Illustrations

Our Cup Overflows

Have a large glass bowl set up before the kids enter or on the alter before church for Youth Reflection. Put 4 small bottles of red food coloring in bowl. You cant see it if you are in the congregation. Have a pitcher of water and an empty glass. Talk about how our cup overflows with blessing and start pouring the water in the glass as you hold it over the bowl. When the water overflows out of the glass and into the bowl it turns red. End by saying our blessing of all blessing is when Jesus shed His blood for us and our sins so we could have everlasting life.

I didn’t practice this and when I did this during Youth Reflection in the service, I cried. It really overwhelmed me and all those in the church. The adults cried and the kids eyes were as big a saucers.

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Permission To Cheat

(Salvation)

A senior named Kevin at Texas Tech University was closing in on his graduation. One class, however, brought fear into his heart — LOGIC. He took the course only because it was required, and to his dismay he soon learned there would only be one test during the entire semester — a final exam. The grade on that test would determine the grade in the class. Kevin never skipped class, took copious notes, and listened to the professor’s every word. Nevertheless, as the day for the final approached, his fears grew. Finally, on the day before the final, the professor stated clearly, “Tomorrow you may bring with you one sheet of paper. You may put anything on that paper that you think will help you on the test. In other words, you have my permission to cheat.” The students scattered and began writing very tiny notes on both sides of the paper, but Kevin went to sleep peacefully. The following day, as students filed in to take the test, they began comparing what each of them had written on their cheat sheets. To their amazement, however, Kevin had written nothing. When the bell sounded, the tests were passed out, and the professor told them to begin, Kevin placed his piece of paper quietly on the floor. The door to the classroom opened, and the professor’s grader, a Ph.D. student, walked in and Kevin had him stand on his paper. Since the Ph.D. student was “on the paper,” he provided Kevin with all of the answers to the test.

No matter how hard you work and how much you try, you will never do enough to get into heaven. Many people spend much of their life making a list of things that they think will get them in to heaven. But all we really need to do is put our petty little lists down on the floor, because then we can ask Jesus to stand by our side and give us everything we need to pass the test of life and enter safely into heaven without fear of failing.

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Promises, Promises

A youth pastor or youth leader offers $20 to any person in the group who will let him break two eggs over their head. Of course young people will usually do anything to get a few extra dollars!
After you choose the person you ask them to come up in front of the group while the eggs are broken over his head. (Have a towel nearby!) Up to this point you have not given him the $20 (have it tucked just outside your pocket where it can be seen) After the eggs are broken tell him that he must think you are crazy to give your $20 away to someone who was foolish enough to believe you would actually do that. Really emphasise how silly the person was to let someone trick them into believing they would actually get rewarded for doing something so foolish.
Then tell your group that this is just how Satan is. He promises you all kinds of good things but in the end your really the loser. Then to really bring out the message, say Satan is unlike Jesus. Jesus KEEPS ALL HIS PROMISES. Then hand the $20 over to person!

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Pure Again

My best friend and I developed this illustration for a girls retreat, but it could be used anytime.

All the participants (including the leaders) need a bottle of water (any size will do). The bottle should be clear.

We used this at a retreat in which we had three separate sessions of teaching. The students were told to bring their water to each session. The first session was on purity in relationships. At the end of the teaching we passed around a bottle of red food coloring. We told the students to add a drop of coloring to their water for every impurity in a relationship God was dealing with them about. It could a friend they lied to, a time when they disobeyed a parent, or an impure dating relationship.

We repeated the process at the end of the 2nd and 3rd sessions using blue food coloring at one and yellow at the other.

We closed the final session by saying something like this:
“We all have sin in our lives – things we need to make right with God and others. In the beginning they didn’t seem so bad. The red water wasn’t too bad to look at. Then we got into a few more things. The water turned darker, but it still didn’t look too bad. But as time went on and we went deeper in our sin, what was once Living Water inside of us has turned black. It doesn’t look like anything anyone would want to drink from. Sin not only damages our lives, but also our witness.”

The speaker then pulls out a container of bleach. While quoting a scripture about Jesus cleansing us from our sins and making us new, the leader uses an eye-dropper to add bleach to his/her bottle of water. The color will disappear and the “water” will become clear again, just like our sins disappear and Jesus makes us clean again.

If you were teaching on a single subject and wanted to use this, you could tell the students to use a different food coloring for each issue God is dealing with them about or just use a single color.

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Purtity Rose

Take 2 white roses. Make sure they look alike. Hide one so that no one can see. Then take the other one and tell the kids how beautiful the rose is and how good it smells. Have the youth pass the rose around the room. Tell them to smell it, to touch the soft pedels and to see how beautiful it is. While the rose is being passed around give your sermon on purity. At the end of the message ask for the rose back. Almost 100% of the time the rose will come back brown, wilted, and bruised. Show it to the kids. Tell them how everytime you touch a rose’s pedels they get bruised. Just like with sexual impurity we come back no longer white. Then bring out the other white rose and say that when you give all of that impurity to God that He makes you white again.

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Pushups

One person (probably youth pastor or speaker) has a small item to offer to everyone in the group. But before he can give it to them, he has to “pay” for it by doing a certain number of pushups. The idea is to do enough pushups per person so that he is struggling about halfway through, but is still able to get through everyone. Certain people in the group will be designated to reject the gift, but the person doing the pushups can say, “That’s okay, I’ll pay for it now, and if you decide you want it later, let me know and I’ll give it to you.” The idea is to represent what Jesus did for us on the cross, and it’s a really powerful message. The Bible speaker did it at a camp I worked at this summer, and he offered everyone a plastic bracelet that said “HOPE” on it. Some campers were crying and hugging each other afterwards, and it provided opportunities for the counselors to have some great discussions in room devotions with their groups of campers later that night.

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Putting Him in Between – Abstinence

Supplies:
4 Pieces of paper (use different colored paper)
a piece of cardboard (I used the back of one of those office pads)
Glue

OK! When I first saw this it was used as a demonstration for abstinence, but I tweaked it so it’s more relevant.

You have two people (the two pieces of paper, I wrote names on the paper) who love each other and they attach themselves to each other. They hang out with each other, they talk, they’re in a relationship.

It could be a boyfriend/girlfriend situation or even a person/thing situation.

Anyway, you glue the two pieces of paper together (back to back, so their right on each other). Then after describing how much time they spend together, etc. you tear the pieces apart. You explain how when you attach yourself to someone emotionally, physically, whatever if you’re not careful to put God first and set boundaries you will never be as you were originally, a clean sheet of paper. Instead you would be missing a piece, the paper is either torn, or there is a piece of another paper left on you. And you will not be able to go back.

Then you take two new pieces of paper, and you glue the cardboard to one piece of paper. The cardboard is God. If you attach yourself to God (who is stable, because he is cardboard) and put Him first in your life, you will not have to worry about other people. You’ll be given freedom. Because if you truly loved the Lord and followed Him, He would protect you from getting torn, or dirtied. God takes on all of the pieces of shard paper.

You could use this illustration in many different ways, but that’s how I used it.

And my group LOVED it. This one girl who does not normally listen said that she really understood this message.

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Putting On Old Shoes

Take and old pair of shoes and tape them to the entrance door before your youth service begins. This will get the curiousity of the teens up. Use this to illustrate how we go to youth service or youth conventions and God changes out lives… He gives us new shoes. Unfortunately, our old shoes (old habits, friends etc.) are right outside the door waiting for us. Instead of keeping on the new shoes that God gave us (keeping the change he made in our lives) we grab the old ones when we walk out the door! Let’s talk about the importance of wearing our new shoes and where they can take us in our community and the world.

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Recognising God’s Voice

This illustration has been used both in youth group and in church to show how the more we get to know God, the more we can effectively listen to him and be guided by him through our lives.
Before the group meets, get a few people together and record them speaking for about 10 seconds each on a tape (they can say anything – tell a joke, talk about their favourite food, whatever). Try and get a couple of people who everybody knows, and one or two people that the youth will not know.
Play the tape to the youth group, and get them to see if they can recognise who is speaking. They never cease to get excited about hearing theirs or their friends voices on tape!
Explain the illustration by pointing out that it was easy for them to guess the voices of the speakers that they knew well, whereas no one really knew who the stranger’s voice belonged to. Explain that it is like this with God – the more we get to know him, the easier it will be to recognise what he is trying to tell us in our lives.

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Satan’s Bait

You will need a large bowl of water, a plastic lid, or bowl (clear or white is recommended), some honey or syrup and an anthill.

Preparation: Place a dab of honey in the plastic lid or bowl and place it in the vicinity of an anthill. Let the ants find it and form a trail back to the hill. Just before class, Fill the large bowl with water and place the ant-covered lid, bowl floating in the water.

Application: The honey represents Satan’s Bait. It looks good; it tastes good and is even a good source of food for the ant. But, when it leads the ant onto the lid/bowl and we place it in the water, the ant is trapped. The ant will live for a while, it has food, but it won’t really have a life. It will have to live out the rest of its days serving NO PURPOSE. Before we picked up the lid, the ants had purpose and knew what they were doing (getting food for the colony). What they didn’t know was that they were going to become our example. Satan works this way in our lives. The bait looks good and we may be able to find meaning in it, but he has something else in mind that we can’t see.

Explain that if we put a piece of string from the lid to the edge of the large bowl, the ants would be able to be free if they found it. This represents Jesus. He is the only way that we can get out of Satan’s trap of living a life without purpose.

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