest, and smartest person in the world.

Music

Lead your group to sing some songs that focus on God’s attributes. Examples include…

God is So Good

Lord, You are More Precious Than Silver

Our God is an Awesome God

Communicate the Word

I. God has always been and will always be (Psalm 90:2)

A. He had no beginning

Illustration: Draw a line segment on the board. Place a large dot at the beginning of the segment and at the end. Explain that humans have a beginning (when we are conceived by our parents) and and end (when we die). Then, in place of the large dot on the left side of the line segment, make an arrow. The arrow means that the line goes on infinitely in that direction. Explain that God has no beginning. He has always been there. Allow time for your group to ask questions about what this means.

Application: Explain that God has always been working in your life. There is never a time when He wasn’t thinking about you and planning good things for your life. When you were conceived, He was there, making sure you grew into a new baby. He was there when you experienced your most embarassing moment. He was there this morning when you woke up. He has always been there for you.

B. He has no end

Illustration: Now draw an arrow on the right side of your line segment so that both sides have arrows. God will never end because He is eternal. Allow time for your group to ask questions.

Application: Explain that God will always be there for you. When you have the greatest day of your life, God will be there. When you have the worst day of your life, He will be there to comfort you. He wants to be with you all the time. So, whenever you choose, you can talk to God because He is right there.

II. God can do anything He chooses to do (Matthew 28:18, 19:26)

A. God chooses to do whatever He wants — no one tells God what to do (ultimate authority)

Discussion: Let the group discuss what they would do in one 24-hour period if no one on earth could tell them what to do. They can do anything they want, and no one will get in their way. Anything is game. Write down some of the things your group comes up with. Chances are, the things they do will be very self-centered (stealing money & cars, eating all the food & candy you wanted, etc.) Don’t interrupt them. Let them live out their dream day.

Explain that God can do whatever He wants because He is God.

Application: Go back over the list and try to find things your group wanted to do that are not selfish — things that help other people. You may find only a few or none at all. Now think about God. Explain that though God can do whatever He wants, He has not chosen to be selfish. He has chosen to give each one of us a life. He has given us all the freedom to accept or reject Him. He came to earth to die for us because He loved us. God could have chosen anything in the universe to do, and yet His greatest desire was to create you and love you.

B. God has the power to do whatever He chooses (ultimate power)

Illustration: Explain to your group that you want to see who the strongest person in the group is. Ask everyone to stand up. Announce that the strongest person in the group will be whoever can stand on one foot for the longest period of time without holding on to something/someone and without moving. Say, “Go!” and let everyone start. When the last person standing, have that person come forward. Explain that now you are going to test the strengh of the strongest person in your group. Ask this person to, in front of everyone, pick his/her up and hold it up for ten seconds without using anyone or anything else. Of course, this is impossible.

Explain that, as humans, we have limitations. We cannot do everything that we want to do. Some things are just not possible. Explain that with God, however, everything is possible. He can do whatever He chooses to do. Allow time for questions from your group. Be prepared for some crazy questions. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”

Application: Explain if God is powerful enough to do whatever He chooses, then He is powerful enough to be your God. He can provide your every need, get you through the toughest times, take care of you through any problem, and be all that you need Him to be.

III. God knows everything (I John 3:19 – 20)

A. He knows everything about the universe

Illustration: Tell the following story. “Back in the early 1900’s, a man’s car broke down. He pulled off to the side of the road and began fiddling with the engine. He couldn’t locate the problem, and he began to be very frustrated. A few moments later, another car pulled up and a man stepped out and offered to help. He put his head under the hood and quickly found the problem. ‘How did you know what the problem was?’ asked the first man. The stranger responded, ‘Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Henry Ford. I invented this automobile. I know everything about it.'” Explain that God knows everything about the universe because He invented it — He created it.

Application: Explain that though science has made great strides in its study of the universe, we will never understand all there is to know. We can’t even predict the weather with 100% accuracy. God, however, knows everything about the universe. He created every planet, star, flower, sunset, river, mountain, and valley. This week, take the time to look around you at all of the things that God created.

B. He knows everything about you

Illustration: Ask someone to volunteer, or call on someone. Bring this person forward. Tell the person to take five steps across the room. Each step must be taken in a unique way — in a way that no one could possibly guess what the person will do. Everyone expects the person to just put one foot in front of the other, but perhaps the person could walk backwards for one step, hop one step, roll on the floor for one step, etc. The point is, no one should be able to guess what the person is going to do next. When the person has finished, explain that only God knew what this person was going to do.

Explain that God knows all about you. He knows where you have been, where you are now, and where you are going tomorrow. He knows how many hairs are on your head. He knows what you are thinking right now. He knows if you will be alive in five years or dead tomorrow.

Application: Ask your group to answer this question, “What makes a best friend?” One of the most common answers is, “Someone who knows you — someone who understands you.”

Explain that God wants to be your best friend. He knows you better than anyone else, and His whole point in creating you was to have a close relationship with you. He wants to be a part of your every waking moment.

Do Something About It

Read the following questions out loud to your group. Ask each person to listen for that one question that really hits home. Then, ask everyone to think about that one question and answer it honestly and quietly. Will it be God or the other thing?

God will be there when your parents/friends let you down. Who are you going to depend on?

God will be there when sinful pleasures don’t feel good anymore. Which one do you want?

God has more power than money, so which one do you want more of?

God is more powerful than the crowd, so who are you going to please?

God is more powerful than you, so which one are you going to spend more time with?

God knows who you are going to marry, so why not ask Him to help you find him/her?

God knows what you’ll do after high school, so why not ask Him to show you what to do?

God understands your deepest fears, so why not trust Him to take care of you?

God knows everything about you, so why not give everything you have to Him?

Pray that everyone in your group would recognize that God, because he is always present, all powerful, and all knowing, wants to be a part of everyone’s life on a daily basis.

Read more

HillBilly Hangout – Activity Night

We are having a “Hillbilly Hangout” for our young adults class. (please excuse the reinforced stereotypes throughout, but it’s all done in good fun!) We made up a flyer beforehand and handed it out. It went something like this:

Hilbily Hangowt!

Place:
Time:

Onli Hilbilys aloud. That meens thet no won can com unles thay ar a bon I fiid hilbily an LOOK lak won!

all hb’s nid to bring a can a soup an a frend to cher it.

hilbilys ownly!

The kids need to dress as a hillbilly and bring a can of soup. All of the cans of soup will be mixed in a big pot and served as hillbilly stew. (its usually quite good believe it or not!). You may want to add biscuits or cornbread to the menu.

Games:

Apple Dance: Download and burn some free bluegrass music off of MP3.com. This will be the music used for the apple dance. Object of the game is to get two people to dance with an apple held between their foreheads. A “caller” (the person that says “swing your partner” and “two steps left”) can spice the competition up a bit by calling out feats that may be difficult. Last couple with an undropped apple is the winner.

Potato Game: Team relay game where players must pick up potatoes from a chair using their lower extremities (no hands) and carry it to a bucket and drop it. a team member can place the potato on a chair for them, but thats all the help they get. Make up rules accordingly

Mountain Dew Drinking Contest: Most or fastest. You pick.

Greased Pig: If you can obtain live piglet and grease it down with solid Crisco vegetable oil this one would be CLASSIC to get on video.

Challenge Outline:

Title- God Used Hillbillies

Purpose – God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

1. God used a farmer. David. 1Samuel 16:19
2. God used fishermen. Peter/James. Matthew 4:18.
3. God used a carpenter. Jesus. Matthew 13:55

Closing Verse and thoughts

1Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

Adapt to your own group!

Here’s some of the things you may need or want to complete the evening:

Apples
Potatoes
Buckets
Mountain Dew
Decorations – Hay Bales, Section for photos
Burner for the Hillbilly stew
Prizes
Certificates of award

Read more

Inside or Out?

Scripture:
James 1:13-18
Joshua 24:14-18

Illustration (Fish) – Lets say that this bowl represents God’s will for our lives. God’s will has boundaries. There are things we can do within God’s will and things we cannot do. Lets say that the water represents God’s living word because whatever we do in life has to be done within God’s will according to His word, right? The fish then inside the bowl represents us. (Hit the glass and turn the bowl) Satan cannot touch us within God’s will so he wants to get us out of the bowl; he wants us out in the open with no protection. So Satan plays with our desires and uses our own desires to entice us and drag us away from God’s Will.(Sprinkle fish food on the outside of the bowl. If the bowl is a little wet the food will stick and the fish will try to eat it but can’t) and soon we want what’s out in the world and if we continue chasing after the things in this world sooner or later we will make the decision to venture out on our own.

(Take the fish out of the bowl and put it on a wet wash cloth)
then read James 1:13-15

Return fish to Bowl
then read (V. 16-18)

Joshua had a similar problem with the Israelite people. They wanted what was on the outside instead of what God had for them. They wanted idols and a way of life without consequences. They were enticed. Finally Joshua had enough and he spoke before the people.

Read Joshua 24:14-15
Do you think the people changed their mind and began to serve God after Joshua made his bold stand of faith?
Read (v.16-18)
Joshua was a leader by example and we too are leaders. What does your example say at school, at home or at work. Are you living a bold faith or are you following the example of the coolest trends? Are you being enticed by popularity, money, boyfriends (girlfriends)or maybe in your life your harboring jealousy, hatred or envy. Are you more concerned about your own agenda than you are God’s will?

Closing –
We must choose daily to follow God and to refuse to be enticed by our own desires. I am trying to lose weight and it isn’t easy when my wife bakes chocolate brownies with caramel. Every day I am faced with a menu and I must make a choice. So it is with us in the spiritual realm, everyday we are faced with choices between right and wrong and our choices are the tale tell signs of who we truly serve and it is a daily decision. Who will you serve this day? Are you Inside or Out?

Read more

It’s Your Thang – #1

It’s Your Thang – Introduction

Scripture quotations are from the GOD’S WORD translation, used by permission.
GOD’S WORD is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society. Quotations are used by permission.
Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society. All rights reserved.

The purpose of this session is to introduce youth to the concept that God has called each one of them to a specific ministry — works that God has prepared in advance for them to do (Ephesians 2:10). Future sessions will assist them in discovering their spiritual gifts, identifying and confirming their interests, identifying and confirming their abilities, examining their heart for what really moves them, and finally in motivating them to develop their own personal ministry based on all of these things.

Activate Your Audience

What is it?

Ahead of time, take a video camera or regular camera with a strong zoom lens and take very close-up shots of regular, every day items that have a purpose. Examples include a paper clip, coffee cup, water-fountain drain, clock, shoe, etc. Get some close-ups of some off-the wall stuff if you can, like the inside of someone’s nose or ear, roadkill, etc. If you don’t have a video camera or camera capable of taking really close-up shots of objects, go to a local bookstore and ask the clerk to help you find a book that has close-up shots of objects like these. During your meeting, show the close-up shots to your youth and let them guess what the items are. Sometimes they will be right, sometimes they will be way off. Have fun with it.

During the study, you can refer back to this activity by asking what each object’s purpose is.

Bring them Closer

Creative Variations

Break your group up into smaller groups of three to six people. Give each group a collection of small objects that have a purpose (paper clips, staples, paper towels, toilet paper, cups, etc.) Instruct each group to do something totally creative with their objects — something that has likely never been done before. For instance, making a paper clip chain is probably not unusual, but making a paper clip butterfly is. Give each group an appropriate amount of time to finish. Allow each group to share what they have made.

During the study, you can refer back to this activity by explaining that ordinary objects, like ordinary people, can be used in more ways than just one.

Music

Lead your group to sing some songs that focus on God’s plan for their lives

Communicate the Word: It’s Your Thang (Ephesians 2:10)

God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

I. God has made you what you are

A. God wanted to create you

Illustration: Imagine walking through a dog pound. Before your eyes are hundreds of young puppies and dogs that are less than a week away from being euthanized. Your parents have allowed you to choose one. How will you choose? Discuss answers if possible — notice the wide variety of choices. Once you chose a dog, what would you do? Discuss. How would you react if you were stuck in a cage waiting on someone to pick you, and someone stopped and kneeled down at your cage? Discuss. When you finally choose a dog, it will be the one that you want the most.

Explanation: When God was the only thing that existed in the universe, He chose to create other living beings that He could be friends with. He could have chosen anything — but He chose you. He looked at the person you could be and said, “I’m going to create him/her!” He created you because He wanted to.

Application: Because God wanted to create you, you can be sure that He didn’t just abandon you after you came into existence. He not only wanted to create you, but He continues to want to be with you. If you went to a pound and carefully selected a puppy to take home with you, you wouldn’t abandon it once you got home. You would feed it and spend time with it and give it a unique name. God has chosen you, created you, and He wants to spend time with you because you are unique. No one can touch God’s heart the way you can.

B. God created you with a purpose (Psalm 139:13 – 16)

Illustration: Inside of your body is an organ known as the appendix. No one knows what this body part is for. It’s attached to one end of your large intestine, but it doesn’t seem to serve any purpose. In fact, often people get sick and have to have their appendix removed. People seem to do better without it than with it. How would you feel if you were an appendix? Discuss.

Explanation: Some of you might feel like an appendix. You don’t really know what your purpose in the world is. In fact, you feel like if you were removed from the world, no one would even notice or maybe they would be better off. The fact is, though, that you were created with a very specific purpose — a purpose unlike anyone else’s. The real question is, have you discovered your purpose? Does anyone know what your purpose in life is? Discuss.

Application: God is the only one who knows what your purpose is, so He is the one you must go to to find out. Don’t settle for a normal worldly purpose. Many people just flip through life’s little catalog of career choices — I can be a doctor or a lawyer or a supermodel or a trash collector. But is your career really your purpose? No. Your purpose is a lot bigger than a job, it’s something totally incredible and unique. Your destiny is to change the world, to change people’s lives, to live for God. Are you going to flip through the catalog of current choices, or are you going to ask God what your purpose is? Discuss. He will show you if you listen to Him (Bible) and talk to Him (prayer).

II. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do

A. Our purpose has to do with Jesus (John 15:1 – 5)

Illustration: Let’s say you work for Taco Bell. What is your purpose? Discuss. Whether you are the manager or working at the register, what does your purpose always relate to? Discuss. Your purpose will always relate to serving Mexican food to the customer in order to make money. What would happen if you told your boss that you ought to start serving french fries? fried chicken? burgers? Discuss. What would happen if you brought video games to work and played them in the back? Discuss. Your boss will only want you at Taco bell if you serve the purpose. The purpose is limited to Taco Bell’s goals.

Explanation: Once you become a Christian, you “work for God,” so to speak. Your job is all day, everyday. God’s goal is to help every person hear about Jesus, accept Jesus, walk with Jesus, and imitate Jesus. So, what are you going to spend your time doing? Everything you do must somehow fit into God’s plan. That’s why, whenever you make a decision, you should always ask yourself first, “What would Jesus do in this situation?”

Application: Every person in Taco Bell does not do the same thing. Some take orders, others make food, some manage the back, others clean. But, everyone works toward the common goal. God is not going to make all of us do the same boring thing. What He has called you to do will be specific, fun, interesting, and worth your while — but it must fit into His purpose. So, today/tonight and in the weeks ahead we will be discussing what your specific job is — your ministry. And you have a ministry. Just as the Taco Bell boss will train you and show you what you are supposed to do, so God will train you and show you just what you are supposed to do.

B. God’s plan is for our lives to be filled with good works that He already has planned out

Illustration: Think about the movie “Babe.” He was a pig with some extraordinary intelligence. His master, the farmer, worked with him and trained him to be a sheep pig. Normally, a pig would have done nothing more than eat, get fat, and become bacon. But Babe, because he was special and unique, was chosen by the farmer to do a specific job. Fortunately, Babe obeyed the farmer. In spite of the laughter of the crowd at the sheep dog contest at the thought of a pig participating, Babe showed the farmer and the world that he could do the job.

Explanation: God wants all of us to be like Babe — to listen to what He says and follow His instructions instead of just eating, drinking, getting fat, and dying.

Application: You are as unique as Babe. You may laugh, and the people around you may laugh, but God has some extraordinary task for you to do. You may seem out of place, and your ministry may be a little weird, but God has already got the details worked out, so just listen to what God tells you.

In the next few weeks, you are going to get the tools necessary to find out just what your niche — your ministry — is in this youth group and in your world. We’re going to look at your spiritual gifts, your interests, your abilities, your heart, and when we’re done, you’re going to be expected to announce to us what your purpose is. Five weeks from today/tonight, I will ask each one of you to tell us what you special ministry is. So be thinking and praying.

Do Something About It

Summarize: God has a unique plan for your life. He created you with this purpose in mind. No one else but you can do what God has called you to do. If you decide to accept God’s plan for your life, you will find your life to be fun, exciting, unique, and fulfilling. It’s Your Thang. Whatcha gonna do?

Between now and the time God shows you what His purpose for you is while you are in this youth group, here is what you can do to prepare yourselves.

1. Take the One-Minute Prayer Challenge. Spend one minute each day asking God to show you what your purpose is — why you are here.

2. Take the One-Minute Bible Challenge. Spend one minute each day reading God’s Word and asking Him to show you what His will for your life is.

3. Spend some time thinking about what you have done in the youth group in the past that has really meant a lot to you. Write down your most memorable event in the youth group, and be prepared to share that next week. The purpose of this exercise is to introduce the lesson on spiritual gifts next week. A Christian youth will feel the most useful when he/she is exercising his/her own spiritual gift(s). For instance, someone with the spiritual gift of service may get easily bored during fellowships, but really gets excited about mission trips. Someone with the spiritual gift of teaching may hate mission trips, but really likes to learn from youth talks and share biblical ideas with others.

You’ll understand more each week why we call it your “THANG.”

Close in prayer.

Read more
12