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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
MEETING AIM: To help our young people have a greater understanding of how God views our weaknesses and how, in spite of them, he still chooses to use us.
BACKGROUND PREPARATION: You will need: Pictures of superheroes on paper to be placed around the room (alternatively you may wish to put them into a PowerPoint presentation). Pens and paper with the list of Superhero weaknesses printed on them (see below). Superhero theme music and a copy of the U2 track ‘Grace’ (on their album – All That You Can’t Leave Behind or on download).
Superheroes (8 mins)
Start by asking the whole group who their favourite superhero is and if they could have one super power, what would it be? Then explain that most superheroes not only have lots of strengths but also have weaknesses. But what are those weaknesses? Put the group in pairs, then hand out the list of weaknesses and pens and ask them to guess which weakness belongs to which superhero. Once they think they know the answer, ask them to write the name of the appropriate superhero next to the weakness. (You could play Superhero theme tunes as they do this.)
Incredible Hulk Anger
Magneto Plastic weapons
Wonder-Woman Tying her bracelets together
Wolverine Magnetic Power
Batman Loss of utility belt
Invisible Woman Paint
Give a suitable prize to the winners. There are lots of superhero toys and sweets to choose from.
What’s your weakness? (5 mins)
This is a light hearted exercise. Start by confessing what one of your weaknesses is and explain why. Then go through a list of things that could be a weakness for your young people and ask them to stick their hand up if any apply to them. i.e. chocolate, trashy magazines, buying clothes, the opposite sex, computer games, soap operas. Some of your young people may be brave enough to say why it’s a weakness for them.
The loser takes it all (10 mins)
Play a team game that is well known to your group. Build up the anticipation of winning the game (shouting out points as you go along, have a big team prize etc.). At the end of the game announce the scores in reverse order, building up to who the winning team is. Then present the losing team with the prize. Hopefully this will create some confusion amongst your young people.
Sit the group down and run a mini de-brief with them. Ask questions like: How did it feel as the winning or strongest team not to get the prize? Did the losing or weakest team think they deserved the prize? How important is it to be seen and known as the strongest team? Is it important in life to be seen as a strong, all-together type of person? How are people who are perceived as weak treated at school, where they live, in this country, and in the wider world?
Upside down thinking (10 mins)
Read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. To put the passage into context you’ll need to explain that Paul was responding to people who were saying untrue things about hearing from God and were then going around teaching about it. Explain how Paul had experienced incredible revelations from God and if anyone could brag about such things it was him. But Paul then goes on to be really honest about a particular weakness that has afflicted him.
Go on to say that having weaknesses is often seen as a negative thing but here God teaches us that when we are weak, then He is strong. He turns our human understanding of this subject completely upside down.
Get the group to split up into twos or threes, with people that they trust. Challenge them to be as honest as they can be and ask them to answer three questions:
KEY POINT: Some of our weaknesses are due to sin in our life. Make sure that you explain to your young people that if there is known sin in their life they need to confess it, repent of it, accept Gods forgiveness and move on. (You may want to make yourself available to chat and pray with any young people who need to.)
No-one really knows what Paul’s weakness was. There is speculation that it was his poor eyesight but whatever it was, Paul asked God three times to take away the ‘thorn in his flesh’. God chose not to. This is where we need to put our confidence in him and not ourselves. Paul decided to accept and live in Gods grace.
Grace (8 mins)
Take some space to let your young people reflect on Gods grace. Ask them to make themselves comfortable. They may want to sit, lie down, kneel etc
Begin by reading 2 Corinthians 12:9 God said ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.’ Then play the U2 track ‘Grace’ and ask the group to listen to the words of the song. During the song, encourage the young people to consider if they have a specific weakness that they would like to acknowledge before God. Ask them to personally consider if they need to receive God’s grace at this time. You could also read the following scriptures during the track being played: Isaiah 40:29-31, 1 Corinthians 1:27 and Ephesians 2:8.
You are not alone! (10 mins)
When we recognise that we have an area of weakness in our life, it can be easy to believe two lies: 1. Everyone else is such a good person 2. God can’t use me.
Go on to read this:
The next time you feel like God can’t use you, just remember…
Go on to explain that although you are not recommending that anyone does these things (i.e. become a murderer!) but that all these people are found in the Bible, they did some incredible things for God, yet they all had weaknesses. This gives us hope. At the end of the passage in Corinthians Paul reminds us that he delights in his weaknesses for the sake of Christ. Here Paul sets us an incredible challenge – to have a positive outlook about the weaknesses we have, to count them as joy and be happy with them. Imagine if we were known as people who didn’t moan, groan, whinge or complain but were known as joyful people even celebrating our weaknesses. What kind of positive impact could we have with our friends and family, church and school? End by praying for the group.
Notes for adapting
For younger groups… You could have some real fun with the Superheroes section by making superhero masks, getting them to act out who their favourite hero is etc
For older groups… You could take a deeper look at the statement from God ‘….my power is made perfect in your weakness.’
For unchurched young people… Encourage your young people that even if they are not a Christian they can take on the challenge of having a positive impact in their community.
For churched young people… At the end of listening to ‘Grace’, encourage the group to pray, either together as a whole group or in smaller groups.
Damien Wharton is Head of Youth and Student Ministry at Spring Harvest, UK
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