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BIBLE PASSAGE: Acts 1:1-11
BACKGROUND: This story will be a familiar one for any young people who have grown up in church, but they may never have stopped to think closely about what is happening here. For those who are new to faith, this will stand out as a strange narrative (though maybe not so much in the context of the astounding events of Easter!). Help both sets of young people encounter the story in a fresh and deeper way.
Welcome the young people to the session. Share out any refreshments and chat about life. If the conversation needs a bit of encouragement move quickly into ‘Intro activity’.
You will need: coins (10p or 2p); chalk; a long table
Before the session, divide a long table into six progressively smaller zones. With the coin balanced flat on the edge of the table, the player should bang it with their palm so that it slides up the table into a zone. If the coin comes off the table it is positioned back in the zone where it came off. (If your table isn’t very slippery, shake some table salt over it.)
The zones would normally denote points, but here they represent different answers to questions. Ask the following questions and see whether the young people are happy with the answer they get. Write the answers to each question in the respective zone. Zone 1 is the closest and Zone 6 is the furthest away.
Who is your favourite artist?
3. Calvin Harris
5. Justin Bieber
What’s your worst habit?
1. Telling terrible jokes
2. Blanking people
3. Doing smelly farts
4. Always being late
5. Picking my nose
6. Biting my nails
Choose your forfeit
- 20 press-ups
- 20 sit-ups
- Rub your tummy while patting your head
- Gargle the national anthem without laughing
- Bend your nose upward by taping it to your forehead, then tell everyone what you ate yesterday
- Spin round 20 times with your eyes closed, then try to run to the end of the room
Why did Jesus ascend into heaven?
- Because Jesus was an alien and was returning to God on Mars
- Because heaven is literally up in the sky
- Because he can fly
- Just to confuse us
- Because he wanted us to know he was still alive, just not on earth any longer
- Something else (Come up with an alternative!)
You will need: ask the young people to bring their headphones and music devices (phones etc) in advance, and have spares available if you can; a music streaming service (most platforms offer a month’s free trial) and the means to play it
Music is massively emotive and cathartic for adolescents. It provides a powerful and articulate language to process their often tumultuous feelings. Read Acts 1:1-11 and divide the group into teams of roughly three or four, giving each one of the following: a) Jesus; b) the disciples; c) the Pharisees; d) the Romans.
Ask each group to come up with a musical soundtrack to the passage that reflects the emotions of that person or group of people. It can be one track or a progression of several tracks. Ideally they should get the tracks up on Spotify or their phones to play a clip of each track and explain their thinking, but if they are not familiar with song names they can choose genres or artists. The main aim is to get them to think through the emotions and feelings involved. They will need to refer to the passage to do this. When they are finished, get feedback, allowing each group to discuss why they chose each track and allow the conversation to broaden to a soundtrack for the whole New Testament if they are finding the conversation beneficial.
Use the following questions to explore the passage and the ideas surrounding it:
- Why do you think Jesus ascended into the sky?
- What do you think about the disciples asking Jesus if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel (overthrowing the Romans in the meantime)? Jesus didn’t deny it; he said that it is not for us to know the times and dates. Does that mean there are times and dates set for important things to happen?
- If so, how does that affect our faith now?
- How important was it that Jesus proved to the disciples that he was alive? How important is it to us that he proved he was alive to them?
- How do we prove that he is alive now to our friends?
You will need: large sheets of paper (lining paper is ideal); marker pens; worship music and the means to play it
Stick several large sheets of paper to a wall. Write in large letters in the middle: “Because Jesus ascended to heaven…” Then allow
the young people to write and draw their responses or endings to that sentence. Play a couple of worship tracks if you think that would help them focus (there’s nothing magical about ‘Christian’ music; choose whatever helps focus their minds
and encourage an emotional response). The group might think about what they want to thank God for or which blessings we can enjoy due to the fact that Jesus died, rose again and ascended to heaven.
You will need: the covered wall from ‘Creative response’
Focus the time of prayer on standing around the wall together. Have each person read out an answer as a prayer, then end with the phrase: “You proved you’re alive and you sent us the Holy Spirit.” The whole group can respond with: “You came back to life and returned to God in heaven.”
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