Bible Study & Prayer

Burning Your Idols

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

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

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

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

Canned Food Scavenger Hunt

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

Cassette Tape Games

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrity Bible Chair

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

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

Choosing Good Friends

Choosing Good Friends

Opening Questions:
– How can you tell what someone is really like?
– Should you be able to tell a Christian from a non-Christian, or are they the same?
– What areas do you look at in a person’s life to see if they are a Christian or not?
– What parts of your life are affected and influence by a relationship with God?

Have two jars ready, one with oil and the other with water colored like oil. These represent two people. One is a Christian who resists the bad influences and friends and the other is a person who allows then to affect his of her life.
At this point give a personal example of a time when you made a poor decision because of peer pressure your friends. The story can be told in the third person and after it is told revealed who it is about. Tell how you learned the importance of wise friendships though the whole process.
Have another jar of water blackened with ink or food coloring. This is to represent sin/bad influences. Pour the black water into both jars to show a person who allows themselves to be influenced by wrong friends, the oil will separate and not allow itself to be changed.
All around us we face temptations. One of the keys to making right decisions is to choose good friends. Friends that love God, friends that will help us do what is right, and friends that I can encourage as well. Proverbs 13:20 says “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
Go home and make a list of people that you know. Make one for your class, one for church, and one of the people that you are closest to. Pray for wisdom and ask go down the list one at a time to see if they are people that you should make a point of spending time with or not.
One has only to look at your closest friends to know what you are really like inside. Light has no fellowship with darkness. If you are interested in following God and those that you spent time with are not, than I can guarantee that soon you will either have to (1.) choose new friends or (2.) walk away from your Christian faith. My prayer is that you will choose number the first.

Closing Question:
– What kind of activities do you engage in when you are with your friends (Music, movies, conversation, etc.)?
– Who do you know that encourages others to do what is right?
– What would your friends say if you invited them to Bible Study, Church, etc.?

Christ Fullfills Prophecies

I wrote on note cards the O.T. prophecy, also the N.T. fullfillment on another card. Played the game where they had to look up the Scripture and then find who has there match. I gave a small gift as prize. It was fun seeing them look up Scripture most had to use index, then see them interacting through God’s Word it was great!

Christmas Investigation

Supplies needed: Photocopies of Luke 1:1-4 double spaced, coffee filters cut into 1×2″ strips, small cups with 1/4 inch of water, tape and straws, three kinds of black markers.

Introduction: I adapted a science lesson to introduce the idea of investigating the source of our information. I showed the students a “Merry Christmas” message written on the uncut coffee filter paper. Then I showed them three markers and ask for ideas about how to determine who wrote the message using clues from the markers. Someone may come up with the idea of chromatograpy, if not, tell the students that crime investigation often uses chromatography to analyze ink samples. Help the students set up the chromatography by drawing a stripe across the bottom of a filter strip with each marker. Tape the strip to a straw, lower it into the cup of water so that the stripe does not enter the water and wait for the colors to separate. Now take a sample of the “Merry Christmas” note and use the water to separate the inks in the note to match the correct marker to the note.

While the inks are separating, begin the Bible study with the Luke passage. Have students highlight key words in each verse, discussing Luke’s desire to get the evidence so that he could write the real story for those who did not know what happened when Jesus was born. Emphasize Luke’s careful plan to investigate and document using primary sources. Close by encouraging kids to take a fresh look at the Christmas story and to believe based on the evidence. Even kids raised in church may not know that Luke was not a disciple and had to locate witnesses to write his gospel.

Cleaning Up The Mess

I had my group of VBS 5th graders pair up. I gave each pair a card which had a “nasty job” written on it — “being on a road crew that picks up dead skunks”, “changing a baby’s messy diaper” — you get the idea. The groups each had a turn to silently act out the nasty job, while the rest of the class shouted out what was being depicted.

When they were done, we turned to the narrative of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. I wanted them to grasp what a lowly job foot-washing was. Then I asked them to count how many of the nasty jobs were ones that involved cleaning up after someone or something else. All of them were.

I then showed them that Jesus’ work on the cross was the ultimate act of cleaning up after our mess, and that, as we come to Him daily, asking for forgiveness, that He lovingly and gently cleans up our mess again. What a wonderful Savior we have, what a beautiful example of service, and what a responsibility we have to try to live up to that example.

Colored Snow

This illustration is awesome if you have an area of untouched snow around you meeting place. I began the night by giving the youth ketchup and mustard bottles (the ones you can by for a dollar at the grocery store) filled with water and food colors. Then I allowed them to make “snow art.” I then gathered them together and wrote out the word sin in the snow with red food colored water. Then, I asked them to shout out sins that people commit against God. As they shouted out the sins, I marked the snow with a streak of red until the bottle was emptied and we were left with a red stained area in front of us. I then read from Isaiah 1:18-20 and told them about the saving Grace of God. To finish, I had them kick the white snow over the red stained area to make it white again. Every kick represented a sin or temptation in their own lives that Jesus has forgiven.

Coloroom prayer!

This activity takes about an hour to complete. It isn’t a brand new idea, but a salad of other ideas that I found really good. Thanks to those whose ideas I’ve incorporated =]

This is good especially for groups who have yet to grow a prayer culture/habit, those who are unaccustomed to praying for a longer period of time in one sitting.

Materials needed:
– candle
– lighter
– aluminum tray
– ball of yarn
– post-it pads
– lecture pad
– 2 pieces of colored paper (I used 4 colors; red, green, blue, yellow)

I used 4 rooms (because I used 4 colors). On the door of each room, I stuck one sheet of each colored paper to let the youths know which room is which color.
Inside each room, I stuck the other sheet of the corresponding color (blue to blue, red to red, etc.).
On the colored papers stuck inside the room, I wrote prayer instructions for the youths.

Divide the youths into groups by giving them each colored (corresponding to the colors you’ve chosen) post-its (so if you have 4 colors, have 4 groups). Get at least one leader to follow each group.
Tell them to go into the room that had their color (blue to blue, etc.) and there they’ll find instructions of what to do in that room. After they’ve finished doing whatever they’re to do in that room, move on to the next (rotating rooms, so each group would have gone through all 4 rooms in the end.)
Note that at all times, each room can only hold one group.
Tell them that at each room, each and every one of them will talk with God.

(red) “think of one sin that God has been convicting you of. Remember a sin is something you’ve done that displeased God (e.g. lying, disobeying your parents, being disrespectful). Also remember that a sin is also something you didn’t do, and because you didn’t do it, it displeased God (e.g. not being nice to someone who was simply different from you). Write that sin onto the post-it pad.
Now right a prayer to God with regards to that sin on that post-it pad onto the lecture sheet. Ask Him for strength, for courage, and for His blessings..”
When they’re done, the leader lights the candle and asks the youths to burn their post-it (with their written sin on it).
Tell them that they’ve taken a step to getting rid of their sin, to becoming more and more like Christ. But just because they’ve burnt it doesn’t mean it’s gone. And that’s why they’ve still got their written prayers on that lecture sheet. Every time they look at that prayer, they remember that they’ve given that sin to God; they’re no longer slaves to that sin!

(blue) “have one person start by holding onto the ball of yarn. Tell the group one thing you’ve learned about God from the bible study sessions they’ve had together. After doing so, that person holds onto the end of the yarn before tossing it to another person. They cycle continues until everyone has shared.”
What results is a yarn-web. The leader then explains to them that this is what holds them together as a group – their love for God. The fact that they’re there learning together about God. Fellowship.
Then taking turns, each person prays for the Group for the next year (e.g. we did this activity at the end of 2007, so we prayed for 2008).

(yellow) “read Psalm 8. Think about your life so far, going back as far as you can remember. Now think about a characteristic, a trait, a truth about God that is so evidently displayed in your life. Tell God about that. Thank God for that. Praise God for that.”
Again, taking turns, each person presents hisher own act of adoration, by taking time and thanking and praising God for who He is.

(green) “think about this year (for us it was 2007) that you’ve spent together as a Group. Think about the friendships they’ve made, the lessons they’ve learned, the time they’ve spent together in each others’ company. Thank God for those memorable times.”
Once more, each person presents his thanks to God.

After each group has finished all 4 stations, gather everyone together and close with a prayer.

Coloured Snow – Variation

This is for those of us who don’t have snow where we live.
This illustration is awesome if you have an area of sand (playground, beach) around you meeting place. I gathered them together and wrote out the word “sin” in the sand with red food colored water. Then, I asked them to shout out sins that people commit against God. As they shouted out the sins, I marked the sand with a streak of red until the bottle was emptied and we were left with a red stained area in front of us. I then read from Isaiah 1:18-20 and told them about the saving Grace of God. To finish, I had them kick the sand over the red stained area to make it white again. Every kick represented a sin or temptation in their own lives that Jesus has forgiven.

Comic Strips & The Bible

Give each student a comic strip which has the words in the conversation balloon removed (or paste balloons over the words). If you study a biblical passage, students are asked to rewrite the passage then write the new dialogue in the conversation balloons. If you discuss an ethical or moral question, the comic strip characters are used to suggest the student’s opinion about the subject. Discussion usually follows spontaneously from the use of this enjoyable medium.

Count Your Blessings

A fun activity to remind us that we all have something for which we can be thankful to God!

1. A blank sheet of paper and something to write with for each person.
2. A timer

1. On your signal to begin, everyone should write down everything they are thankful for that can be described in two words or less.
2. Set a timer, for two minutes (or less) and tell them to begin.
3. When the timer goes off each youth must count how many items they have.
4. The person with the most items should read their list and if anyone else has those items on their list also, then everyone who has the items must cross them off the list. Only unique items remain.
5. The next person continues in the same way, calling out the items that remain on his/ her list. If the item is unique it remains. If someone else has the same item than all who have it cross the item off their lists.
6. Continue until everyone has gone, then each person must count up the unique items he or she has on the list.
7. Award a prize for the person with the highest number of unique answers.

1. What was the most surprising thing that someone was thankful for?
2. How did creating your list affect you?
3. Did you have more or less items than you thought you would have?
4. How did it make you feel when you discovered that others felt blessed for the same things as you?
5. Of all the things on your list, which is most significant for you?

Colossians 3:17


A bunch of weeds or better yet, a clump of crabgrass!

A man wrote to the department of agriculture to find out how to cope with the crabgrass that was spoiling his lawn. They gave him a number of suggestions, and he tried them all, but nothing worked. Finally, he was completely frustrated, and sought help again, informing them that every method they’d suggested had failed, and his yard was still filled with crabgrass. He got back a rather short reply which read, “We suggest you learn to love it.”

You can probably relate to that problem of crabgrass if you have ever tried to remove habitual sin in your life. You may feel you have tried everything and nothing works. Change eludes you! The sin remains and maybe even grows!

Unfortunately too often, in a our failures at living a life a purity, we give up and come to live with our sin and maybe even love it.

One of the key struggles in the Christian walk is dealing with the process of change as we struggle to live a life of purity. Lasting change never comes about without a change in attitude, a change in heart. When we hate sin as God hates sin, we will be committed to avoid sin and live a life of purity.

But we also have to realise that we can never change our sinful nature in our own strength. We must cry as David cried, “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God” (Psalm 51:10) and “renew a right spirit within me.”

When God creates a new heart in us, new actions will follow. Only through constant renewal in the Lord will the new actions remain and take root in your life.

* What are some of the areas of your life where sin seems to taking over your lawn?
* What are the attitudes about those sins that need to be changed before you can eliminate them from your life?
* Ask God, as David did, to create in you a clean heart, to change those attitudes to agree with His.
* Ask God to daily renew your heart and strengthen your spirit. Depend on him. Trust in Him. Trust in his strength.
* And when you fail, don’t give up. Confess ask God to renew a right spirit within you!

D.I.Y. Cinema

Every once in a while it is worth splashing out on your youth group and a good way to do it is to provide a free cinema in the church. Pick a comfortable sized room and deck the floor with bean bags and large cushions. Set up a projector screen at one end and black out any windows. Hire a video projector (not really that expensive) and have someone on hand to provide coffee, tea, soft drinks, popcorn and nachos (all for FREE). Start the evening with a few simple icebreaker type games, then get the group to vote on a selection of films (rented in advance) and show the one they choose. I would recommend that you keep away from showing any overt Christian content – any unchurched friends the group brings along will benefit from seeing that Christians are people who are also capable of just having fun once in a while. The youth group itself will enjoy having the leaders serve them all evening (i.e. as ushers, serving food, etc.).

Devil’s Advocate

Here’s something I sprung on the kids when I wanted them to take a serious look at how they live their lives in today’s society. I had them to pretend to be the Devil’s servants. They would each have to come up with what they think the Devil would want in 5 different areas:
1) how people view Jesus
2) how people view Christians
3) how people view the Bible
4) how people view evil
5) how people view goodness
(Of course, the areas you would want to deal with can be anything you think the kids would respond to best.) After that, I have the kids think of strategies to accomplish the Devil’s goals for each area. Let the kids be creative here. Then as a follow-up, do the same activity with God as the focus.

Dig It!

Utilizing Luke 8:1-15, illustrate the parable of the sower and the seeds. Start the lesson by giving each youth some real seeds. You may allow 1 or 2 to have a shovel or set of posthole diggers. Lead the group outside and tell about the first spot the sower sowed seeds. Then on a solid pathway (sidewalk, etc.). let a digger attempt to dig a hole and ask 2-3 youth to plant their seeds. Ask youth what will probably happen to the seeds. Explain this as the Bible explains and that the seed represents the Word of God. “The question today is, is your heart like this soil?” Move to a rocky area and repeat the process, then to a weedy area, then to a fertile area still repeating the process of actions. At the end, ask all to bow for prayer and for God to reveal to them the type of soil they really are. Most youth seem to be in the weedy soil, where the worries of this world choke them out. May close in popcorn prayer if desired.

Dilemma O and X’s

Objective: To look at some of life’s issues and to make good decisions about them.

How It Works:
Draw the noughts and crosses outline on the floor with chalk. This could also be done at the beach. Inside each of the nine squares
place a 15cm x 15cm dilemma card face down so only the blank side can be seen. Choose two players – one is a cross, the other a nought. Everyone else is the jury. Toss a coin to see who goes first. Both players are given 9 cards each, one player with X cards the other with O. The first player picks up a dilemma card, reads it out loud to everyone, then makes a decision how he/she will act. The jury then votes if the player has chosen the right action. If yes, he gets to put down one of his cards. If no, his opponent puts down a card. Keep on playing until a line has been made on the board with the same cards. Repeat with a new set of dilemma cards and new players.

What you will need:
About 27 dilemma cards
9 cards with X on them
9 cards with O on them
Piece of chalk

Suggested dilemmas:
1. In a test, you see an opportunity to cheat. Do you?
2. You find a $20 note. What are you going to do with it?
3. A blind man is having problems crossing the road. What do you do?
4. Someone at school is getting bullied. Do you try to stop it?
5. A friend gets told off for something you did. Do you own up?
6. You feel really angry. What are you going to do?
7. A friend invites you to wag school with him. Do you?
8. You get told off for something you didn’t do. How are you going to react?
9. A friend invites you to go joy riding in his fast car. He is drunk. Do You?
10. Someone you don’t like has fallen off his bike and hurt himself. What should you do?
11. It’s just started raining and the washing is on the line at home. It’s not your job to do but do you bring it in?
12. Your friends girlfriend tries to kiss you. Do you let her?
13. A wallet falls out of someone’s pocket on the street. What do you do?
14. Your girlfriend has a new outfit on. She asks you if she looks OK but you think she looks terrible. What do you tell her?
15. There is a TV programme on that you want to watch but you know you shouldn’t because of it’s content. Do you?
16. Someone you don’t like is getting beaten up. What do you do?
17. Someone you go to school with smells. Do you say anything, and if so, what?
18. You are waiting in line to be served at a shop. The person in front is $1 short. What do you do?
19. You are offered a joint to smoke. What do you do?
20. You are invited to a party where there will be alcohol on offer. You really want to go but you know you won’t be allowed. What do you tell your parents/caregiver.
21. Your friend is playing THIS game. Do you vote to help your friend or do you tell the truth in your answer.
22. You are no longer needed in your after school job but you are offered another one from the same boss but with less pay. Do you take it?
23. A friend wants you to do something and if you don’t they won’t be your friend anymore. What do you do?
24. A friend has a nasty habit of picking his nose. Do you say something?
25. You hear the conversation of two strangers on the phone when you pick it up. Do you listen to it?
26. You do a message for your mum. She gave you $20 for a bottle of milk but you saw something you really want. Do you use mums money?
27. You didn’t vacuum the carpet like mum asked you to do. It looks OK. Do you tell her you did it?

Dollar Sermon

Items needed: a $1 bill and a $10 bill, chocolate syrup, scotch tape, peanut butter sandwich ,paper, stapler, staple remover, cigarettes (empty box).

Ask for a volunteer from the group, but don’t tell them what they are volunteering for. Hold up the dollar and ask them what it is, of course they will say a dollar or money. Say, “No! it is a life” Today we will decide what to do with our life. We could spend our life, waste our life, lose, invest, save, or give. Elaborate on each point. Ask them what they want to do. Hopefully they will say give, if not suggest it. Who should we give our life to? JESUS! Then tell the volunteer that he/she will be Jesus and you will be the person giving your life. When you go to hand it over, say. Jesus, I like a lot of this stuff, I think I’ll give you this part (Rip a small portion of the dollar and give it to the volunteer).

Then say, I guess I’ll give you my cigarettes,(hand over a portion of the dollar with the cigs pack. Then hand over pride, (covered and stapled with paper), then lying, cheating, stealing, etc. Make up your own. I used overeating as a sin and put the piece of the dollar in the PBJ sandwich. I candy coated my lies with chocolate syrup, be creative.

Then when you are done ask them what you have given Jesus. Not only are you dirty, torn up, thrown aside, but you are worthless to him too. Save a little part (the head) and say, not until we give ourselves totally to Jesus can He use us. Give the last part of the dollar. Say Jesus is a redeemer! and hand the volunteer, paper towels staple remover, scotch tape. Have them repair the dollar while you share a message about Jesus. After the repair, say, “Something happens between the Son and the Father when we give ourselves totally to Jesus. Jesus can present us whole and worthy to the Father.” Have the volunteer trade the tattered dollar for a $10 bill sitting (hidden) on the altar. Say< "Jesus goes to the Father and presents our lives to Him, then he takes our lives and not only makes them whole, but worth far more than before." Then have an altar call ask the kids if they have parts of their dollar they would like to give to Jesus. In large groups, you can even have a coffin set up for the kids to burry their things. Have them write them on paper if they don't have the thing or it is not tangible. I have seen kids throw in cigarettes, secular music, drugs, necklaces from boyfriends, etc. This is a moving illustration of what God can do with our lives. I improvised from a similar illustration of a tattered $20 bill . Stating you are still worth something even if dirty.

Don’t Be Deceived

Getting teens to bring their Bibles to church is tough, especially now that we have PowerPoint. My wife and I still believe that it is very important to bring your bible to church because scripture can get twisted and have things added to and taken away. So one Wednesday night for my message I took to phrases that aren’t in the Bible and added them to portions of scripture:

The phrase “cleanliness is next to godliness” is not found in the Bible anywhere. I took this phrase and added it to the 2nd portion of a verse in Proverbs that sounded like it could have gone with the above phrase. I did that for my first to points

I opened my final point by telling them I wanted to show them how to keep from being deceived. I told them that I could have just put in the Bible that God says in Proverbs to pay off your youth pastor’s school loans because none of them had their Bibles. I then explained how important it is to see for themselves what the Bible says. I used scripture in the New Testament that talks about false prophets and teachers.

It seemed to be very effective for a while but some of the students have once again stopped brining their bibles. Though a few that were not are still bringing them, that makes it worth it!