James 3:3–12; Proverbs 10:18; 11:13; 16:28; 18:8; 26:20
To encourage students to think about the things they say and the effect these have on others.
Things you’ll need:
- A list of sayings for the quiz.
- Bible verses from the outline. (Optional)
- Display equipment, eg large piece of card, or PowerPoint and projector. (Optional)
Write the Bible verses selected for use in the assembly on card or prepared on PowerPoint slides.
1. Explain that this assembly is all about the kind of things we say.
2. Begin with this quiz to start people thinking about the subject. To add interest, you could divide your audience in half and see which side gets most correct. There are some examples below for the quiz. Add more, or different ones depending on current films and TV programmes that you think the young people will be familiar with.
Ask your audience who said the following well-known sayings, which are all from films:
- ‘Life is like a box of chocolates.’ (Forest Gump)
- ‘May the force be with you.’ (Star Wars)
- ‘We wants it we does, my lovely, my precious.’ (Lord of the Rings)
- ‘Shaken not stirred.’ (James Bond)
- ‘Hacuna matata.’ (Lion King)
- ‘To infinity and beyond!’ (Toy Story)
3 Ask the students to think for a moment what the world would be like if we took the things people say literally, for example:
- ‘I’ll murder you if…’
- ‘I never want to see you again.’
- ‘Pigs might fly.’
- ‘Get lost.’
4 You could ask them to suggest some more examples. Comment/speculate on what the consequences could be if we all took such examples literally.
5 Comment that, sadly, the words we use, whether or not they are meant to be taken literally, are often destructive and negative. They can hurt other people. Ask them to think about, but not say aloud, when they did or said one of the following in the last 24 hours. Read the list slowly, giving time for reflection:
- nasty comments
- angry words
- slander, about other people
- insults, to someone’s face
All these kinds of words hurt others.
6 Tell the students that the Bible has got quite a lot to say about the kind of words we use to others. Say that you’re going to read some which are all about gossiping, something we’re probably all guilty of. You could simply read from the Bible, or have these displayed on card/PowerPoint as you read:
‘Anyone who spreads gossip is a fool.’ Proverbs 10:18 (NCV)
‘Gossips can’t keep secrets, but a trustworthy person can keep a secret.’ Proverbs 11:13 (NCV)
‘…and a gossip ruins friendships.’ Proverbs 16:28 (NCV)
‘The words of a gossip are like tasty bits of food. People like to take them all up.’ Proverbs 18:8 (NCV)
‘Without wood, a fire goes out; without gossip, quarrelling stops.’ Proverbs 26:20 (NCV)
‘A big forest fire can be started with only a little flame. And the tongue is like a fire.’ James 3:5,6 (NCV)
1 Comment that words can help people, as well as hurt them. Ask them to think of ways in which what they say could encourage others, make others feel happier, or help others.
2 Ask the students:
- What kind of words will come out of your mouth today?
- Will you say mainly positive or negative words?
1 Allow a short time of quiet and ask the students to think about how they speak to others.
2 Challenge them to decide:
- not to gossip about others today;
- to say at least three positive things to other people today, for example something to encourage, a compliment, an apology to someone they know they have hurt with unkind words.
3 If they like, they could ask God to help them do these things; they could say sorry for bad things they’ve said; and help them in the future to watch their words so that others are helped, not hurt.