Balloon Faith!!!

Balloon Faith!!!
 How do we explain to our teens that God is always there?  We can’t see him.  We can’t touch him.  So…where is he?  In this modern world of texting, facetime/skype, constant communication & instant gratification, HOW do we know if God is REALLY there?

 

I’ve actually used this meeting a few times over the years with both High School and Middle School youth groups.  I had been hearing a new song (at the time, some years ago) that I really liked and thought was a great idea for a meeting (mainly, the lines, ‘though you’re invisible, I trust the unseen’ – I was trying to come up with a way to ‘capture’ the unseen so they could ‘see’ it) and this is the spark of creativity that came out of my thoughts based on the song. 
The song is “Never Alone” by Barlowgirl
Here are the lyrics:
I waited for you today, but you didn’t show….no, no;
I needed you today, so where did you go?
You told me to call, said you’d be there;
and though I haven’t seen you, are you still there?
I cried out with no reply and I can’t feel you by my side;
so I’ll hold tight to what I know, you’re here, and I’m never alone.
And though I can not see you, and I can’t explain why;
Such a deep reassurance, you’ve placed in my life.
Oh, we cannot separate, cause you’re part of me,
and though you’re invisible, I’ll trust the unseen.
I cried out with no reply and I can’t feel you by my side;
so I’ll hold tight to what I know, you’re here, and I’m never alone.
We cannot separate, you’re part of me, and though you’re invisible, I trust the unseen.
I cried out with no reply and I can’t feel you by my side;
so I’ll hold tight to what I know, you’re here, and I’m never alone.
What you’ll need:
Balloons (not blown up)
A cone or chair or something to mark the end of the relay area
Sharpee or Permanent Markers
A copy of “Never Alone” by Barlowgirl and a sound system to play it on.
Here is how the meeting is laid out:
Ice Breaker- Balloon Pop Relay
I started the meeting by breaking up the teens into two groups for a relay.  (Our youth room is upstairs in a school building and we have a long hallway, but you could easily do this relay anywhere.)  I gave each teen a non inflated balloon.  I explained the relay to them.  Two teams compete against each other.  First person blows their balloon up and ties it closed, runs to the end of the hall (I marked it with a sports cone), sits on their balloon to pop it, once popped, runs back to the start and tags their teammate.  Once, they do that, they should sit at the back of their team’s line.  Once everyone on the team is finished and seated, they win.
Once the ice breaker is over…move back into the room for discussion
Once back in the room, I handed each teen another balloon and a sharpee marker.
They blew their balloon up and tied it.
I instructed them (one thing at a time so everyone had it done correctly) how to draw sections on their balloon.  (see the pictures below as examples)
1- Top Circle- Draw a circle around the top point of your balloon (about 3 inches diameter)
2- Top Outside Circle- Draw another circle just below (about 1 inch) the top circle
3- Bottom Circle-  Draw a circle around the bottom tied end of the balloon (about 3 inches)
4- Bottom Outside Circle- Draw a circle just above the bottom circle (same as on top)
5- Draw 4 verticle lines between the bottom outside and top outside circle to make four quarter panels
6- Draw one horizontal line around the middle of the balloon (like the equator or like a belt) which will divide the 4 quarter sections into 8 sections.
ONE SECTION AT A TIME & WAITING A MINUTE OR TWO FOR EVERYONE TO COMPLETE IT, INSTRUCT THE TEENS TO WRITE IN EACH SECTION:
Top Circle- Dreams
Top Outside Circle– 1/2 of that circle My Hopes other 1/2 of that circle Things I’m Looking Forward To in Life
Bottom Circle– 1/2 Sad Times in My Life other 1/2 Mistakes I have made
Bottom Outside Circle– Things I wish had never happened to me, my family, or my friends
8 Side/Middle Panels
Top 4 Panels– My Gifts Are, Times I was a Good Christian/Catholic, Best of Happiest Times of my Life, Things I’m Thankful For
Bottom 4 Panels– I Strive to Be, Times I was not a Good Christian/Catholic, Things I Struggle With Everyday, Things I don’t Understand (about life….not ‘math’ or something)

 

Once everyone has finished writing, start the discussion.  Below are the bullet points I came up with and asked them.  As I asked each question, the teens shared, discussed, debated, etc.
  • What is inside your balloon?  (the answer you’re looking for is air)
  • What was inside your balloon before you blew it up?
  • What size is your balloon before it gets blown up?
  • Why does it expand and grow?
  • Is the balloon fragile?
  • Why?
  • What is written on the outside of your balloon?
  • What is on the inside of your balloon?  (answer could be air, nothing, or they could perhpas start ‘getting’ the picture and guess other things like spirit, god, etc.)
  • If the fragile shell part of your balloon is YOU, what is INSIDE the balloon?  (god, your spirit, the Holy Spirit, etc.)
  • If you pop the balloon, what happens?
  • IF GOD IS THE AIR WITHIN US, HE IS INSIDE US DURING WHAT???  (what is on your balloon?  Bad times, good times, hopes, dreams, things you wish didn’t happen, etc.)
  • SO….IS GOD ALWAYS WITH US?
  • Where is he during the bad times?
  • Is he in and around all people?
  • Are some people (balloons) more fragile than others?  Do they pop easier?  Why?
HAVE ALL THE TEENS POP THEIR BALLOONS!!!
(fyi, the writing will cause their fingers to get black perhaps, but the writing will still be there, only smaller)
  • What happend to the air/God/spirit?  Where did it go?  (it’s all around us)
  • So we no longer have the air ‘contained’ but it’s still there….literally
  • Is that hard to believe?
  • Faith is like the air.  You can’t see it or touch it, but it’s there! 
  • God is like the air.  You can’t see him or touch him, but he’s there!  Right?
  • We can’t hold it or touch it, but when we put air inside a balloon we know it’s there.
  • When it’s not in a balloon, where is it?  We breathe it, we need it to survive.  It’s all around us, we just have to choose to see it and recognize it.  JUST LIKE GOD!
You might come up with better discussion talking points or questions.  I usually try to grab a bible verse to read them as well.
As a conclusion to the discussion…I told them about this poem and then read it to them. 
YOU MIGHT NEED TO UPDATE IT WITH CURRENT PRODUCTS…
It was a popular prayer card when I was a teenager in the late 80’s.  We even acted it out as a skit once at a spaghetti dinner for our parish
(ask me for simple info on how to do that if you’re interested). 
God is like Coke- he’s the real thing.
God is like Pan Am- He makes the going great
God is like General Electric- He lights your path
God is like Bayer Aspirin- He works wonders
God is like Hallmark Cards- He cares enough to send the very best
God is like Tide- He gets the stains out that others leave behind
God is like VO5 Hairspray- He holds through all kinds of weather
God is like Dial Soap- Aren’t you glad you know him?  Don’t you wish everyone did?
God is like Sears- He has everything
God is like Alka Seltzer- Try him, you’ll like him
God is like Scotch Tape- You can’t see him, but you know he’s there!
I then played “NEVER ALONE” for them to begin our final prayer time.  I instructed them to listen carefully to the words.  It’s a wonderful and current song with a bit of dramatic build up so my teens really enjoyed it and asked me what the song was and where to get it at the end.

 

 How it went:
I’ve done this a few times with a few different groups over the last 8 years or so.  Every time, it was a wonderful discussion and you always hit that ‘ah-ha’ moment when you start telling them the balloon is them so, what is inside them.  I love the ‘ah-ha’ moments!  I think one of my most cherished comments I’d ever received from a teen  regarding how they liked the meeting came from the first time I did this meeting.  “Jenn always has us do the most random things with some crazy game or something and then finds a way into this deep serious discussion.  I’ll never think about a balloon the same way again.”   I got all teary at that one! (;
If you decide to do this meeting idea with your group, please share with me how it went!
If you come up with your own ‘spin’ on it, please let me know as well!  Would love to hear from you!
God Bless-
Jenn

Jenn D'Angelo-Lucovic

Jenn is a youth minister from South Florida who has been involved in youth ministry for 20+ years. She believes strongly that helping teens find God in their everyday world is not only necessary, but a much more effective way to connect with them. This means finding God in their day to day activities, their tv choices (yes, including reality tv), music choices, movies, technology, at school, in their social life, etc. With a professional background working in the Entertainment Biz as a Director, Choreographer, & Dancer, she embraces pop culture and uses it in her ministry in some unexpected and fun ways. She is excited to share the creative meetings and events she creates for the teens in her parish.


Jenn D'Angelo-Lucovic


Jenn is a youth minister from South Florida who has been involved in youth ministry for 20+ years. She believes strongly that helping teens find God in their everyday world is not only necessary, but a much more effective way to connect with them. This means finding God in their day to day activities, their tv choices (yes, including reality tv), music choices, movies, technology, at school, in their social life, etc. With a professional background working in the Entertainment Biz as a Director, Choreographer, & Dancer, she embraces pop culture and uses it in her ministry in some unexpected and fun ways. She is excited to share the creative meetings and events she creates for the teens in her parish.



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