The first in a new series of discussion starters for your youth group. Use this discussion starter to introduce a study evening on the Ten Commandments and take as little or as much as you need.
We encounter directions, instructions and rules every day. Do they help us? If we had the power, what rules would we make? Does God have instructions for our lives? What are they? Why are they important?
CAN YOU FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS?
Ask for four or five volunteers and direct them to sit behind a table in front of the rest of the group. Explain they have volunteered to do a short exam! They need to take it seriously and normal examination conditions will apply i.e. no talking and leave the test papers face down until the start. Stress that they have only five minutes to complete the test. Ask the rest of the group for complete silence to help them concentrate, as time is short. Tell the candidates that when they finish, they must not talk or seek to communicate to any other person in the room, until the five minutes are over. Distribute the papers (see below) and in a solemn voice instruct them to begin.
Most, if not all the young people, faced with the time pressure will plough right through the test ignoring the first instruction and not become aware of question 20 until they have completed 1-19.
CAN YOU FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS?
- Read everything before doing anything?
- Put your name in the upper right-hand corner of this paper.
- Circle the word 'name' in number 2?
- Draw five small squares in the upper left-hand corner of this paper?
- Put an 'X' in each square?
- Sign your name under the title of this paper?
- Put a circle around number 5?
- Put an 'X' in the lower left-hand corner of this paper?
- Draw a triangle around the 'X' you have just put down?
- Draw a rectangle round the word 'paper' in number 4?
- Loudly call out your first name when you get to this point?
- If you think you have followed directions carefully to this point call out 'I have?'
- On the reverse side of this paper add 8950 and 9850?
- Put a circle around your answer and a square around the circle?
- Count out in a normal speaking voice, from 10 to 1 backwards?
- Punch three small holes in the top of this paper with your pencil point?
- If you are the first person to reach this point call out loudly; 'I am the first person to reach this point, and I am the leader in following directions.'
- Underline all the even numbers on this side of the paper?
- Say out loudly; 'I am nearly finished and have followed directions.'
- Now that you have finished reading everything, do only number 2.
This is fun to watch and introduces the theme of following instructions and directions. Clearly following the instructions makes a big difference in this spoof exam!
LIVING BY THE RULES?
Ask your group about the kind of instructions, directions or rules they have encountered today? Use a flipchart to make a list. Are rules important? How do they help us? What would it be like if there were no rules? If necessary you can promote discussion and illustrate with:
Traffic rules - What would happen if we had no traffic laws? No traffic lights, one way systems or speed restrictions? Would we be more or less safe? Rules can help to protect us.
Game rules – Using your flipchart, play a game of noughts and crosses with one of the young people. Play it first with rules, then abandon the rules completely and see what happens. How did they feel when the rules were removed? Rules bring purpose and meaning.
Rules of grammar – ask a volunteer to read a short poem. Provide the text with all of the spaces, punctuation, capitals etc removed. How did they do without the rules of grammar? Rules bring understanding.
THE MAKERS INSTRUCTIONS?
Ask the group if they think God has given instructions to help us live our lives? You may get a range of answers which will serve to facilitate a discussion, but probably someone will say the Ten Commandments.
Look together at Exodus 20:1-17 in a modern version of the Bible. Pick out the Ten Commandments and write them on your flipchart. Ask the group if they understand what each one means. Ask them to rewrite the Ten Commandments in their own words, but keeping the original meaning.
Select some of the commandments and discuss what that might mean for us today i.e. Idols? Honour your father and mother?
Why did God give these instructions? What do you think would happen if everyone followed these instructions?
Are some more important than others? Why? What does the Bible say? Read James 2:10. Is it possible to keep God's rules without his help?
The Ten Commandments poster montage. Collect together as many glossy magazines, newspapers, teen magazines as you can. Present your group with 10 large blank posters. Each poster is meant to illustrate one of the Ten Commandments. Create a montage by cutting out letters, words, images and pictures from the magazines and gluing them to the poster. Use the finished posters as discussion starters. Ask the young people why they used certain images or words? Was it easy or hard to convey the meaning of certain commandments?
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