This is a great activity you can do with your students anytime of year, but especially at Easter since there it is such an EGG-citing time.  I just can't help myself...

Anyway, this activity leads in to a discussion about what you put your hope in.  I use it around Easter and talk about putting our hope in the One who died and rose again, and how the resurrection is assurance to the believer that our hope is not misplaced but Jesus has indeed triumphed over death!

First, break students in to small groups of 3-4.  Give each group a bag filled with random craft supplies (string, paper, cotton balls, dixie cups, pipe cleaners, etc. - basically whatever's lying around!).

Tell them that they have ten minutes to construct a "vehicle" in which they must place an egg.  The "vehicle" must protect the egg because you're going to drop it from a height (we have a fire escape at our church that works perfectly, a tall step ladder would work fine as well).

NOTE - do NOT give them the eggs before hand.  You MUST be able to put the egg in just before the launch.  Not only will students be able to "cheat" by wrapping up their egg in all their supplies making it virtually indestructible, but you may have egg on your face, literally, if you let them have raw eggs before hand.

Once they're finished, take them OUTSIDE and drop the eggs, one at a time.  It's super-fun to see which ones survive and which ones don't.  Afterward, come back inside and use some of these questions to move in to your lesson.

1. Which design was the best?  The worst?
2. If you were the egg, which "vehicle" would you get in?  Which one would you NEVER get in?
3. What are some things people put their hope in for security, protection, peace, etc. in this life?

And take it from there!  Have fun!!!

- Tim B.
Love this!  You can pick up a copy at Sermon Spice.

- Tim B.
Last night in youth group we had a conversation about the power of our words.  Our primary text was Eph. 4:29.  I love the way The Message Bible says it:

"Watch the way you talk.  Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.  Say only what helps, each word a gift."

To illustrate how powerful our words can be, I cut a life-size paper man out of butcher paper before we began and had him laying in the center of the our meeting space (as a fun thing before we started, I had markers out so that students could draw on him and give him some "personality"!).  After an opening game, we stood in a circle around the paper person (Roger, as he came to be called) and each student and adult leader took turns walking up to Roger, hurling an insult or some hurtful words at him, and then ripping off a small piece of him.

It was super fun, and the students got really... creative with their insults (ROGER!  YOU'RE SO TWO-DIMENSIONAL!  WHY CAN'T YOU STAND UP FOR YOURSELF???) and even some of our shyer youth got in to the activity.

When Roger was sufficiently shredded by our insults and negative words, I asked everyone to lay their pieces of paper back in the middle of the circle.  We stood there for a second, then I said four simple words:

"Put him back together."

Of course, they were like YEAH RIGHT!  Some actually attempted to match up the pieces and put poor old Roger back together, but it was too late.  Our words had damaged him irreparably.  Do I even need to explain the point?

Our words can really hurt someone, and it's a lot easier to tear a person or a relationship apart than it is to put it back together.  This led in to some great discussion about the power of words and our responsibility as followers of Jesus to always be building others up, NEVER tearing them down.

Try it!

- Tim B.

PS - I can't take credit for this idea.  Big props to Mike Hammer for the basis of this exercise!  Check out his site here.  Thanks Mike!
Last night I did a one-shot message on "Labels".  Before we started I covered myself in labels on which I had written some pretty negative words - "ugly", "fat", "stupid", "lost cause", "smelly", "loser", "unloved"We opened with some discussion on how labels can be helpful or hurtful, and why people tend to label each other in hurtful ways.  We then read the story of the woman caught in adultery, and talked about the names the men who dragged her before Jesus must have been calling her, and the label she was given as an adulteress/sinner/temptress/worse (and probably rightfully so - sometimes our labels aren't entirely inaccurate!).

But the interesting thing is that Jesus - in a deeply profound way - removes all of these voices from around this woman, before addressing her directly.  Perhaps she expected another label to be heaped upon her - "rejected", "condemned", "mistake"...

But instead Jesus says He does NOT condemn her.  She is "forgiven", "free", "released", "challenged", "called".

I gave each student a blank name tag at the beginning of the night.  During our closing prayer time I asked them to, when they felt God speaking to them, write down the "label" they thought God would place on them.  After the prayer, I asked any who would like to share to explain what their label said and why they felt like that's how God saw them.  It was super-emotional and we had some awesome discussion to end the night.

You can buy blank name-tags at any office supply store or download a template for mailing labels online.

Let me know if you try this exercise and how it goes for you!

- Tim B.