Check it out!

Aim:

To encourage pupils to check things out for themselves before making a judgement about God, the Bible and Christianity

Bible Base:

Psalm 34:8

You will need:

A tin of (fake) dog food (see preparation); 3 plastic spoons

Preparation:

For your fake dog food, you will need the label from one tin of dog food; another tin of food of the same size as the dog food (ideally with a ring pull at the top); enough chocolate muffin to fill the tin; orange jelly; and, sellotape.

Carefully take the bottom off your tin of food.  Empty the tin of its contents and wash it out.  Make the jelly (ideally slightly thicker than the instructions) and cut up the muffins.  Place the muffins into the upturned tin until full, and pour in the jelly to fill up any spaces.  Leave the tin in a fridge over night to set.  When set, carefully place the bottom of the tin back in place, and use sellotape to keep it in place.  Now carefully remove the label from the tin of dog food and attach it around your tin of fake dog food with the sellotape.  Try to do this as carefully as possible so people won’t notice the join.  You should now have what looks like a sealed tin of dog food with a sealed lid and ring pull intact!
*Please note, this is not an original illustration, but has been used in many situations.

Presentation

Introduce yourself and thank the school for having you.  Then look at your watch before pretending to panic a little.  Try to look a little embarrassed as you explain that you’re on a new diet and it’s important that you eat at certain times.  Look apologetically at the staff as you take your pre-prepared tin of ‘dog food’ out of the bag. Hold the tin at the bottom with the seam of the label towards you. Make sure the label is clear for the pupils to see, but the false bottom is covered by your hands.

Talk as you slowly open the dog food.  Comment on the fact that you’ve seen the adverts and the dogs always look so fit and strong; that they never seem to be carrying extra weight. Mention how shiny their hair is and how healthy their teeth look.  Include something about how there must be something good about it.  Over sell it! You can even add a comment about trying cat food, but it being too fishy for your tastes.

Now start to open the tin and take your time as you put the fork in a lift the food out, ready to eat.  Have a little sniff of the food – and comment on how appetising it smells.  Savour a mouthful.  Comment on things like the contrast between the jelly that just slips down the throat and the meat which is so satisfying a chewy.

By this stage you will be getting a lot of odd looks and sounds of disapproval.  Be aware of keeping the place calm! Pretend to notice their disgust for the first time.  Ask them what’s wrong and comment on how they shouldn’t judge without having tried it.  See if there are a couple of pupils who want to give it a go… There are usually a one or two. Check they don’t have any food allergies or religious restrictions, because you can’t guarantee what’s in the dog food! Using the spare forks, give them a mouthful and just ask them if they like it – try not to give them a chance to say what it is.

Now explain to the pupils what is really in the tin and how you swapped it. There will be a lot of relieved faces – not least, amongst the staff!

Application

Ask about why so many of them pulled faces at you and made disapproving sounds when you started eating? Presumably it was because they saw the tin and the label and assumed you were going to eat dog food! And then, when the lid came off and they saw the jelly and the brown chewy looking stuff, it reaffirmed their preconceptions.  They were probably thinking something along the lines of ‘this person’s a little odd’; ‘steer clear’…

Talk about how they made a judgement without being aware of all the facts.  They didn’t know that the tin wasn’t in fact, a tin of dog food, but a tin of cake and jelly… But that didn’t matter.  They had already made up their mind and most of them weren’t going to try it.  One or two brave individuals did, and their view was changed!

Explain how sometimes you have to experience something before you can truly make a judgement about it. Talk about how, if there is a new film out, there will be lots of reviews about it, and they can choose to believe what others say – and that might convince them to either watch it or not – but, they will never know for sure whether it really was any good or not, unless they watched it for themselves.  Sometimes you just have to experience something before you know the truth!

Say that that is pretty much what the Bible says about God. ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’ (Psalms 34:8) is what it says in a part called the Psalms. Talk about how, in your experience, a lot of people make assumptions about God and the Bible without ever trying it out for themselves.  Others have told them that God doesn’t exist; or that He’s irrelevant; or that Christianity is boring; or whatever it is… To be honest, often the people who tell them these things haven’t even tried it!

Leave them with a challenge – to check things out for themselves.  To experience something before making a decision.  Who knows, they may find they’re pleasantly surprised by what they discover… Just like if they’d tasted your ‘dog food’!

Reflection

Tell them you’re going to take a moment to reflect: Suggest they close their eyes and consider whether there are things they have made a judgement about without actually experiencing for themselves. Ask them about their view on God? Has that come from experience? Or an assumption made from a distance.

Ask the pupils if they want to join you in a short prayer… Dear God, help me to check things out for myself before making judgements about people, their beliefs and You. Help me be open to new things. Amen

That’s impossible – becoming God’s friend

Aim

To show that God has done the impossible – made it possible for us to be his friends!

You will need:

  • Plenty of sheets of A4 paper
  • A flip chart
  • Chocolate bars as prizes

Preparation

  • Practise ‘the impossible tear’ (see illustration) and ‘the impossible paper folding’ exercises. Memorise and practice making ‘the impossible cross’ (see illustration) until you can do it without looking at the instructions or making a mistake.
  • The impossible task’ (see illustration): you could copy this onto flipchart in advance. Or, if you prefer you could draw on a flipchart as you are speaking, adding the different elements of the illustration as you talk. If you choose to do this, practice in advance.

Content

Explain that during this assembly you are going to ask for several volunteers, who need to be prepared to attempt an ‘impossible’ task.

The impossible tear!

  1. Tell the volunteer that their task is to tear a piece of A4 paper into three pieces. Give the volunteer the sheet of paper, which you have prepared in advance with two tears already in place (see illustration)
  2. The volunteer must hold the two ends of the paper, and in one action, tear it into three pieces. It’s impossible! Allow two or three volunteers to attempt this.
  3. Eventually, demonstrate it yourself by holding the middle section of the paper between your teeth or lips, and pulling the ends away from you with your hands. You’ll find it is possible after all! Give the volunteers a round of applause and a prize each.

The impossible paper folding task

Ask the next volunteer to fold a piece of A4 paper in half, eight times. It’s impossible! Even you won’t be able to do it! Give your volunteer a round of applause and a prize.

The impossible cross

Tell the volunteer that they have to make a cross out of a sheet of A4 paper with only one straight tear. Let them have several attempts. Eventually, show how it’s done, using the method illustrated.

The impossible intelligence test

Ask for a volunteer who doesn’t mind taking an intelligence test. He or she must answer all the following questions correctly:

  • How many animals of each species did Moses take on board the Ark? (Answer: None. It wasn’t Moses, it was Noah!)
  • Which country has a 4th July – the UK or the USA? (Answer: They both do!)
  • What is the next letter in this sequence: O T T F F S S? (Answer: ‘E’. They are the first letters of numbers, starting at ‘one’.)
  • If you take two apples from three apples, how many have you got? (Answer: Two – because you have taken two!)

The volunteer will have done very well if he/she gets them all correct. Give them a round of applause and a prize.

The impossible task

  1. Refer back to ‘the impossible tear’, ‘the impossible paper-folding’, ‘the impossible cross’ and ‘the impossible intelligence test’. Comment how some things really are impossible, some things just seem to be impossible and some things are just about possible.
  2. Explain that in one way the Bible is all about how God accomplished an impossible task: how he – a holy, pure God – found a way to make friends with humans, who had turned their backs on him and gone their own way, doing what was evil. In fact, man had turned away from God to such an extent that there was a huge gulf separating humans from God (display or draw diagram 1).
  3. God seemed a million miles away and despite the fact that humans tried to reach God (display or draw diagram 2), the gulf remained. How could they bridge the gulf?
  4. What was impossible for human beings, was possible for God – but only by becoming himself, in human form, the bridge. By dying on the cross, Jesus was able to do the impossible, by becoming the bridge between man and God. (Display or draw diagram 3)

Application

  1. Talk briefly about the Indiana Jones film, The Last Crusade. Mention the part where Indiana Jones is standing with his back up against the wall, with a huge chasm in front of him which he must get across. To help him, all he has in hand is his father’s guide book. ‘There’s no way I can jump this,’ he says, ‘It’s impossible!’ Then, looking in the book, he sees that it describes an invisible bridge and he realises, ‘It’s a step of faith!’ So, hesitatingly he steps out (you could demonstrate his actions). To his surprise, his foot lands on solid rock – the bridge! He wasn’t absolutely sure that there was a bridge, but it said there was in the book that he trusted – and there was!
  2. Say that Christians all around the world – and throughout the centuries since Jesus – have taken a similar step of faith. They have discovered that God can do the impossible; instead of seeming a million miles away, God has become the closest friend they have. But for this to happen, we’ve got to use the ‘bridge’ God provided (point to diagram 3). Jesus’ death on the cross is what made it possible for us to be friends with God.

 

Good Friends – Prayer

Topic:

Prayer

Aim

To help pupils learn that, for Christians, prayer is an essential part of their relationship with God. It’s a result of God’s love for them and their love for God.

Things you’ll need

  • Copies of the friendship sketches (included at end of assembly)
  • A copy of the Lord’s Prayer on large pieces of card

Preparation

Before the assembly ask two pupils to help you with the sketches and rehearse them ready for the assembly.

Bible Base

Matthew 6:5-13

Content

1 Introduce the sketches by saying that you are about to watch the behaviour of two good friends.

Sketch 1

After the children have watched the sketch, ask if they think the two people are good friends. If not, why not? What should good friends be doing? When someone has answered, ‘Talking to each other’, ask your actors to perform the second sketch.

Sketch 2

Ask the children if the people are now acting like good friends. If not, why not? When you get the answer, ‘Listening’, ask your actors to perform the third sketch.

Sketch 3

Say that you think they now look like very good friends. Does everyone agree? Why not? Bring out the fact that they didn’t spend much time with each other. A good friendship needs three things: talking, listening and spending time together.

2 Ask the children what friendships would be like with one or more of these parts missing. Talk about their ideas.

3 Explain that an important Christian belief is that people can be friends with God. Being a friend of God needs the same things as being friends with a person. Christians need to talk to God, listen to God and spend time with God. This is called prayer. Christians pray so that they can become better friends with God.

4 Talk about how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He taught them a prayer that is still used today by Christians all round the world. It is known as the Lord’s Prayer. Display the Lord’s Prayer. Read it through, explaining words where necessary.

5 Tell the children that when Jesus taught this prayer to his disciples he said that they shouldn’t just pray when people could see them and think they were good. They should pray at home where no-one could see them, so it would be just them talking to God, listening to God and spending time with God. These are the things that make for a good friendship.

Application

A Christian viewpoint

It’s important for Christians today to do as Jesus said and pray regularly. Sometimes Christians use prayers that are written down. Sometimes they pray using their own words, praising God (ie telling him how much they love him), saying sorry for things they’ve done wrong and asking God for help.

For everyone

Jesus knew that a good friendship needs these three things: talking, listening and spending time together. For Christians, that also includes being friends with God. Are we also good friends with other people? Do we do those three things? If our friendships are going to be really good friendships we need to learn to do each of those things too.

Response

If it is appropriate, finish with the Lord’s Prayer. Use the version from the Bible that you have displayed on the OHP. If the children are used to saying a different version, this might help them to think carefully about what they are saying. If they don’t usually pray, then read it out for them to listen to. Finish by asking God to help us be really good friends by talking, listening and spending time with each other.

 

 

Friendship sketches

Sketch 1

Two pupils stand side by side looking a bit bored.  Once or twice they glance at each other and smile.  Apart from that, they ignore each other.  Stop the sketch after about twenty seconds.

Sketch 2

The two pupils say the following things at the same time.  They don’t stop talking or take any notice of each other.  They should both be very enthusiastic.

Pupil A:  Hi there!  How are you?  Did you watch Blue Peter last night?  It was great, wasn’t it?  I liked the bit when they were climbing up the mountain and one of them fell down.  And did you see the kittens they had on the show?  They were so cute – all small, fluffy and orange.  I’d love to have a kitten like that, only my mum won’t let me.  Actually, I need to go because I said I’d help my teacher clean out her cupboard today and wash the paint pots.  Bye!

Pupil B:  Hello.  Do you want to come and play football wtih us?  There’s only seven on our team, so we need someone else.  You won’t have to be in goal.  Ranjit is our goalie.  Oh go on, it’ll be a laugh.  I’ll share my crisps with you if you’ll do it.  We’re being Aston Villa, the others are Man United, so we’re bound to win again.  Did you see the football on telly last night? My dad lets me stay up to watch it with him on Sky.  Well hurry up!  We’re playing over by the bins.  Come on!

Sketch 3

The two pupils rush up to each other and start talking.  They don’t interrupt each otehr and they listen to each other’s answers.

Pupil A: Hello, how are you?

Pupil B: Fine, thanks.

Pupil A: Bye then.

Pupil B: Bye.

They both turn away.

 

Let’s give Him a big hand – Worship

Topic:

Worship

Aim

To help pupils understand the biblical view of God, that he is someone who deserves to be worshipped.

Things you’ll need

  • Some water in a bowl
  • A measuring jug
  • Several objects which can be easily measured with the ‘span’ of the hand
  • Some modelling clay
  • A blanket
  • A globe
  • A lively worship song with a strong rhythm and means to play it (optional)

Bible Base

Isaiah 40:12; 48:13

Psalm 47:1,2

Content

1 Invite some children to come and help you with the following tasks (give a running commentary on what they are doing).

  • Find out how much water can be held in cupped hands by scooping up water from the bowl, then emptying it into the measuring jug.
  • Measure some objects using the width (span) of your hands.
  • Use your hands to create something simple from modelling clay.
  • Spread the blanket out flat on a table or the floor, using only your right hand.

2 Talk to the children about:

– the quantity of water the volunteer could hold;

– how many hand widths across the objects were that were measured.

3 Tell the children that the Bible asks these questions (Isaiah 40:12, Youth Bible):

Who has measured the oceans in the palm of his hand?

Who has used his hand to measure the sky?

Show the globe and talk about the amount of water in the oceans. Talk about the size of the sky.

4 Show the children the object your volunteer made from clay and talk about spreading out the blanket. Ask the children who they think says these words from the Bible (Isaiah 48:13, Youth Bible):

‘I made the earth with my own hands.

With my right hand I spread out the skies’.

5 Ask the children to think about the crowds at a sports event or concert. What to the spectators do when an athlete or performer does well? (Answer: clap/cheer applaud.) Ask the children why people do this. Tell the children that in the Bible we hear about people clapping God. Psalm 47:1,2 (Youth Bible) says:

Clap your hands, all you people.

Shout to God with joy.

The Lord Most High is wonderful.

He is the great King over all the earth!

Application

A Christian viewpoint

Christians believe that God is worth getting excited about! When they think about how great he is, they want to do something to show that. Explain that this is where the word ‘worship’ comes from – ‘worth-ship’. Sometimes worship means being quiet and still and thinking about God, but Christians also believe that God is worth shouting, singing and clapping to.

For everyone

Whether or not we are Christians, all of us can take time to consider who we think deserves our worship.

Response

Remind the children about what they have heard from the Bible about God. Ask them to think about those things in silence for a few moments. You may like to give the children the opportunity to sing, or clap along to, an appropriate song of praise to God.

 

 

 

What a sacrifice!

Topic:

Sacrifice

Aim

  • To help pupils think about the meaning of sacrifice.
  • To challenge them about their priorities.

Things you’ll need

  • 1 or 2 large boxes
  • A bar of chocolate
  • Some of your own favourite possessions to show the pupils

Bible Base

  • Matthew 4:18-22
  • Matthew 9:9
  • Matthew 19:16-22

Content

1 Put the bar of chocolate on show. Ask for a volunteer who likes chocolate. Ask him/her to hold the boxes whilst looking at the chocolate. Say that he/she mustn’t put them down until you tell them to – but they will get to eat the chocolate eventually!

2 Ask the rest of the pupils to think about what their favourite thing is (eg a game, a book, a video etc). Show them some of your favourite things which you have brought to the assembly. Explain why you like them. Talk about how you would feel if you had to give them all away. Check that your volunteer is still holding the boxes, whilst looking at the chocolate.

3 Now explain the idea of sacrifice. Start by talking about how people sometimes give things away to other people for a reason. In the Bible, people sometimes gave things away because God told them to. This is called ‘a sacrifice’. People gave things away as a sacrifice for two reasons:

First, to give God the best they had, to show how much they loved him. Often their most precious possession would be an animal. The animal would be cooked and eaten and special prayers would be said – to praise God, to say sorry or ‘thank you’ to him.

Pause here and turn to the person who is still holding the boxes for you. Make sure they understand that they must not put the boxes down. Then talk about the bar of chocolate and tell them to eat it. When they don’t do as they are told, ask everyone what the person needs to do in order to be able to eat the chocolate. (Answer: put the boxes down.) Tell your volunteer to put the boxes down now so that he/she can eat the chocolate.

Second, God also told people to make sacrifices to help them remember what was important. Sometimes we get so worried about our favourite possessions that we forget about God, or other people. The volunteer had to get rid of the boxes before he/she could eat the chocolate – which had become the priority.

4 Emphasise that God doesn’t just tell us to get rid of everything for the sake of it. We might make sacrifices for the two reasons above. But sacrifice might mean giving away more than just a ‘thing’.

5 Briefly tell the pupils how in the Bible we read about Jesus calling Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew to follow him and how they left everything for Jesus. They sacrificed everything so that they could follow him, because they realised that that was more important than anything else in their lives. Tell how Jesus also met the rich young ruler who didn’t want to sacrifice his money for Jesus, so didn’t follow him.

Application

A Christian viewpoint

The Bible teaches that Christians need to be ready to make sacrifices. God wants them to put him first, to give him the best they have –which isn’t just objects, but themselves! That means they must obey him at all times. God also wants Christians to be prepared to sacrifice ‘things’ to show that they are not what is most important in their lives but rather that God is.

For everyone

Whoever we are, we might need to make sacrifices. We might need to be prepared to give things away to help us remember God, or to help us stop worrying about ourselves and care for other people more. For example, we might need to be prepared to lend a game to a friend, or spend less time on our computer and more time helping our mum or dad.

Response

Ask the children to think about what is the most important thing in their lives. Then, keep that thing in mind as you say this prayer:

Dear Lord, help us to be prepared to make sacrifices, to be ready to let things go so that we can put others first instead of ourselves. Amen.

 

The Bible

Topic

Scriptures – the Bible

Aim

To show pupils that rules are useful and important. For Christians, the most important rules are God’s rules which are found in the Bible.

Things you’ll need

  • The rules for the drawing game cut up, so they can be given to different pupils.
  • 2 green pens, 2 blue pens and 1 red pen
  • A large sheet of paper which everyone can see (eg a flip-chart)
  • A watch with a second hand (or a stop watch)

Bible base

Exodus 15:22-26

Content

1 Ask for five volunteers (from Year 5 or above). Explain to everyone that the volunteers are going to play a drawing game. Give each volunteer one of the rules for the drawing game and the appropriate pen. Tell them to read their rule and to make sure no-one else sees it. Explain that each person has been told to draw something. The one who draws the most will be the winner. Any things which happen to get crossed out, don’t count. Tell the contestants that they will take it in turns to draw on the sheet of paper on display. They must draw according to the rule you have given them. They will have only ten seconds each.

2 Play three rounds of the game and then count up and see if you have a winner. Discuss with the volunteers what made their tasks difficult. Bring out that it was because they were working against each other. They were all following different rules and that made a mess of things.

3 Tell the pupils that the Bible says that rules are really important, and the most important rules are from God. Many years ago (nearly 4000) the Bible says that God gave his people, the Israelites some special rules. He did this when they were in the desert and very thirsty and the only water was so nasty no one could drink it. God gave their leader, Moses, a command. He told him to throw some wood into the water. Moses obeyed and the water was good enough to drink. God then gave his people lots of rules to show them how to live in a way that was right and good. God expected them to obey the rules, just like Moses obeyed when God told him to throw the wood into the water.

4 Go on to explain that one of the important things about rules is that we need to know them, if we are going to follow them. Ask the pupils how they find out about rules: at home, at school or for when they’re out in the street. We need people to tell us what the rules are. But where do the people who tell us the rules find out what the rules are? Who finds out the rules to start with?

Application

A Christian viewpoint

Christians believe that God has given us rules which show us how to live. Rules which teach us how we should treat people, rules about what is right and wrong. These rules are in the Bible which is why the Bible is so important to Christians. They believe it is God’s word telling people how to live.

For everyone

All of us need rules to live by. We need to know what is right and what is wrong. We need to have rules that we all agree about, otherwise life ends up in a mess like the game at the start. If we all had different rules about what was right and wrong, then school, home and the world would be in chaos. But it’s not enough just to have the rules. The challenge for all of us is to obey them.

Response

Use this prayer as you encourage the pupils to think about their own rules and how they know right from wrong.

Dear Lord, thank you for the rules we have which keep us safe. Help us to know what is right and wrong, and to be people who obey the rules. Amen.

 

Rules for the drawing game

You must draw lots of red triangles. Cross out any circles.

You must draw lots of green circles. Cross out anything blue.

You must draw lots of blue stars. Cross out any triangles.

You must draw lots of blue squares. Cross out anything green.

You must draw lots of green triangles. Cross out any squares.

 

Worship

Topic

Worship

Aim

To help pupils understand that God is worth knowing.

Things you’ll need

  • Music of introductions to several songs of a currently popular music group.
  • 6 pens
  • 6 pieces of paper
  • 6 small prizes
  • A dictionary
  • Some quiet music

Bible Base

Psalm 95:1-7

Exodus 20:3,4

Content

1 Ask for six volunteers who think they know the music of… (name of currently popular group) very well. Tell them that they are going to hear the introductions to some of the group’s songs. They must write down the titles in the order they hear them. Play the tape. Give prizes to the volunteers who got all the song titles correct.

2 Comment that no matter what you might think about…(name of group) their music is known all over the world! They’ve had lots of Number 1’s. Some of their songs have gone straight to the top of the charts.

3 Ask if any of the children can name the members of the group.

4 Ask children to put up their hands if they think the group has been a good influence on or role model for young people. Ask for some examples. Then ask the children to put their hands up if they think the group hasn’t been a good example. Again ask why.

5 Comment that for lots of children and young people, this group has been a big influence in their lives. Ask the children how many of them have the group’s records, CDs, tapes, clothes etc. Point out that not everyone here agrees that…(name of group) are the best. Everyone has to make up their own minds!

6 Talk about how making up your mind about things isn’t always easy. What might their friends think if they chose to be different and like another group? Sometimes being different is difficult. Ask the children for some examples of this.

7 Sometimes people go too far in following a particular group or celebrity. They might almost begin to worship… (name of group or other famous personality).

8 Ask if anyone can tell you the meaning of the word ‘worship’. Read the definition from the dictionary. Comment that the word can be to do with God, or someone or something else. But it’s always about giving special worth or value to that person or thing.

9 Explain that the Bible teaches that there is only one person who should be worshipped and that is God himself (Exodus 20:3,4). Christians believe that he is the God who made the world and everything in it, including…(name of the group).

10 Read Psalm 95:1-7 (from the Good News Bible). The writer of these words believed that God was the boss, and only he was worth worshipping.

Application

A Christian viewpoint

Christians believe that they should love God with everything they’ve got. But that’s not always easy to do. The verses from the Bible you’ve just read tell us that God cares for us. What could you do for God today to show you care about him?

For everyone

Remind the children that earlier you said that making up your own mind about things isn’t always easy. Choosing who and what you should or shouldn’t worship isn’t easy either. Sometimes it’s a very private thing. You have to try to make up your own mind, and make sure that what or who you make Number 1 in your life is worth it.

Response

Play some quiet music. Whilst they are listening to it ask the children to:

  • remember that real worship is something that you have to decide about for yourself;
  • think about who or what is Number 1 in your life;
  • think about how you could do your best for God today;
  • be silent for a few moments.