By the teenage years, most students do not find themselves particularly thrilled at the prospect of returning to early morning alarm clocks, homework, and teacher talks. Going back to school might come with mixed feelings in middle and high school. Getting back to the books might not sound appealing, but it’s a great opportunity for re-focusing on the most important book of all, God’s Word! Back to school season is also a great time to discuss things like witnessing to friends, using our minds for God, and enjoying the season we’re in. Consider capitalizing on the start of an academic year for a Bible study or special fall activity afternoon. Use this “event builder” to select various concentrations for games, Bible passages, and more. Choose a few items from each category to fit your student needs and group size.
Opening Youth Group Questions or Activities:
Incorporate these before or after the main Bible Study component:
- Book smart: discuss favorite books or types of books, or ask students about literary features of stories.
- Book smart, part two: play physical games with books: who can stack the largest pile of books? What relay team can hustle them the fastest back and forth?
- Discuss elements of school, especially if running this activity after the school year has begun. What are highlights and challenges of school? Which students see each other at school regularly?
- Favorite subjects poll: discuss and compare favorite topics of study for school.
Back-To-School Bible Lessons for Teenagers:
Select one particular passage to hone in on, or examine several verses to note the idea of school/academic learning. There are many to choose from, including (but not limited to):
- We can bear witness at school! Discuss the importance of sharing faith with others, especially for students who are in public schools. Review the story of the calling of disciples in John, emphasizing how the early disciples told one another of finding Christ (John 1:29-51). Encourage students to live out their faith boldly.
- Talk about why it is important to love God with our minds, and how we can do that. Examine Mark 12:28-34, encouraging us to love the Lord with our mind and strength. Sometimes academic knowledge can be something of a barrier to faith, but it truly ought to enhance and not harm our trust in God. Consider the ways we can be “thinking Christians.”
- Lessons from Solomon…Review some of the Proverbs, and describe the difference between wisdom and knowledge. It’s important to have both! We not only want to have intelligence from books or school, but we need to know how to apply it and use our information to love and serve God.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction. -Proverbs 1:7
Youth Ministry Games and Additional Activities
Make back-to-school a little more bearable with some creative games themed around school, fall, or books.
- Apples for the teacher: use apples as a theme, honing in on fun activities like carving apples (similar to pumpkins, but smaller!) or stacking apples on top of one another. Alternatively, have fun with apple batting or throwing contests.
- What do you know pop quiz… start with a “Jeopardy!”-style question and answer game, using a variety of trivia questions and topics to introduce the “knowledge/school time” theme.
- Swapping the books… play a variation on the “never have I ever” game by seating students in a circle with one less chair than students. Have a student stand in the center and share a favorite or recently read book, or preferred school study topic. All students who have a similar favorite or experience will get up and trade places with another student. The last person standing names the next topic.
- Pictionary: you can’t go wrong with this classic! Alternately, switch between Pictionary and Charades, or flip a coin to choose which will be done.
- Puzzle race: split students into groups, and provide each group with a jigsaw puzzle (size optional). Have them race to see who can finish their puzzle fastest. To make things extra challenging, take away the picture on the box cover!
- Backpack relay: Put a twist on a classic relay race by having students transport items in a backpack, switching off with other students. Bonus points for carrying large or heavy items!
- Snacks! Have fun with some classic lunch box favorites and let your teens munch on Lunchables, peanut butter and jelly, trail mix, or animal crackers.