MEETING AIM: To help young people think about how God’s power can encourage others.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Judges 4-5
BACKGROUND: Stories from Judges can be difficult to explore, as they seem bloodthirsty, cruel and violent to our 21st Century eyes. However, they can teach us some astounding things about God, our relationship with him and our role as followers of Jesus in society. Deborah was quite unusual – a judge and prophet in a male-dominated society. However, she stands strong for God and helps Barak when he refuses to follow what God tells him to do. How can we fill the role of Deborah in our own situations? What about the young people in our groups?
Welcome the young people and share out any refreshments you have brought. Chat together about what has happened this week. Rejoice in the young people’s triumphs and sympathise with their difficulties. Use this time to build relationships and settle into the session.
You will need: flip-chart paper and marker pens
Ask the following questions to the group and note down answers on the flip-chart.
- What makes a hero? Do they have to be like Superman in tights and a cape? Do they have to be superheroes or just good people?
- What motivates a hero? Is it doing good deeds to help others? Is it being a shining example to those around you?
- Who is your hero? Fact or fiction? Celebrity or world leader? Current or historical?
Keep your answers for the rest of the session, to compare with your discussion of Deborah’s story.
You will need: flip-chart paper; marker pens; Bibles; answers from ‘Intro activity’; gummy bears; marshmallows; phones Brainstorm everything the group know about the book of Judges (if you
have already done the Caleb session, the group might remember Othniel). Write down all the suggestions on the flip-chart paper. Talk about how the book of Judges contains lots of betrayal, violence, death and assassinations. The Israelites were in need of a good person or leader to rise up and save the day.
They did not have a king; God was their king. We learn in the book of Judges about various leaders (known as judges), one of whom was Deborah. Her role was to listen to and settle people’s disputes in the role of an adjudicator or referee.
Ask someone to read Judges 4:4-16. Turn over your paper and ask the group to think of all the words that describe Deborah. Write those down. Compare your description of Deborah with the answers the group thought of in ‘Intro activity’. Are they similar? Different?
Reread Judges 4:6-10; here we see Deborah encouraging Barak into battle and Barak asking her to go with him. Then go on to read the rest of chapter 4. This is a particularly bloodthirsty episode, but the young people may never have heard it, and might well be surprised that such episodes are in the Bible.
Ask the young people to split into groups and provide gummy bears (to represent the people) and large marshmallows (to represent the enemy chariots). In groups your young people should recreate Judges 4 using the props and narrating it. Verses 8 and 9 must be included.
After a couple of minutes, advise them they should have one more run through. Once the rehearsals are over, one person from each group should film their interpretations on their phones.
To conclude, watch the premiere / premieres of the gummy bear battles while eating all the sweets.
Continue your exploration of the passage by discussing these questions:
- What does this story tell you about God?
- Which character in the story do you identify with? Why?
- How often have you been worried about doing something, but felt happier being supported by friends or family?
- How can you use God’s power to help encourage others the way Deborah encouraged Barak?
You will need: pens and paper; Bibles
Sit in a circle and hand each member of the group a sheet of A4 paper. Ask them to write their name in the bottom right corner. They should then pass this paper to the person on their left. Ask everyone to write words of encouragement, a prayer or a Bible verse for the person written in the corner. Once this is done, fold it over and pass the paper to the next person on the left. Repeat the writing and folding until the sheet is back in the hands of its rightful owner. They shouldn’t unfold this in the group setting.
You will need: sheets of paper from ‘Creative response’
Tell the young people to find a space in the room and to open their piece of paper privately. This is a time that they should feel encouragement from the entire group. They are in a space where they can pray about what they have read.
Consider a final prayer / thought or refer back to the initial questions that were asked at the beginning of the session.
Ask: “Who could you encourage this week at school that might need your help? Who has been your Deborah when you have needed encouragement or support? How can you thank them this week?”
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