Ready-to-Go Meetings - Bible Basics
group magazine: May-June, 1998
GROUP MAGAZINE - May-June 1998
3 easy-to-prepare Bible study ideas tied to a theme your kids won’t forget
by Jane Vogel, Michael D. Warden, and Paul Woods
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE
1. Looking for Lies in All the Right Places—(Supplies: magazines, including secular magazines aimed at teenagers.)
Form groups of three. Give each group a stack of magazines. *Say: You have three minutes to find and tear out as many examples of lies as you can in your stack of magazines. You’ll often have to read between the lines, so be smart! For example, an ad for makeup could be selling the lie that appearance is the most important thing in life. Go!
After three minutes, call time and have groups describe what they tore out.
*Ask: Do most people fall for the lies you’ve discovered? Why or why not? If you lived your life thinking these lies were the truth, how would that change who you are and what you do?
*Then say: Phony sales pitches have been around for a long time. Way back in New Testament times people were falling for some pretty stupid lies. The Apostle Paul could see the lies for what they were, and he tried to warn people about them in a letter he wrote to Titus. We’ll study what Paul had to say in this meeting.
2. Top 10 Downers—(Supplies: paper and pens.)
Give each group paper and a pen. Then *say: Have you ever heard people complain that being a Christian takes all the fun out of life? With your partners, make a list of the top 10 downers that people think would spoil their fun if they became Christians. You don't have to agree with these downers. For example, you could list something like, "You can never go to parties, only prayer meetings."
After several minutes, tell kids to stop writing and read their lists to the rest of the group.
*Ask: Are any of these complaints really true? Why do people sometimes get a negative impression of Christians? How would you describe your Christian life to someone who thinks Christianity is all do’s and don’ts?
*Say: People have had wrong ideas about Christianity ever since the church began. When Paul wrote his letter to Titus, Christians in Crete had started to believe some phony teaching. Let’s see if we can spot it.
Give each group a Bible; then have them *discuss:
•According to Titus 1:10-14, what counterfeit teaching were some people spreading in the church?
•What’s wrong with teaching that people have to be circumcised to find salvation?
•Read Titus 2:11-14 and 3:4-5. What’s the truth about how God saves us?
•What phony messages do you hear today?
•What truths can help you not be fooled by these lies?
3. An Encouraging Word—(Supplies: Bibles, paper, and pens.)
Make sure each group has paper and pens. Then *say: With your group members, read Titus 2:11-12 and 3:8. Then write your own letter to Christians today. Your letter should do three things:
1. Warn Christians against at least one specific counterfeit message common today.
2. Tell the truth that contradicts the counterfeit message.
3. Encourage people to "use their lives for doing good" (Titus 3:8) in specific ways.
When kids finish, have them read aloud their letters to the group.
Then *say: You probably know someone who could use the encouragement you wrote in your letter. With your group members, pray for that person. Then think of a concrete way you can encourage that person this week. It might be by giving him or her the letter you wrote, or it might be in some other way. Whatever it is, plan to do it! ˙
FORGIVENESS BRINGS HOPE
1. An Investigation of Messages—(Supplies: newsprint, a marker, and copies of the suicide notes.)
After everyone’s arrived and settled in, *ask:
•Who here knows someone who’s talked about committing suicide or has actually attempted it?
Ask some of the kids who raise their hands to briefly tell their stories to the rest of the class. Be certain kids don’t use names.
Once one or two stories have been told, *ask: Why? What causes young people to throw their lives away? *Say: Today our goal is to answer the question: "What’s at the heart of teenage suicide?"
Have kids form groups of three or more and assign each group one of the following suicide notes. *Say: As you study the notes, look for clues that might show root causes for why these young people committed suicide.
You want to die when you’re with me.
But I can’t live without you, can’t you see?
So there’s only one thing left for me to do.
I have to do it to protect you.
Please understand it’s not your fault.
I’ve felt this for a while, and it’s got to halt.
But before I do, I’ll give it one more try.
But if it doesn’t work then I’ll say goodbye.
There’s really nothing left here for me.
And this is the way it has to be. Please realize it’s for the best.
The pressure just builds up and there’s nothing to do.
God I’ll miss you.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m really sorry. I didn’t want to hurt you, but I didn’t know what else to do. Nobody really cares about me, and I can’t live without someone who could love me. And you thought Ashleigh was just another girlfriend (smile). Tell her I love her always and not to worry about me. I have notes to Princess and to Grady and Walter, too. Please be sure they get them. Maybe I’ll see you someday. I’m scared!
When groups are ready, have them present their responses. Jot down on newsprint any information they present that might point to why young people commit suicide. Then *ask: Based on the information we’ve heard, what do you think pushes kids to kill themselves?
*Say: One way we can work through the struggles in our lives is by talking to God about them and asking for his help. Turn to a partner right now, and tell about one struggle you’re currently facing. Then pray together, telling God about your struggles and asking for his help. It’s okay if you want to pray silently.
When kids finish praying, continue by *asking: What’s your reaction to the way these people chose to deal with their struggles?
*Say: For all the reasons we’ve listed here, both these young people lost hope in life. That’s why they killed themselves. But it didn’t have to be that way. The true tragedy of these stories is that these young people could never allow themselves to embrace forgiveness—either for themselves or for others. Understanding God’s forgiveness could’ve saved these kids, because forgiveness brings hope to life.
2. An Investigation of Parallel Lives—(Supplies: Bibles, paper, pencils, 3X5 cards, newsprint, markers, and copies of the lifelines.)
Have kids stay in their groups. *Say: Let’s investigate another suicide. This time we’ll be studying the lives of Judas Iscariot and Simon Peter. I want you to look for ways that Judas or Peter were like or unlike the teenagers you’ve already studied.
Give each group a copy of either "Judas Iscariot’s Lifeline" or "Simon Peter’s Lifeline." Explain to kids that their goal is to learn their assigned information, then teach it to the other groups in a creative way that’s never been done before. For example, kids might copy the information onto cards and tape them to their foreheads for other kids to study—anything goes!
Set out Bibles, paper, pencils, 3X5 cards, newsprint, and markers for groups to use if they choose to.
When kids are ready, have each group teach its information to the others. As each group presents its information, jot down on newsprint any information they present that shows a similarity between Judas, Peter, and the suicide victims studied earlier.
3. An Investigation of Self—(Supplies: candle, matches, and a Bible.)
*Ask: Even though these people were vastly different, what’s one situation they’ve all had in common?
*Say: Both Judas and Peter betrayed someone close to them.
*Ask: Do you think these other young people were betrayers? Why or why not?
Have kids quickly find partners. In their pairs, have them respond to these questions:
•How are you a betrayer?
•How are you a forgiver?
•What’s one positive quality about your partner that reminds you of God’s forgiveness?
Call everyone back together and *ask: As a result of the guilt and disillusionment they felt, both Judas and these other young people chose to kill themselves, and yet Peter did not. What was different about Peter?
*Say: Judas and these other young people all did things or experienced things they couldn’t live with. Their pride wouldn’t allow them to forgive others or to forgive themselves. But what’s more important is that their pride wouldn’t allow them to accept forgiveness from God either. So they passed judgment on themselves, and then carried out the sentence. Forgiveness would’ve brought hope to their lives, but they couldn’t humble themselves to receive it.
*Ask: Why do you think Peter was able to experience God’s forgiveness? How can you experience God’s forgiveness?
*Say: God’s forgiveness brings hope to life, but without it life becomes full of bitterness and disillusionment. We must learn to receive God’s forgiveness. We must learn to forgive ourselves. And we must learn to forgive others.
Darken the room; then light one candle. By candlelight, open your Bible to 1 Peter 2:22-25, then *say: Simon Peter went on to become a great light for the cause of Christ. Years after his betrayal, he wrote these words about Jesus… Have kids focus on the candle as you read the passage, then turn on the lights and *say: Pray for humility this week so that you can experience the light of hope that comes from God’s great forgiveness. ˙
Judas Iscariot’s Lifeline
•Read John 6:53-71. Many scholars believe that before joining the disciples, Judas was part of a violent group of Jewish nationalists. Some think Judas may have followed Jesus in the hope that through him the nation of Israel would rise up against Rome. When it became clear this wouldn’t happen, Judas may have decided to betray him.
•Judas was appointed treasurer for the disciples (John 12:6; 13:29).
•Read John 12:1-6. When Jesus was anointed with expensive perfume, Judas got angry at the "waste," pretending to be concerned for the needs of the poor.
•Read Matthew 26:47-50; 27:3-5. Judas sold Jesus into the hands of the Pharisees for 30 pieces of silver. At Jesus’ arrest, Judas betrayed him, then later felt remorse. Not long after, he committed suicide.
Simon Peter's Lifeline
•Before Peter joined the disciples, he and his brother Andrew (Mark 1:16-29) worked as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5:10).
•Read John 1:35-42. Peter probably came to follow Jesus through John the Baptist. When Peter was personally introduced to Jesus by his brother Andrew, Jesus gave him the descriptive name Peter or petros, which means rock. No other man in the New Testament bears that name. (See Matthew 16:18 and Mark 3:16.)
•After a period of companionship with Jesus during his early ministry (John 1:42–4:43), Peter probably returned to his trade as a fisherman for a time.
•Read Luke 5:1-11. Later, when Jesus began his Galilean ministry, Peter joined Jesus full time so that he could be trained (Mark 1:16-20). Peter went on to become the spokesman for all the disciples (John 6:66-69 and Matthew 16:16, 18).
•Read Matthew 26:69-75. After Jesus’ arrest, Peter betrayed him by denying he ever knew Jesus at all.
•Read John 21:15-19. Later, after Jesus had risen from the dead, Peter received Christ’s forgiveness for his betrayal.
WE NEED A SAVIOR
1. True Consequences—(Supplies: copies of The True Consequences Test to distribute to teams.)
Have kids form teams of two or more. Give each team a copy of the True Consequences Test. Ask them to write consequences for the listed actions.
The True Consequences Test
Write what your group thinks the consequences of these actions will likely be:
1. Staying up late to watch a basketball game the night before a big test.
2. Dropping a light bulb on a cement floor.
3. Cleaning up the dishes while your parents are away at a meeting.
4. Riding with a friend who’s been drinking.
5. Spilling a soft drink on your computer keyboard.
6. Stubbing your toe on a table leg.
7. Doing a good job on a school project.
8. Pretending to be the opposite sex in an online chat room.
9. Hitting a baseball at a big window.
When teams finish writing consequences, have them trade tests with each other. Ask teams to "grade" another group’s test, marking a consequence wrong if they disagree. Then ask groups to each tell how many consequences the other team got right, and explain why they counted some wrong.
Then *ask: Why did we sometimes disagree over what consequences should result out of these actions? If there were no consequences—good or bad—for our actions, how would that change our behavior? Do good actions in life always produce good consequences? Why or why not? Do bad actions in life always produce bad consequences? Why or why not? Why does God allow things to be this way?
*Say: Today we’ll take a look at the serious consequences of sin and what can be done about them.
2. How the Mighty Have Fallen—(Supplies: Bibles, pencils, and paper.)
Have kids form four groups (a group can be one person). Make sure all groups have pencils, paper, Bibles.
*Say: Just after the people of Israel defeated the mighty city of Jericho, they had something really terrible happen. In your groups you’re going to investigate exactly what that was. Give each group one of the following assignments to investigate:
1. Joshua 6:15-19—What was the plan?
2. Joshua 7:1, 20-21—What happened?
3. Joshua 7:2-5—What were the results?
4. Joshua 7:24-26—What were the consequences for Achan?
Have groups report what they discovered. Then *ask: What did Achan do wrong? Who did his actions affect? What’s a good definition of sin? What are the consequences of sin in people’s lives today? How does sin affect your relationships with friends? with family members? with teachers? with God?
*Say: Here’s what the Bible says are the consequences of sin. Read aloud the first half of Romans 6:23. Then *ask: Does this passage’s message about the consequences of sin match your experiences in life? Why or why not? When people sin, they don’t often drop dead—what is God trying to say here? How can we overcome the consequences of sin?
3. Gettin’ By With a Lot of Help From Jesus— (Supplies: a Bible and a copy of the poem God Sent Us a Savior.)
Read aloud all of Romans 6:23. Then ask kids to listen and think about what God did as you read aloud the following poem:
God Sent Us a Savior
If our greatest need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness,
So God sent us a Savior.
*Ask: What does this poem say about God? What does it say about us? God sent us Jesus, but what else must happen for us to receive his gift of salvation?
If your kids haven’t all made a faith commitment to Jesus, you might want to explain to them what it means and how to receive eternal life.
*Say: Because of our sin, there’s no way for us to reach heaven on our own. But thanks to God, we can receive eternal life through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Lead kids in singing a song of thanks and praise for what God did for us through Jesus, such as "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High," or "I Will Call Upon the Lord." Wrap up your meeting by thanking God for providing eternal life for us through Jesus. ˙
Jane Vogel is a volunteer youth worker in Illinois. "Forgiveness Brings Hope" is adapted from Core Belief Bible Study Series: Why Forgiveness Matters, "Dying to Live" by Michael D. Warden, copyright © 1997, Group Publishing, Inc. Paul Woods is a creative development editor at Group Publishing in Colorado.