MEETING AIM: To see that whatever we say is what we believe.
BIBLE PASSAGE: James 3:1-12
BACKGROUND: James is a practical letter. It is all about actions. What actions are good and what actions are dangerous to the followers of Jesus. In this passage James talks about how easy it is to say things that are bad, evil and wrong. We often say things that we would never actually do. But James points out that saying them is wrong.
Saying them illustrates that all is not right within and can lead both ourselves and others, with regard to being teachers, astray. The tongue is small but it can do great damage.
Start by inviting the group to share what they have been doing during the past seven days. If you want, you can encourage them to share anything that someone said that made them laugh. This session will involve a lot about things said that are negative so it might be nice to begin on a more positive note.
You will need: various phrases written on slips of paper (see below)
Play a game of Chinese whispers. Explain the rules. Sit the group in a circle. One person is given a phrase on a slip of paper, they must not read it out loud. They have to whisper it to the person next to them. This person then whispers it to the next person and so on around the circle. The final person is the one sitting next to the person who first ‘whispered’. They say the phrase out loud to the original whisperer and you see how much the phrase had changed as it has gone around the circle.
Explain that messages can be changed and corrupted in this game. In life what we say is very powerful and it reveals what is in our hearts. Here are some examples you can use:
- Silly Sally simply said she saw Susan standing still since Saturday.
- Happy Henry has his hilarious hat hanging horizontally on his head.
- My mind makes mountains move more miles making my mind a miracle.
- Quarantine is questionable if queasy quartermasters quiver at the quay.
You will need: a selection of newspapers and news stories printed from the internet Hand out the papers and stories. In twos or threes, ask the group to look for stories about fake news, or lying, or other forms of propaganda. Ideally if you can find newspapers from different political persuasions you could compare how the stories are reported in both, what are the differences etc.
Ask someone to Read James 3:1–12. Reflect on what James might have had to say to some of the writers of the news stories they have read. Where else do we use our tongue to cause harm? (You might want to consider how the group uses social media, for example.)
Give some space and time to talk about where in the world we see people talking about and acting bad toward other people? Why do some people see other groups of people in a bad way? How can we show that we see everyone as made in God’s likeness?
Continue your discussion of the Bible passage by using the following questions to explore the passage:
- Why does James suggest teachers will be judge strictly?
- How does James suggest we can tell if someone is perfect?
- Can the group think of any other examples like the ones James uses in verses 3 and 4?
- Why we should not say bad things about other people?
- Where in your life do you need to rein in your words?
You will need: paper and art materials Explain that the tongue has eight muscles. Four of these muscles move the tongue around and four of them change the shape of it. The four at the tip end of the tongue are for shaping it with the other four controlling its movement.
Give every group member a piece of paper and ask them to draw a tongue on it. The tongue needs to be big enough to be divided into eight sections. Say that this will be a private activity and no one will see what they write. Ask the young people to think of four feelings that sometimes make them say things they don’t want to, eg embarrassment can cause us to say something we shouldn’t. Write these down in each of the four sections of the tongue which represent how the tongue moves.
Now ask for four examples of things they have said that they shouldn’t have. They might want to use asterisks here! Write each of these in the tongue areas that change its shape.
Using the art materials they should cover what they have written in pen, paint or collage, to end with a tongue free of what has been written. As they do this tell them to think about how focusing on God can help us control the things we say. To finish write on top of the tongue the words ‘under God’s control’.
Finish with a time of silent prayer. Ask the young people to focus on what is in their hearts as they pray. Encourage them to be led by their Holy Spirit led feelings and emotions rather than their words. You could use this meditation:
At this moment I feel… Leave a time of silence.
I would like to feel… Leave a time of silence. Hold my tongue when I feel angry, bitter, resentful.
Let my tongue speak peace, friendship, praise.
Guide my words by your spirit. Amen
Supporting documentsClick link to download and view these files
1024408.pdfPDF, Size 0.44 mb