You will need: refreshments; a comfortable place to sit and chat
As the young people arrive, serve them the refreshments you have provided. Try to have something a bit more interesting than biscuits and squash - is there someone in your congregation who could make cake? Do you have the facilities to make toast and tea? Maybe think about some healthier options too. As you eat and drink together, chat about the young people’s lives - do they have anything to share? Any triumphs? Any disasters?! Share stories from your life too, if appropriate.
Game: “how’s yours?”
Send one person out of the room. The rest of the group should think of an object that everyone has, but that everyone would describe slightly differently to each other, such as a hairbrush, socks or the family car. Bring the person back in - they must ask members of the group: “How’s yours?” That person must give a one-word answer to describe that item. The person in the middle should be able to build up enough of a picture from these clues to guess what the object is.
You will need: Bibles; clip from the CBBC show The next step (or other programme such as I’m a celebrity, First dates or Big brother where the contestants offer their personal thoughts on goings-on)
Show your clip. Divide into groups and ask them to turn 1 Samuel 3 into an episode of The next step (or your chosen programme). The characters that should feature are Samuel and Eli, together with a few characters to help the young people engage with different aspects of the story: Riley (jealous of Samuel for hearing God’s voice), Michelle (fancies Samuel and would do anything for him), James (thinks Samuel is totally overrated as an apprentice prophet) and Hannah (Samuel’s mum).
Give each group a character (if you only have a few young people, focus on Samuel and Eli). Encourage the young people to read the story from 1 Samuel 3 and discuss what their character might make of the events. What questions might they have had? What thoughts and opinions might they have formed? Give some time for each group to practise their ‘to-camera’ piece and then ask them to present their creation to the others. Discuss the issues each group brings up, such as “Does God speak audibly?” “What form does his voice take?” and “How much should we rely on other’s advice about when it is God and when it is not?”
Ask the young people these questions, making sure everyone has the chance to contribute:
- What does this story tell you about God?
- What might Samuel have known about what God had in store for him? Does God want to speak to us like he spoke to Samuel?
- What does God’s voice sound like? Have you ever heard God speak or do you have stories of hearing God’s voice?
- If a younger child came to you asking for advice on how to hear God’s voice better, what advice would you give them?
- What do you think God wants to say to you? If you were God what would you say to you?!
You will need: a random selection of small interesting items (such as a torch, scissors, a mirror, watch)
Arrange all these items on a table - it really is up to you how many use your but aim for around a dozen at least - it doesn’t matter what these items are. You might want to cover them with a towel to increase the intrigue before you reveal them. Explain that the idea is to spend a few minutes looking at the objects and asking God to speak to you through them. There’s no right or wrong answer. It might be some wisdom God wants to impart to you or it might be something more specific for someone else. Mostly it might be some encouragement or a reminder of something he’s said in the past. Just have an open mind and an open heart and be brave to step out and trust it could be God’s ‘voice’.
Allow the young people to get comfortable but ensure that no one speaks and that everyone is alone in their thoughts. Pray and ask God to give people pictures, ideas or thoughts pop into their heads. Spend about five minutes with some soft worship music on in silent reflection and prayer.
Ask everyone what was going through their mind and to say what they ‘heard’. Discuss what alarm bells to look out for and how to help each other discern God’s voice over their own thoughts. Encourage everyone even if they insist they didn’t hear anything at all.
Ask the young people to settle down comfortably and spend some time in silence, so that they can chat with God. Encourage the group to listen to God, as well as talking! It might help to use a stopwatch to measure a certain amount of time, perhaps three minutes - this will help you allow enough time without it appearing daunting to the young people.
Pray to thank God for the things he has said, encourage them and bless them in their journey to continue searching for God’s voice and leading.