Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rocks Theme Night

Challenge: Bring in a pet rock!

Trivia: Rocks

Message:  “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-5
  • Opening questions
    • What’s the most beautiful stone you’ve ever seen?
    • Have you ever seen one of those stones look ugly?
  • Law: When God created us, he made us the most beautiful diamonds you could ever imagine. When we sinned, we became trapped in this awful mine that we can’t get ourselves out, the same as diamonds are trapped in mines like this and can’t get out on their own.

  • Gospel: Jesus, purest stone of all, came into these mines and cut us out to save us from the mines of our sins.

  • Life Focus: After he brought us out of the mines of sin, we were rough, uncut diamonds—beautiful in God’s eyes, but still being made perfect. Throughout our lives, we are being cut and made into more beautiful diamonds by the work of the Holy Spirit. And we make our lives “spiritual sacrifices” to God, beautiful through the work of Jesus on the cross.

  • Discussion Questions
    • How have you seen the Holy Spirit cutting you into a more beautiful stone?
    • What sort of sacrifices can you offer in the living stone of your life?

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:4-10

  • Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament
  • Name that Rock Song!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

St. Mark Trivia

What city is St. Mark the patron saint of?


C.New York City

What is the name of the book St. Mark wrote?

Where did Mark sit in Da Vinci’s picture “The Last Supper”?
A.Across from Jesus
B.Beside Thomas
C.Behind Judas
D.He wasn’t there

What population was the book of Mark probably written for?
A.Gentile Christians in Rome
B.Jewish Christians in Israel
C.Non-Christian Gentiles in Rome
D.Non-Christian Pharisees

Who took Mark along on a missionary journey to Cyprus?
A.He went alone
B.Paul and Barnabas
C.Paul and Timothy

Some scholars believe Mark was the first bishop of where?
A.Venice, Italy
B.Alexandria, Egypt
C.Crete, Greece
D.Jerusalem, Israel

How many chapters are in the book of Mark?

Which of the following does the book of Mark not contain?
C.Birth of Christ

What is the official symbol of St. Mark?
A.A winged lion
B.An olive branch
C.A cross
D.A dove

What is the name of the city St. Mark is thought to have been born in?

How and where was St. Mark martyred?
A.Crucified upside down in Venice
B.Stoned in Rome
C.Dragged through the streets of Alexandria
D.Burnt at the stake in Salem

Who baptized and taught St. Mark?
A.St. Paul
B.St. Peter
D.John the Baptist

What was St. Mark’s racial background?

Where is St. Mark’s body said to be held?
A.St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome
B.St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice
C.Sistine Chapel, Vatican City
D.Coliseum, Rome

What is the official date of the “Feast of St. Mark”?
A.July 7
B.September 27
C.April 25
D.April 1

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Trivia on St. Paul

What does the name “Paul” mean?


Where was Paul born?

Who taught Paul (primarily)?
The rabbi Gamaliel
His mother
The public Roman school

What religion did Paul follow before Christianity?

Where was Paul a citizen of?

Where was Paul traveling to when Jesus appeared to him?

The Bible specifically mentions Paul being present when which early Christian was stoned?

What happened to Paul when Jesus appeared to him?
He went deaf
He fainted
He became mute
He went blind

Who baptized Paul?

What was the name of the child who fell out of a window while Paul was teaching?

Which of the following did Paul not write?
1 and 2 Timothy

When Paul began to preach about Jesus, the Jews planned to kill him. How did he escape?
By a rope
In a wagon
In a basket
In a casket

When Paul was traveling to Rome, where was he shipwrecked?

Why were Paul and Silas thrown in a Philippian prison?
For working on the Sabbath
For casting out a demon
For preaching Jesus’ death and resurrection
For starting a riot

How and when did Paul die?
Crucifixion during Claudius’ reign
Beheading during Nero’s reign
Natural causes during Claudius’ reign
Fire during Nero’s reign

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Paul and Persecution Theme Night

As I wrote last night, the lectionary reading in Acts for today was on St. Paul's conversion. In honor of his life and ministry, I've based the theme of tonight's youth meeting on Paul and Persecution.

Message: Saul to Paul (the life and ministry of the apostle Paul)

Text: Acts 9:1-22

Trivia: Life of St. Paul

  • Blind Shoe Grab : “Arrange chairs in a circle. All of the Cinderellas (girls) in the group select a chair. The Prince Charmings (boys) each pick a girl and kneel in front of her. He removes her shoes and holds them in his hand. Then the girls blindfold the guys. The leader calls for the shoes and they are thrown into the middle of the circle. On the signal, the guys crawl to the center and attempt to find their Cinderella's shoes. Each girl can only shout out instructions to her prince. After finding the shoes the princes each crawl back to their Cinderella and put her shoes on correctly." (
  • Choose Your Ending Game (See previous post)

Discussion Questions:
  • What are some ways the early church were persecuted?
  • What are some ways people in foreign countries are persecuted today?
  • Do we face persecution here in America? What does it look like?
  • What can we do when we face persecution?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Choose Your Ending: Persecution

Tomorrow in the LCMS lectionary, we read the story of St. Paul's conversion. In honor of the martyrdom of St. Paul and others who died in the faith, the Grass Lake youth group will be looking at ancient and modern persecution of Christians, and I've created a special game for this. Begin by showing the video at this link, or another video setting up for the study of persecution.

Pass out to the students a card with this written on it, or read it aloud:

You are a new Christian in the first decade after Jesus’s death, resurrection, and ascension. Many of your friends and neighbors have been arrested, thrown into prison, tortured, and even killed for their faith. Only this group here remains in the church. A small number of children—ages 8 to 12—have been asking about Jesus lately, but they could be a trap planted by the Jewish leaders or Roman soldiers. It’s up to you to decide how the church will handle the situation. If you would like to hole up in your home together and avoid the children, go to 1. If you would like to tell them about who Jesus is and what he did, go to 3.

Around the room, you will have the following numbers and descriptions posted. You can separate the students into groups, allow them to work alone, or have them all work as a group. 
  1. Afraid of being captured for sharing the gospel, you avoid the children. You lock yourselves in the pastor's home to fast and pray. Go to 7.
  2. Relying on God’s protection if the children are a trap, you invite them to a meeting at the pastor's home, where you will worship, talk about God’s love and forgiveness, and eat a love feast. Go to 12.
  3. Remembering what Jesus died for, you decide to share the story of Jesus with the children. To invite the children to a home meeting, go to 2. To meet the children in the marketplace, go to 8.
  4. Being so small, the entire church goes to meet with the children. The children hang on your every word, hungry for the grace found in Jesus. You notice a guard pointing at you, so you tell the children it is time to leave, but one of them grabs your cloak. “I want to be baptized!” he says. To baptize the child, go to 11. To shake him off and run home, go to 15.
  5. The prison cell is dark and cold. You huddle together for warmth, praying and singing hymns to God, asking Him for the strength to overcome this trial. Suddenly, at the window, you hear a small voice. It’s one of the children that was asking about Jesus. “I can help,” he whispers. To accept his help, go to 13. To shoo him away, go to 9.
  6. For weeks you are left in that prison, no one left to help you. Finally, the guards come and begin taking you away, one by one. No one ever returns, and you know they’ve gone to be with the rest of the martyrs for Christ. Congratulations! Despite your sins, you’ve received eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
  7. Late that night, there is a knock on the door. Someone opens it just a crack, and in rush a whole group of Roman soldiers! “You’re under arrest for attempting to start a revolt against Caesar,” they tell you, dragging you all off to prison. Go to 5.
  8. You tell the children you can tell them more if they will meet you in the marketplace the next morning. They agree, but you have another decision to make before you go—will you shout the gospel through the market, sharing with all you can? Or will you speak in hushed tones, relying on the noise of the market to mask the sound of your forbidden tale? To shout the story, go to 14. To speak quietly, go to 4.
  9. “We don’t need the help of a child!” you whisper harshly. “God can tear these very bars open if he wishes. Go home before you’re thrown in here with us!” He appears hurt, but scampers away. Go to 6.
  10. After several minutes, you hear nothing. the pastor opens the door a crack and peers out. The guards are gone. You give thanks to God and share the gospel with the children, all of whom are baptized that very night. Congratulations! You’ve survived to see the growth of the Church.
  11. Remembering what the apostles said about Jesus’ command to “baptize all nations”, you agree. You take the child’s hand and walk bravely past the soldier, who loses interest. Taking the child down to the river, you baptize him in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He goes on to share his new-found faith with his family and friends, growing the Church in spite of the persecution. Congratulations! You’ve survived to see the growth of the Church.
  12. The children come, but as they enter the house, you see a couple Roman guards not far behind them. Quickly you bolt the door and begin to pray for protection. Go to 10.
  13. “Praise God, who opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble!” you say. “He has sent us protection in the form of a child.” The boy grins and passes the key through. You quickly unlock yourselves, and knowing God will protect you, the entire group goes to the market to share the Gospel at the top of their lungs. Congratulations! You’ve survived to see the growth of the Church.
  14. Knowing God will protect you, you go to the market to share the story of Christ with the crowds found there. Before long, however, the Roman soldiers appear and drag you to prison. Go to 5.
  15. Fearing that the guards will catch you and kill you and the child, and knowing that the child can be baptized later, you all run toward home. A soldier catches up to you, however, and you are taken before the governor, who condemns you all to death. Congratulations! Despite your sins, you’ve received eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Value of Program Planning

While the youth ministry context requires a certain level of flexibility in planning, year-long program planning is a necessity for a smooth and well-run youth ministry. When events are planned well in advance, last-minute changes due to lack of foresight are less common, programming runs more smoothly, and involvement and attendance increase. Students and parents have more of an opportunity to become aware of activities, and the overall awareness of and support for the youth program increase.
Many middle and high school students rarely have extra spending money, and parents of youth are not often willing to spend money on something which they consider an “unnecessary social event” such as a concert or sports game field trip with the youth group. As such, it is important to have a balance between costly events such as concerts and mission trips, and free events such as lock-ins or movie nights. This also ties into varying activities by category—incorporating social, spiritual, and service events into the yearly plan. Refusing to vary the curriculum by only offering spiritual events, for example, may eliminate a large portion of the youth population, as spiritual events often create a sense of exclusivity or elitism, with only “church-y” students attending and un-churched students feeling as though they are unwelcome. Planning only social activities, conversely, provides an excess of outreach and fellowship without discipling students and helping them to grow spiritually. Finally, planning only service events teaches students to help others to grow without helping them to develop their own faith and knowledge, potentially leading to students with shallow faith and selfish reasons for outreach.
Youth in the church can often be overlooked. They may feel as though they have no place in the congregation, as they are not old enough (in the eyes of many adult congregation members) to make decisions for the church, and they consider themselves too old or responsible to blindly follow the plans that adults make for them. In order to pull away from this duality, many youth will take control of what little they fell they can in their life, often leading to a separation from the youth group. However, when a certain level of responsibility for and ownership in the youth group and its plans are given back to the youth themselves, they are more likely to remain involved and encourage involvement from other students. Of course, youth still lack much of the experience and wisdom of age, and as such, parents and adult counselors must also be involved in the planning process. Adults can bring a perspective that the youth may not, recognizing the dangers of certain activities, the complications with planning events, and the importance of incorporating an equal amount of spiritual, service, and social events. Youth and adults should be involved equally in the planning process, with the staff youth leader being the mediator and final decision-maker to resolve conflict.
Equally as important as ensuring that youth feel a sense of ownership in the youth group and congregation is ensuring that the congregation feels responsible for the youth group. Many churches allow the youth group to become a “miniature church”, attached to the primary congregation only due to premises and funding. Due to this fact, informing the remainder of the congregation of youth activities, involving them in year-long planning and events, and ensuring that the youth program is not forgotten by the church as a whole, is absolutely vital.

In a congregational setting where many events are planned at least a year in advance, if not long before, the skill of intentional program planning is absolutely vital. For the youth program to survive and thrive, it must be able to function on the same level—and in some form, in the same way—as the church it is part of. Part of this ability to function includes planning events and programming within the same time limits as the rest of the congregation, allowing the other ministries of the church or congregation to acknowledge that not only is the youth group existent and active, but also competent and vital as a ministry. In short, program planning is one of the most important skills a congregational youth leader can possess.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Doubting Thomas Theme Night

Sorry for no blog last week, everyone--I was a little distracted getting engaged!
This is me and my wonderful fiance Andrew right after he proposed, for anyone wondering.
Anyway, it's back to business as usual for the next year and a half or so until the wedding, so here's your weekly post, a theme night usable for this week!

This Sunday is the second Sunday of Easter according to the church calendar, so I've written a theme night on Doubting Thomas, as the second Sunday celebrates Jesus appearing to disciples with Thomas present. The story can be found in the Scripture passage for this week (not-so-coincidentally, one of the lectionary readings for Sunday). I hope this is a valuable resource for you!

Scripture: John 20:19-31
Trivia: Doubters and Liars in the Bible
Message: Discussion on "Doubting Thomas" 
  • Two Truths and a Lie: Everyone comes up with two truths about themselves and one lie. The others have to guess what the lie is.
  • I Doubt It: This is the card game commonly known as BS, but the name has been changed to be more appropriate. Here are the rules, for those of you who don't know it. 
    • In this game the objective is to be the first to discard all of your cards. The person who goes first must discard his aces face down, the second two’s, third, three’s… through king’s. As the person places the cards down they must announce the quantity of cards being played (i.e. 2 aces, 1 two, 3 threes, etc.) If a person doesn’t have a card of the value he/ she is supposed to play, then he/ she bluffs. A person may also bluff at any time by including additional cards of another value in with the cards of the correct value they are playing. For example, a person may only have two aces, but includes a six and calls out “three aces.”
    • At any time a player may shout “I doubt it.” The person that just played cards must turn them over and reveal them. If the revealed cards were a bluff and not 100% what they were claimed to be, the player picks up the entire discard pile. If he/ she was telling the truth, then the person who yelled “I doubt it” must pick up the entire discard pile.
    • The game continues until one player runs out of cards.
As always, feel free to give feedback! Happy Easter, everyone.
God's blessings,