SUNDAY NIGHT LIGHTS!!!
FOOTBALL FAITH FOR ANYONE
It’s Fall, everyone is back to school, and you know what that means….
Whether your teens are football fans or not, this is a wonderful meeting to get a fabulous discussion going on encouragement!
I was born and raised in the South, I BLEED ORANGE & BLUE (Go Gators), and in the Fall, there is nothing better than a Saturday filled with college gameday fun!
A few years ago, there was a tv show which was arguably one of the best shows on tv. Perhaps you heard about it, saw it, or maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about, but it is worth your time!!! Either way, you will no doubt notice that it had an all star cast of incredibly ‘real’ characters portrayed by incredible actors (of which you will recognize many), amazing writers, and was brilliantly constructed. And although the show was based on a football team/town and a famous story and movie, ultimately, the show was about RELATIONSHIPS!!! And, I should mention, when you have a show based on a HS Football Team/Town in the South, there is another obvious element which must be included…FAITH!
The show was “FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS” and I was, and continue to remain, a huge fan. From the moment the pilot aired, I knew it would be something I would use with my Youth Group teens. The below information is how I used the show to create a wonderful meeting based on ENCOURAGEMENT!!!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Season 1 / Episode 2 of Friday Night Lights – Episode Title “Eyes Wide Open”
- A DVD Player/Projector (or whichever way you choose to show the episode to your group)
- (Optional) Football Decor
- (Optional) Gameday Snacks (popcorn, chips, etc.)
- (Optional) Have everyone show up wearing their favorite team’s jersey or apparel
HOW I RAN THE MEETING
I encouraged all my teens to show up wearing their favorite team jersey/apparel. There is a lot of fun in ‘friendly’ competitiveness between teams and who you root for. At least here, in Florida, we have a large amount of UF Gator Fans, FSU Seminole Fans, and Miami Hurricane Fans and it is always about how many of which team out number the others and who’s team is the best! I put out some football snacks and arranged our youth room into a movie theatre setting using the wall as a movie screen (via projector).
Before starting the episode, I give the teens a quick synopsis of the setting and what they ‘missed’ in the pilot episode. (I recommend watching it yourself first) Here are some bullet points on what I said (I tend to talk off the cuff and being a fan of this show, that is not a problem for me…ha)
– In this town in Texas, football is everything. The whole town shuts down on Friday Nights, and everyone attends the game.
-This is the best coach who has been brought in to coach the best HS Football team in the State. The entire town is counting on him to take his team to the State Championships and win.
-The Quarter Back Jason, is the ‘ALL STAR’ who is not only the best QB on the field, but is also just as wonderful of a guy off the field. All American Boy, Faith Filled Teen, Beautiful Girlfriend, Best Friend, Team Leader, Role Model for all the little boys in the town, just all around amazing guy.
-In the first game of the season, he takes a hit and is rushed to the Hospital. No one knows what his injury is yet and everyone is worried about him.
-In the last minutes of the game, the sophomore QB is put in the game and throws a pass to win…No one can believe it. He’s second string and young and everyone thinks it is just a ‘lucky shot’ which he could never duplicate.
-I also explain a few of the main characters besides Coach Taylor, Jason (QB who is hurt), Lila (QB’s girlfriend and cheerleader), and Matt (sophomore second string QB)
They Are- Tammy (Coach’s Wife) Riggins (QB’s Best Friend) Smash (Good but ‘too confident’ player) Mr. Garrity (Lila’s Dad and main funder/supporter of the team) and Landry (Matt’s best friend)
-At the end of the episode, Coach Taylor gathers his entire team and leads them in prayer….
I READ THE PRAYER TO MY TEENS…IT IS AS FOLLOWS-
“Give all of us gathered here tonight the strength to remember that life is so very fragile. We are all vulnerable, and at some point in our lives fall. We will all fall. We must carry this in our hearts; that what we have is special; that it can be taken from us, and that when it is taken from us, we will be tested. We will be tested in our very souls. We will now all be tested. It is these times, it is this pain, that allows us to look inside ourselves.” -Coach Taylor
I explain that the prayer is how the first episode ends and then I show Episode 2 –
“Eyes Wide Open”
After watching the episode I lead the discussion by first asking the teens, “What do you think this episode was really about?” (Besides football) Hopefully they guess ‘encouragement’ or ‘belief in someone’.
I begin to lead a discussion by going over the episode in this way:
Since the episode is broken up into days (Sun-Fri) I recap each day and ask them what they noticed.
(If you would like me to share how I go about this and what scenes I talk about, feel free to ask me…it is a lot to type here so I will save the space for now!)
Then I lead the teens in what I call “Coral Springs Lights”
(Insert the name of your town or Church)
In the show there are examples of:
Belief (in team, eachother, coach, tradition, God)
Encouragment of others
Belief in God
IN OUR OWN LIVES-
How do we encourage others?
How do we miss opportunities to encourage others?
How does having belief in someone encourage them?
Would you pray instantly, without hesistation…out loud…in the way that Coach Taylor or Lila did in the show?
If you do pray for someone silently on your own, do you tell them?
Does telling them encourage them?
Does it depend on the person?
Is it important to tell them?
Would you go the extra mile to encourage someone the way the girlfriend, wife, and coach did?
Of course, I continue to lead the discussion and ask for them to share examples from their own lives.
I also ask them what they think “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” means.
This is the team’s motto and it is fun to see what they come up with.
I also read Coach Taylor’s prayer again and ask them if it means anything different now, after viewing the episode and discussing encouragement, than it did at the beginning of the meeting.
I also ask them to tell me what they think this phrase means:
“Get Up One More Time Than You Fall”
AT THE END OF THE MEETING-
I wrap up the meeting with a song and prayer intentions and then I hand out bookmarks which I prepared for them. It is a nice ‘take home’ for them to remember the night’s discussion.
The bookmark is below:
HOW IT WENT
I have used this meeting with both High School and Middle School Youth Groups. It is always a fun night to do, but espcially in the Fall when you can incorporate everyone coming in their favorite team’s jerseys, it is very well received. The teens absolutely LOVE it, and there are always a few girls who are pleasantly surprised that I did not ‘lie’ to them about not needing to have any interest in football as a game, or ability or knowledge of how to play.
I usually get asked where they can buy/view the dvd’s and many of them end up watching the show after. There are other episodes I have used in the past for other themes/topics.
I asked my teens to spend the next week trying to encourage someone every day in a ‘real’ way, in a ‘real’ situation. Not something they went looking to do and ‘check off their list’, but simply to be aware in their day to day interactions with friends and family at school and home and to try to encourage someone each day in whatever way they can. Hoping, of course, that a week’s challenge will turn into a good habit. (:
If you use this meeting idea, please let me know how it goes with your group!
I would love to hear from you!
Happy Football Season!