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Youth Group Lesson on Grace: Dude…Not Perfect
Middle Schoolers need to know that no one is perfect. And they need to know that this is exactly what makes God’s gift of grace so valuable and so important to us.
Use this lesson to help students know that they don’t have to be perfect for God, in fact He loves them and sent Jesus because none of us are perfect.
Description: Too often we think that you have to be perfect to be a Christian. In fact, the opposite is actually true. The only way to be a Christian starts by admitting that you are not perfect.
NERF Blasters* NERF Darts*
Beach ball or balloon
36 plastic cups
*You have two options here. You can purchase these yourself. If you do this, watch for sales at local stores or check for good deals online. Or, you can try to save money by emailing parents and asking families to let you borrow some of what they have for this lesson. Just make sure they label the blasters so you give the correct ones back.
Now, here’s the free lesson on “Grace”…
Game: NERF Challenges
Mix NERF blasters with adults who act like competitive middle schoolers and what do you get? Viral Videos from Dude Perfect! (And…a fun lesson with loads of game ideas)
Show your students this Dude Perfect Nerf Challenge Video:
(Or, you can show this older VIDEO too.)
Then allow them the opportunity to participate in a few similar challenges right there in your space! We are going to do three challenges, one inspired by the video and all three that are from NERF’s website. If these go well for you, there are plenty more there you can use too.
(And if you want to connect this lesson to a big NERF Wars event, check out this blog article for some tips and resources.) (If you have a stage, set these challenges up on three different parts of the stage. If you don’t have a stage, try to set these up in three different parts of your space.)
Challenge 1: Saucer Invasion
Have three students each toss one frisbee in the air at the same time. The person with the NERF blaster has to try to hit each frisbee with a dart before the frisbees hit the ground. If your space doesn’t allow you to toss these high, head outside. If that’s not an option, lightly toss the frisbees vertically from a seated position.
Challenge 2: The Distance
This can be done with a beach ball or balloon and works best if three people have blasters. Toss it in the air. The students with the blasters shoot at the ball, using their darts to keep it in the air. Have someone use a stopwatch or stopwatch app to time how long the balloon stays in the air. Rotate to see which group can keep it in the air the longest.
Challenge 3: Ancient Empire
Set up plastic cups into pyramids that use 6 plastic cups. Set them up near each other so you have three sets of two pyramids. Three students will each have a blaster.
On “Go!”, they each start shooting at the pyramid. The student who gets their’s down the fastest or knocks over the most cups before running out of darts wins. The two losing students have to set up all six pyramids. Finally, in your space, have a target drawn with poster markers on a sheet of poster board.
You grab a blaster and ask the students how well they think you’ll do at hitting the bullseye on the target with only three shots. Once you have their encouraging or discouraging feedback, take your shots. You can try your best, but make sure at least one misses the target to help with your illustration.
Ask: How many of you love playing NERF? How many of you enjoy watching the Dude Perfect YouTube videos? It can be really fun to get together and try these challenges like we did today. It’s also fun to see all the crazy challenges the guys from Dude Perfect have been able to accomplish! They make it look so easy! Does it ever seem like being a Christian is supposed to be this way?
We all have access to a Bible and should know what we are supposed to do. Parents, leaders, and even youth pastors get mad at us when we misbehave and sin.
Open your Bibles to the book of Romans. It’s in the New Testament, just after Acts and before 1 Corinthians.
Whether you are using a paper Bible or a Bible app, you should know how to find this book. There is lots of good stuff in here, especially about sin, forgiveness and grace. Once you find Romans, go to chapter 3. Then find verse 23. (Once everyone has time to find it, have a student read the verse.)
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23 NLTse)
“Sin” isn’t a word we use much except for it’s main use: to describe disobeying God. When Paul wrote this letter to the church in Rome, the word he used in Greek for “sin” meant “to miss the mark.”
They probably didn’t have NERF blasters in mind, but more like bows and arrows. The idea is the same. Just like some of you had a difficult time with the challenges and I had a hard time hitting the target, when we sin, we are missing the goal of what God has in mind for who we should live.
When Paul says here that we have all sinned, that we have all missed the mark or the goal God has in mind for us, that is either encouraging or depressing. It can be encouraging to know that everybody from you to the Senior Pastor has sinned. It can also be depressing to know that everyone has messed up the goal God has in mind for us and for our lives.
Ever watch the Dude Perfect videos and wonder how they make such amazing shots over and over again?
Check out this video of outtakes, the stuff that doesn’t make their final popular video:
And if that wasn’t bad enough, you should know by now that there are consequences to our actions.
Paul writes about that too.
Skip over to chapter 6 in Romans and look at verse 23 there. (Have a student read this verse.)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NLTse)
Does anyone know what wages are? What if I said paycheck? It’s what you earn for the work you do.
So, if you accomplish the goal the boss has for you, you get paid as a reward for the work you have done.
Paul starts this verse by saying that our disobedience, the work we have done NOT doing what God wants us to do, has earned us death – not just physically dying, but being separated from God. Not good. Told you it was depressing.
But, the verse doesn’t end there. God offers us a gift. You usually don’t get gifts from total strangers.
Usually, you get gifts from people who know you and love you. Gifts are not given as rewards for what you have done. They are given simply because a generous person wants to show you their love. That’s what God is doing here.
He’s saying that we deserve punishment for all of our disobedience. Instead, He is offering us his gift of grace and forgiveness, to help us because of what Jesus has done for us.
That’s where these awesome verses come in to play.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17 NLTse)
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:8-10 NLTse)
So, the next time you think you have to be perfect to be a Christian, remember that it’s the exact opposite. You can only be a Christian when you humbly realize that you will never be perfect. But instead of getting what you deserve, God offers you his gift of grace, which is so much better.
Small Group Questions
In what areas of your life have you felt like you needed to be perfect?
How have you felt that following Jesus requires you to be perfect? Have you ever said, “That’s not fair.”? Explain.
Looking at Romans 3:23, does it encourage you or depress you that everyone sins?
What’s the greatest gift you’ve ever received? ever given?
Looking at Romans 6:23, why is it good that we don’t get what we deserve for our sins?
Looking at Romans 6:23, how does it make you feel that even though you are guilty of sin, God offers you a gift of grace?
Looking at Ephesians 2:8-10, how does it help you to know that God wants to do good through you, that He offers you this gift to save you for a purpose?
Say: Dude Perfect videos are fun, but our lives are lived unedited. We don’t just see the good, we see the good and the bad. These guys work hard to “hit the mark” in their videos. How can that hard work ethic be combined with thankfulness for God’s gift in our thoughts and actions?
Our lives are real. That means we see the good and the bad, the highlight reel and the blooper film. The guys from Dude Perfect are Christians and know that life is not all about being perfect.
They use their talents and abilities to share Jesus with people through interviews, social media, etc. People watch their videos and know it takes a lot of work to create a short video filled with “perfect” moments.
In fact, it takes lots of work at getting close to the mark to finally create a short film of hitting the mark. In our lives, when we realize that we don’t get what we deserve and instead are offered a gift of grace from God, then our thoughts, words and actions are all done with grateful hearts, like we’re living out a thank you note to God for all He has done for us. In other words, don’t feel guilty about not being perfect.
God knew we would never be perfect so He took care of our sin problem for us.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God (Romans 5:8-11 NLTse)
Instead of being enemies of God, we are His friends when we accept God’s gift of grace and become followers of Jesus! That’s a reason to celebrate and more exciting than even the most popular of Dude Perfect videos. And I believe they would agree.