“Here today. Gone tomorrow” – a.k.a. popularity.

What’s hip and cool right now will soon be a thing of the past… kind of like the phrase “hip and cool.”

But our character and who God says we are in Him, that’s eternal.

Use this junior high lesson on popularity to remind students to be confident in who God made you to be, not in the opinions of others.

– Nick Diliberto, Junior High Ministry

JUNIOR HIGH LESSON ON POPULARITY

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Bottom Line: Be confident in who God made you to be, not in the opinions of others.

Bible: Proverbs 29:23

SUPPLIES

  • List of reverse movie plots
  • Painter’s tape

OPENING GAME: REVERSE MOVIE PLOTS

GAME PREP

Have a copy of the “list of reverse movie plots” on hand for the game.

Be prepared to keep score for each team.

Use painter’s tape to mark an “X” on the floor where each team should stand.

Divide students into two teams of equal size and have them stand in a huddle with their group on their team’s “X.”

LIST OF REVERSE MOVIE PLOTS

1. A superhero gets bitten by a spider and loses his power. (Spiderman)

2. A civilized man turns into a savage and lives with gorillas for the rest of his life. (Tarzan)

3. A group of animals get fed up with dancing lemurs, lock themselves up in boxes, and ship themselves to a zoo. (Madagascar)

4. An insane ogre kidnaps a man’s wife, puts her in a tower, alienates his friends, and winds up living in a swamp all alone. (Shrek)

5. A fish and his son travel back from Australia just in time to see a shark spit out his wife and children. (Finding Nemo)

6. A karate master turns his enemies into tiny turtles and returns them to the pet store. (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

7. A bunch of dinosaurs go around throwing up humans. Eventually, the humans put them in an amusement park and capture them in eggs. (Jurassic Park)

8. A girl in the big city is in touch with her emotions until she has a breakdown so severe her family has to move back to the Midwest and treat her like a child. (Inside Out)

9. A boy has to take his car back to the dealership after it turns out to be a robot. (Transformers)

10. A man flies around the world, places people in dangerous situations, and then puts on a suit and glasses and goes into hiding. (Superman)

HOW TO PLAY THE GAME

Say: This game is called “Reverse Movie Plots.”

I’ve taken some of the most popular movies of all time and reversed the storylines.

Your team’s goal is to be the first to figure out the name of each movie.

Here’s an example of a reverse movie plot: Underwater people repair a ship with an iceberg so they can sail to England.

Any guesses which movie I’m referring to?

Titanic!

So, when I read the movie title, you will discuss it with your team and decide if you know the name of the movie. 

When you figure it out, your entire team will race up to the front, where I’m standing and sit down.

You have to wait for me to call on your team before you can answer.

Each of your teams is starting with 10 points and will try to work your way down to 0 points.

For every question you answer correctly, your team will lose a point.

The team with the lowest amount of points at the end of the game – WINS!

Oh, and one more thing – when you race to the front, your entire team must walk backwards.

Ready? Let’s begin!

Read each movie plot out loud and play the game.

At the end of the game, announce the winner.

TEACH

In the game we just played, everything was reversed and backwards – how we played the game, the movie plots, even how you scored points in the game.

Often, the values of the world we live in are backwards.

People who have wealth and are stingy are regarded as having a lot when they are actually poor in spirit.

Those who work hard to become well-trained singers with phenomenal talent never have a chance against an okay singer who is beautiful.

And when it comes to being popular, it often has nothing to do with a person’s character or abilities. 

In fact, some people are popular, just because they are popular.

Say: So, let’s begin by answering this question: What does it mean to be popular?

And let’s follow up by answering this question: Do you think it’s important to be popular?

Allow a few responses from students after each question.

Here’s the thing about popularity – it’s temporary… it is alwaystemporary.

A perfect example is the company “Glamour Shots.”

Maybe you haven’t heard of it, but I can guarantee that your parents are familiar with the company.

In the 1990s, Glamour Shots were portrait studios located in many shopping centers across the country.

For $200-300 they would tease your hair, add tons of makeup, and place you in a leather studded jacket – all to create the perfect glamorous photo.

Just for fun, show a few Glamour Shots photos – there are some pretty hilarious ones on the internet.

Everyone had Glamour Shots – celebrities, people with pets, grandmas…

But just like everything else in our culture, it eventually faded, and now only a few studios exist today. 

Popularity always fades – nothing in this world remains popular forever.

But the process of how someone becomes popular has been around for a long time.

Think of the “popular” girl or guy at your school… they probably possess a few of these qualities: good-looking, dresses nice, has a lot of stuff, everyone wants to be their friend, etc.

Now, you might be thinking, “that’s just a stereotype” – and it is, but it also has some truth in it because it is based on the opinions of others.

The origins of the word popular can be traced to the early 17thcentury where it means, “prevalent among the general public.”

When someone or something is popular, it’s because there is something different that makes them/it stand out from the rest of the world.

Often, in our culture that “something different” is superficial – like their looks, how they dress, and what they have.

So, it creates this idea that in order to be popular or stand out from the crowd, they have to change or improve something about themselves.

Every once in a while, a person who is average, but has amazing qualities like being kind, generous, and loving becomes the “it” person in society, but unfortunately, that’s not typical.

“Average” celebrities don’t get much attention – they have to possess some type of extreme behavior.

And the people at your schools who are just average, good people may not ever grow up to be the high school Prom King or Queen.

But that’s okay.

If to become popular you have to sacrifice your character or relationship with God, it’s definitely okay to be average.

Read Proverbs 29:23.

Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.

When we base who we are in the opinions of others, there’s nothing we aren’t willing to do to meet their expectations of us.

That’s not what God wants for our lives.

Because He loves each of us the way we are we can be confident in who God made us be.

When your pride and what others think becomes a priority in your life, the Bible says it will end in humiliation.

But, when we are humble and place our value in what God thinks about us, it will ultimately bring honor to God.

Because people will see something different in us that they don’t see in everyone else that is racing to be the prettiest, best dressed, and most influential.

It’s a matter of changing our focus to God and not what other people think about us.

The next time you’re walking around your school, and you don’t feel as good as everyone else, remember that it’s okay.

When you see those people 20 years from now, they won’t be the same people they are right now – popularity fades.

But, you can live a life that honors God now, and 20 years from now, by finding your value in who He says you are in Him.

Close in prayer.

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Who is the most popular person you know? What makes them popular?

2. Do people ever sacrifice their character for popularity? Give me an example.

3. Can you think of something in our culture that was once popular but is not anymore?

4. How are popularity and humility opposites? Is there a time when someone can be popular and humble at the same time? How?

5. Do you think Jesus was popular? Why or why not?

6. Do adults care about being popular as much as middle school students do? Tell me why or why not.

7. What can you do to remain humble in a world that is full of pride?

8. Re-read Proverbs 29:23. How does pride end in humiliation? How does humility bring honor?

9. Besides popularity, what is something that our culture values that aren’t necessarily godly?

10. How does grounding your confidence in who God says you are allow you to be unshakable in a world that is always changing.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS LESSON

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