Week 2: The Fear of Home
Note to the Teacher
This week, we begin to talk about preparing the way. There are all kinds of things that can become obstacles for people being able to meet Jesus and Jesus to meet them. Our job is to do our best to prepare the way.
1. Ice Breaker: Wrap-a-thon (10 minutes)
It’s time to get wrapping! The goal of this game is to be the fastest person to both wrap and unwrap a gift. Before meeting, get pairs of wrappable items, tape, ribbon, scissors, and wrapping paper. Each person participating should have a unique set of supplies. To lessen the ecological impact of this activity, consider selecting materials that could be reused or recycled. Often, traditional wrapping paper is heavily colored or embossed, which limits how and where it can be recycled. If students are wrapping at home, encourage them to collect the most unique sets of wrapping materials they can find.
Explain to students there will be two rounds: wrapping and unwrapping. During the wrapping round, they will have to completely wrap their item (none of the item showing) with wrapping paper, using a maximum of four pieces of tape each, less than the length of their thumb. The item must also have a ribbon to be complete. Once they think they have wrapped their gifts, they are to set them down, say “Done!” and wait for someone to check their work.
In the second round, they will be tasked with unwrapping their presents without ripping any part of the paper off. In other words, the entire piece of wrapping paper should be intact, even if there are a couple of rips.
If you are meeting virtually, have students gather the wrapping supplies at their home and race once the leader says go.
2. Read Scripture Luke 3:1-6 (5 minutes)
There are a lot of names and places in Luke 3:1-6. Invite students to read this passage first to themselves and then have someone read aloud.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- This passage begins with a list of religious and political rulers; then ends with a prophecy about how Jesus will come and be the leader everyone had been waiting for. What is a reason that God could have chosen to send Jesus instead of using one of the rulers listed at the beginning? What do you know about the names listed in this passage? If the answer is “Not much,” where do you think we could learn some about those people?
- How do you think those rulers would have reacted to hearing someone tell this story of God sending a leader who was not them?
- John prepares the way for Jesus by talking to the people about turning away from their sins and bad habits. How does that prepare the way for Jesus? In your opinion, what are the differences between “sins” and “bad habits”?
- When people come to your house during Christmas, how do you prepare for them to arrive? Is this process different from how you prepare yourself to be in someone else’s home?
- How do we prepare for Jesus to come and be present or speak into our lives?
- How do we prepare the way for Jesus to come to/speak to others?
- How do you think Jesus prepared himself as he would enter others’ homes and lives?
4. Activity and Discussion: Preparing the Way to Youth Group (20 minutes)
This activity will help prepare the way for new students to come to church. Begin by gathering a blindfold and a basket of items that can be stepped on without being broken. Select one student to be the “walker.” Put a blindfold on that person and send him/her out of the room. Get another volunteer to be the “way preparer” and a third volunteer to be the “way blocker.” Once the “walker” comes in, the person preparing the way will begin to move items out of the walker’s way and give verbal directions to help the walker reach the other side of the room. While the “way preparer” is trying to remove obstacles and communicate clearly, the “way blocker” will use the items in the basket to keep blocking the way. After the first round, try adding a second “way blocker” with a new “walker.” For added difficulty, the “walker” may have to take a five-second penalty for each item he/she steps on or touches. Even more difficult, have the “walker” start over if he/she bumps into or steps on an obstacle. An online alternative would be for the leader to provide a message to the “walker” and the walker needs to communicate that message to the group. The way blocker would have the ability to mute the walker’s microphone and the way preparer would be able to unmute it. You could provide the blocker and the preparer and limited amount of “mutes” and “unmutes” and see if the walker can deliver the intended message to the group.
Explain to the youth that this game is a metaphor for people coming to church. The people aren’t always able to see the way very clearly, and there are many people and forces trying to put obstacles in the way. It is our job to clear those obstacles out of the way. If we are to clear the way, it is important for us to see things from the perspective of the “walker,” putting ourselves out in the community, so that we can learn about obstacles to meaningful church connections and faith life in the communities where our churches are in ministry. Use these questions to process how to prepare the way for the new people who might come to your youth ministry.
What are some reasons you have heard people use for not being connected to a church? For not attending a church? For never stepping foot in a church building?
What are other things that can make it difficult for people to come to activities we do with our youth ministry?
What can we do to remove those obstacles?
How can we invite people to be a part of the community of teens in our church?
What is the thing that makes you want to be part of this church?
How can you say that to people when you invite them to come?
Total time: 50 minutes
- Items to wrap
- Wrapping paper
- Basket full of things that can be stepped on and not broken.