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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
Before you start
MEETING AIM: To develop an understanding of the term ‘Grace' and to show, through the story of Ruth, how we can bring Grace into the world, through the relationships we develop and the actions we take.
BACKGROUND PREPARATION: Before leading this session, re-read the entire book of Ruth to re-familiarise yourself with the background to this chapter and the events which followed. You will also need to think about suitably impressive prizes for the first activity.
Grace factor (25 mins)
The context of this activity will depend upon the gifts and skills of your own group; you may wish to rename it ‘Grace Academy,' or even ‘Grace on Ice!'
As your young people arrive, explain that tonight you will be hosting a very special talent contest. Introduce your judging panel and share any rules you believe are necessary. Show your young people the prize that they will be competing for, ensuring a high level of interest. Allow time for your young people to rehearse their acts, find props and create any necessary costumes. Alternatively, inform your young people of the details of this activity at the close of the previous session to allow them time in the week to rehearse.
When ready, invite your young people to take their seats as they watch one another's acts. Before the session, you will need to prepare your judges to play the roles of members of well-known judging panels, but also to be sensitive to the young people within your group. Through the course of the contest, they will need to award points in order to identify a winner. If appropriate, you could also add a text-vote to identify the most popular act within the group.
At the end of the contest, award the prize to the winner, making it clear that there was only one winner. Now, turn the contest on its head. Explain that although only one person deserved to win, there are prizes for everyone and award identical prizes to all other contestants. Avoid comments such as, ‘it's not the winning that counts but the taking part' and make it clear that the other contestants have done nothing to deserve this prize.
KEY POINT: This activity demonstrates grace in action. There was only one person who deserved the prize, but it was freely given to all. In the introduction which follows, help your young people to see this link.
Introduction (5 mins)
Ask your young people how they felt when they were told they were all to be awarded the prize. Help your young people to create a definition of grace that they can all understand and use.
What does grace look like? (15 mins)
Explain to your young people that you want to create a visual representation of grace. Provide a selection of collage materials (including newspapers and magazines) and some modelling materials (such as clay). Encourage your young people to work independently, using the materials provided to create their own representation. If they are reluctant artists, they may prefer to find some stories of grace in the newspapers.
KEY POINT: Grace is a difficult concept to grasp. This activity is designed to allow more time to explore how grace can be represented and seen in the world around us.
Bible study (20 mins)
Begin by reminding your young people of the background to this passage, if appropriate by reading chapter one, or by summarising this chapter. Invite someone to read chapter 2 and explain any words or phrases which may be new or unfamiliar to your group.
Invite your young people to work in small groups to create a modern-day re-telling of the story. Where would the story be set? How would Ruth encounter Boaz? How would he show her grace? Provide resources for your groups to present their story as they wish; pictorially, as a written story or through drama. Does the story have a greater impact when placed in more familiar circumstances? Have they been able to create a true representation of the story?
Pass it down the chain (8 mins)
Ask your young people to get into teams and to stand in lines from one end of the room to the other. You will need an identical pile of objects for each team which should be placed at the beginning of each line. The more objects you have, the more challenging the game will be. Tell your young people that you will time them while they pass the objects down the line to the other end. They can start to pass each object as soon as the previous one has left their hands but each player must hold and pass on every object. Stop the timer when all objects are piled up at the far end of the line, (you will need one observer for each line to ensure that teams do not cheat).
Grace chain (10 mins)
Looking back at the passage that you read earlier and remind your young people that Ruth had been a part of a chain of grace which began when she showed grace to Naomi (chapter 1), and continued when Boaz showed her grace in this passage. You may find it helpful to reread verses 10-12.
Remind your young people of the game that you have just played and challenge your group to hold this image in their mind as they go out into the week ahead, encouraging them to create a ‘Grace chain' in their community. Ask your young people to think of ways that they can show grace to those people they meet in the week ahead. Encourage them both to plan opportunities and to practice listening to God in order to respond to the opportunities He provides.
Close (3 mins)
Before you leave the session, consider the ways that you can encourage one another in your efforts to share grace in the week to come. You may find it helpful to set up an online blog where your young people can share their grace chain stories.
Notes for adapting:
For younger groups... You may find it helpful to use a suitable story bible to introduce the story (just make sure that it is not aimed at too young an audience). Your young people may also need a greater level of guidance in completing the activity ‘what does grace look like?
For older groups... Consider the needs of your own community when planning for the Grace chain activity. Encourage your group to make specific plans that they can put into action as a group.
For un-churched young people... You will need to ensure that your young people are familiar with the background to this story and may need a greater level of explanation about the cultural context of the story.
For churched young people... This session focuses on the way that we act with grace towards oneanother, but you may find it appropriate to remind your young people of the grace that God has shown towards humanity and the way that we can and should share this with others.
Becky Coster is youth ministry co-ordinator at Cotton End Baptist Church, UK