This is an object lesson that we have used to begin Confirmation classes but is fine any time. Have a big bag of the larger-sized balloons. Line up your group at one end of a large room or sanctuary. Tell them that they are each trying to “fly” their balloons from the startring line past the designated finish line. Of course they fill the balloons full of air and let go–but the balloons almost never go in a straight line! They can fly at right angles or behind you. Use this to illustrate the “Spirit blowing where it will” and that on life’s journeys, we may not be going where we want all the time, but God might have a different destination in mind or a different path to our future.
Get some large building bricks (in England, Duplo ones are about the right size).
Write a verse our from Scripture and the reference. Cut out each word and stick them to the bricks. Repeat this for however many teams of about 4-6 you have in your group.
Put the bricks in separate piles for each team at one end of the room. Have the teams stand at the other end. When you shout “Go”, one child at a time in turn runs to the bricks and brings them back. The next child runs to get a brick etc. When they have all the bricks, they have to put them in order. The first team to get the verse right wins.
Split your youth up into partners of two… Try to pair up two people that may not know each other too well. Then have each one of them take two rubber bands (than need to be thick ones) and a sharpie and write on both rubber bands two to three things that you struggle with. Then place one on your wrist and give the other one to your partner to place on their wrist. This way anytime you struggle with it you just look at the band and pray and it will remind your partner to pray for you as well. Our youth missions team did this over a month ago and we have seen that it makes us stronger as a group and helps us be better Christians. You can also do the same thing by making a rubber band with all the names of the people in a group that may be a small bible study, etc. to also remind you to pray for each other.
Being a junior high Sunday School teacher, I am always looking for new ideas for activities that will capture the kids’ attention and also teach them something. I love the idea of a scavenger hunt but it’s not possible for us to do one on a Sunday morning, so I devised this one for them.
Before the lesson, I will make a list of words found in the Bible. I try to pick words that can be found in both the Old and New Testaments, and also in several different places in scripture. I have the kids work in pairs and give each team a list of the ten words. I have a line after each word for them to write the Book, Chapter & Verse of the scripture in which they located the word. The team that finishes first will then let you know that they are done; I have the other teams stop and wait until I have checked the answers for the first team to make sure that they have them correct. If so, then they have won; if not, then the other teams continue. Sometimes I will have a first and second place winner.
I was surprised at how much the kids enjoyed this game, and even wanted me to make it harder for them. I even passed these onto the Sr. High teacher and his class enjoyed them too.
[The kids are not allowed to use their Bible concordance; they have to use their deductive skills only. I used candy bars for prizes.]
Bible Jeopardy is a great way to get youth involved in Sunday school lessons and Bible studies. The Sunday school lessons and/or Bible studies are grouped into their own categories, with each lesson being a main topic with it’s own questions. The questions range from 100 points to 1000 points for each category, with the questions increasingly getting more difficult. Each category has it’s own Bonus question where the student that answers it correctly gets to draw from a can the value of the question, (to make it fun I usually put values that range from 1 point to 2000 points). Outlines of the lessons should be given out each week so that the students can prepare for the game by studying, (some parents have told us that their children study every day to prepare) . I usually have our group play the game after 5 consecutive Bible lessons. To make the game visually appealing I made a special board for the game. The topics are pinned to it with the points below, as the questions are answered the corresponding value is taken off the board. Some of our teachers simply use a chalk board to write out the categories and point values. We also give the youth points for attendance, bringing their Bible, bringing guests, taking notes during the pastor’s sermons, etc. These points can be kept for a youth auction at a latter date. We have been using this game for over a year now in all the classes from third grade to high school. The effects have been tremendous, not only has attendance dramatically increased, but enthusiasm in learning the lessons has soared as well.
I use this activity when our youth group does a lesson on decision making. Use Acts 22:10 “‘What shall I do Lord,’ I asked.” if your meetings are scripture based.
Have three pre-made signs that say “yes,” “no” and “maybe.” Tape them up in various corners of the room. Read from the following list (you may want to omit some items if you are working with junior high). Have the youth “take a stand” on an issue. Yes, they would do that or no, they would not. Only allow two maybes per person. The goal is for them to make a decision. The trick about this is not telling the kids what you plan to do after you go through the entire list. After you read off the last item, you repeat the list with a different question. It’s no longer “what would you do,” but instead it is “what would Jesus want you to do?” Here is a sample list:
– hang out with people who treat others badly
– hug a stranger who has AIDS
– cheat on a test to get a passing grade
– help a relative die who has a terminal illness
– stay at a party where people are drinking
– drink alcohol while under age
– copy answers from a friend’s homework
– keep the money when the cashier gives you too much change
– smoke a cigarette
– lie to your parents
– speed to make it to school on time
– maintain sexual purity
– spread rumors about someone who hurt you
– lie for a friend to an authority figure
– be the first to talk to the new person in school
– date someone who doesn’t believe in God
– sneak out after curfew
A great prayer session for a retreat or even a meeting: (I strongly suggest dimming the lighting in your room and having one candle light the circle)
To prepare for this activity, you need to have three different bowls that EACH contain pieces of paper folded up with the names of all people participating in the activity.
Have your group get into a close circle.
Take the first bowl around the circle and have each person take a name (have them check right away to make sure they did not get their own name) have them write the number “1” on this first paper. Then take the second bowl and do the same thing, then the third bowl. Tell them to keep their names to themselves. Next, explain to the group that God has a plan and that things happen for a reason, therefore there must be a good reason God has planned each person to end up with the three names they did. Go around the circle and have each person take turns telling the rest of the group what they would like prayed for. (Before-hand emphasize that each person needs to have their complete attention on what everyone is saying, especially the names of the three people they picked out of the bowls.) After everyone has had a chance to make their prayer requests, ask them all to spread out in the room where they can be alone to allow a good connection between them and God. Then, ask them to all focus on the first name that they chose and put all their thought and energy into praying for the specific intentions that person requested. Allow for at least 5 minutes of silence for this, then go on to the second names, and then finally the third names, reminding them each time to fully concentrate on just that one name. (You may want to have some soft music playing in the background). It has the potential to be very powerful and meaningful. It is also such a warm feeling knowing that someone right in the same room, and at the same time is praying for you.
Even elementary age children can learn the principles of inductive Bible study. Narratives are a good place to start. Begin by making a copy of the passage for each student as well as an overhead transparency of the passage. Orally read the passage or have the students take turn reading it. Go through the passage picking out WHO is is the story, WHERE the story takes place, WHAT is going on in the story, WHEN events in the story occur, WHY the characters did what they did, and HOW the story concludes. Be working toward the end result the information gleaned into a classroom play or a TV newscast of events that tell the story in another form. For example, divide the passage into episodes of events that happened. This will help the student to see how the story flows and will help set the framework for the play or newscast. Once the passage is segmented into episodes, read the passage in episodic parts, allowing the actors to display the action and adding dialogue. Once the creative part is done, you are ready to discuss the interpretation and application. Ask what they thought God wanted the actual characters in the story to know about Him. Then ask what God wants US to know about Him.
This process can be varied with different creative expressions so that your classroom can have a lot of variety.
I was teaching on how a small amount of sin can effect our whole life. I prepared some mud prior to the event in a large container. I divided them into groups of 2 or 3 and had them make mud pies in pie pans. Some got into mud fights which made it even better. I then had a contest as to whose was the best. At the end I then told them that the mud they had been playing with had one extra small ingredient, dog poop. (Not really though) After they were all pretty disgusted, we then talked about how even a small amount can ruin the whole thing just like sin in our lives.
I organized a wonderful visual teaching of the parable of the seeds to our “New Youth” group–(grades 5 & 6, and some 7th graders). I asked them one day what was something they had a hard time understanding during the church service on Sunday that maybe we could study-and most said when parables about seeds are talked about, they didn’t quite get it. So, one day, I brought 4 oblong planter-pots (about 2 ft long-the size is so that with a group of, 12, for example, each one can have room to plant something in at least one of the pots, getting everyone involved) to our Wednesday night service. One of pots contained large rocks across it that were all the same size–which represented a “pathway.” The 2nd contained med size rocks across the entire bottom, then filled the rest of the height with soil, which represented the seeds being scattered onto the rocks that eventually withered away because the roots were not deep enough. The 3rd contained dirt with a mix of weeds, rocks, sticks, etc that I had dug out of my yard, which represented the thorny soil that robbed the desire to know God and begin to worship other things. The 4th contained “good soil” with nutrients-which of course represented “good soil!” I also brought along a bag of sunflower seeds (the planting kind–not the eating kind!), a bottle of miracle growing liquid, and a watering can. We went outside, and started w/the 1st pot, the “pathway”–as we scattered the seeds, and went on down to each pot. As we went along, we stopped after each pot, and the youth reflected on each parable that each pot represented, and what it meant while I read Jesus’ explanation of what each one meant.
Just several days later the seeds began to grow! Of course pot “1” did not (the seeds “disappeared!”); pot “2” began to grow, and after 2 weeks the 2 inch plants began to die (wither)! Pot “3” grew also, but those 2 inch plants began to get “choked out” by the weeds that were still alive!–and pot “4” was full of abundant 6-7 inch plants that looked perfectly healthy! (oh, we added a little miracle grow at the beginning to pot 4 to show that God’s miracles are always happening!) This was such a visual experience for the kids, and they really did learn what these parables meant! Plus, we get together to water the plants every week and talk about the scriptures they each represent! It was inexpensive, and productive! And the kids absolutely loved doing it!