PREPARATION: Take a balloon that can blow up to be fairly large. Decorate it with markers/paints and place words like “happiness, peace, eternal life, etc.” all over the balloon. Then, cut enough two-feet long pieces of yarn/string to have one piece for every person in your group. Blow up the balloon, tie it off, and hold it up in your hand by the knot. Without actually tying any of the pieces of yarn to the balloon, hold the strings in your hand so that it appears that one or all of the strings is attached to the balloon.
Explain to your group that the goal of this activity is to get the balloon. Walk around to each person in your group, hold out the strings, and challenge them to take the balloon. Time and time again, members of your group will pull on a string, only to find it is not attached to the balloon. Continue, always stressing to your group to “take the balloon” while holding out the strings. When the last person has had a chance, everyone will see that you “tricked” them.
Ask your group to repeat back to you what you had been telling them to do. You kept telling them to “take the balloon,” but they were taking the strings. Explain that the correct response was not to take a string, but to simply reach up and take the balloon.
So often we think that true happiness comes through a useless string: money, popularity, pleasure, etc. We pull, hoping to finally find true happiness, only to miss out. True happiness, however, has no strings attached — it is a free gift offered to us through Jesus Christ. God continuously holds out this gift and offers it to us, but we keep taking the strings. Now is the time to accept God’s free gift.