When beliefs, attitudes, and values line up with actions there is character. Helping teenagers grow in Christ-like character is no easy task. How do we help teenagers follow Jesus and take on his character? It takes practice and the commitment of their church family to support, encourage, and celebrate the “wins” with them along this exciting journey of growth.
Character is a four-week Bible study designed to help teens develop Christ-like behavior in their daily lives. Teenagers will consider the ideas of truth, how they use their words, how they view their possessions, and what it is to be a person of integrity. The study is reinforced with daily devotions and exercises found in the Groove: Character Student Journal. Helping youth embrace character and the practice of growing their spiritual lives independent from group study can be a powerful combination.
The Groove Bible study series invites teens to learn the essentials of their faith, own their story, and engage the world in serving Jesus. Each topical study consists of four weekly sessions that are easy to lead and relate to life issues teens face. With up to 48 weeks available, Groove is great for Sunday and mid-week gatherings for both large and small groups as well as retreats. The leader guide contains everything needed to lead teens through a Groove study, including teaching outlines, leader notes, Bible background, reflections, and parent communication.
About the Author
Mike Adkins graduated from the University of West Georgia in 2009with a degree in Psychology. He has been in youth ministry for a decade,serving as an intern for two years at Cornerstone UMC in Newnan, Ga., beforestepping into full time ministry at Shepherd of the Hills UMC in Douglasville,Ga. He is currently at Forest Hills UMC in Macon, Ga., where he has served asthe youth minister for four years. He has unhealthy levels of love for reading,survival methodology, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Read an Excerpt
By Michael Adkins, Jason Sansburry
Youth Ministry Partners and Abingdon PressCopyright © 2015 Youth Ministry Partners and Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
Lying is a way of the "old self" and truth is the way of the new self we have in Christ.
Scripture References: Exodus 1:19-20; 20:16; Joshua 2:1-7; Proverbs 12:22; Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:9- 10; James 2:25
Therefore, after you have gotten rid of lying, Each of you must tell the truth to your neighbor because we are parts of each other in the same body. (Ephesians 4:25)
The good news is that we will be addressing lying with your teens this week. The bad news is that it's unlikely to completely curb their lies. Our hope, though, is to impress upon them the fact that despite lying's perceived benefits, it is unequivocally condemned in the Bible. We will even address some famous biblical lies to debunk some myths that suggest that God condoned lying, like the lies of Rahab (Joshua 2:1-7) and the midwives in Egypt (Exodus 1:19-20). Paul teaches that lying is a practice of the "old self," the person we were when we were slaves to sin. As Christ followers, truth should win — even when it comes with a cost.
Teaching on something as pervasive as lying can feel like an exercise in futility, but that is exactly why the teaching is needed. Lying is one of those sins with which we have a dangerous comfort level. Has it lost some of its badness in our eyes? We tend to see more good in lying than we do evil. And on top of that, some stories in the Bible appear to actually condone lying. This week, you'll address one such story in Rahab and teach that her lie, like ours, is never supported by God or called "good." The Scriptures unequivocally teach that lying is against the will of God in our lives. Truth, instead, should dominate our lips.
Theology and the Topic
Scripture never condones lying; it denounces it. Exodus 20:19; Proverbs 12:24
Paul, lying, and the "old self" versus the "new self" Ephesians 4:25
Echoes the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) Colossians 3:9-10; Joshua 2:1-7; Hebrews 11; James 2:25
Rahab's lie: Is lying OK?
Rahab's lie was not an act of self-preservation. Her lie is never condoned or celebrated, only her faith.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "Lying is still a sin in need of forgiveness from Christ no matter the circumstance."
Consider using this clip from the film Liar Liar, in which the main character is suddenly stricken and cannot tell any lie at all, with sometimes humorous results: https:\www.youtube.com/watch? v=dAE7uOO_4v4.>
Note: As always, before showing any video to your group, be sure to preview it for appropriateness for your teens. This clip ends with the character using the Lord's name in vain. If you do not want to use that part, you can turn off the video or hit the mute button at that point or any other point you choose.
If the Liar Liar clip won't work for you or you cannot obtain it, consider telling a funny or even sobering story of your own involving a lie as an ice breaker. You know of the many ways you have justified lies in your life. It could be as simple as knowing the "right" answer to the question "Does this dress make me look fat?" or as complex as believing that what so-and-so doesn't know won't hurt her or him. We get away with lies all the time, but that doesn't mean that lies are not destructive or any less sinful. Teaching teens that lies are not the way of Christ followers is a tough task, yes, but an all-important one nonetheless.
Dodgeballs (High Energy Option)
Inflated balloons (Low Energy Option)
Video clip of the movie Liar Liar and a way to
show it to your group (Look Up)
High Energy Option: Off The Wall Dodgeball
Set boundaries for a space wide enough to accommodate all players and about twenty yards long. Walls are a must.
The object of the game is to be the last player standing. The first player in possession of the ball slams the ball against the wall, trying to hit another player with the rebound. If a player is hit, he or she must sit down in place. The seated player tries to tag another player during the next plays. If a player is tagged by a sitter, the seated player stands up and the tagged player sits.
Sitters may also redeem themselves by catching a ball on the rebound. Then they may stand up, throw the ball, and continue play.
If your group is larger than twenty players, consider having two throwers. Play until one (if only one thrower) or two (if two throwers are in play) are left and are the winners.
Low Energy Option: Balloon Foosball
Arrange players in chairs in a classic foosball arrangement (or close to it). For ease of describing the layout, let's call the teams Red and Blue. A Red goalie stands inside the Red goal. Seat 2–3 Reds in front of the Red goalie, with their back to the goalie; 3 Blues sit facing them; 5 Reds sit with their backs to the 3 Blues; 5 Blues face the 5 Reds; 3 Reds sit with their backs to the 5 Blues; 2 Blues face the 3 Reds; and the Blue goalie stands in the Blue goal.
This arrangement accommodates 22 players but can be reduced for fewer. Place the chairs about two to three feet apart, making the playing field just over twenty feet long. Introduce a single balloon between the two longest lines in the center of the field and instruct players to bat the balloon toward their goal, using only their hands while keeping their seat. Once a goal is scored, reset play. Consider rotating players so that each has the chance to play at the center, where most of the action takes place.
Two Truths and a Lie
If your group is very large, divide the teens into smaller groups of 10. Have each small group play.
Say: "Think of three things about yourself that you can tell the group. Two of those things should be true (preferably facts that most people won't already know), and one of those things should be untrue but believable. You may tell your 'facts' in any order."
Invite each group member to say his or her three statements, and ask the rest of the group to guess which is the lie. After several people have had a chance to guess, have the member reveal which is the lie. Give everyone a chance to tell two truths and a lie.
What's the difference between this game and a situation in which you find out that someone has lied to you?
Play the clip from Liar Liar. (If you have chosen not to show the clip, you can begin with the last sentence in the next paragraph and skip the asterisked paragraph.)
Say: "What if we had as much trouble telling a lie as Jim Carrey's character? Would it be as comical as it seems in the clip, or much scarier? Lying comes so easily! We usually do it as an act of self-preservation; when we think telling the truth is going to be costly to us. And as Jim Carrey's character makes the short walk from the elevator to his office, we see just how costly the truth can be. So, is it OK to lie sometimes?
"Nowhere in the Scripture is lying celebrated or condoned. Just the opposite, actually. The act of lying is listed among the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:16 as 'Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.' This was put in place to keep lies from harming the innocent. But lies do more than damage the innocent. They are harmful to the liar as well. Consider also Proverbs 12:22: 'The LORD detests false lips; he favors those who do what is true.'
"Paul addresses lying in a number of the pastoral letters he wrote to budding churches. In Ephesians 4:25, he writes, 'Therefore, after you have gotten rid of lying, Each of you must tell the truth to your neighbor because we are parts of each other in the same body.' This carries with it echoes of the Golden Rule Jesus states in Matthew 7:12. And again in a letter to the Colossians Paul commands, 'Don't lie to each other. Take off the old human nature with its practices and put on the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge by conforming to the image of the one who created it' (3:9-10).
"In both contexts, Paul is teaching on the new life in Christ ('new self ... in the image of its Creator') as compared to the 'old self' that preceded salvation. Lying is a habit or practice of the old self, not the new one, he says. The words of the Christ-follower are to be dominated by truths.
"But what about scenes like the one in Liar Liar? Wouldn't it have been better if he had told his placating lies? Doesn't that mean some lies are OK?
"What about stories in the Bible wherein God-fearing, faithful people told lies to accomplish good or to avoid danger?
"Look at the story of Rahab in Joshua 2:1-7. She lies about having the Israelite spies hidden away on her roof. And what's more: She is listed among the names in the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11 for lying, right? And while James is talking about the importance of faith in action, he asks, 'Wasn't Rahab the prostitute shown to be righteous when she received the messengers as her guests and then sent them on by another road?' (James 2:25). Let's take a closer look at this story (which raises similar questions to others, such as the midwives' lies in Exodus 1:19-20).
"The first important thing to note is the circumstance surrounding the lie. These nations were soon to be at war, thus the king of Jericho's aggression toward the Israelite 'spies.' Rahab did thousands of years ago what thousands of brave German families did only seventy or so years ago: protected refugees whose lives were in danger from those who wished to do them great harm. Countless Germans housed Jewish families in attics and walls, lying about their presence right to the face of Nazi authorities. Do you think that God would prefer that those German families tell the truth? Bringing this idea into your own everyday lives: Suppose you were to know a potentially damaging or harmful secret of a friend and someone asks you whether you know about such-and-such. Do you lie for your friend, or do you feel obligated to tell the truth?
"Rahab's lie (along with that of the midwives in Exodus 1) was not told as an act of self-preservation — like most of our lies. Yes, she was spared from the destruction of the city, but that was because of her expressed faith in the Israelite God (see Joshua 2:11). Rahab's lie is never praised; only her faith is.
"Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Christian theologian who, during World War II, was a part of a conspiracy to kill Hitler. He was caught and later hanged for his participation. Bonhoeffer confided in his friend, and later biographer, Eberhard Bethge about his choice to, as a Christian, plot murder: 'Of course, Christ's words that those who draw the sword will die by the sword also apply to us (co-conspirators). But right now, reason dictates that we must do this, and then of course we still have to turn to God for forgiveness in Christ.' Bonhoeffer knew that his intents were sinful and morally wrong, but he felt that it was the lesser of two evils or for the greater good. So he expressed that he certainly still needed forgiveness from Christ for committing the sin. The good that might have come from it did not cancel his sin's badness.
"Our lies, however, don't tend to be the lesser of two evils; they tend to be nothing short of selfish and defensive. Yes, there are instances in the Scripture when lies work for the greater good of God's will, but the lies themselves are never condoned. It is better to stick to the truth than to try to determine whether your lie accomplishes any real, selfless good."
Have you ever told a lie and then got caught? Share that story if you can.
Why, do you think, are lies so reflexive, easy to tell, and seemingly rewarding?
How do we justify lies, or how do we convince ourselves that lies are beneficial?
In the stories of Rahab, the midwives, or the Germans who hid Jewish families, were the lies told "good"? Why, or why not?
Paul teaches that lying is a practice of the "old self," meaning what we were before we were set free from sin by Jesus. Does this mean that if we tell a lie, we haven't been saved? Why, or why not?
Say: "No one outside of ourselves can know our lies; we can often get away with them. But that does not mean those lies do not have consequences. And when our lies are discovered, those consequences can be destructive. Truth sometimes may sting, but lies can devastate. Whether we tell the truth greatly affects our relationships and communities. When others discover our dishonesty, all of the things we say become suspect and the bonds of trust are broken. Truth binds together far more often than it splits apart. Lies split apart far more often than they bind together. As we look to reflect and maintain the unified body of Christ, truth must win."
Circle up and hold hands.
Pray: "God, lying comes easily to us. We do it all the time, and we don't always feel remorse. Sometimes, we feel relief because we got away with something. But your word calls us to keep lies from our lips. Help us understand that no matter how attractive or beneficial our selfish lies can seem, you call us to truth — even at a cost. Help us believe that the reward we gain in you for keeping ourselves from deceit far outweighs the costs of the truth or the rewards promised by the lie. Lead us on the path to righteousness."
Say: "Our words are our primary means of communicating with and relating to others, so they matter. Next week, we'll reveal a couple of lies that your parents told you as children and seek to reign in our unruly tongues in an effort to continue in our pursuits of both honoring God and loving our neighbors."CHAPTER 2
Watch Your Words
Christians' words are to build up and not destroy, bring together and not divide.
Scripture References: Proverbs 13:3; James 3:3-12; Ephesians 4:29
Don't let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say. (Ephesians 4:29)
When your teens were younger, they were taught rhymes such as "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" or "I'm rubber. You're glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks on you." But as they grow and mature, they discover that words can hurt — a lot. Words carry a lot more power than those rhymes suggest. The Scriptures don't paint the tongue in a very positive light, calling it lying, evil, destructive, perverted, and gossiping — among many other things. And James writes that it cannot be tamed, but maybe we can rein it in. We're going to talk about replacing harmful words that can divide with encouraging words that can bind together. By changing our words, we can cause positive changes in our lives and the lives of others and even strengthen our relationship with God.
You're undoubtedly aware of the many ways in which harmful words have caused drama and conflict among the teens in your ministry. As a leader, you're not always around to correct or curtail those words, so we must impress upon the teens just how powerful their words can be and teach them how to leverage them for good instead of evil. They need to be made aware of the fact that even words whispered in secret are harmful to their speaker even if no one else ever hears them. We've all been hurt by words. We've all been uplifted by words. Making even small changes in our words can help us to better honor God and people.
Theology and the Topic
Two childhood rhymes that teach lies:
— Sticks and stones
— I'm rubber and you're glue.
Our words are powerful.
How can we use our words to honor God and love our neighbor?
The tongue is cast in an overwhelmingly negative light in the Scriptures.
If we can't tame it, can we at least rein it in?
If you want to change the world, change your words.
Use words for good, for bringing together and encouraging instead of for evil, dividing and harming.
Three most powerful phrases in the English language:
— I love you.
— I'm sorry.
— Thank you.
We can use that which is a whole "world of evil" (James 3:6) to pierce the darkness.
After the first paragraph in the Look Up section, consider sharing a story of your own in which words cut deep. Perhaps you said something to someone that you wish you could take back. Or maybe someone said something to you that caused you a great deal of pain. Sharing your story will get teens thinking of their own stories of how words hurt someone, leading them to realize the true and tremendous power of their words.
Excerpted from Groove: Character by Michael Adkins, Jason Sansburry. Copyright © 2015 Youth Ministry Partners and Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Youth Ministry Partners and Abingdon Press.
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.
Table of Contents
About This Groove Study 5
How to Use Groove 7
About The Groove Student Journal 9
Week 1 Truth 11
Week 2 Watch Your Words 21
Week 3 Stuff 31
Week 4 Integrity 41