Complete Meetings

Overcoming the ‘Fear Factor’

(This study uses the reality show ‘Fear Factor’ as an illustration. If you yourself are not familiar with the show, you can check it out Mondays at 8:00pm? on ‘NBC’, or you can check out the website (www.nbc.com/Fear_Factor), which may also give you some ideas on a stunt you could have the members of the group try out!)

Begin the meeting by having volunteers do a ‘Fear Factor’-style stunt (i.e. race to eat a ‘disgusting’ food concoction, or find their way through an obstabcle course bind-folded, etc.

Next, if possible, you can show a clip of ‘Fear Factor’ (for any members of the group who may not be too familiar with the show) Point out how the contestants faced their fears in order to win the prize.

Engage members in discussions about some of the ‘fears’ they face (can be anything: fear of the dark, small spaces, snakes, heights, speaking in front of audiences, etc.)

Then ask: Have you ever let fear STOP you from doing something? (i.e.: fully serving God, ministering for God, WITNESSING?) If so, remembering these 3 simple points may help you overcome the ‘Fear Factor’:

1. COURAGE IS COMMANDED
– Deut. 31:1-6 (Be strong and courageeous. Do not be afraid or terrified, the Lord your God goes with you – He will never leave nor forsake you’)
-2 Chr. 32:6-8
-Ezra 10:4 (Rise up, this matter is in your hands. So take courage and do it!)

2. POWER IS PROMISED
-Acts 1:8 (you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, and to all the ends of the earth)
-Mat. 19:26 (with man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible)
– Acts 4:13

3. WE ARE REWARDED
– Luke 18:29-30 (no one who has sacrificed for the sake of the Kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in the age and in the age to come, eternal life)
– Rev. 22:12 (Behold I am coming soon. My reward is with me, and I will give according to what he has done)
– 2 Cor. 9:6 (Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will reap generously)

Conclude by having members share any stories they may have (or you may have) of how overcoming a fear proved beneficial. (i.e. someone overcoming the fear of talking to someone about God, then when they did it, the person was grateful, or helped them make a decision to follow Christ, or helped them get through a tough time, etc.)

End off by sharing the phrase always quoted at the end of each ‘Fear Factor’ episode: “CONGRATULATIONS…EVIDENTLY FEAR IS NOT A FACTOR FOR YOU!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Cost

Preparation:
– Ritz crackers and an assortment of “foods” to put on the Ritz. (prepare it all on a tray)
– Nylons and pencils for hairdo’s

Icebreaker:
To get into the CTC youth room you must first select from 3 activities.
1.) Put a Nylon on your head pick someone to pull some hair through and promise to wear it until worship time.
2.) Quote John 3:16 while standing on your head (if you mess up you have to do the next thing as well)
3.) EAT THE RITZ select a “Ritz Sandwich” prepared by a Youth Sponsor and EAT IT!
4.) If you won’t do one of the above then you’ll have to wear this dandy button, “I Wimped OUT in CTC”

Text:
Luke 14:25-33 — “Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — 29 “lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 “saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 “Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 “Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”

1.) What is the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure as a Christian? Getting up Sunday AM / Being made fun of?
2.) Let’s look at what some people around the world are having to endure for Jesus sake: a.) Randal Terri – spent time in jail for protesting abortion. b.) Missionaries – leave families – beaten
Examples of what the Disciples had to go through. a.) Paul and Silas in Jail b.) John the Baptist was be-headed c.) Peter was crucified upside-down d.) Fed to the Lions e.) Burned at the stake
Examples of what Jesus went through. a.) Falsely accused b.) Beaten c.) Carried cross d.) Nailed to cross e.) Left by all his friends f.)

Phil 2:6-10 — “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, ”

Why did he do this? Because He wanted to make a way for you to get to heaven! Lets thank Him with words Lets thank him with actions!

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Name That Tune

Name That Tune

Many of you have no recollection of the TV show “Name That Tune.” Of course I barely remember it. It first aired in 1953 (I was a young child…) and ran until 1959. The point was to be the first to name the popular song being played by an orchestra. By the way, I saw reruns, not first airings! Very funny…laugh it up…grandpa, I know. 🙂

PLAY A NAME THAT TUNE GAME WITH PRIZE(S).

What we want to look at tonight is the word Christian. Let’s say that’s our “tune.” How long would it take people to name that “tune” about us? Are we even playing the right song?

Where Christians got their name…
Christian: The name given by the Greeks or Romans, probably in reproach, to the followers of Jesus (literally “little Christ”). It was first used at Antioch. The names by which the disciples were known among themselves were “brethren,” “the faithful,” “elect,” “saints,” “believers.” But as distinguishing them from the multitude, the name “Christian” came into use, and was universally accepted. This name occurs three times in the New Testament.

Name Calling
Talk about name calling. How does it feel to be called names? Why do we/others do it?
It’s interesting to note that the first Christian’s didn’t name themselves. It was by the way they acted that others began to use the term we know today.

…and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. (Acts 11:26)

Name Changing
Saul became Paul because of an encounter with Jesus. Talk about the conversion. Ask students if they know the story. How does that relate to us becoming a Christian? If we truly meet Him, shouldn’t our “tune” change as well?

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28)

Name Carrying
The bible tells us that we should stand out and be different…to be the salt of the earth. Explain what salt is for. If it was against the law to be a Christian (which it is in some countries) and a jury of your peers was formed, would you be convicted?

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (1 Peter 4:16)

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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.

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Random Discussions

The other youth leader was suppose to do the discussion for the night and she bailed out at the last minute because something came up. So there I was with about 12-15 youth without anything planned. After a couple games I had them sit in a circle and I passed out a piece of paper and pen. I told them to write down any type of discussion or question that they had on their mind. I collected the pieces of paper and discussed each topic/question that was given. Some people had hard hitting questions ranging from sex, friends, believing in God, abuse in the home, anger problems, to self-esteem. It was great that this gave an opportunity for everyone to give their own input and suggest a solution about the topic at the moment. It also helped to the youth to know that others were going through similar issues.

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It’s Your Thang – #2

It’s Your Thang – Spiritual Gifts

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 their spiritual gifts, explain each gift, and challenge them to begin thinking of a specific ministry or ministries where they can put their gifts to work.

You may want to divide this session into two halves. During the first session, pass out a spiritual inventory quiz and allow your group plenty of time to answer all the questions. (A spiritual gift inventory is a series of questions that can help determine possible spiritual gifts based on responses to the questions. You can find one at your local Christian bookstore).

Activate Your Audience

Would You Rather…

This activity is adapted from the popular book from Youth Specialties (author Doug Fields) by the same name. Have everyone in the group stand up together. Explain that you are going to read a statement of the form, “Would you rather A or B?” Those who choose A must move to the left side of the room. Those who choose B must choose the right side of the room. Allow for a few moments of frenzied activity followed by playful and perhaps heated discussion between the two groups about which decision is best. You can use the questions found in the book, or you can use those listed below:

Would You Rather…

kiss a dog or a cat on the mouth?

eat cow eyeballs or monkey lips?

die by a fire or by a drowning?

win free tickets to a professional football game or baseball game?

live without TV for one year or be homeless for one month?

have a phone or a TV in your room?

keep your siblings or be an only child?

win a million bucks all at once today or get $1000 a week for the rest of your life?

lose both arms or both legs?

work during the summer or stay at home all day?

Bring them Closer

Groupies

Explain that everyone is alike in some ways and everyone is different in some ways, as the previous game revealed. Explain that you are going to call out a category, and everyone must group themselves according to their favorite in that category For instance, if you call out, “Pizza,” then everyone would group themselves according to the different types of pizza available. Other favorites include color, fast-food-restaurant, movie, song, TV show, band, teacher at school, etc. You could also try it with the category “worst” instead of favorite. This will set the tone for you to explain that there are categories of Spiritual gifts, and God gives each of us different gifts according to His will.

Music

Lead your group to sing some songs that focus on the power of God’s Spirit and His influence in our lives.

Communicate the Word: It’s Your Thang — Spiritual Gifts

Each time you explain a specific spiritual gift, you might have everyone who has that gift to stand so that others can see who has what gift. This will also relate back to the earlier activities. Perhaps you could divide everyone up into groups according to their top spiritual gift and have someone else lead them in a short study of their particular gift.

I. What is a spiritual gift?

A. What it is not

1. A talent (something you just happen to be good at)

2. An ability (a developed skill)

3. A personality trait (whether environmental or genetic)

B. What it is

1. You get it when you become a Christian (Ephesians 4:7, I Corinthians 12:7)

a. There are no believers without gifts

b. There are no unbelievers with gifts

2. It is a supernatural ability that works through God’s Holy Spirit (I Peter 4:11)

a. The reason you have it is to do God’s work

b. You supply the availability and God will supply the ability

3. Your gift is not for you — it is for the youth group and the Church (Ephesians 4:12)

4. God gave us all different ones so that we could all work together (Romans 12:4 – 6)

II. What are the spiritual gifts?

A. Apostle/Missionary (I Corinthians 12:28)

1. Supernatural abilities

a. Leave home/family/friends

b. Travel on the road

c. Adapt to foreign cultures/food/etc.

2. Possible worldly weaknesses

a. Demands everyone travel as a missionary

b. Thinks people who cannot handle foreign culture/food are wimps

3. Ministry opportunities

a. Missionary (home or foreign)

b. Traveling business person who adapts to and witnesses in each new situation

c. Reaching beyond your own clique and group at school to reach people different from you

B. Prophet/Preacher (I Corinthians 14:3 – 4)

1. Supernatural abilities

a. Not afraid to tell individuals and groups that they are right/wrong in God’s eyes

b. Apply God’s Word to specific situations to determine right/wrong

c. Sense the need for revival in the youth group or Church

2. Possible worldly weaknesses

a. See everything as black or white (no gray areas)

b. Hurt people’s feelings by loveless criticism (hate the sinner as well as the sin)

c. Tend to be depressed too often about the bad stuff going on in the youth group and Church

3. Ministry opportunities

a. Help individuals see that they need to turn back to God

b. Bring about revival in the youth group and Church

c. Help others resist peer pressure by encouraging them to do what’s right

C. Evangelist (Ephesians 4:11, II Timothy 4:5)

1. Supernatural abilities

a. Talk about Jesus anytime, anywhere

b. Identify with people right where they are and explain the Gospel in related terms

c. Know just what to say to people when witnessing

2. Possible worldly weaknesses

a. Too much talking and not enough doing/caring for people

b. Tend to be flighty — you cannot spend much time working with one person

c. Look over physical/emotional needs and still expect a spiritual commitment

3. Ministry opportunities

a. Form a specific witnessing effort at school

b. Win people to Christ one by one

c. Come up with new and unique ways to share Jesus

D. Pastor/Teacher (Ephesians 4:11 – 12, Romans 12:6 – 7, James 3:1)

1. Supernatural abilities

a. Strong desire to see individuals and groups learning God’s Word

b. Sensitive to people caught in sin — you want to help them get back on track gently

c. Can communicate easily and well to others

2. Possible worldly weaknesses

a. Become angry at people who don’t have the same love of God’s Word as you

b. Despair and discouragement when people don’t respond to your care

c. Concentrate more on your speaking/writing/helping than the people you are trying to help

3. Ministry opportunities

a. Lead small group Bible studies

b. Counsel Christian friends on what to do in tough times

c. Unify the youth group and Church

E. Encourager (Romans 12:6 – 8)

1. Supernatural abilities

a. Sense when someone is down

b. Help others see the bright, spiritual side of things

c. Spend time and energy cheering others up spiritually

2. Possible worldly weaknesses

a. Become down when others don’t appreciate your encouraging efforts

b. Have a lot of good intentions to encourage people, but never follow through

c. Become hard to cheer up yourself

3. Ministry opportunities

a. Christian comedian

b. Deliver or send cards/letters/gifts to people who are down

c. Spend time one-on-one in person or on phone with people who are down

F. Messenger of Knowledge/Wisdom (I Corinthians 12:8)

1. Supernatural abilities

a. Know what to do in a crisis situation

b. Know what to say to unbelievers’ questions about God

c. Know how to defend your faith on the spot when it is attacked/challenged/debated

2. Possible worldly weaknesses

a. Think you know it all and that everyone should always listen to you

b. Answer to quickly/abruptly without love to an unbeliever

c. Depend on your own wisdom instead of waiting on God’s to defend your faith

3. Ministry opportunities

a. Pull the youth group closer together during a crisis

b. Step to the front of the pack during times of persecution

c. Explain to others intellectually why Jesus is real

G. Server (I Corinthians 12:6 – 7)

1. Supernatural abilities

a. See things that need to be done and do them

b. Accomplish tasks very well

c. Work behind the scenes to take care of things others don’t think about

2. Possible worldly weaknesses

a. Become upset when people don’t notice your work

b. Try and do everything yourself

c. Criticize the way others do things

3. Ministry opportunities

a. Help set-up and tear-down for youth activities

b. Form a team to Adopt-a-Highway and pick up trash in the community

c. Ask youth workers/leaders how you can help

H. Hospitality Giver (I Corinthians 12:8)

1. Supernatural abilities

a. Sense physical needs of others

b. Give time, money, effort to helping meet those needs

c. Let go of your own possessions to help others for a time

2. Possible worldly weaknesses

a. Expect others to meet your needs the same way you meet theirs

b. Keep track of what you give and expect repayment

c. Become down when others don’t appreciate your efforts

3. Ministry possibilities

a. Collect and send food/clothes to disaster relief victims

b. Let others borrow/have your things to meet their own needs

c. Share your room with a foreign exchange student and help them fit in here

I. Giver (I Corinthians 12:8)

1. Supernatural abilities

a. Sense a financial need/burden in others

b. Give your own money to help others

c. Organize people to give money to help others

2. Possible worldly weaknesses

a. Brag about your giving

b. Keep track of how much you have given and expect others or God to repay you

c. Become angry at those who don’t give as much as you

3. Ministry possibilities

a. Donate money to help someone else go to camp

b. Organize youth to give money to help someone in the group/Church that has a need

c. Find and meet financial needs of lost people in your school/community

J. Leader/Administrator (I Corinthians 12:28)

1. Supernatural abilities

a. Sense what needs to be done and how to do it

b. Accept challenges and organize people/resources to solve them

c. Motivate people to become a part of your vision for God’s work in the youth group and Church

2. Possible worldly weaknesses

a. Think your ideas are better than everyone else’s

b. Be upset when you can’t be the leader and you have to follow someone else

c. Treat people insensitively by trying to make them do something they don’t want to

3. Ministry possibilities

a. Organize teams of people in the youth group to perform a specific function

b. Plan and lead a Backyard Bible Club made up of several youth group members

c. Take charge of problems and help solve them

K. Mercy (Romans 12:8)

1. Supernatural abilities

a. Have deep compassion for people who are in pain (emotional/physical/mental/etc.)

b. Can comfort others with ease

c. Very considerate of other people’s feelings

2. Possible worldly weaknesses

a. Become angry with those who do not show mercy toward others

b. Expect people to comfort you the same way you comfort them

c. Lash out at those who are not considerate of you

3. Ministry opportunities

a. Reach out to the handicapped in our group/church/community

b. Defend and stand by those who get made fun of

c. Instill confidence and comfort in the underdogs around you

L. Faith (I Corinthians 13:2)

1. Supernatural abilities

a. Sense God’s presence when no one else can

b. Sense that God is at work when no one else can

c. Trust in God in spite of tremendous obstacles

2. Possible worldly weaknesses

a. Become angry/upset with others who lack faith

b. Believe that you are always right

c. Believe that you are better than others for your beliefs

3. Ministry opportunities

a. Organize a prayer ministry to pray for big things

b. Challenge others to win their campuses to Christ

c. Motivate others in the youth group and Church to rely on God in tough times

M. Discernment (I Corinthians 12:10)

1. Supernatural abilities

a. Sense hypocrisy or dishonesty in the others

b. Sense when God is at work

c. Sense when Satan is at work

2. Possible worldly weaknesses

a. Tend to judge and criticize others for their faults

b. Be melodramatic about spiritual things

c. Arrive at your own conclusions about others instead of depending on God’s Spirit

3. Ministry opportunities

a. Steer the youth group clear of Satanic influences (astrology, Ouija boards, etc.)

b. Steer the youth group toward depending on God’s Spirit for guidance

c. Point out hypocrisy in the youth group and Church

Do Something About It

Explain: Everyone divide up into groups based on your top spiritual gift. If someone ends up alone, have a leader pray with him/her — emphasizing the uniqueness that God has given to this person. Or, direct this person to choose his/her secondary gift and meet with that group. Talk about specific things you could do in the following areas to put your gifts to work. Come up with at least two ideas for each area.

1. Home

2. School

3. Youth group

4. Church (outside of youth group)

5. Work

6. Other (your choice)

Then pray and dismiss yourselves when you are done. You might provide adult leaders to watch over these small groups and make sure the youth stay on track.

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