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Bible passage: Daniel 6
Background: By the time of the lions’ den episode, Daniel is probably between 80 and 90 years old. Presumably he sinned as much as any human, but he is one of the few characters in the Bible who comes through completely untarnished, with no reports of failure or scandal. In fact, he manages to break the law…without sinning. He is convicted of a crime that is not a sin, and he only committed it in order to avoid sinning!
Welcome the young people to the group and share out any drinks and snacks you have. Chat about the week the young people have had. Ask the group if they have any role models. These could be people they know or celebrities.
You will need: Post-it notes, pictures of celebrities; pens
Stick some pictures of celebrities up around the room. Ask the young people to write on a Post-it something they admire about that person and something they feel lets them down about their behaviour or attitudes. Stick these next to the pictures. Once everyone has finished, go around and chat about what people have written.
Politicians’ and celebrities’ lives are often held under a microscope today, and all too often scandal, hypocrisy and lies are discovered. Imagine investigating a politician to be our next prime minister and finding no wrongdoing. How would that feel? What effects would it have on our nation?
Ask them what kind of politician would impress them in terms of their private life, the way they speak, their passion and charisma, how they deal with people, and their attitudes towards women, the disabled, LGBTQ people, those of other races and religions, and young people. What would a truly ‘Christian’ MP look like? Is it possible? Do they know any MPs who are Christians?
You will need: Bibles; paper; pens
Divide the group into two (if you have small group, stay as one). Without looking at the Bible, each team must act out the story of Daniel and the lions’ den in as much detail as they can remember. However, each person must play their part with a strong accent (eg Yorkshire, Cockney, Australian or Irish) or in the style of a popular character (eg Yoda, Batman or Hermione Granger).
First, the group should jot down as much as they can remember from the story before choosing characters and setting up some simple scenes. Make sure you mix people with more experience of the Bible with those who might be new to church. Don’t make it about how much they know, but about inclusion and fun.
Read out the story from Daniel 6 and, once you have finished, chat about the differences and similarities between your dramas and the actual story. Ask the group to write down all their questions and the things that confuse them on slips of paper and throw these into a bowl in the middle of the group for the next activity.
One at a time, allow them to take a question from the bowl and try to answer it before discussing it as a group. You might want to add a few questions yourself to help bring out some of the subtler issues.
After you have been through the questions, try to come up with a top-ten list of lessons learned from Daniel that might be principles for us to live by. For example:
- Others perhaps considered it risky for Daniel to pray, as was his custom. Daniel knew that the safest but most radical thing he could do was obey God.
- It isn’t hard to see why people are people-pleasers; it can make our lives a lot more comfortable. Like Daniel, we should choose to speak the truth even if our voices tremble.
- Like Daniel, we should pray regularly so that praying is not a new idea when hard times come along and it seems more urgent.
You will need: the top ten from ‘Chatting together’; phones or paper; felt-tip pens
Using your top ten from the previous activity, tell the young people to come up with a nice pithy quote of their own about an element of the discussion that has grabbed them the most. They should then artistically turn this into an inspirational wallpaper graphic (or for those without phones a poster or postcard design): probably some kind of picture or colours with the quote written over the top. There are plenty of apps designed to make really effective graphics like this very easily. Try Typorama or Phonto.
You will need: small mirrors; Post-it notes; pens;
Give each young person a mirror (or make sure everyone can see a mirror) and some Post-it notes. Encourage them to look in the mirror and write one or two things they admire about the person they see, and one or two things they feel let down by about their behaviour or attitude. As they do so they should pray and ask God to speak to them about any changes he would make to their lives and character, and what he is proud of about them.
Prompt them to add a score out of ten for how committed they are to change the things they are less proud of. Remind them how committed God is to loving them into the best version of themselves (10/10) and ask them to write that on the Post-it. Now tell them to grab a friend (or two) and briefly pray for each other: for peace, knowledge of his love and closeness, and to strengthen their character and speak to them about how to have more integrity and boldness in their faith and daily lives.
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