Complete Meetings

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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It’s Your Thang – #3

It’s Your Thang – Interests and Abilities

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 explain that basic interests and physical/mental abilities are tools that God has given each young person to be a light — a witness in this world. There is also risk involved. We can just be ordinary, and use our interests and abilities in average, dull ways. Or, we can be risk takers, and come out of our comfort zones, and use our interests and our abilities to do the ministry that God has called each of us to do. Ministry always involves risk!

Activate Your Audience

I Dare You To…

Have everyone sit as if you were about to start the Bible study. Then, challenge individuals to come up to the front, all alone, and respond to the following safe but risky dares. Be sure and ask someone to come up first, before you explain what the dare is. If possible, have prizes to give away to the daring souls that rise to the challenge. To increase the risk, have someone videotape each person who responds to a dare.

1. Sing the Entire National Anthem Off Key
2. Sing all that you know of one of your favorite “SchoolHouse Rock”
3. Crawl on your hands and knees to a person that WE (the group) selects and ask him/her to marry you
4. For 30 full seconds, show us what you would do if you were stranded on a desert island an you saw a plane above
5. Two people come and make up a poem as they go along — the first makes up a sentence and the second must rhyme it — for five verses or more

Optional – Who’s Bedroom is This?

Before the meeting, obtain permission from a youth parent to come and videotape the inside of the youth’s bedroom. Go through several things and areas, filming what you find. Focus on trying to discover what kinds of things this person is interested in. Then, show the video, and let everyone try to figure out who’s bedroom this is. Discuss the person’s interests/abilities based on the items you recorded.

Bring them Closer

What Do You Want to Do With Your Life?

Have everyone stand, and tell everyone to get in groups based on what they want to do the first year after high school. Break everyone up into categories (four-year college, two-year college, trade school, armed forces, travel, nothing, etc.) If more than 5 end up in any single group, split that group so that the groups are no bigger than five. Have each person in each group complete the following sentences and discuss:

1. My main interest in doing this is because…
2. My abilities that I think will help me to accomplish this goal are…
3. I already started to plan for this goal by…
4. I am ____% confident that I will meet this goal because…
5. I pray about this goal about ______ minutes/hours per week.

Music

Praise God for all He has done for us.

Communicate the Word: It’s Your Thang — Interests and Abilities

I. Introduction

A. Interests are things that you have a strong desire to do/study/experience
B. Abilities are natural or developed skills that you possess
C. God is the source of and reason for both

1. God put you in the time and place you live so that you would have your interests/abilities (Acts 17:26)
2. God created you with your interests/abilities to do His work (Ephesians 2:10)
3. God wants you to use your interests/abilities to their fullest and beyond (John 10:10, 2 Corinthians 8:3)

II. Examples of people in the Bible who used their interests/abilities for God — taking risks

A. The woman who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet (Luke 7:36 – 50)

1. Interest: Perfume, of which she had a special jar full
2. Risk: She was a sinful woman, uninvited to this man’s house, but she came in anyway and did something no one had ever thought of doing with perfume before — pouring it on Jesus’ feet
3. Results

a. Her actions are recorded eternally in the Bible
b. She did something totally unique
c. Jesus honored and forgave her in the presence of all the people who had condemned her

B. Zaccheus, who returned more than he stole (Luke 19:1 – 10)

1. Ability: To make and manage money
2. Risk: He gave money away to be happy. People thought he was nuts for sure.
3. Results
a. His actions are recorded eternally in the Bible
b. Though short and perhaps looked down on, Jesus honored Him in front of everyone
c. He received forgiveness and made a lot of other people happy (those who got money back)

C. Peter, a fisherman who became a fisher of men (Mark 1:16 – 18, Acts 2:14, 40 – 41)

1. Interest/ability: Fishing
2. Risk: He left his way of making money to follow an unknown teacher
3. Results

a. Many of his actions were recorded eternally in the Bible
b. He caught many people as a fisher of men for God (see Acts 2:14, 40 – 41)
c. He was crucified upside down for his beliefs (traditional — see John 21:18 – 19 for allusion)

III. Why use my interests/abilities for God? Why take risks?

1. It’s God’s plan for our lives (Ephesians 2:10)
2. Jesus did, and we are to imitate Him (1 John 2:6)
3. Your life will be the most fulfilling (John 10:10)

Do Something About It

Explain: Everyone divide up into groups of no less than three and no more than five. Each of you share your interests and abilities with the group. Have everyone else offer at least one way that each interest/ability could be used in ministry.

Pray and dismiss.

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It’s Your Thang – #4

It’s Your Thang – Your Heart

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 explain that love is the key to ministry. To minister is to love. And love comes from the heart.

Activate Your Audience

Have a Heart

Purpose: To help youth understand it is better to give love than to receive it.

Materials: 10 heart-shaped pieces of pink paper for each group member, a pencil for each group member

Setup: Pass out one pencil and ten hearts to each group member.

Time: Approximately 15 minutes

Procedure: Explain: The object of this game is to give away the most hearts. Follow these rules:

1. When giving away a heart, write your initials on the heart so everyone will know you gave that heart away.
2. You may only give hearts away to a person one at a time. Before giving another heart to the same person, you must give another heart away to someone else.
3. If you receive a heart from someone, you may not then give one of your hearts back to the same person. You must give a heart away to someone else first.

Give your group exactly ten minutes (or whatever time you think best) in which to give away the hearts.

After time is up, instruct everyone to sit down and count how many initials are on each heart for each person. Then, go around the circle and ask each person for the total for each set of initials. Declare the winner.

Bring them Closer

Have a Heart (continued)

Discuss the following questions with your group.

1. What would the game have been like if the object was to get the most hearts?
Answer: Everyone would have just stood around waiting for someone else to give.

2. Each of you started with only ten hearts. How is it that most of you gave away more than ten hearts?
Answer: You had to get some hearts in order to give more away.

Transition: The hearts that you gave away represent love. Each time you give love to someone, you give part of your heart away. Most people think the object of life is to get the most love, so they just stand around waiting for someone to give. For the Christian, however, the object of life is to give love away to others. And, as God designed it, you can only give so much love away before you need more love yourself, but that shouldn’t keep you from giving in the first place.

The greatest thing you can ever do on this planet is love — and love comes from the heart. We’re going to look today/tonight at how to become great lovers — loving from the heart.

Music

Focus on music about loving God and others. If possible, sing “They Will Know We are Christians by our Love”

Communicate the Word: It’s Your Thang — Your Heart

A. Introduction

B. Review the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:38 – 40)

1. Giving God your heart in love is the greatest thing you could ever do
2. Giving others your heart in love is the second greatest thing you could ever do
3. Our “THANG” — our ministries — are nothing without this kind of love

C. Transition: Love must be given through actions in ministry — in your THANG

II. Yeah, you’ve got spiritual gifts. So what? (I Corinthians 13:1 – 3)

A. The gift of tongues is pointless without love
B. The gift of prophecy/knowledge is pointless without love
C. The gift of giving/service is pointless without love
D. Your THANG is pointless without love — totally useless

III. Love takes action — it gives from deep within the heart (I Corinthians 13:4 – 7)

A. Patience: thinks of the other first and waiting without thought of self
B. Kindness: to parents, teachers, enemies, friends, etc.
C. Doesn’t envy: celebrates the success of others without wanting a share of the profit
D. Doesn’t boast: doesn’t use the mouth to say, “Hey, look at me! Look what I can do!”
E. Isn’t proud: doesn’t walk around thinking it’s better than anyone else
F. Isn’t rude: treats authority figures and peers with the greatest respect
G. Isn’t self-seeking: isn’t always asking, “What’s in it for me?”
H. Isn’t easily angered: doesn’t fly off the handle when things don’t go my way
I. Keeps no record of wrongs: forgives and forgets on a daily basis
J. Doesn’t delight in evil: doesn’t listen to, watch, or participate in sin
K. Rejoices in the truth: wants to be totally honest about everything
L. Always protects: stands guard to defend others (helpless, less fortunate, friends, etc.)
M. Always trusts: doesn’t doubt God or others
N. Always hopes: always expects the best
O. Always perseveres: sticks do it — doesn’t just start fast and then fade

IV. Gifts are Tools with Which to Love(I Corinthians 13:8 – 13)

A. Again, gifts are great, but they are only tools of this present age with which to love
B. It’s time to grow up and realize that the point of the game is to give the most hearts (refer to game)

V. Conclusion (John 13:35)

Like the game with the hearts, most people think the object of the game is to get the most love. Everybody’s looking at self. But the object of the game if you are a Christian is to give away the most love. Everybody wants love, so lets start being the ones to give it. How does the Bible say that non-Christians will know Jesus is real? “They will know we are Christians by our love…”

Do Something About It

Explain: If time allows, pass out a new set of blank hearts to everyone (at least one per person). Have each person write down the name of one or more people that they need to learn to love from each of the following categories: teachers, parents, friends, enemies, siblings, etc. Have them take these hearts and place them in their Bible or at home in a place where they will see it and it will remind them of the love that they need to show for these people.

Pray and dismiss.

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Do Not Be Conformed

Do Not Be Conformed

The purpose of this study is to teach youth to avoid the habit of imitating the pattern of sin in the world, and instead look to God and be transformed into something much more exciting.

Activate Your Audience

1. CHINESE WRITING

Have your “assistant” leave the room knowing the pattern. You ask the youth to come up with a short word that you can translate into Chinese (short — because your Chinese is not that good). After the youth have chosen the word, your assistant should come back inside. You draw Chinese looking letters on the board and your assistant guesses the word immediately.

Here’s the trick. For consonants, start a sentence with that letter. For instance, if the word is “moon,” you might say, “Maybe this is it.” For vowels, draw a Chinese type character using the same number of lines as the position of the vowel in the pattern AEIOU. Still using “moon” as an example, you would say, “Maybe this is it.” Then draw two Chinese characters, each with four lines, since “o” is the fourth vowel. Then say, “Now, do you have it?”

The point? There is a pattern that you have to know to figure out the solution.

2. THREE BY THREE

Place nine hymnals or same-sized rectangular objects on the floor in a three-by-three pattern. Have your “assistant” leave the room knowing the trick. Have the youth pick one of hymnals or objects to be “it.” Then, have your assistant come back inside. Using a pointing stick, deliberately point to the wrong hymnal, but place the pointer on the hymnal in the same position as the real hymnal. For instance, if “it” is in the upper right-hand corner of the pattern of hymnals, point to the upper right-hand corner of one of the other hymnals and ask “Is this it?”

The point? There is a pattern that you have to know to figure out the solution.

Build a Bridge

LUKEWARM DRINKS

Offer refreshing drinks before you continue or when the youth first come in from other activities. Only this time, have the canned drinks be lukewarm, and the water, and whatever else you might serve. Let everyone react to the situation, then offer ice to cool them down.

The point? No one likes a lukewarm drink. God doesn’t like a lukewarm Christian who tries to follow the pattern of the world.

Communicate the Word

I. LIVING PARABLE

Tell the story of the three riddles that Indiana Jones had to overcome in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The riddles were as follows…

1. Only the penitent man will pass. Indy had to bow his head to avoid getting it cut off.
2. In the name of God you shall walk. Indy had to step on the letters of God’s name.
3. The leap from the lion will take you there. Indy had to step off a cliff, so it seemed.

Transition: To get to where God wants you to go, you have to follow certain instructions, or the consequences will follow. If Indiana Jones had just ignored the instructions and gone on ahead his way, he’d be dead by now. We, too, have instructions to follow that will get us safely through the challenges ahead.

II. LIVING WORDS

A. The pattern of this world

1. Fame (Matthew 6:1)

Change who you are to become what other people are so you’ll feel accepted and people will like you. Look up to the popular people and get in line behind them to take their place when they are gone.

2. Fortune (Matthew 6:19 – 21)

Go to school so you can get into college, so you can get a good job, so you can make a lot of money, so you can buy a lot of stuff and save a lot of money, so you can retire when you’re old, so you can die and lose it all. What’s wrong with this pattern?

3. Power (Luke 9:25)

Just take over. Follow the example of all the other Hitlers and rise to the top no matter who you have to hurt and who you have to step on. Do your very best to become the most powerful person in your little world, be it school, or home, or work, or a big company, or a political organization, or a state, or a country, or the entire world. When you finally make it to the top you’ll hear a still small voice from above say, “How does it look from down there?” You know what we’re going to do tomorrow, don’t you? The same thing we do everyday — try and rule the world.

4. Pleasure (Hebrews 11:25)

It feels good, so do it. Listen to all the commercials and videos and movies and songs that tell you that there is a lot of fun stuff to do out there, especially the stuff your parents and youth ministers are telling you not to do, and enjoy the pleasure. After all, the mass media and your friends can’t be wrong, can they? It sure does feel good. As a matter of fact, it feels real good. I think I’ll throw away the rules I’ve grown up with and my reputation and my sanity so I can just enjoy these things. That’s the pleasure principle.

III. The Transformation of the Renewing of your Mind

0. Through God’s Word
1. Through Prayer
2. Through living your life the way Jesus would live it

In every situation you face in life, the world says to ask these questions…

a. What’s wrong with doing that?
b. What’s in it for me?
c. How much can I make for myself?
d. How good does it feel?
e. How good does it taste?

In the Christian life, there is only one question to ask…

Given my present situation, what would Jesus do if He were me?

Ask yourself what Jesus would do. Then do what Jesus would do under any and every circumstance regardless of the consequences to yourself or others. If you do that, then you will have broken the mold, thrown a wrench in the works, and gotten off the merry-go-round to become all that you were intended to be.

Do Something About It

Explain to the group that you cannot do what Jesus would do unless you know who Jesus is, and unless you know Him personally. To illustrate, show the video Secret Ambition by Michael W. Smith on the video cassette TwoxFour.

Sum up with specific challenges that fit your group. Discuss different practical ways that your group can do as Jesus would do: on school campuses, at home with family, in church when visitors come, etc.

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God Is The Best

God Is The Best

The purpose of this session is to teach youth some of the basic attributes of God — that He is always there, that He is all-powerful and all-knowing — and because God is like this, He wants to have a relationship with us.

Activate Your Audience

The Best Thing

Ask ten people in your group to finish the following statement (if you have less than ten, let everyone respond): “The best thing I have ever seen or heard in my life is…” Allow each person to respond, then write the responses where everyone can see them. Briefly discuss what makes each thing so great.

Bring them Closer

Set the New World Record

Break your group in half to form two distinct groups. Make sure each group is about the same size. Give each group exactly five minutes to come up with some idea that has never been done before — something that would possibly put them into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first and best group to ever do that particular thing. It must be something that involves every member of the group. Then, at the end of the five minutes, ask each group to demonstrate what World Record they are going to set.

Transition: Explain to your group that tonight you are going to look at some of the World Records that God holds. He’s the oldest, strongest, and smartest person in the world.

Music

Lead your group to sing some songs that focus on God’s attributes. Examples include…

God is So Good

Lord, You are More Precious Than Silver

Our God is an Awesome God

Communicate the Word

I. God has always been and will always be (Psalm 90:2)

A. He had no beginning

Illustration: Draw a line segment on the board. Place a large dot at the beginning of the segment and at the end. Explain that humans have a beginning (when we are conceived by our parents) and and end (when we die). Then, in place of the large dot on the left side of the line segment, make an arrow. The arrow means that the line goes on infinitely in that direction. Explain that God has no beginning. He has always been there. Allow time for your group to ask questions about what this means.

Application: Explain that God has always been working in your life. There is never a time when He wasn’t thinking about you and planning good things for your life. When you were conceived, He was there, making sure you grew into a new baby. He was there when you experienced your most embarassing moment. He was there this morning when you woke up. He has always been there for you.

B. He has no end

Illustration: Now draw an arrow on the right side of your line segment so that both sides have arrows. God will never end because He is eternal. Allow time for your group to ask questions.

Application: Explain that God will always be there for you. When you have the greatest day of your life, God will be there. When you have the worst day of your life, He will be there to comfort you. He wants to be with you all the time. So, whenever you choose, you can talk to God because He is right there.

II. God can do anything He chooses to do (Matthew 28:18, 19:26)

A. God chooses to do whatever He wants — no one tells God what to do (ultimate authority)

Discussion: Let the group discuss what they would do in one 24-hour period if no one on earth could tell them what to do. They can do anything they want, and no one will get in their way. Anything is game. Write down some of the things your group comes up with. Chances are, the things they do will be very self-centered (stealing money & cars, eating all the food & candy you wanted, etc.) Don’t interrupt them. Let them live out their dream day.

Explain that God can do whatever He wants because He is God.

Application: Go back over the list and try to find things your group wanted to do that are not selfish — things that help other people. You may find only a few or none at all. Now think about God. Explain that though God can do whatever He wants, He has not chosen to be selfish. He has chosen to give each one of us a life. He has given us all the freedom to accept or reject Him. He came to earth to die for us because He loved us. God could have chosen anything in the universe to do, and yet His greatest desire was to create you and love you.

B. God has the power to do whatever He chooses (ultimate power)

Illustration: Explain to your group that you want to see who the strongest person in the group is. Ask everyone to stand up. Announce that the strongest person in the group will be whoever can stand on one foot for the longest period of time without holding on to something/someone and without moving. Say, “Go!” and let everyone start. When the last person standing, have that person come forward. Explain that now you are going to test the strengh of the strongest person in your group. Ask this person to, in front of everyone, pick his/her up and hold it up for ten seconds without using anyone or anything else. Of course, this is impossible.

Explain that, as humans, we have limitations. We cannot do everything that we want to do. Some things are just not possible. Explain that with God, however, everything is possible. He can do whatever He chooses to do. Allow time for questions from your group. Be prepared for some crazy questions. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”

Application: Explain if God is powerful enough to do whatever He chooses, then He is powerful enough to be your God. He can provide your every need, get you through the toughest times, take care of you through any problem, and be all that you need Him to be.

III. God knows everything (I John 3:19 – 20)

A. He knows everything about the universe

Illustration: Tell the following story. “Back in the early 1900’s, a man’s car broke down. He pulled off to the side of the road and began fiddling with the engine. He couldn’t locate the problem, and he began to be very frustrated. A few moments later, another car pulled up and a man stepped out and offered to help. He put his head under the hood and quickly found the problem. ‘How did you know what the problem was?’ asked the first man. The stranger responded, ‘Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Henry Ford. I invented this automobile. I know everything about it.'” Explain that God knows everything about the universe because He invented it — He created it.

Application: Explain that though science has made great strides in its study of the universe, we will never understand all there is to know. We can’t even predict the weather with 100% accuracy. God, however, knows everything about the universe. He created every planet, star, flower, sunset, river, mountain, and valley. This week, take the time to look around you at all of the things that God created.

B. He knows everything about you

Illustration: Ask someone to volunteer, or call on someone. Bring this person forward. Tell the person to take five steps across the room. Each step must be taken in a unique way — in a way that no one could possibly guess what the person will do. Everyone expects the person to just put one foot in front of the other, but perhaps the person could walk backwards for one step, hop one step, roll on the floor for one step, etc. The point is, no one should be able to guess what the person is going to do next. When the person has finished, explain that only God knew what this person was going to do.

Explain that God knows all about you. He knows where you have been, where you are now, and where you are going tomorrow. He knows how many hairs are on your head. He knows what you are thinking right now. He knows if you will be alive in five years or dead tomorrow.

Application: Ask your group to answer this question, “What makes a best friend?” One of the most common answers is, “Someone who knows you — someone who understands you.”

Explain that God wants to be your best friend. He knows you better than anyone else, and His whole point in creating you was to have a close relationship with you. He wants to be a part of your every waking moment.

Do Something About It

Read the following questions out loud to your group. Ask each person to listen for that one question that really hits home. Then, ask everyone to think about that one question and answer it honestly and quietly. Will it be God or the other thing?

God will be there when your parents/friends let you down. Who are you going to depend on?

God will be there when sinful pleasures don’t feel good anymore. Which one do you want?

God has more power than money, so which one do you want more of?

God is more powerful than the crowd, so who are you going to please?

God is more powerful than you, so which one are you going to spend more time with?

God knows who you are going to marry, so why not ask Him to help you find him/her?

God knows what you’ll do after high school, so why not ask Him to show you what to do?

God understands your deepest fears, so why not trust Him to take care of you?

God knows everything about you, so why not give everything you have to Him?

Pray that everyone in your group would recognize that God, because he is always present, all powerful, and all knowing, wants to be a part of everyone’s life on a daily basis.

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Just Give It Up

Just Give It Up!

The purpose of this study is to help young Christians realize that following Jesus doesn’t require a few changes — it causes drastic changes.

Activate Your Audience

VIDEO GOSSIP

Set up a video camera in a private room to record each young person making a statement. The statement will be what was whispered to them by the previous participant. The statement is whispered only once, and the person on camera must attempt to repeat what she/he heard. This is just like sharing gossip in a circle, only you get to see how the message deteriorates with each person. There will be a drastic change from the original message to the final one, illustrating the point.

If you don’t have a video camera, play the game in a circle with each person simply whispering to the next.

Sample message: Henry Barfinsnickel, with flaming sword in hand, soundly defeated the Great Fugi monster atop Mt. Carmel before receiving his much-deserved dessert: a hot fudge sundae.

Discuss with the group how the message deteriorated and why. Then, shift gears by talking about how drastic the change was from the original to the final. Explain that this drastic change is the same kind of change Jesus is looking for in his followers.

Build a Bridge

Ask people to share what it would be like if they were suddenly blind/deaf/paralyzed for the rest of their lives. What changes would have to be made? Are those changes simple or drastic?

Constructive Communication

I. The followers of Jesus did not follow a list of rules (Like the Rich Young Ruler – Matthew 19:16 – 22)

A. They did not follow Him because they were supposed to
B. They did not follow Him because they were forced to
C. They followed Jesus because they wanted to

II. The folowers of Jesus did not become religious (Like the Pharisees – Luke 11:42)

A. They did not change their appearance
B. They did not change their language
C. They became imitators of Jesus

III. The followers of Jesus made drastic changes in their lives to follow Jesus

A. They didn’t just adjust their daily schedule — they left their jobs, homes, & families
B. They didn’t just drop a bad habit or two — they became a separate entity on earth
C. They didn’t devote a few hours a week — they lived and died for the name of Jesus

IV. What made them follow Jesus

A. He always saw good in them. He always sees good in you (Psalm 139).
B. He loved them in spite of their sin. He loves you in spite of yours (I John 1:9 – 10).
C. He was patient when they fell. He’ll be patient when you fall (Psalm 23).
D. He offered the best life of all. He offers you the best life of all (John 10:10).

V. Don’t follow Jesus for the wrong reasons

A. Duty (I’m supposed to or God will get me)
B. Force (My parents make me)
C. Habit (I just grew up in church — Christianity is my religion)

VI. Follow Jesus because you want to

A. Spend some time with him
B. Read the four gospels — listen to the message
C. No one who actually spent real time with Jesus ever stopped following him (The Pharisees and other outsiders knew about him, but his disciples knew him personally).

Do Something About It

7. Spend time with Jesus before school starts. Read the gospels. Listen to what he has to say and watch what he does. Then make your decision. You won’t be disappointed.

8. Make some drastic changes. Don’t let your Christian life be boiled down to church attendance, a cool Bible, and a few Christian T-shirts. Devote your life to him if you choose to follow him and leave everything else behind.

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Serving Others

ACTIVITY: At this point I give each teen a bowl (about 1-2 cups) of Jello Jigglers and a plastic fork taped onto a 4-foot dowel rod. The instructions are that the jello must be eaten, they must keep their hand at then end of the dowel (without the fork), whoever empties their bowl first – wins. The object is to get the teens to figure out that they can’t feed themselves, and the only way to empty their bowl is to feed the person across from them.

TRANSITION: Tell the following story. A man went to sleep and dreamed about hell. He saw everyone in hell seated at long banquet tables loaded with food but they were all starving to death – nothing but skeletons because they were trying to feed themselves with 4-foot forks. The man’s dream then switches to Heaven, where he also sees everyone seated at long tables loaded with food and having 4-foot forks. But, these people are all happy and well-fed. They were using their forks to feed each other.

Start off by asking your group how many became Christians out of fear of eternity in hell or because they loved Jesus (which came first?) Many will say it was fear of hell and then they learned to love the Lord. I took Scripture from Jude (some save with fear snatching them out of the fire) and then from 1 John 4 (there is no fear in love) to show that although it’s OK to get saved out of fear, we can’t stay in fear. Other Scripture references included more verses from 1 John 4 regarding the love of God dwelling in those that are His, and those without His love are not of Him. Also The Gospel of John (they will know you are my disciples if you love one another). I closed with Matthew, where Jesus tells of the sheep and goats at the judgement and played Keith Green’s song by the same title (off of his album Here Am I, Send Me).

My Teens really enjoyed this meeting. They tried to come up with all sorts of ways to get the jello into their own mouths and you’ll be surprised at how creative your group is. But, it really made an impact on them to discuss what love is (as Jesus loved us we are to love others) and how that should influence our daily lives.

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Inside or Out?

Scripture:
James 1:13-18
Joshua 24:14-18

Illustration (Fish) – Lets say that this bowl represents God’s will for our lives. God’s will has boundaries. There are things we can do within God’s will and things we cannot do. Lets say that the water represents God’s living word because whatever we do in life has to be done within God’s will according to His word, right? The fish then inside the bowl represents us. (Hit the glass and turn the bowl) Satan cannot touch us within God’s will so he wants to get us out of the bowl; he wants us out in the open with no protection. So Satan plays with our desires and uses our own desires to entice us and drag us away from God’s Will.(Sprinkle fish food on the outside of the bowl. If the bowl is a little wet the food will stick and the fish will try to eat it but can’t) and soon we want what’s out in the world and if we continue chasing after the things in this world sooner or later we will make the decision to venture out on our own.

(Take the fish out of the bowl and put it on a wet wash cloth)
then read James 1:13-15

Return fish to Bowl
then read (V. 16-18)

Joshua had a similar problem with the Israelite people. They wanted what was on the outside instead of what God had for them. They wanted idols and a way of life without consequences. They were enticed. Finally Joshua had enough and he spoke before the people.

Read Joshua 24:14-15
Do you think the people changed their mind and began to serve God after Joshua made his bold stand of faith?
Read (v.16-18)
Joshua was a leader by example and we too are leaders. What does your example say at school, at home or at work. Are you living a bold faith or are you following the example of the coolest trends? Are you being enticed by popularity, money, boyfriends (girlfriends)or maybe in your life your harboring jealousy, hatred or envy. Are you more concerned about your own agenda than you are God’s will?

Closing –
We must choose daily to follow God and to refuse to be enticed by our own desires. I am trying to lose weight and it isn’t easy when my wife bakes chocolate brownies with caramel. Every day I am faced with a menu and I must make a choice. So it is with us in the spiritual realm, everyday we are faced with choices between right and wrong and our choices are the tale tell signs of who we truly serve and it is a daily decision. Who will you serve this day? Are you Inside or Out?

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All Things New

Great message for the new year…

How many of you make New Year’s resolutions? People make them because they feel like the new year is a new start, a fresh beginning to start over again.

But with God everything and every day is new!

Read Titus 3:3-7

‘Washing of Rebirth’ – NEW CREATION

Humans are a 3 part being…spirit, soul, and body.
Let’s examine this through the eyes of a computer geek. I’ll explain it in computer terms…
The outer case of the computer is the body.
The hard drive is our soul.
The operating system is our spirit.

When we are born again (rebirth, new creation), we still have the same case (body) we still have the same hard drive (soul) with all the mess on it, but God wipes out the old operating system and gives us a new one. This new operating system works far better than the old one. If we follow the manual that comes with our new operating system (the Bible) we can start to clean up our messy hard drive and get things straightened out. And the cool part is that we have 24-hour, on-site tech support!

Read Ezekiel 36:26 and 2 Corinthians 5:17

The word in the Greek that is used here for ‘new’ does not mean ‘new’ as in something new in time like, “I bought a new car, it’s a ’95.” The word means new as in new in nature, something completely different and far better. Like a caterpillar becomes something new when it becomes a butterfly. Before the metamorphosis, it was a slow moving caterpillar that was bound by gravity to walk on the ground. If it wanted to travel 1 mile it could take weeks, even months for it to get to it’s destination. But after its ‘rebirth’, it comes out a completely new creature. No longer bound to walk on the ground. It has a new freedom like it’s never had before. It can fly! It can soar high about the ground that once held it captive. If it wants to travel that same mile, it can probably do it in less than an hour. Its whole life has completely changed.

‘Renewal’ – NEW THINGS EACH DAY

God is not like a video game that you buy for your computer, play it for a while, beat the game and then just kinda get bored with it. He has a new expansion pack ready for you to download every day! He has new things to share with you every day to help you face whatever may be ahead.

Read Matthew 13:52 and Romans 12:2

The important thing to remember about this expansion pack is that you don’t just wake up with the expansion pack ready to play. You have to be willing to set aside the time to go on to the Internet and download the expansion pack.

Well, the same thing with God, you don’t just wake up renewed everyday. It takes some work and discipline on your part. You need to set aside that time with God every day to read, pray and just talk with God, and as you do that, He will show you new things, teach you new things, and help you in whatever way you need.

Mercy – NEW MERCIES EACH DAY

Another cool thing is that God has given us a reset button. If our computer crashes because of all the junk on our hard drive, God has shown us how to reboot our computer, run a scan disk to find the problem and then he’ll tell us how to fix it.

Read 1 John 1:9 and Lamentations 3:22-23

End by giving an invitation for salvation, rededication, or just a general renewed commitment…

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Anger

Anger: Bible Base: John 2 13-22 Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Way in:
Demonstrate what pent up anger can do to us.
Give each member of the group a plastic 35mm film canister and a piece (about one third of a tablet) of Alka-Seltzer. They half fill the canister with water, then, all together, drop the Alka Seltzer in and push on the lid. Place all canisters on a tray. Explain that sometimes, when we get angry, the feelings inside of us well up, until….
After 20-30 secs each canister should then “blow their top” giving an impressive display.
Today we will be looking at anger, what it does to us, how we cope, and how Jesus displayed his anger.

Introduction of Anger.
Draw up Four Faces of Anger
(For illustrations I used pictures of faces showing the kind of anger – Clipart on Windows2000/XP has some, search on “anger”)

INJUSTICE
A rule, a belief, or an objective is being threatened or abused. Unfairness.

INJURY
You are disrespected, rejected, or ignored. Sense of insult or humiliation. Can be physical or psychological.

INVASION
Your freedom or personal space is being restricted or violated. Your identity is being attacked.

INTENTION
You have energy and determination to do something about injustices, injuries, and invasions. You challenge the status-quo.

– Get group to suggest situations that give rise to each facet.
– Which one, mostly, causes them to get angry?

Bible: John 2 13-22 read together as group.
– What was Jesus angry about?
– Did he direct his anger at certain people, or what they were doing?
– What “face of anger” was Jesus displaying.
– What does this reading tell us about getting angry and being a Christian?

Drama
First explain that when we get angry, we react in two different ways:
– Purposeful – showing self-control, and a degree of consideration for others.
– Spontaneous – Unplanned with little or no self-control.

Also our anger expressed can be:
– Constructive – where we respect other peoples’ feelings and boundaries, and don’t threaten either.
– Destructive – where you protect your own identity and violate other peoples’ feelings and identity, deliberately or unconsciously.

Hand out drama pieces to four pairs and give them a chance to rehearse.
Each drama piece shows an angry parent confronting a teenager who has come home late. Get them to work out whether this is on the doorstep when the teenager comes home, or the next morning. Each drama will portray one box in the matrix.


Draw matrix :
ððððððððððððððððPurposefulððððSpontaneous
ððððððððððððððð|————|————-|
ððððððððððððððð|ðððððððððððð|ððððððððððððð|
Constructiveððð|ðððððððððððð|ððððððððððððð|
ððððððððððððððð|————|————-|
ððððððððððððððð|ðððððððððððð|ððððððððððððð|
Destructiveðððð|ðððððððððððð|ððððððððððððð|
ððððððððððððððð|————|————-|

Drama Pieces

Purposeful and Constructive Anger……….
I’m angry. I let you go out on Friday night with the understanding you’d be home by eleven o’clock. Or, if you were going to be late, we agreed you’d call beforehand. When I didn’t hear from you, I was very worried. What happened? I want to talk to you about you going out, and the consequences if this happens again.

Purposeful and Destructive Anger……….
I can’t believe how irresponsible you were last night. You didn’t call. You made me sick with worry. Do you expect me to trust you with going out late at night now? We’ll have to see when you can go out like that again.

Spontaneous and Constructive Anger……….
What the heck has happened! I was expecting a call. I’m really angry. I stayed up because I couldn’t sleep. (Teenager tries to explain, but parent is not really listening and interrupts with emotional voice) I’m too upset to talk about this now. I’m going to bed. We’ll discuss this incident, and the rules for you going out, later on in the morning.

Spontaneous and Destructive Anger…………
(In a rage) You inconsiderate idiot! I should slap you! You silly, stupid… I’m here, scared to death, not knowing what has happened to you. You could have had an accident, been raped… How should I know! Do you call? No, you couldn’t care less. You just think about yourself, self, self… I’ll give you something to think about! You’ll never ever go out late again, d’you hear! Get out of my sight!

Get each pair to present their drama.

After each piece ask the group what word would best describe how the parent behaved. (Write it in the matrix).
Tips:
Purposeful and Constructive – Assertion
Purposeful and Destructive – Hostility
Spontaneous and Constructive – Passion, Suffering.
Spontaneous and Destructive – Rage

– How did Jesus behave?
– Why?
– What would be different if Jesus had behaved differently?
– How do they behave when they get angry?
– Does the Bible story teach them anything about how to behave when you get angry?

Quiet Time.
(Play some relaxing classical music and light a candle)
Think about the times people have got angry with us, and why.
Think about the times we got angry with someone and how we behaved.
Share with God any hurt you have inside
Admit to God where you think you might have done wrong.

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