In today’s world, students feel very free to voice their opinions and ideas virtually through social media.

However, when we challenge them to put those ideas into action, too many feel like they don’t have much to offer or aren’t equipped for the challenge.

When junior high students are able to fully trust God, they’re able to more easily put those ideas into action.

Use this lesson to help them do that.

(There is the opportunity for this lesson to set your group up for a service project. Read the suggested challenge in the small group part of the lesson to have something ready for your leaders.)

Enjoy the lesson!

– Nick Diliberto, Junior High Ministry

Junior High Youth Group Lesson on Trusting God

Written by Mike Sheley

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Bible Texts

John 6:1-13

Ephesians 2:10

Opening Activity: Action!

This is a great text that can be brought to life with a little acting. There are two options below. One has minimal cost involved. The other has a high cost or a big ask for donations. Both are worth the time it will take to help students connect with this story.

Option 1: Low-Cost

Actors: Jesus, Philip, Andrew, 10 other disciples, “young boy,” and crowd.

Props: 12 baskets and lots of Small paper fish. Cut out lots of little fish about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide. They can be as simple as you want. Just make sure you have lots of them.

Give each actor a Bible. Have them find their place.

Then walk through John 6:1-13. Have each person either say the words in quotes for their character or do the actions described.

Be sure that the young boy has “a few” small fish. But have the rest hidden so that Jesus can easily keep handing out fish to the disciples to give to the crowd. You could even do this so that every student in your group gets at least one paper fish to take home.

Option 2: High-Cost or High-Ask

Actors: Jesus, Philip, Andrew, 10 other disciples, “young boy,” and crowd (which is everyone else in your room).

Props: 12 baskets; Sack lunch, food for everyone in your room. (For this, you can go out and buy fish sticks or chicken nuggets and have them ready ahead of time. Or, you might contact a local restaurant like Chick-fil-A, explain what you are doing, and see if they would donate food for your lesson. Then maybe you offer to give a small flier to each kid to take home with a note about the lesson and a “thanks to Chick-fil-A for donating our food tonight.” You never know what a simple ask and a thank you note can get!

Give each actor a Bible. Have them find their place.

Then walk through John 6:1-13. Have each person either say the words in quotes for their character or do the actions described.

Be sure that the young boy has “a few” small fish sticks/chicken nuggets. But have the rest hidden so that Jesus can easily keep handing out food to the disciples to give to the crowd.  Be sure to have them put extras on plates next to leaders around the room that will be collected at the end as leftovers. (Because we all know that good food in a room of junior highers is near left over!)

Read John 6:5.

Can you imagine being Philip? This is a tough question! Philip’s reply in verse 7 shows how exasperated he is. It’s like he’s saying to Jesus: “Do you know what you are asking of us!? That’s impossible. We don’t have enough food or even enough money to buy enough food for these thousands of people. The job is too big for us!”

Read John 6:8-9.

Who was Andrew? Remember when he spoke up? He is either being sarcastic or self-defeating. He has a boy’s sack lunch. And immediately after bringing that up he turns around and says it’s no good, not enough. It’s like Andrew is saying, “I found a sack lunch, but it’s just enough for one boy, much less the 13 of us. And it’s not even going to help any of the thousands of hungry people who are here with us!”

Read John 6:10.

This verse is what I call the “record-scratch moment.” You ever listen to a song and the DJ scratches the record to show an abrupt change? Or sometimes people use that effect in videos when they want to stop and ask, “What did he just say?”

Jesus had just given the disciples what seemed to them to be an impossible story problem. “Over 5,000 people show up for lunch. You have one boy’s sack lunch. How do you feed everyone?”

And like the good teacher that Jesus is, when it is clear that the disciples are not going to come up with an answer, he shows them the solution to the problem.

He has everyone sit down. At this point, if you were one of the disciples, you had to be thinking, “What’ going to happen next?!”

Jesus takes the sack lunch, prays, and then gets the food out to the people.

Read John 6:11.

“as much as they wanted”!!! I’ve eaten with some of you before. Eating as much as you want is a dangerous thing to promise to a junior high student. Can you imagine the crowd of over 5,000 eating as much as they want when all they started with was a boy’s sack lunch! Imagine the boy watching! (and probably eating more than he originally brought with him!)

Read John 6:12.

And then, in what might have seemed like a punch-line to a joke, Jesus the disciples to pick up the leftovers! And I don’t know for sure, but it seems like more than a coincidence that there was so much food leftover that each of the disciples was able to fill their own basket with fish and bread!

What About Us?

Great story, right? But how does that help us today? (beyond just making us hungry)

You live in a day and age where people feel very free and empowered to put words, images and videos out into the world via social media. No one stops to question the power and responsibility they have to shout to the world with a simple handheld device or keyboard.

However, ask someone to put their ideas into actions, to do something about what they are so passionate about online, and I hear things like, “No one will give me a chance.” or “Do you know what it would cost for me to do something that would even begin to scratch the surface of this giant problem?” or “I’m just a junior higher. Who’s going to let me help?”

Who will give you a chance? Jesus.

The cost? God can provide.

Who’s going to let you help? Jesus.

Bottom Line: Your “not much” is Jesus’ “more than enough.”

Just like the boy in the story, you might not feel like you have much to offer Jesus or that what you have to offer will make much of a difference. However, God does math differently and thinks much more of you than you think of yourself. Let’s look at one more verse:

Read Ephesians 2:10.

This verse is talking about everyone who is a Christian – even those of you in junior high! God has things for you to do that he planned long ago. Are you going to complain about how impossible the task seems to you or are you going to step out in faith and trust that when you partner with God, He can do so much more in and through you than you have ever imagined!

Let’s talk about this in our small groups.

Small Groups

GOAL OF SMALL GROUP

The goal here is to help students understand what God can do through them and to challenge them to put this belief into action.

JUST FOR FUN (5 minutes)

These students need a little fun to help them relax and transition into this small group time. Don’t skip over this. It is an intentional part of building relationships and setting up your group to have a great discussion time!

If you could make your own lunch menu for a week, what would you eat each day?

If you hosted a party that was big enough that everyone from your school could come, what kind of food would you have? What kind of things would we do at your party?

Does your family ever have leftovers? What’s the most creative you or someone in your family has been in making something new out of a previous meal’s leftovers?

(When you have spent about 5 minutes on this section, transition into the discussion questions.)

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (15 minutes)

(The goal is to guide the students as they talk, to have a discussion. Get them to do most of the talking. Make sure you watch the clock and save 5 minutes at the end for the closing, even if that means you skip some questions and don’t discuss them all. )

  • Have you ever felt like Philip? Jesus asked him how to solve what seemed to be a huge problem and he felt like it was impossible. Ever feel like that with the problems in the world around us or with the expectations Jesus has for us?
  • Have you ever had an Andrew experience? Jesus was looking for a solution to a problem. Andrew spoke up but almost as soon as he gave an answer seemed like he felt dumb for suggesting it because it would never be enough. Ever give an answer or make a suggestion that you thought was not going to work the more you thought about it?
  • What do you think was going through the disciple’s minds as they picked up all the leftovers? (12 baskets of leftover fish from what started as one boy’s sack lunch!)
  • Have you ever had a time where you prayed and asked God to provide, and when He did, it was not just enough, but so much more than enough?
  • What’s the difference between someone who talks big on social media about a problem and someone who goes out and tries to make a difference with their actions? Does one look like they are doing more than another? Does one actually accomplish more?

Closing Challenge

We can sit here and talk about how God can use us . . . or we can go out and actually do something in faith, trusting that even though what we have to offer may seem like “not much,” to Jesus, it is “more than enough.” So, we have a service project lined up for us all to participate in. (give instructions for service project)

You have a few different options here: 

  1. Have something your students can do in their small groups that helps a ministry or mission partner of your church.
  2. Promote a specific date and time where your small group will get together to participate in a service project, especially if it is something you can do for your church in the local community.
  3. Use this time to promote a mission trip where students can take themselves into an entirely new location and trust that God will use them to help people in ways they never imagined!

(When that time is up, close your group in prayer – or even better, ask one of the students to close in prayer.)

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Junior High Lesson: Imperfectly Following Jesus

BubbleMikeMike is the Middle School Pastor at Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood, Indiana, where he oversees their ministries for 5th-8th graders.  He’s been in full-time youth ministry over 16 years with most of that time focused on 5th-8th graders.