God always forgives

Aim:

To show the children that God loves us and forgives us when we say sorry.

Bible base:

Luke 15:11-32. The Lost Son

You will need:

Three paper plates – one with a happy face, one with a sad face, one with a face with a jealous expression.

Three flash cards with the following wording:

  1. Dig, dig Work, work, Sweat, sweat, Phew!
  2. Get, get, Money, money, Spend, spend, Gone!
  3. Love, love, Love, love, Love, love, Love!

Preparation

  • If possible read the story from a modern translation of the Bible.
  • Make the flash cards.

Presentation

Introduction

  1. Show the children the faces on the plates and talk about times they have felt happy, sad or jealous over something.
  2. Ask them to listen carefully to the story for times when people had these feelings.

Story

Choose three pairs of children to hold the flash cards.  The younger children will not be able to read these words, but they will remind the older children of what to say.  Practise the sayings, and teach the children the following actions for the last line of each: – Wipe the back of your hand over your forehead for ‘phew!’ – Hold out both hands, palms up, to signify ‘gone!’ – Hug yourself for ‘love!’

Some people were grumbling about the kind of people Jesus spent time with.  Jesus mixed with people that no one else would speak to!  So one day Jesus told them a story.

There was once a man who had two sons.  The older one stayed at home and worked very hard for his father.

Card 1

The younger one wanted to go off and to see the world, so one day he went to his dad and asked for his share of the money that one day would be his.

Card 2

The father thought for a while about how much he loved his son.

Card 3

And somewhat sadly he said, ‘Yes, son’ and gave the boy his share.

So when the money had been collected together for him, the boy left home and went off to a faraway country.  (Take the children with this card round to the back of the room, as if going on a journey.  Ask the children for ideas of how he might have spent his money.)

For a while he had lots of fun spending the money, buying whatever he wanted, spending the money on new clothes and eating the best food, on having parties and buying things for the new friends he had made.  Until one day, the money ran out.

Card 2

So the young man had to get a job, and he found one on a farm, feeding the pigs.  After a while in that country there wasn’t enough food for everyone, and the young man became very, very hungry.  He was so hungry that he felt like eating the pigs’ food!  You know when there are leftovers from dinners at school?  They get put in a bucket and given to feed pigs.  Just imagine it!  The boy was so hungry that he would have eaten leftover baked beans and chocolate pudding and chips and pizza and yoghurt all thrown in together!  Then he suddenly realised how stupid he had been.

‘Back home, even the servants on my dad’s farm have better food that this.  They have three good meals a day and a warm bed to sleep in.  I wonder if my father would ever take me back to be one of his servants if I went to him and said “sorry” for what I have done?’

So the young man decided to go back home.

When he was still some distance from the house, his father saw him and ran to meet him.  The young man knelt down at his father’s feet and began to speak.  ‘I’m sorry for what I have done wrong.  I’m not fit to be your son.  Will you let me come back as one of your servants?’

But before he had finished speaking, his dad hugged him.

Card 3

He shouted for people to bring his best clothes for his son to wear; to bring shoes for his feet and a ring for his finger, and to get food ready for a party!  The dad loved his son so much that he forgave him everything.

Card 3

When the older son heard this he was very cross.  ‘It’s not fair!’ he said.  ‘I’ve stayed at home and worked hard all this time.

Card 1

‘You never gave me a party!’

‘I know,’ said his father, “and you know that I love you very much.”

Card 3

‘But your brother was lost and he is found, so we had to have a party, because I love him very much too.’

Card 3

Application

  1. Talk about the happy, sad and jealous feelings in the story. a) To begin with the money made the younger son happy – the father was extremely happy when his son came hom. b) The younger son made his father sad by going away – the older son made him sad by being cross when his brother returned. c) The older brother was jealous at the way his father treated his younger brother.
  2. There are things that we do that hurt other people and hurt God.
  3. God is like the dad in the story.  He forgives us when we say ‘sorry’ and always keeps on loving us.

Prayer

Use the following prayer or similar:

Dear God, we are sorry for hurting other people and you by the wrong things that we do.  Please forgive us and help us to do the things that please you. Amen.

 

Honestly!

Bible base

Exodus 20:16; Amos 5:11,12; Amos 8:5,6; Proverbs 16:11

Aim

To help students think about speaking and acting honestly.

Preparation

• Make up four or five statements about yourself or the world – some which aren’t true and some which are. For example:

When I was younger, I released a CD which made the Top 40.

• Think of some situations, relevant to the school you’ll be visiting, where it might be difficult to tell the truth, for example because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or get into trouble.

Presentation

1 Tell the students that you are going to make a series of statements to them. They must vote on each one according to whether they think you are telling the truth or a lie.

Read out each of the statements you have prepared. After each, allow a few moments for students to decide whether what you’ve said is true or not. Then ask them to vote by putting up their hand for either option.

2 Tell the students which statements were true and which were false. Ask what helped them decide when you were lying and when you were telling the truth.

3 Ask the students the following, getting some feedback each time:

  • On a scale of 1–10 (10 being very honest) how honest are you?
  • Is it ever right to lie?
  • What about ‘little white lies’?

4 Give these examples of when they might not tell the absolute truth:

a) Someone asks, ‘Do you like my new haircut?’ You think it’s awful, but what do you say?

b) Someone asks, ‘Do I look thinner?’ They don’t! What do you say?

c) You haven’t done your homework, due today. What will you say to your teacher? The truth or a lie?

d) You scratch a friend’s CD. Do you tell them the truth or lie about the scratch?

Add more, trying to make them relevant to your audience.

5 Ask what the honest thing to do would be in each of these situations. Is it always wrong not to tell the whole truth?

Reflection

Say that Christians believe they should be totally honest in all they do, because God is honest. Dishonesty usually leads to more lies and cause injustice, hurt and more dishonesty: for every lie you tell, you need another to cover up. It’s better to tell the truth in the first place.

Response

Think about the times when you have lied or not been honest and others have been hurt as a result. You might like to say sorry to God in your head for the things that you have been dishonest about. Invite them to ask God to help them be more honest in all they do.

 

Trapped – the nature of authority

Note: This assembly is most suitable for use with upper school pupils.

Aim

To explore with pupils the nature of authority, especially that of Jesus; to challenge them to think about who and what is in control of their lives.

Bible base

Romans 7:18,19 – I want to do what’s right, but…

You will need:

  • A chair
  • A ball of wool
  • A pair of scissors
  • Large pictures downloaded from the internet as follows
  1. Pictures of people in authority
  2. Picture of teenager with ball and chain
  3. Picture of man ignoring warning sign
  4. Words of the song ‘It’s a sin’ by The Pet Shop Boys (optional)
  5. The words from Romans 7:18,19 (use the Good News Bible version)
  6. Picture showing the empty tomb of Jesus

• CD of the song ‘It’s a sin’ by The Pet Shop Boys and appropriate equipment to play it on (optional)

Preparation

• Prepare large pictures as described above.

Content

Introduction

Begin with a short game of ‘Simon says’. Ask pupils to do some odd things (but nothing which is too embarrassing!).

Who’s in charge?

  1. Say that sometimes it feels strange when someone tells us to do something. Point out that, even so, some people do have the authority to do that. Ask the pupils to call out some examples (eg teachers, parents, the police, the government). Display Picture 1.
  2. Sometimes people have authority over us because they are working for our good, or for the greatest good of the greatest number. Sometimes people with authority have been appointed or elected. Sometimes they wear uniforms; sometimes they don’t.
  3. Sometimes a person has authority over us because they love us and we trust them (display Picture 2). With people like these – perhaps our parents – we know that even if we don’t want to obey, what they tell us to do is for our own good.
  4. Often there are consequences if we ignore the authority of others over us (display Picture 3).

What’s in control?

  1. Show your audience a piece of wool and demonstrate how easy it is to break it.
  2. Ask for a volunteer. Get them to sit on a chair. Wrap the ball of wool around them. As you do this, say to your volunteer and the audience that it’s not only people who have authority over us. Unfortunately, we can end up being addicted to something which we might think are harmless – like alcohol, cigarettes, gambling…even spending money! These things can also have a kind of authority over us and we can discover, too late, that we are trapped by them.
  3. At this point, ask the volunteer to break free from the wool. It should be impossible.  Emphasise that in a similar way, there may be things in the pupils’ lives which are exercising a kind of control over them and trapping them. Leave the volunteer ‘trapped’ by the wool, whilst you continue…
  4. Explain that the Bible says we are all trapped by something: the wrong attitudes we have; the wrong things we do and say; the wrong thoughts we have. The Bible calls these ‘sin’. At this point you could play part of the song It’s a sin by The Pet Shop Boys and display Picture 4 (optional). Continue by saying that ‘sin’ is not a new idea! Display Picture 5, showing the words from Romans 7:18,19. Ask pupils: Does that ring true for you?

Application

1. Say that one of the characteristics people most noticed about Jesus was that he had ‘authority’. Even though he wasn’t one of the rulers of the time, people realised that he had authority:

  • In his teaching – it was powerful and people listened;
  • Over illnesses – people were healed, and even brought back to life;
  • Over nature – he calmed the storm;
  • Over sin and the death it leads to – he came back to life from the grave (display Picture 6).

2. Turn back to the volunteer trapped by the wool. Say that even though we can’t free ourselves from things – bad habits, wrong thoughts, words and deeds (‘sin’) – Jesus can. He has the ‘authority’ to do that and only someone who is not ‘trapped’ can help those who are. Illustrate this last point by cutting the wool trapping the volunteer so that they are free to stand up. Ask them to return to their seat.

3. Explain that Jesus claimed to have authority over us because he is God. Comment that we naturally tend to dislike someone having authority over us, unless we know that they care about us and are acting on our behalf and for our good.

Christians believe that Jesus wants to have that kind of authority in our lives – he loves us, he knows what is best for us. So Christian believers are happy to say, ‘Yes’ to Jesus – setting them free from the things that ‘trap’ them and taking control of their lives.

 

The most powerful thing in the world – Power of the tongue

Aim

To challenge pupils to consider the power of the words they speak – to hurt or to help others.

Bible base

Proverbs 10:18; 11:13; 16:28; 18:8; 26:20 – don’t gossip

James 3:1-12 – the power of the tongue

You will need:

  • A tube of toothpaste
  • A place
  • A banana
  • Sellotape
  • Large cards to show Persian proverb and words from the book of Proverbs (See Preparation and Content below)
  • A CD of music and appropriate equipment to play it on.

Preparation

• Prepare large cards in advance, showing words as follows (quotations from Proverbs are taken from the Good News Bible)

Card 1 – ‘An arrow that has left the box never returns’ – a Persian proverb

Card 2 – ‘A man who hides his hatred is a liar. Anyone who spreads gossip is a fool.’ – Proverbs 10:18

Card 3 – ‘No one who gossips can be trusted with a secret, but you can put confidence in someone who is trustworthy’ – Proverbs 11:13

Card 4 – ‘Gossip is spread by wicked people; they stir up trouble and break up friendships’ – Proverbs 16:28

Card 5 – ‘Gossip is so tasty – how we love to swallow it’ – Proverbs 18:8

Card 6 – ‘Without wood, a fire goes out; without gossip, quarrelling stops’ – Proverbs 26:20

• Work out in advance a thirty second excerpt of music which will act as a timer in the introductory activity. Set up your equipment for playing the music before the assembly begins and check that it works as you intend.

Content

That’s impossible!

  1. Ask for two volunteers. Ask one volunteer to squirt some toothpaste onto the plate. Ask the other volunteer to unpeel the banana.
  2. Then tell them they have thirty seconds to put the toothpaste back in the tube and to seal up the banana with the sellotape. Play an excerpt from a music CD to time them.
  3. At the end of the thirty seconds, show the audience how they’ve got on. After a round of applause, ask them to return to their seats.
  4. Comment that really, that was an impossible task. Then display Card 1 showing the Persian proverb: ‘An arrow that has left the bow never returns.’
  5. Explain that just like the squeezed-out toothpaste, a peeled banana and an arrow that has left the bow, so it is with words, once we’ve said them, we can’t take them back.

Words can hurt

Tell the following funny story to make the serious point about how words can hurt, and the need to think about the effect of our words on others:

There was once a lady on a train with her baby. A man came into the same compartment. He looked at the baby and said, ‘That is the ugliest baby I have ever seen!’ and he started to laugh uncontrollably. He got off the train at the next station. Another man got on and came and sat in the same compartment. There, he found the lady who was obviously very upset. He tried to get her to say what the matter was, but she couldn’t speak because she was crying so much. So, at the next station, he leapt out of the carriage, ran to a shop, and managed to get back just as the train was pulling out. ‘There, there,’ he said, ‘please don’t cry. Here, I’ve bought you a drink and some tissues. And look, I’ve even bought a banana for your monkey!’

Those were not the right words!

Small but powerful

  1. The Bible says that the tongue – that small part of us which plays such a powerful role in producing our words – is a bit like the rudder of a big ship: relatively small but very influential. Or, it is like a little spark in a forest that can cause a huge fire (see James 3:4-6)!
  2. You can use your tongue to discourage others. Demonstrate this by suddenly saying something insulting to someone on the front row. (Try to pick someone who looks as if they won’t be hurt by your ‘insult’ and make sure that the audience understands you are joking!)
  3. You can also use your tongue to encourage (eg: ‘You know, I think you were really good when you did that!’). It costs nothing to use our words to build someone else up – instead of ourselves!

Don’t gossip!

If you’ve ever had any gossip spread about you, you’ll know how hurtful it can be. The Bible has some particularly useful things to say about gossip in a book of wise sayings called The Book of Proverbs. See if you can see the wisdom in these words:

  • Display Card 2: ‘Anyone who spreads gossip is a fool.’ Ask: Is this true?
  • Display Card 3: ‘No one who gossips can be trusted.’ Ask: Is this true? Comment that if it is, then so is the first proverb. People who can’t be trusted end up not having many friends. God warns us against gossip because he wants us to have friends!
  • Display Card 4: ‘Gossip is spread by wicked people; they stir up trouble and break up friendships.’ Ask: Can you think of an occasion when that has happened?
  • Display Card 5: ‘Gossip is so tasty – how we love to swallow it!’ Ask: Is this true? Begin to tell a bit of ‘juicy’ imaginary gossip. Then stop abruptly and draw pupils’ attention to how carefully people are listening all of a sudden!
  • Display Card 6: ‘Without wood, a fire goes out; without gossip, quarrelling stops.’ Ask: Why not put that to the test?

Three important questions

1. A group of people called the Quakers are renowned for not saying much at all, especially in their church services. But they have a rule of thumb about the way they try to use words when speaking about someone else. They ask themselves these questions before they speak:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it kind?
  • Is it necessary?

2. Challenge pupils to see if they can follow this ‘rule’ today: to remember – before they speak – to ask themselves those three questions.

Application

1. Say that you have spoken enough!

2. Conclude with a few moments of quiet. Explain that you want pupils to use this time to think about the way they have used words in the past, and how they are going to speak, today.

 

Peer Pressure

Bible base

Micah 6:8; Romans 13:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13

Aim

To help students to think about whether they resist peer pressure or go along with whatever others are doing.

Things you’ll need

A selection of football shirts, including two or three from the most popular teams in your area and one from the least popular team.

Presentation

1 Ask for volunteers who support the teams you have shirts for to come forward to represent their team and put the appropriate shirt on. Ask for another volunteer to put on the unpopular team’s shirt.

2 Try to persuade your volunteers to change their alliance to the less popular team and wear that shirt instead. You could use arguments like:

‘You’ll look cool if you wear this.’

‘Only idiots wear United tops. You don’t want to look stupid. Put this on instead.’

‘I’ll give you a prize if you wear this shirt.’

‘Everyone else is wearing one like this!‘

Add any other arguments/tactics you can think of to persuade them.

Unless you have some very weak-willed volunteers, your volunteers will probably prefer to keep the shirt they already have instead of accepting the less popular shirt.

3 Point out how stupid your arguments were for persuading people to wear the less popular shirt.

Reflection

1 Point out that if they are unwilling to change the team they support just because someone thinks the shirt looks stupid, it makes even less sense to change the kind of person they are, the way they behave or what they believe, just because others tease them, for example, for being loyal, working hard, being kind to other people.

2 Ask for some examples of when it might be difficult to stand up for what you think is right, and not give in to pressure from others (eg pressure from others to lie, mess about in class, be unkind to others).

3 Say that it can be difficult sometimes to know what is right. Point out that Christians believe God has given us guidelines, for example:

‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’ Romans 13:9. (NCV)

4 Encourage students not to give in to peer pressure, or be afraid to stand up for what they think is right. Say that Christians believe God will help them not to give in to pressure to do what’s wrong (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Response

1 Ask the students to think of some examples when they find it difficult to know what’s right or to do the right thing in school or at home.

2 In a time of quiet, ask them to decide now to do what’s right today even when it’s hard, or when it would be easier to go along with the crowd. If they like, they could use this time to ask God to help them.

 

Peace makers

Bible base

Matthew 5:9; John 14:27

Aim

To help students think about what Jesus said about peace and what they can do to work for peace in their own situations.

Things you’ll need

  • Clipboards and pens.
  • Small prizes for each of your volunteers (small chocolate bars etc).

Presentation

1 Tell the students that you are going to play Blankety Blank (like the TV quiz show), teachers versus students.

Note: if it isn’t appropriate to ask teachers to be involved, have two groups of students competing against each other instead, for example boys versus girls.

Ask for three volunteers for each ‘team’ (or select team members).

2 Give both teams a clipboard and pen. Tell the students that you are going to read out a phrase and they must write on their clipboard what they think should go in the blank. Round one is for student one, round two for student two etc.

Round one:

The phrase for student one is ‘Happy [_____]’. (Answers could include: birthday, Christmas, New Year, Easter, anniversary, hour, go-lucky.)

When the student has written their answer, ask your teacher team to consult together and decide what they think the student has written, then write their answer down.

Now, get the student to show what they’ve written. Then, ask the teachers to show what they’ve put. Did the teachers get it right? Award them a point if they did.

Talk about the word ‘happy’. Say that everyone likes feeling happy! It usually means everything is going well for us. It’s been said that ‘happiness’ is about ‘happenings’. If what happens to us is good, we are happy; When bad things happen to us, we are not!

Round two:

The phrase for student two is ‘War [_____]’. (Answers could include: correspondent, head, dance, lord, time, crime, cry, paint, memorial.)

As for round one, when the student has written their answer, get the teachers to write down what they think the student has written. Get them to show their answers and award the teachers a point if they get it right.

Talk about the word ‘war’. Comment that there is a lot of conflict in the world today, not just between countries. There are all kinds of conflict between different groups of people: different communities, neighbours, family members, even friends. When conflict happens, it brings lots of unhappiness to many people. The opposite of war is peace.

Round three:

The phrase for student three is ‘Peace [_____]. As before, ask your student volunteer to write their answer. (Answers might include: talks, maker, pipe, time, offering, treaty.) Then continue as for rounds one and two.

Talk about the word ‘peace’. Peace is a great thing if you have it or can get it. Peace is the opposite to war. It also can mean the absence of noise. And, it can be to do with the way we are feeling on the inside, meaning an absence of turmoil, anger, unrest, panic and unhappiness.

6 How well did the teachers do at guessing what the students wrote? Give small prizes to the winning ‘team’ (or to all your volunteers!). Thank your volunteers and ask them to sit down again.

Reflection

1 Ask the students to think about peace for a few moments:

• Would you say you have got peace in your life?

2 Tell the students that you are going to read some words from the Bible that Jesus said about peace:

God blesses those people who make peace. They will be called his children.’ Matthew 5:9 (CEV)

3 Comment that ‘Peacekeepers’ are people who keep the peace whatever the cost! Peace makers are people who make peace where there is trouble and disagreement.

4 Ask students to think about:

• Are you a peacekeeper, or a peace maker?

Response

1 Get everyone to close their eyes. Spend some time in silence. Enjoy the peace, the tranquillity and absence of noise.

2 Ask them to think about what needs to happen for there to be peace in the world, in situations where they know there is conflict. What needs to happen for them to have peace in their own lives? Say that Christians believe that God gives peace.

3 Now ask students to think about how they could help to bring ‘peace on earth’ in the different situations which they are involved in.

4 As your conclusion, say that you are going to read some more words from the Bible which Jesus said to his disciples when they were frightened and worried. Encourage students to remember anything which is troubling them at the moment and then to imagine that Jesus is saying these words to them:

‘I leave you peace; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world does. So don’t let your hearts be troubled or afraid’ John 14:27 (NCV)

 

 

Who wants to be a millionaire? – Materialism

Bible base

Luke 12:13–21

Aim

To help students reflect on whether it makes sense to want material wealth for its own sake.

Things you’ll need

  • Sweets for prizes, enough for at least three or four ‘rounds’ of the game, eg one tube of Smarties, a Mars Bar, a small box of chocolates, a big box of chocolates.
  • Three or four questions, each with a choice of four answers for the ’Who wants to be a “chocolataire”?’ game.

Preparation

Prepare your questions and the choice of answers for each. Think about what the school and students you will be visiting are like. You could include questions relevant to that particular school. Include some answer options which are just for fun. Don’t make the quiz too easy, but use questions and answers which will make it likely for your volunteer to ‘win’.

Presentation

1 Start by asking how happy they are with what they are like, and with what they own. Say that you are going to have a vote. You want them to put up their hands for each of the following.

Hands up if…

  • you would like to be better at sport.
  • you think you are pretty good at sport already.
  • you would like to be better at art.
  • you would like to be a better singer
  • you would like more money.

Comment briefly on their voting, pointing out that on the whole people would like to be better at things than they are at present, even things they are quite good at anyway.

2 Ask: ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ Mention the TV game show, briefly making it clear what the game is about, in case some of the audience haven’t seen it. Say that you’re going to play a version of this now called, ‘Who wants to be a “chocolataire”?’

Ask for a volunteer who would like to be a ‘chocolataire’. Play the game with increasingly ‘difficult’ questions, but with answers likely to be known by this age group. Include some entertaining ones too. They must choose between four answers (a, b, c, d) and can use the lifelines of: ‘Ask the audience’, ‘Phone (ask) a friend’, and ‘50/50’. Award the increasingly bigger prizes after each round (ie Smarties, a Mars Bar etc). Aim to get your volunteer to the last prize!

In your role of the game show host, build up the tension with appropriate commentary and comments to the contestant and the audience.

Note: Adjust number of rounds and time you take to play this, according to the amount of time you have for the assembly. Be careful not to let this go on for too long.

Reflection

1 After your ‘winner’ has been congratulated and thanked, comment that ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ is a great programme, it’s very entertaining etc. Then point out that, although it’s enjoyable to watch, the game plays on people’s greedy nature: to get more, even though they’ve got plenty; the feeling that more is better; the desire to get what you want.

2 Tell the Bible story of the farmer who kept building bigger barns (Luke 12:13–21). Explain that through the story Jesus makes the point that this man was foolish for spending his whole life worrying about getting wealthy, when he wasn’t going to be able to keep it anyway. As far as God was concerned, he was poor, not rich, because he only cared about himself.

Response

1 Explain that Christians believe God has given us the responsibility of using what he has given to us – our possessions, talents and abilities – wisely for him, for the good of others.

2 In a time of quiet, ask students to think about each of these questions in turn.

  • How do I use what I have?
  • How do I use my money?
  • How do I use my gifts, abilities and talents?

3 Challenge the students to try to give something or use one of their talents for someone else today.

4 If appropriate, end with a short prayer, thanking God for all he has given us, and asking for his help to use the gifts he has given us for the good of others.

5 You could finish with a light comment that, whilst there’s no pressure, the new “chocolataire” might like to share his fortune with others after the assembly!

Note: Check with the school first, that they are happy for chocolates to be given out in this way, and that encouraging the winner to share his prizes isn’t likely to cause problems for teaching staff or others.

 

What’s your image?

Bible base

Genesis 1:27; 1 Samuel 16:7; James 2:1–9

Aim

To help students think about image and understand that, whatever your image, you are special and valuable.

Things you’ll need

  • A flipchart
  • Selection of teen magazines.

Presentation

1 Ask students to think about examples of some of the following:

  • a typical business person;
  • a typical footballer;
  • a typical TV celebrity;
  • a typical young person.

Include different examples which you think are relevant to your particular audience, but make sure the last example is the typical young person.

2 Ask a volunteer to come to the front and draw a quick sketch of their idea of one of the typical characters you’ve mentioned (leave the ‘young person’ until last), on a flipchart. Talk about the sketch, then ask for another volunteer to draw another ‘typical’ example. Finally, ask for a volunteer to draw a typical young person.

3 As each drawing is finished, talk about it, asking students for their ideas about what they would expect people like that to wear, or how they would expect them to behave, for example:

  • What does the typical footballer/young person wear?
  • How do they speak?
  • How do they behave?
  • What do they do?

4 Talk about the ‘typical’ young person, encouraging students to give some ideas on how typical young people look or behave. There will probably be some difference of opinion!

5 Make the point that when it comes to how we look and live, all of us are searching for identity and acceptance by others: our culture seems to put lots of emphasis on body-image. Give some examples from current teen magazines (eg Bliss, Cosmo Girl), TV programmes or celebrities. Comment that people worry about how they look, being too thin, too fat, too spotty or too tall etc.

6 Give some examples of how the pressure to ‘look good’ has caused illnesses for some people like bulimia, anorexia and depression. Some people get bullied because they haven’t got the ‘right’ image.

Reflection

1 Ask the students to think about their image, encouraging reflection and feedback with questions like:

  • What kind of image do you project to others?
  • Is it the real you?
  • What do others think of you?
  • What do you think of yourself?
  • How do you think God sees you?

2 Say that Christians believe God has made people in his own image, and that he loves each person for themself and has made them special, whatever they look like. Comment that this means we can know we’re OK – you don’t have to have some other ‘right’ image. It also means we need to accept others, whatever they’re like, and treat them with respect and care.

3 If it’s appropriate, read these Bible verses: 1 Samuel 16:7; James 2:2–4,8.

Response

1 Ask students to think about their own image. Is this a true reflection of what they are really like, or is it a mask?

2 Ask them how they think God sees them, as he looks at their thoughts and attitudes to others.

3 Remind them that Christians believe that whatever they are like – tall, short, thin, fat, spotty, super-model, clever, sporty or not – God loves them and thinks they’re special. Created by God, that’s the only ‘image’ that’s important.

 

Embarrassing – the story of Naaman

Aim

To show pupils that being embarrassed may be a price worth paying for doing what’s right.

Bible base

2 Kings 5:1-15 – the story of Naaman

You will need:

  • Find out in advance if there is a teacher who would be willing to tell the pupils about their most embarrassing experience (optional).
  • Prepare and rehearse your telling of the story of Naaman (see 2 Kings 5:1-15). Aim to make it as entertaining as possible, emphasising any ‘embarrassing’ aspects.

Content

Introduction

Talk about how embarrassing it could be for you taking an assembly in front of all of them! You might make a mistake, or say the wrong thing, or forget what to say completely. So, you are relying on everyone to help you.

A survey

1. Announce that you are going to conduct a survey on the subject of embarrassment. Tell the pupils sitting on the front row of the assembly that you would like them to help you. (You need a group of about fifteen to twenty people.)

2. Say that you are going to give them a series of two alternatives. Each of the options will be represented by opposite sides of the hall. They must each decide which of the two alternatives is the most embarrassing situation and move to the appropriate side of the hall. Insist that they must make their own decisions.

3. The choices are

  • Being singled out by name in assembly or to go forward as a group to receive an award;
  • Falling flat on your face in some mud or being drenched by a passing car going through a puddle;
  • Making the alarm go off in Marks & Spencer’s doorway or not having enough money to pay at the supermarket (you could use the name of the local supermarket) checkout;
  • Getting bottom marks in a test or getting top marks in a test;
  • Being seen by your friends with a member of the opposite sex or being seen by your friends out shopping with your parents.
  • Photos of you from four or five years ago being shown to relatives at a family party or everyone at the party being told how well you are doing at school.

4. When the survey is complete, thank those who took part and ask them to return to their seats.

How embarrassing

1. Make the point that whilst some of them might have found it embarrassing to come to the front, at least they had other people with them! The most embarrassing times are when you feel as if everyone knows that you alone have done something stupid! For example:

  • An American – Tony Randall – who had been asked to be a spokesman for the National Sleep Disorder Month, overslept and missed a guest spot on the TV show Wake Up America.
  • Police were called to a flat in Bournemouth after a passerby heard screams of ‘Help!’ They found twenty-one year old Toni Hoare in the shower, singing along to the Beatles’ song of the same title at the top of her voice!
  • Tell the audience about one of the most embarrassing moments you have experienced and/or ask a teacher to do this.

2. These are all situations where the embarrassment has been due to a simple mistake. But there is another kind of embarrassment – the sort of embarrassment you know you are going to feel because you have chosen to do or say something unusual because you believe it is right or necessary.

3. As an illustration, tell the story of Naaman dramatically, drawing out all the embarrassing aspects. Explain that Naaman was a very important man with lots of servants. Unfortunately, he had a serious skin disease – leprosy. He reluctantly agreed to God’s way of curing him. Emphasise how embarrassing it must have been going to bathe not once, but seven times, one after the other, in a not-very-beautiful river, especially in front of all his servants.

Conclude your telling of the story by saying that he obviously thought the embarrassment of doing something so apparently stupid was worth it for the sake of being cured.

Application

1. People sometimes find it difficult to admit they are a Christian, or even to show that they are interested in the Christian faith. They are afraid they will be teased or ridiculed – and, as a result, embarrassed.

2. Continue by saying that many people throughout history have taken risks and been ridiculed for something they believed in (eg believing that the earth was round; that penicillin was an effective medicine; that the sun was the centre of the solar system). And sometimes the cost of doing what you believe in can be far worse than embarrassment – it can be persecution or even death. That is still happening to some people today, just for admitting that they are Christians.

3. Conclude by saying that sometimes it’s difficult to do what’s right, especially when most people act as if they think you are wrong. It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in, but the temporary embarrassment may be a price worth paying for doing what is right.

 

I remember when – Remembrance Day & Forgiveness

Bible base

Matthew 5:9,38–48

 Things you’ll need:

  • Items from the past, eg old vinyl records, Rubik’s Cube, large mobile phone, recordings of old songs to play.
  • Items from their lives today, eg current CDs, the latest games console, small mobile phone.
  • Equipment to play old songs, if using.
  • Remembrance day ‘poppies’.

Preparation

  • Set up equipment for playing music, if using.
  • Devise extra quiz questions, if needed.
  • If you have enough poppies to give the students one each, get some volunteers to give them out as the students enter.

Presentation

1 Show the students some of the items from the past you’ve brought in. You might like even to play an old song or two. Talk about how the items from the past have been surpassed by newer things.

2 Do this quiz, encouraging participation: ‘I remember when…’ The students have to tell you the year of the events. Below are some memorable events and their dates. Depending on time you have available, you might want to add some more notable dates.

You could do the quiz either by simply asking the audience, with hands up for answers; by dividing the audience in two, each section competing against each other; or having a competition between two teams of volunteers at the front.

Ask: In which year did the following events take place?

  • JF Kennedy shot (1963)
  • Man landed on the moon (1969)
  • The Falklands war (1982)
  • Bomb at the Atlanta Olympics (1996)
  • Princess Diana died (1997)
  • The World Trade Center destroyed by terrorist attack (2001)

3 Talk about the idea of history repeating itself, for example:

  • Old fashions come back in to fashion, eg mini-skirts, flares;
  • War re-occurs, eg Falklands War, Gulf War, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq.
  • Violence and terrorism, eg September 11, suicide bombs in Israel.

4 Show the students a Remembrance Day poppy. Explain that these were first sold and worn as reminders of the fields of France covered in red poppies during World War I and also reminders of the bloodshed in wars since.

After the two major world wars in Europe in the first half of the last century, the British Legion wanted future generations never to forget the atrocities of war and to remember those who had died for their country.

5 Say that they might have heard these words, often spoken at this time of year, in remembrance of people who have given their lives in wars:

‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. They shall grow not old as we who are left grow old, age shall not weary them not the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them. When you go home, tell them of us and say, “For your tomorrow we gave our today”.’ Kohima Memorial in Burma

6 Explain that some Christians, who were pacifists, did not fight in the two World Wars, believing that, whatever the reasons, it is always wrong to kill others and that other ways of making peace should be found. Other Christians believed it was right to go to war and gave their lives to preserve freedom and peace for others.

7 Explain that, whether we believe war is right or wrong, the Bible talks about the importance of being willing to forgive, and about reconciliation and seeking peace wherever possible. That applies to every day quarrels between people too.

8 Read out some of these verse from the Bible: Matthew 5:9,38–48.

Reflection

Ask the students:

  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • In what ways could you contribute to making peace (in school, your family, your community, the world)?
  • Can you forgive others, when you need to, and not seek revenge or retribution?

Response

1 Tell the students you are going to have a short time of quiet, when you want them to think honestly about the following:

• Are there people at home or school who they need to forgive?

Tell them they could ask God to help them forgive others.

• How could they help make peace between themselves and someone else, or even in the wider world?

Remind them they could ask God to help them do something about this today.

2 Finally, get them to look at their own poppy or the one you’re showing them. Encourage them, every time they see one of these at this time of year, to remember what it means and to let it challenge them to work for peace, in big and small ways.