Introduction: This session is part of a 4 part series titled ‘Needle & Haystack’ about how to find God when things are tough which take young people on a journey. These were originally written for a residential weekend and so would work well under a residential context. You could also use them for 4 consecutive weeks.
Items needed: Props for games (depending which you’re using), needle (which needs to be hidden prior to the start of the session), DVD – Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Bible Studies (Click to Download), Bibles
Ice Breakers: If this is the first session of a residential then you might like to use these games so that people can get to know each other.
Introduce Each Other – Get the young people into pairs and give them 1 minute to each ask questions of the other. After both young people have been the young people must take it in turns to introduce their partner to the group including as much information as they possibly can!
Pass the banana – There isn’t a purpose to this game other than getting people mixing. Have a banana and tell the group they must pass (not throw) it around the circle as quick as they can and they will be timed. Once they’ve done it a few times remove the banana skin.
‘Bring Me A…’ – Split the group into 2 teams and tell them it’s a ‘bring me a…’ game…you can have great fun with this as there’s far more random objects in a residential centre. Keep it quick and do best of 6! (If you’ve done this game before and it’s got lively you could suggest that the whole team must be sat down with their object).
If you’re not using this session as part of a residential perhaps just use 1 ice breaker and move to here…
Introduction: As you may have noticed the theme of this weekend is ‘Needle and Haystack’ and over the weekend we’re going to be exploring that theme and tonight is very much an introduction session. The title comes from the phrase ‘it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack’ and when we use that phrase we mean something is difficult but not impossible!
Illustration: Before the session you need to have hidden a needle somewhere in the building your using. Make sure it’s somewhere you can remember but also somewhere no-one is going to have stood on it! Explain to the young people that you’ve hidden a needle somewhere in the building and they need to find it. (Give them 5 minutes…and a prize for the person who finds it).
Explain: The point of that activity is that finding that needle was difficult but not impossible and sometimes with our faith and relationships with God when we find it difficult it can feel impossible to get back to a place where we were when we felt close to God but it’s not impossible.
The bible is filled with people who feel like things are difficult…a lot of the Psalms tell a story of a difficult time. For example one Psalm says;
‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me? So far from the words of my groaning? My God, I cry out but you do not answer’ (Psalm 22)
Sometimes our walk with God can be difficult and can leave us feeling miles away and sometimes God is seemingly silent but other times we’re just not quite tuned in or perhaps other things have stopped us from finding the time to spend with Him.
DVD Clip: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – 39:32 – 41:22
Explain: In that clip Lucy sees Aslan but no-one else does…not even the viewer and the others including us are presented with a choice. We can either choose to believe that He is there and that Lucy was right or we can choose to believe he didn’t exist. Lucy has the faith that He is there and is tuned in but the others aren’t and don’t believe. Are we looking out for God? Because sometimes we need to tune ourselves in.
Small Groups: Split the group into small groups (3’s or 4’s) and give them the discussion questions and small bible study.. (See extra sheet)
Bring the groups back together
Feedback: Get the groups to feedback from their discussions and share with each other. As they share the ways which they find God write them down on a large piece of paper.
Explain: God speaks to us in lots of different ways, we each connect with God in different ways…for some people it’s walking in nature that connects them to God for others it’s music (not always Christian music), for others it might be art or a sunset or something in a film but the only way God can speak to use through those things is if we’re looking and listening out for Him. If we’re consciously expecting God to speak to us.
Ask: Do you expect God to speak to you? Why?
Sharing: Ask the group to take a minute to think of a time when they think God has spoken to them and ask them to share. Encourage as many of the group to speak as possible.
Explain: Hopefully those stories have encouraged you and helped you to remember a time when God has spoken to you. Throughout the weekend try and be open to what God wants to say, try and expect God to say something to you…whether it’s Him saying something through one of us here, something through your bible or through spending some time in the prayer room.
Bible: Matthew 7:7-8
Explain: Sometimes finding God can be like looking for a needle in a haystack but sometimes we simply need to commit that time and effort to finding it…it’s not impossible, it just requires commitment. That bible passage says ‘Seek and you shall find’…when we seek God we will find him.
Prayer: Have a time of prayer about committing ourselves to God this weekend (perhaps in small groups).
Worship: If you have a musician or some worship CD’s finish this session with a few worship songs.