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An Heroic Ministry
Verse of the day
YWI - working with...
YWI is pleased to work in association with
Fuller Youth Institute, US
Sophia Network, UK
The Second Coming
Timeline (5 mins)
Tell your group that to start today’s session; you will recap the story of the Bible. Before the session, write the following headings onto A4 cards, along with some blank cards.
Ask for volunteers to hold a card and stand in order. Ask your group what key events they think are missing and if appropriate, add these to the timeline. Did they include ‘Jesus returns’? If not, write this on a card and explain that we will be looking at this today.
Fact, Fiction or Funny Idea? (7 mins)
Tell your group that lots of claims have been made about when and how Jesus will return, including the following statements. Copy them onto pieces of paper, without revealing the source, and ask your group to sort them under the headings of fact, (as shown in bold), fiction or funny idea.
Once your group has sorted these statements, discuss their decisions. Look together at the statements from the Bible. Do any of these claims surprise your young people? Tell them that during this session, we will be stripping away the false claims that have been made and finding out what the Bible has to say.
Code Breakers (7 mins)
Tell your group that some people believe there is a code in the Bible which we can crack to predict when Jesus will return. Ask your young people to get into pairs and to set a code with their partner, such as ‘read every third word,’ or ‘read every other word backwards from the end.’ They should write their code on a piece of paper and swap with another pair. Then give each pair a copy of a text, such as a magazine, a dictionary or a classic novel. Allow a few minutes for them to find their ‘hidden message’ in their text; using the given code. Once complete, each pair can share their hidden message. These may be amusing, but are also likely to be complete nonsense. Explain to your young people that trying to understand what the Bible says by breaking a code is also nonsense and that there is a much better way of understanding what the Bible has to say, by looking at what Jesus taught.
Are you ready? (20 mins)
This activity is explained to your group as a way of getting ready for something later in the program, but is really an item in itself. Tell your group that before you can do the next activity, you need to go and get something, but this will give them time to get ready too. Provide dressing up clothes and explain that before you return, they need to dress up as aliens, (or another category depending on your supply of clothes). Also tell them that before you come back, you will give them some warning, by knocking on the door and calling ‘I’m coming.’ Then leave the room.
In your absence, the other leaders can play several roles. They may try to distract your group, for example by showing them all the other dressing up clothes. They could also try to panic your group by calling ‘S/he’s coming.’ Alternatively, they could urge your group to ignore your signals at the door. You should stand just outside the door and at different intervals, give the clues of your return. You could perform one directly after the other and then wait a while until your return, or wait a while, then give both clues and walk straight in. You should be able to judge what is appropriate from the sounds coming from the room! When you do return, don’t say anything but take those who are ready, out of the room and give each of them a small prize, before returning together.
On your return, explain to the group that this activity illustrated some of the points Jesus made about his return, that you will now look at.
Here comes the groom (10 mins)
Before the session, write the following Bible references on pieces of paper.
Tell your group that in chapters 24 and 25 of Matthew we can find stories about Jesus’ return. Distribute the references to small groups for them to look up. Ask them to consider what they think Jesus was saying through each passage and then try to relate it back to the previous activity. After five minutes, ask each group to feed back what they have found, and clear up any queries or misunderstandings. They should have discovered that the previous activity illustrated the fact that Jesus has promised to return and will do so in the same way that He left. No one knows when He will return but when He does, He will take those who ‘are ready’ with Him. Before Jesus’ return, certain things will happen, but we cannot calculate the date of His return from these events. While we are waiting, many people will try to distract us from getting ready.
Response (10 mins)
Remind your group that the Bible says we have to be ready for the return of Jesus and ask them what this means. Look together at Matthew 25:31-46 and explain to your group that although people try to calculate when Jesus will return, Jesus said that the only thing we need to do is make sure that we are ready for it when it happens. Give each person a small card with ‘always be ready’ written on it. Ask your group to consider what they can do to ensure that they are ‘always ready,’ and write a note to themselves on their card. As you end the session, invite them to take the card away with them and put it somewhere to remind themselves of this.
Becky Coster is Youth Coordinator at Cotton End Baptist Church, Bedford, UK.