Resources for the Unchurched
Every youth group has some students that we would consider unchurched. These are the youth who never in their life have been exposed to church life of any kind. We may not realize it but there are A LOT of nuances that we speak on in youth programs that assume our students know the base line of a whole other language that they don’t know. There is Bible, and Church and even Christianese, that students don’t know how to speak. Often times even those students who have grown up in the church have never been asked if they understand what we are talking about. These lessons, games, tips and hints are for theses students. They work especially well with students who come from an urban background.Unfathomable One Month Study: Creating A “Dream Board.”
Often, students genuinely don’t know HOW to dream about their future. More and more the pressures of daily life make it difficult for our students to care about tomorrow. We ask them what they “want to be when the grow up, “ and sometimes they might say statements like, “Nothing.” Other times they offer ideas that seem so far beyond reach, that they couldn’t possibly think they can every happen right?
Well if your dreams are unrealistic then you won’t be disappointed when they don’t happen. In a day and age where goals and focus take a back burner to hurts and lost hopes it is our role as a youth worker to teach our students to dream. Our goal through this one month lesson plan is to move students beyond, “hoping” that they will have a better life. This lesson also helps students to be less afraid of true success. When they can see their dreams before them., they will know truly that God has a “purpose and a plan” for each of us.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Ephesians 3: 20 & 21
What God has for each of us is unfathomable! It is bigger and wider and higher and deeper than anything any of us can begin to imagine. Have our students begun in the slightest to
You are going to spend the next month putting “Dream Boards” together. This is an activity to accomplish in a discipleship program, small group or large group program that utilizes small groups. It is a powerful tool to help students who are afraid of the future. For those that are not, it helps them focus.
It can be done with ANY age of student. (I have used this with Kindergarten all the way through Seniors in High School). The major difference in particular with Middle School and High School is how deeply you talk about goal setting. With young MS it is about getting them to learn how to dream. With an 11th grader, it is about honestly getting goals for the future.
This lesson is purposely written in a format that will allow you, the youth worker to fill in the blanks in pulling it off. This is merely meant to be a guideline for you to flesh out as will work best with your students.
Purpose: To create a poster board of “dreams” that you encourage students to take home and put in their rooms. This is an elaborate collage of their dreams.
Note: THE SAME MATERIALS WILL BE NEEDED EACH WEEK.
Poster board for each student: The size of the poster board is how large of a board you want to engage in. I would stay away from 8×10 paper- it is too small. You WANT this to take several weeks.
Markers, Paints, Sharpie’s Stickers anything to decorate the board.
Magazines/Pictures (You may need to collect some for a month or so leading up to the activity or buy some, if you have a good budget. ) You can also spend some time printing pictures off of the computer before each week’s activity.
These lessons are meant to be a guideline. The point is for students to come to the end of the project and begin to SEE their dreams and the dreams that the Lord has for them. The boards themselves takes some time. DO NOT RUSH. It is a much richer activity if the time is taken to really look at the steps and the process and the why of the dreams.
Glue or Tape to put pictures in place
You may decide to use different verses. You may even want to talk through some different song lyrics that help bring this point home.
Some suggestions are:
• Boys Lesson One: Jars of Clay
• One Thirty Nine: Above the Golden State
• Just Like You: Lecrae
The point is to get the students Dreaming about the future. No judging. What is the Dream that GOD has for them? What is the DREAM that is in their heart?
In the end WHo IS IT THAT THEY WANT TO BE WHEN THEY GROW UP?
WEEK ONE: DREAMING
Dream Board Start:
The Beginning: Before you can even begin to approach the actual manufacture of the DREAM board, you need to get everyone thinking about the idea of what their dreams are. Have they ever thought about God’s dreams for them?
(If you move from large group into small groups, form your large group talk around these verses)
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out, before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:16
• Give each student a piece of paper and ask them to write DREAMS across the top.
• Tell them that in the coming weeks you are going to create “Dream Boards.” They are pretty much what they sound like. This is an elaborate collage of their dreams.
The goal is for us to help them walk through this process and help move their dreams to goals.
• Have you ever thought about the fact that God has a plan for you?
• What does that mean to you?
• Does it make you excited or nervous that God had a plan for you before your birth?
• Have you ever thought about asking the Lord about his plans for you?
• What is the difference between a dream, and a plan/goal?
• Can your dreams become your goals?
If you have not done so pass out paper and pen to each student. Make sure they have written the word “DREAMS” across the top.
Have them answer the following questions for you on their paper. Make sure that you take the time to think each through. Do not rush.
• What is one place you would like to visit that you have never been?
• What is one thing you would like to own someday, that you can not own now?
• Name your 3 favorite things to do.
• Name three things about you that make you uniquely you. Things that you like about YOU. Not the outward stuff. When you take a look at your heart, what do like that is there. (Now make certain that they do not name things that other people think about them, i.e. People think I am funny.) These are three things they know are good qualities that they possess. Some examples might be: I am honest, a servant and a deep thinker. I like to talk to people. I am a good friend and I am a deeper thinker. (Actual answers I have gotten from students.)
• What are the top three “skills” you know you are currently good at: (Singing, Sports, Writing Etc.) Do not allow students to claim “nothing.” Help them if they don’t know. We are all good at something.
• What is one thing you are the BEST at? (Anything from reading to talking to art)
• What is one thing you are sure you would be good at, but have never tried?
• What is one thing you have always wanted to learn how to do, but never have?
After they answer these questions, ask students to share their answers. You are starting with those pieces of themselves that are already in place. The Lord has put a blueprint inside of each of us that allows us to be the full “US.” These are hopes and dreams and talents.
• Can you start to see that you have dreams?
• Have you ever thought that all of these pieces of YOU are part of those dreams?
Note to leader: One part that will be hard as you start this process is to allow students to have self- discovery. They may tell you that they want to be on “American Idol,” and you have heard them sing. You are wondering if you are just leading them down a path of disappointment? They want to be and NFL superstar and don’t actually play football anywhere. HOWEVER, the purpose of this activity is to get them thinking and dreaming. We want them to know that God has this amazing plan for their life and when the Lord wants it to happen it will. We want our students to start thinking beyond today, beyond their living room, beyond their neighborhood. As we allow them to DREAM big, we are going to guide them in thinking through the steps that they will need to get there. As you start to see who they really are on the inside you will have a deeper understanding of who they can become. Remember Christ sees us as He means us, not as we are.
Take some extended time at the end of the small group to pray with your students. Have them quiet their hearts and ask the Lord what he wants for their life. What is HIS purpose for their life? Sit and listen for a few moments. Ask the students to write down anything they feel the Lord shared with them. It might be a word, a picture, a statement. Whatever it is that they felt like the Lord was saying. Have students write this down on their sheets. If a student tells you they got “nothing,” find out if they really heard nothing at all or if they really think what they heard was “stupid.” Ask them to write down ANYTHING they feel that God was saying. When we ask him to show up , HE does. They might simply feel that what they have always wanted to do/be was confirmed.
Collect the papers. (You will collect everything, each week until all goes home at the end of the project.) You are going to keep them until next week. Charge your students to think about what the Lord might have for them, and whether this excites them, scares them, or makes them want to run.
ASK STUDENTS TO BRING IN OLD MAGAZINES FROM HOME.
WEEK 2: HOPE
Week One Recap:
God has a plan for each of us. This plan is for a hope and a future. He has something unfathomable for each of us. However, have we ever taken the time to really contemplate God’s dream for each of us. To ask a student, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Stops short of a much larger question. What “unfathomable,” things does God have in store for every area of your life?
“Hope Deferred makes the heart sick, but dreams fulfilled, bring joy and life” Proverbs 13:12
(If you move from large group into small groups, form your large group talk around this verse)
• What are your dreams?
• Have you ever thought that when there is a lack of hope it hurts the heart?
• Who gives us hope?
• Where does your hope come from?
• Who has your hope?
This is a great time to talk about how our hope can not be in a “what” but in a “who,” that “who” is the person of Jesus Christ. They have heard this before from you. But, take the time to dig a little.
Have they ever thought about the fact that Jesus wants them to have dreams?
Referencing WEEK ONE talk again about how God has a purpose and a plan for them. That purpose and plan has to start with a valid relationship with Christ. Where are they honestly at with the Lord?
If they have “prayed the prayer,” and “Jesus lives in their heart,” do they let him be in charge of their life?
Note: If you need to stop here and spend your small group time on this topic don’t be afraid to do it. If we are going to help our students really dream, they need to be aware that there is someone who CREATED them to dream. He is the one that wants more for them than they can think or imagine. Many times our students know Christ is the “Savior,” but putting him in charge is a whole other issue. Friends, family and their environment can all be hinders to this. Talk it through. Let your students be honest with what they struggle with in putting the Lord in charge. This is the first step to truly understanding how big their life is meant to be.
• Pass out the “DREAM” papers that your students started the week before.
• Also pass out the poster board.
• This week they will work on the Middle of their board.
• In the middle of the poster board the students are going to place a picture of themselves:
I would recommend them using and 8×10 piece of paper and pasting it to the board after they are finished.
Remember you will be filling in the board in the coming weeks with the rest of their “dreams.” This is only the start.
Some ideas of how to place themselves in the “middle.”:
• Make a “Word Cloud” of their name. (www.wordle.net) If you have access to computers for your students (or have them do this at home and bring it in.) You insert your name, and then qualities about yourself to make this pretty picture of your name.
• Draw a self portrait
• Draw your name in any sort of fashion you like. Examples are graffiti style, bubble art, write it out.
• Bring in magazines or “pictures” of letters. Have students spell out their name using pictures that represent themselves.
• Using words that are cut out, make a small collage of their name.
• . Bring in a camera and take pictures of your students.
This is the picture of themselves that they want to see. Christ is in them.
Using their sheet from week one, have them find words in magazines, print outs or on the computer in pictures that answer the questions on their page. Find pictures of those things that they are good at. Begin to find pictures or images that line up with the answers they gave. DO NOT LET THEM GLUE THEM DOWN YET. You want them to remain fluid, and for them to be able to plan out the entire board before they glue anything into place.
While students are working. Intentionally ask them:
• What does it mean for “hope to be deferred?” What does deferred mean?
• Do they know anyone, or have they read about anyone who lost their hope?
• How does someone end up in a “career” they “hate?”
• Can one bad choice in life effect many others?
• What does a dream that has been fulfilled do for you?
• What kind of joy and life can a dream fulfilled be.
Have students take a look at the “me in the middle.” What are the hopes that Christ has for them? What make them who they are today? What can they become.
Pray: Take time to pray through WHO the Lord wants students to be. Again spend time being quiet. Ask students to ask the Lord one thing he LOVES about them. What is something that they know God has made them uniquely themselves?
ASK STUDENTS TO KEEP BRINGING IN OLD MAGAZINES.
Week 3: I Want….
Week Two Recap: Last week we realized who our hope lies in. We saw that HE has dreams for each of us. Putting ourselves on the paper, we saw where we lie. This week we will start to see what it is that we want from life.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3: 20 & 21
• Who is the “HIM” in the verse?
• What does it mean that he is able to do so much more than we can think or even ask for?
• What is the power that “works within us?”
• Are we supposed to ask for “stuff?” Why or why not?
• When you let the Lord be the one that puts your plans in action what do you think will happen?
Pass out papers from the first week. Students are now going to start thinking through all of the pieces of their life they dream about.
Have them write out on their papers answers to the following questions:
• Look at those things that you have asked God about over the last two weeks. What is one word or picture you think He is saying to you?
• Where do you want to live when you grow up? (Country, state, city)
• Do you know where you want to go to college or trade school?
• What do you want your house to look like? (Apartment, house, Big, Small?)
• What is something you want to own when you grow up?
• Name three things that are important to you?
Now passing out magazines and pictures from the internet, have students start finding pictures that represent all of the questions they have answered on their paper, from this week and past weeks.
Have them find pictures of their future career, words that represent them, favorite animals, anything from their questions that they want to put on the board beyond themselves.
AGAIN: Try not to judge what they are finding pictures of . You will want to guide them in being appropriate if necessary. (Pictures of girls in bikini’s are not ok.) Also, you want to guide them in knowing there is more in life than what they will own. (Pictures of fancy cars and piles of money.) However, some of the things on the board may not be areas that you would do or necessarily agree with. These are THEIR dreams.
Make sure they are not gluing anything down until they are 100% certain what they are putting down and why it is there.
As students work on their projects walk around and talk to them:
• What are they putting down? Why?
• Have they thought about how this is going to happen?
• Start talking through how to make goals to reach their dreams.
• What are the first steps in getting to their dreams?
SOMEWHERE ON THEIR BOARD THEY NEED TO LEAVE A SPACE. THE LAST WEEEK THEY WILL INCLUDE THEIR LIFE PURPOSE STATEMENT ON THE BOARD.
Note: This portion may take two weeks. If you want use a smaller poster board for less space. You may want to have this week be an extended time so they can really work on it.
Have students start talking about their boards and what is on them. Don’t be afraid to allow them to really DREAM BIG, about their lives. Encourage this. They may have never thought about life in this way.
Pray: Have students pray that the Lord will guide them and show them what it is that he wants for their life. When they look at these boards, what could be bigger than they can even think or imagine?
Week 4: DESIRE
Week Three Recap: God has a plan that is UNFATHOMABLE. What have you begun to see as the desires of your heart?
Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
• Do you believe that the Lord WILL give you the desires of your heart?
• What does that mean?
• What does it mean to “delight” in the Lord and then he will give you the desires of your heart?
• Pass out the “Dreams” sheets that you have been giving out and collecting
• Pass out the Dream Boards. Have students look at the sheets and the board.
• They are going to write their life’s “purpose statement.” In looking at everything in front of them, what is the purpose of their life?
• Have them write a rambling run on sentence that is one sentence that defines their life.
• Then they will need to re-write it.
• Keep re-writing it until it is actually one sentence.
For example: “I am a fully devoted follower of Christ who lives with passion to help the hurting and the broken.”
When they are done they can creatively add this to their board. It can be in cut out letters or a sentence that is written.
Take time to let the child share his dream board with you and the rest of the group. Verbalizing his goals, hopes and dreams will help him achieve them and you will learn a lot about the child that you might not have known. The more they are encouraged to participate and the more they personalize the process the better the chances are that they will turn their dreams into reality.
Ask students to pick on dream on their board that they can begin to work towards TODAY. What is the first step in reaching their goal?
Hang the boards around the room.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Now that they have the boards in front of them what are the plans that are for good and not for disaster?
Have a parents night where you share the boards with the families. Hang them around the church. Let students know that their dreams are worth celebrating.
When you are done with the boards at church, have students bring them home to hang in their room as their new poster.
Ask the Lord to help students seek him. Allow Him to show them what HIS dreams are for him. Allow HIM to turn dreams, to goals to reality.
For more suggestions of lessons and resources to train you and your students please visit: www.uywi.org
Leneita Fix, Training Coordinator, Urban Youth Workers Institute