The new year is underway and a new President has been inaugurated. Junior highers may not understand all the implications of the new year and new leaders, but they do like trivia!
So, here’s a game that tests their ability to guess which state has the strange, but true, American law on the books. It’s called: Strange American Laws!
This game includes a quick lesson on God’s grace based on Romans 6:23. The game sets up the lesson perfectly.
Mike Sheley, Junior High Ministry
JUNIOR HIGH GAME ON GOD’S GRACE: STRANGE AMERICAN LAWS
Topic: Laws and Grace
Bible: Romans 6:23
None (just the list of questions and answers supplied in this game)
HOW TO PLAY THE GAME
There are a few different ways you can play this game.
Grab four small dry-erase boards and markers. Divide your group into four teams. Pick one person from each team to answer the question by writing their answer on a dry-erase board. Have them all reveal their answers at the same time. Award points to each team that gets it right. See who has the most points at the end. (Involve more students by having students rotate out after a couple questions.)
Or…make this an all-play game. Pick four corners in your room or space and make sure everyone knows which number applies to which corner. After you read the question, students have to run to that corner to pick their answer. You can make this an elimination game where those with the wrong answer are out. Or you can use the honor system and have students keep track of their own points
Finally, if you are heading to a winter camp, conference or retreat, play this game in the car, van or bus by having students write down their answers on a scrap piece of paper during the road trip. Bonus points if anyone spots the license plate of a vehicle from one of the correct answers!
So, let’s play!
1. It is illegal to lend your vacuum cleaner to your next-door neighbor.
Answer: 3. Colorado
2. You may not take a picture of a rabbit from January to April without an official permit.
- West Virginia
Answer: 4. Wyoming
3. No one may carry an ice cream cone in their back pocket on a Sunday.
Answer: 2. Georgia
4. Performing puppet shows for money is punishable by a fine.
Answer: 1. Indiana
5. One city’s law forbids eating in a place that is on fire.
- North Dakota
Answer: 4. Illinois (Chicago’s law)
6. It’s illegal to collect seaweed at night.
- New Hampshire
Answer: 2. New Hampshire
7. People who make “ugly faces” at dogs may be fined and/or jailed.
8. It is illegal to lie down and fall asleep in a cheese factory.
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
Answer: 4. South Dakota
9. In one city, it’s illegal to take a lion to the movies.
Answer: 3. Maryland (Baltimore’s law)
10. It is against the law for a man to knit during the fishing season.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
Answer: 2. New Jersey
When the game is done, have everyone take a seat and prepare for the lesson.
Say: There are a bunch of strange laws all across our country.
Ask: Imagine for a minute that you were in one of these states and broke that strange law. You are arrested and taken before a judge. He says you are guilty and have to pay the fine or do the jail time for breaking the law. How would you feel?
(allow students to answer)
Say: Now, imagine that same judge says you are guilty, but instead of punishing you, he does something strange himself. He steps down from his bench. He takes off his robe. And he puts on a prison jumpsuit. Then he heads to prison or walks over and pays for your fine. As he does this, he says you may go free. Now how would you feel?
(allow students to answer)
Check out one powerful verse that connects our game and these two situations together:
Read Romans 6:23 (New Living Translation)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Say: Let me explain some pieces here and then we’ll have the whole thing make sense.
Sin is anything we do that God doesn’t want us to do or anything we don’t do that God does want us to do.
Wages are like rewards.
Death in this sentence refers to being separated from God.
So, Paul – who wrote this, is saying that because of our sin – disobeying God – we have broken God’s law and the punishment is being separated from God. Not cool. Fair, but not what we want.
He also says, “But…” God is offering us a gift.
A gift is something given by someone who loves you because they love you. A true gift is not earned. (that would make it a reward)
So, instead of us having to face our punishment that we deserve for breaking God’s law, He is offering us a gift.
When Jesus died on the cross, that was like that judge in our story stepping down and taking our punishment for us. That’s what Jesus did for us…2,000 years ago. He actually paid for our punishment ahead of time…before we broke God’s law.
Now, he offers us the gift of forgiveness, the chance to go free.
If we accept it, we receive God’s mercy-we don’t get the punishment we deserve.
If we accept it, we also receive God’s grace-the gift of forgiveness and His presence that we can’t earn.
America may have some strange laws. But I’m thankful God has come up with a solution to our sin – our lawbreaking – that is strange, but a wonderful gift.
Mike Sheley 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 17 years with most of that time focused on preteen and junior high students.