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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 inspire young people to follow Jesus no matter what life throws at them.
BACKGROUND PREPARATION: ‘I've committed myself and I'll never turn back…’ - Psalm 119:105, The Message. Do some searching on biblegateway.com with different versions and see how scripture inspires our spirits to endure.
Test of endurance (10 mins)
Find some world records that demonstrate endurance (e.g. the most push-ups using back of hands in one hour, longest duration balancing on one foot, longest hospital trolley duration) from www.guinnessworldrecords.com. Ask the group to guess how long these people endured their challenge or circumstance. Use this hilarious story to end. http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_2533498.html
Ask if anyone has ever considered trying to break or make a world record? What would they do? How would they keep going? Have they ever done something sponsored where their endurance was tested?
Consider whether a potential group activity to raise awareness or funds might come from this discussion. You might want to find some examples of things other youth groups have done, or join in with a nationwide initiative such as the 24-hour famine.
Worth it? (10 mins)
Tell the story of the Walter Mischel’s marshmallow test done in the 1960s with four year olds. They were given the choice to have one marshmallow now, or two in a few minutes. Those who chose to wait were interviewed at 14 were more optimistic, socially skilled, dependable and successful at school than those who couldn’t wait. Thus the ability to delay gratification and patiently endure is seen as an important life skill to develop.
What do they think of these findings? Can they see the benefits of delaying gratification? How might this thinking apply to their own lives? Do they save up and wait or borrow money to buy things now?
KEY POINT: Delaying gratification is about recognising incentives and deciding which are worth pursuing, having counted the cost. This can be applied at different levels from marshmallows to money management to living for God under persecution. Young people’s decisions will be influenced by their sense of self worth, so emphasise that we are highly valuable and were made for life’s best.
Victim or victor? (10 mins)
Read 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 together and then read it again pausing at the end of each sentence and decide whether it is a positive, negative or neutral statement. Note how many were positive, negative or neutral and then read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 where Paul describes his sufferings. Paul writes not as a victim but as victor, and his willingness to endure suffering that came as a result of his commitment to Christ can inspire us too. What would that one marshmallow represent for Paul? Giving up his faith and receiving relief from suffering? What was he holding out for? What was his second marshmallow?
Marshmallow movement (5 mins)
Get the group into teams and blindfold one member. Give them a spoon with a marshmallow on it, and place a saucepan at the other end of the room. The team must guide (by shouting) their marshmallow mover to the saucepan until they have safely transferred all the marshmallows across the room. Your challenge is to endure the noise!
The results… (10 mins)
Tell the story of the man who found a butterfly’s cocoon. He watched while the butterfly struggled to force its body and wings out, and decided to help the butterfly by removing the rest of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings and was never able to fly. The struggle required for the butterfly to get out of the cocoon was God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight. Without the struggle, the butterfly did not develop into its God given potential, and the same can be true for people. God sometimes allows struggles in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our life without obstacles, it would hinder our growth.
Do they agree with this perspective on suffering? Do people need ‘struggles’? What are the results of successfully going through challenging times? What are the risks?
What were the results for Paul? What did he learn? How did his attitude help him learn?
KEY POINT: Jesus Christ endured death on the cross because he loves us, and because he wants every person to have a relationship with God. His love compelled him to act, to endure the worst way to die because he had a bigger vision for his life. We can also think bigger than our own needs, and with Christ’s example to follow and God’s love inside us, we too are compelled to act, to lay down our lives and to endure because we know we were made for more.
Endurance and encouragement (10 mins)
Romans 15:5 tells us where endurance comes from and connects it to the encouragement and unity found in the community of Christ’s followers.
Take the opportunity to encourage each other to endure and practise unity by pointing out the best qualities in each other. Choose an appropriate method for your group: you could stick post it notes to each other with good qualities written on them, you could write to each other in the week with encouraging words and scripture, or just share experiences where God has given you endurance and encouragement.
Two marshmallow thinking (5 mins)
Give each person two marshmallows and let them find some space on their own. Invite them to eat the first marshmallow and ask God to help them reflect on the times when they have not waited, but have accepted second best for themselves. Encourage them to read John 3:16 and 16:27 and consider how much God loves and values them.
Leave a few minutes and then invite them to eat the second marshmallow and thank God for the times he has helped them to endure the wait and has rewarded them with great blessings. Encourage them to ask God for patient endurance and read 2 Thessalonians 3:5.
Notes for adapting
For younger groups… Make it a more aerobic session by seeing who can do the most sit ups or press-ups in ‘Test of Endurance’. Or if you’re really serious about wearing them out use the bleep test!
For older groups… Invite each member to consider fasting, being silent, doing early morning prayer, memorising scripture and give each a personal trainer from within the group who will spur them on.
For unchurched young people… Expand the second key point to allow exploration of what and why Jesus endured. Focus on John 15:13 and point to the invitation Jesus makes.
For churched young people… Songs and scripture speak of being refined in the fire. Ask: What does this fire represent? What is being refined? Should we expect ‘fire’ in our lives? How should we handle it? How can it help us develop endurance?
Claire Farley is the youth pastor for St Mark's Church, Leamington Spa, UK
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