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

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Who is the greatest? – Washing disciples feet

Aim

To show pupils that in God’s eyes, the greatest of all is the servant of all.

Bible base

Mark 9:35 – the last will be first.

John 13:1-17 – Jesus washes the disciples’ feet.

You will need:

  • Some sheets of A4 paper for making paper aeroplanes.
  • A bowl of water and a towel for the feet washing exercise.

Content

Introduction

1. Ask the pupils: ‘Who is the greatest?’ Say that for some people the answer might be…(say the name of a popular, successful football team); or for someone else it might be…(say the name of a singer or group who has recently had a number one hit). Give one or two examples of your own favourite celebrities – possibly provoking some groans from the audience!

2. Comment that everyone will have a different answer, according to their interests and allegiances.

3. Continue by asking, ‘But who is the greatest here?’ Say that today, you are going to find out.

The great aeroplane contest

1. Ask for three or four volunteers to take part in a ‘Who is the greatest?’ contest.

2. Explain that you want the volunteers to make a paper aeroplane from the A4 paper provided. They will then launch their aeroplanes from a raised point in the room (eg standing on a chair, or on the stage). The winner (‘the greatest’) will be the person whose paper plane travels the furthest.

3. Act as commentator whilst the contestants make their planes, building up the excitement and drama of the contest. When they are ready, ask each competitor to launch their planes in turn. Ask the audience to allow each plan to land and then the pupil nearest should pick up the aeroplane and hold it aloft as a ‘marker’ showing the next contestant the distance he/she must try to beat.

4. When the contest is over, announce the winner and reward them with a ‘tremendous’ prize (hand them a sheet of A4 paper) – an aeroplane! Give everyone a round of applause. Keep your volunteers at the front. Ask the winner how it feels to be the greatest (great designer, great scientist, great inventor and great test pilot) – officially!

Application

1. Comment that it’s a good feeling to be ‘the greatest’, getting all the glory and lots of attention. Then say that the Bible has something to say on the subject. Read these words from the Gospel of Mark: ‘Whoever wants to be first must place himself last of all and be the servant of all’ (Mark 9:35, Good News Bible). Say that this seems a strange way to describe greatness.

2. Jesus’ way of looking at things is not the same as ours. On one occasion he demonstrated this to his disciples by getting down on his hands and knees and washing their feet! An amazing thing to do – as you can imagine – considering they were living in a hot country and had been wearing sandals.

Jesus said that he expected his disciples to do the same sort of things for one another, and that the most important people actually live as though they are the least important!

3. Bring out the bowl of water and the towel and ask the winner of the paper aeroplane contest how he/she feels – considering that they are ‘the greatest person’ here – about washing the feet of the losers.

If the winner agrees, let him/her do this! If they are obviously uncomfortable about doing it, take the heat out of the situation by saying that we don’t have to wash one another’s feet literally! Whatever you ‘winner’ decides to do, point out that there are lots of other ways we can act as servants to one another (give some examples).

4. Comment that when people are asked to list those who they consider to be great, today or in the past, those included are nearly always people who have served others in some way.

5. Challenge ‘the winner’, and everyone else, to think of how they could serve others today.