365 Gathered Truths
Positive Messages Throughout The Year
A Way To Encourage Your High School Youth Group To Recognize Positive Truths In Their Day to Day Lives!!!
There I was again. The end of another year was quickly approaching and while enjoying Christmas Break from Youth Group, I was definitely spinning my wheels trying to figure out WHAT ON EARTH to do for our first Youth Group Meeting back in 2015. I struggle each year trying to figure out what would be a great and inspirational night without it being the usual “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” or “New Year, New You” type of discussion. Last year, I had good success with a theme of “Today is the first day of a 365 Page Book”. (See previous blogpost if you’re interested in it. It was great!) I was able to carry that theme through the year with a different topic to focus on each month etc. But, what could I possibly come up with this year that would be similar, yet different?
I just hadn’t thought of anything creative…..
The Day after Christmas I was browsing my Facebook News Feed and happened to see a photo a former student of mine had posted. It just happened to catch my eye and grab my attention. Now an adult, and a very positive and inspirational young lady from an incredibly positive and inspirational family, I instantly clicked on her picture to see exactly what it was. The picture she posted was the front of what looked like a simple wood box with some brown paper cards tucked inside. (About the size of an old wooden cassette tape crate if you’re old enough to have had plenty of them stacked with your Bon Jovi, Duran Duran, and Go Go’s collections- Ha!) The metal embellishment on the front read “Gathered 365 Truths”. Her message posted with the picture was a lovely quote that was credited to ‘Ancient Chinese Belief’— and in that second, I had it!!! I had no idea what exactly this box was or where she got it, but THIS had sparked an idea which turned into my ‘Welcome to 2015’ Youth Group Meeting.
I sent Taylor a message asking where she got it and what it was exactly, but since I was just watching the last of the Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie Marathon and casually browsing online, I decided to google it and see if I could find anything myself. Never would have guessed what was about to pop up. A TON of results that all seemed to stem from Oprah’s Favorite Things List. Apparently, this is one of Oprah’s Favorite Things and I guess once Oprah spreads the word, people follow. All I could find was links to two different companies explaining the box (in either white or black) with 365 inspirational quotes printed and tucked neatly inside. Fabulous. Until I clicked on the price. $99.? Really?! I’m a youth minister! I do not have the budget for that! Shoot!!! Surely it can be found somewhere cheaper?!
Apparently not. Taylor did message me back and said her mom had purchased it for her and although she wasn’t sure exactly, she thought she paid around $80-$90. for it. Well, that’s not gonna work. But, Crafty Jenn suddenly appeared and just decided to stop looking for it cheaper online. If I made one myself, then I could actually have the teens in my youth group gather their own truths and positive quotes and they could gradually fill up the box throughout the year on their own! BRILLIANT!!! Way better than the pre-printed ones…at least for the purpose of my youth group.
***I have listed below how I found & made my box and then below that section I have described the meeting itself. If you simply want to just scroll down to see what the meeting was all about, I describe it below the photos of the box and directions on how to make.***
FINDING & MAKING THE BOX
This will perhaps come down to personal taste, but I had an idea of what I wanted. I set out looking at a variety of stores. Target, Homegoods, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Michaels, JoAnn’s, etc. Hobby Lobby turned out to be the place to be, although I had to go back twice since the first time I saw my perfect box I put it right back on the shelf frustrated that it was ruined with the ugly metal flower embellishment on top. Once I exhausted all my resources, I came back to it and realized that with a little work, I could take the unwanted details off and make the box my own. Below are some pictures of my before and after.
BEFORE (Seen as Purchased at Hobby Lobby)
The Metal Flower/Leaves had to be unscrewed from underneath the lid. Once that was removed, I simply ripped off the burlap which was only hot glued on. (You see what I mean with the flower and burlap? Kinda strange.)
With the original embellishment removed, I used my brown craft/scrapbook cardstock paper and printed out my title and then hot glued it to the metal embellishment I purchased. I hot glued that on as well. I cut brown craft/scrapbook cardstock paper into squares (not all perfect on purpose) and cut the tops with a pretty edge craft scissor.
I then wrote a few quotes myself to start the box off. One was a Maya Angelou one I had seen and the others I simply made up (on purpose which comes into play with the Youth Group Teens Contributions described in my youth night info below).
Materials Needed to Make The Box Above Were:
The box itself, metal embellishment labels found in the scrapbook/stamping section of a craft store, cardstock (use any color/style you wish, I liked the organic brown paper bag look), a pretty edged scissor & regular scissor, hot glue gun. (screwdriver if you find a box like I did with a metal flower that is screwed on at time of purchase)
THE MEETING & DISCUSSION
As I mentioned above, this was my first meeting of the New Year. This idea can certainly be used any time of year so don’t hold yourself to having to use it at New Years. If you choose to use it during the year and not in January, simply do not ask the first few questions. It might make a great Lent project as well.
I began by asking if anyone had actually made resolutions. Very few did. We talked for a few minutes about how many people feel resolutions don’t work, or they make a few and then they are broken by week #2. How it’s a lot of pressure to set new goals for yourself and to follow through once the New Year’s Hype goes away. Etc. We didn’t spend a ton of time on this, but I wanted to establish that what we were about to do would be something that was ongoing all year and something in their day to day lives. It would not be some huge goal that was unattainable as they could contribute and recognize truths at any time during the year.
2 Truths & A Lie
As an ice breaker, we went around in a circle playing this game. Basically, each person tells the whole group 2 truths and 1 lie about themselves. They should be things that we don’t already know about each other.
Here is an example- I used to be the Entertainment Director for a Nationally known performance group and I was also a professional dancer. My students were constantly being booked for music videos, commercials, concerts, etc. Because of this, I have had the opportunity to work with many celebrities. My current youth group students don’t know much about my past so I drew on this for my truths and lie. Basically, I used 3 pretty famous rappers who I knew the teens would definitely not think I would have any connection with to try to trick them. Truth 1– I backup danced for Naughty By Nature Truth 2– Rapper/Actor Ice-T asked me and my friend to hang out with him and his posse one night Lie- I worked with Snoop Dog one weekend on a video and he kept asking me to bring him granola bars. (btw- I’m a 5’1 blonde girl so it would be very easy for my teens to absolutely NOT believe any of these statements which made it more hilarious!)
Once the whole group votes (we did by show of hands) on which one they think is the lie, then the person reveals which is not true. Not only does everyone learn two new things about each other, but we all have a good bit of fun trying to deceive the group with our lie. (In case you’re curious, the lie was that it was Snoop Dog, it was actually Master P who I worked with.)
Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”
A survey of 20,000 Middle & High School Students indicated that 92% admitted to lying to their parents in the pervious year and 73% admitted that they told lies weekly. Despite these admissions, 91% of those students said that they were ‘satisfied with my own ethics and character’. Yikes! Their consciences were insensitive to their sin.
I asked my teens-
-Do you agree with these stats?
-What are some lies you have told in the last week?
Truth is an accurate representation of the facts. God is the truth and He always speaks the truth. Falsehood or lying is any deliberate misrepresentation of the facts. We bend the truth in many ways. There is the HALF-TRUTH- You sort of tell the truth, but not the whole truth. You tell your mom ‘I don’t feel well’ which is sort of true, but in reality, you were not so sick that you had to miss school, you just really wanted to sleep in that day or watch your favorite actor on ‘The Kelly & Michael Show’. Or, there is the WHITE LIE- a supposedly innocent lie that doesn’t hurt anyone. “Yes, your new hair cut looks amazing” or “Sure, I’d e happy to watch my neighbor’s kids, I just LOVE to babysit.”
- The bible is brutally honest in exposing the failures of some of the great men and women of faith when it comes to lying. If these great biblical people of faith struggled with lying, then we are definitely not exempt. Again, in Ephesians 4:25, Paul says, “Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” “Therefore” takes us back to the preceding context in the chapter where Paul has told us how we need to be different from our former life of corruption. Since God has changed us through the gospel, we are to live in the light of the truth by putting off the old life, being renewed in the spirit of our minds, and putting on the new life.
-We must speak the truth in love
-We must be kind and gracious when we speak the truth
-We need to phrase the truth in a way that is least offensive and most sensitive to the other person’s feelings
-We need to apply the golden rule: How would I want someone else to tell me this truth? I must speak in he same manner
One the greatest moral issues that we all struggle with is that of telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!
I had my teens read the following:
John 14:6– Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
We can tell lies, we can tell truths, Jesus is the truth.
John 8:32– In this verse, we learn that we can know Jesus, and Jesus can set us free. He offers us the truth about life and death, the truth about Satan, the truth about ourselves, the truth about all we need to know. That truth can free us to live the lives God intended for us to live.
John 8:42-47– In this verse we learn that the opposite of truth is falsehood, lie, deception, etc. So, if Jesus is the truth, the origin of all deception and lies is who? (All lies originate with the devil)
Being truthful can sometimes be difficult. Is this something with which you struggle? Does knowing God hates it when you lie, and knowing that when you do lie you’re speaking the devil’s language, affect your attitude at all? How?
Here are some tips-
- Recognize the source of truth and the source of falsehood. God is the source of truth. Satan is the source of falsehood and lies.
- Recognize the importance of truthfulness to God.
- Truthfulness is important to God because He is the God of truth who hates lying and falsehood.
- Truthfulness is important to God because truth is the basis for all communication.
- Choose to obey God by making a prior commitment not to lie, but rather to speak the truth.
- First, you must choose to obey God. Second, you must make a commitment not to lie.
- Confess your sins immediately, first to God and then to the ones you have sinned against.
- Consider the consequences of lying –
- How could my lying bring glory to God?
- How will my lying affect other believers?
- How will my lying affect my family?
- How will my lying affect my testimony before unbelievers?
- How will my lying affect my eternity?
“I AM” Activity
I have attached below a link to the instructions of the “I Am” activity. I can’t even remember where I found this now, I had done quite a bit of research leading up to this night, but all my teens participated and got something out of the activity and it lends itself very nicely to the night. It only takes a few minutes and it could always be used at the beginning of the night instead of here at the end.
I AM Activity -PDF Version
I AM Activity – Word Version
THE CHALLENGE – #365Truths
A new birth (A New Year, Reconciliation, Confirmation, etc.) is the starting point for a life f truthfulness.
Challenge the teens in your youth group to find one thing every day to recognize and #365truths. I handed out one card from our box to each teen and asked them to write one truth they could think of to start our box off. It could be something simple. Something made up or a quote they liked from someone else. It could even be an observation. Things that we would say or agree as being TRUTHS of how to live, recognize God in our every day lives, etc.
Our box will remain in our youth room for the year and each week a they come to youth group, they are encouraged to jot down another truth or two. I also challenged them to use social media (instagram, facebook, twitter, etc.) and #365truths as well. I was sure to let them know that as I see their social media #365truths posts, if they were quotes or sayings, I would jot them down and put them in the box during the week so they would be there by the time the next youth group meeting was held. I have put a couple of my teen’s #365truths below as well as the Maya Angelou one that I put in the box myself.
I concluded the night with a song which led us into prayer intentions (which we do each week). The song I used was “Fool’s Gold” by Colton Dixon. It lent itself well and I was sure to ask the teens before I played the song to be sure they knew what Fool’s Gold (pyrite) actually was…just to make sure they could make the connection with the term.