These updated discussion starters based on the wisdom books of the Old Testament can stand alone or lead into a full-blown Bible study with help from the leaders’ accompanying instructions. Includes Bible references, Internet resources, and other suggested further activities.
About the Author
Rick Bundschuh serves as a teaching pastor at Kauai Christian Fellowship, and he also continues to write and illustrate material for various publishers. He lives with his beautiful wife, Lauren, their kids, a weenie dog, and a quiver of surfboards in Poipu, Hawaii. Rick authored Soul Surfer: The Bethany Hamilton Story, Simon and Shuster.
A beach-loving Kauai dweller, Tom Finley is a veteran youth worker, cartoonist, writer, and editor.
Read an Excerpt
Junior High and Middle School TalkSheets Psalms and Proverbs-Updated!50 Creative Discussions for Junior High Youth Groups
Chapter OneGOD'S GUIDE TO GODLINESS
1. Have you ever been lost?
What were you looking for when you were lost? How did you lose your way?
What was the first thing you tried, to find your way again?
2. Check out Psalm 1 and list four things someone like you should do (or not do) to be blessed.
Verse 1- Do not walk- Do not stand- Do not sit-
Verse 2- Delight in and think about the-
3. Your friend wants to go over to her boyfriend's house without her parents knowing. So she calls you and tells you that she's coming over to do homework. Her parents think she'll be at your house-only she'll really be at her boyfriend's house.
What principle(s) from Psalm 1 would you break if you asked her to tell you more about the plan?
What principle(s) would you break if you helped your friend with her scheme?
What potentially negative things could happen if you helped her out?
What might happen if you chose to not go along with your friend's plan?
If you decided to follow God's guidelines, what would you say to your friend?
4. Think of a negative situation that you or your friends could encounter (it should involve a moral dilemma of some kind such as shoplifting, gossiping, lying, fighting, doing drugs, and so on). On a scale below, indicate with an X how easy it would be for you to not get involved in the situation.
When it comes down to it, youth workers help kids to choose to live like God would want them to. This TalkSheet gives your students a clear picture of the two roads they can follow in life-one God's way and one their way-and the consequences that can result with each one.
Show a photograph of (or describe) someone your students would recognize as an outstanding success in some field, such as athletics. Then do the same for a vile criminal. You'll be able to find plenty of these in a newspaper of on-line news source. How do your kids think these people came to a point of such fame (or infamy)? Point out that it's possible for each person in the room to become the world's greatest athlete or the foulest criminal. The choices they make in life will lead them down certain paths. What paths have these people in the pictures chosen? How did they choose the path they chose? Launch into the TalkSheet discussion by pointing out that the Bible gives some good advice on how to choose the right path in life.
The discussion, by numbers
1. Break your group into pairs or trios for this one. When the groups have finished their discussions, have students share their answers to the TalkSheet's question with the entire class. You may want to jot the principles involved on a whiteboard: "I ran off in the wrong direction," "People missed a landmark," or "People stopped to ask directions." Point out how each relates to going the wrong way or finding the right way.
2. Discuss the principles Psalm 1 gives for making wise and godly decisions. Verse 1 speaks against lending an open ear to tempting words, following others into sin, and mocking (ridiculing or ignoring) God. The second verse talks about the wisdom of basing decisions on God's wisdom, found in the Bible. There are promises-both positive and negative-made in verses 3-6. List the biblical principles for wise decision-making on the whiteboard in preparation for the next item.
3. How did your group respond to this situation? You may want to write some of the pros and cons down on a whiteboard or poster board. Point out that any seemingly harmful things can have devastating results. For example, how would this situation seem if you knew your friend was going to have sex with her boyfriend? What if you knew they'd be drinking or doing drugs? What if you (or your parents) would be held responsible for your friend if anything happened to her?
4. It's sometimes easy for teenagers to see a bad situation-but much harder to stay away from those situations. If you don't want to ask for specific rankings, ask where the group where they think teenagers in general would rank. How about teenagers in the church? Do they think it's easier to resist a bad situation, or get involved? Why or why not?
How are your kids struggling in their walk with God? You may want to talk about what is hard about staying on the same path as God. To get them thinking, ask which "road sign" they need to keep their eyes out for. For example, do they need to yield more to God? Stop to think of the consequences? Examine their lives to think if they're going the wrong way? Point out that road signs protect drivers. What road signs does God put up in people's lives to keep them out of danger?
Have your students make a map of their spiritual journey-of life's journey. What has their road looked like? Has it been bumpy? Have there been detours along the way? What about mountains of achievement or success in their lives? You may want to have them label the highs and lows along the way and if they feel comfortable, to share a few examples. Point out that everyone's road is bumpy-there are very few easy roads!
How does Psalm 1 apply to the media today and the society that your kids live in? You may want to spend some time talking with your kids about Christians in the world today. Are Christians involved in the music, TV, or movie industry blessed by God? If so, how? How does the media portray Christians? Is Christianity portrayed as good or bad? Take some time to talk about the struggles of sticking to God's ways when there are so many other distraction. Finally, what do your kids think God would say about this psalm and society today?
Excerpted from Junior High and Middle School TalkSheets Psalms and Proverbs-Updated! by Rick Bundschuh Tom Finley Copyright © 2001 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.