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The aim

November 23 God’s call and promise

New names The aim: to trust God to keep his promises

The aim unpacked: Bible: Genesis 17 Author: Anonymous but original form may go back to Moses Date: Possibly sometime between 1350 and 1280 BC in its original form Readers: Written to give the Jewish nation a sense of their history Genre: Historical narrative Key idea: God confirms his promise. Big picture: God’s promise to save the world will come to fulfilment in his time.

During the last few sessions we have seen how Abram has had his fair share of ups and downs. However, despite his occasional lack of faith, God has remained faithful. In this session Abram gets a new name and God introduces circumcision. Both of these are important signs that God remains faithful and he will keep his promises. This session will be an opportunity to encourage your group, that not only does God make hugely significant promises to them, but that; the Bible contains so much reliable evidence that God is also faithful and will keep his promises.

Worth knowing: A few other ancient nations practiced circumcision, but for Abraham and his descendants it was a special mark of being God’s people.




Way in

Scene setters Number 1

Games or activities Number 1

What: quiz Why: to work out which people we trust most With: theGRID lifestyle magazine, pens, paper

What: name games Why: to introduce the theme of new names With: a ball

1 Distribute copies of theGRID lifestyle magazine and get everyone to turn to the ‘Who do you trust?’ activity on page 22. In pairs, they should compile a list of the top ten people they regularly put their trust in. 2 If you like, make it into a competition, awarding points to the pair that comes up with trusted people no one else has thought of, such as air traffic controllers. 3 Widen the discussion by asking the following questions about the ten people they have chosen: >>Which of them would you most trust to fly you across the Atlantic? >>Which of them would you most trust to make sure you have water when you turn your taps on? 4 Say that we tend to give our trust selectively, depending on whether people have skills for a particular job. Ask: ‘Is there anyone you would trust all the time, in every eventuality?’

1 This activity involves playing a couple of typical namelearning games. However, there’s a twist. 2 Randomly assign everyone in the group a new name. Tell them that this is the name by which they must be referred to for the rest of the session. Then play a couple of name-learning games. Here are some possible ideas, but you’ll probably have some ideas of your own. >>Get everyone to line up on a bench in height order. Then tell them that they have to now line up in alphabetical order – but they are not allowed to touch the floor. If your group is large, divide them into two teams and have a race. >>Ask everyone to stand in a circle. One person has to throw a ball to another person. As they do this, they have to say their name, followed by the name of the person they are throwing the ball to. >>Get everyone to write their name on a slip of paper. Then collect them in, shuffle them and hand them all out. Each person has to find the person whose name is written on the slip of paper they now have. 3 Introduce the session by explaining that they’re going to be discovering that Abram got a new name.

Number 2 What: activity Why: to think about the significance of names With: a ‘meaning of names book’ 1 You may like to begin this activity by asking group members one of the following questions: >>If you were a tool, what would you be and why? >>If you were a fruit what would you be and why? >>If you were an animal, what would you be and why? These questions might help get people thinking about what they are like. If the group knows each other well, you might like to get people to answer the question for the person sitting next to them! 2 Ask group members if they know the meaning of their names. If they do, get them to share it with the group. If not, have a ‘meaning of names book’ on hand. (If you can’t get hold of one, you might like to do some Internet research before the meeting so you know the meaning of everyone’s name.) 3 Encourage the young people to think of a name they would like to be called if they could rename themselves. Ideally, get them to choose a name for which they think the meaning is appropriate to them. 4 Conclude by explaining that in this session they’ll discover why God changed Abram’s name.


Number 2 What: game Why: to link to the theme of names With: sticky labels, pens 1 Before the session, write the names of well known celebrities onto sticky labels. 2 Stick a label to the forehead or back of every person. They must not see what’s written on the label. Try to remove or cover up all reflective surfaces! 3 Challenge them by asking yes and no questions about their celebrity. Say that the young people must not ask consecutive questions to the same person. (This stops two people just talking to each other.) 4 Once someone has guessed correctly, they should sit down at the side quietly. Only those left can answer questions. Keep going until everyone is finished. 5 Conclude by saying that during this session they’re going to be learning how some names are very important.


Bible xperience

Level  Connect

Level 3 Switch on

What: quiz Why: to trust God to keep his promises With: theGRID lifestyle magazine, pens, Bibles, prizes

What: quiz and discussion Why: to trust God to keep is promises With: Bibles, resource page 8A, pens

1 Hand out copies of theGRID lifestyle magazine and pens. Then get the young people to work in pairs on the ‘Name that celebrity’ activity on page 33. 2 Once they have finished, go through the answers and give a prize to the winner(s). 3 Ask the following questions: >>Whose real names were you most surprised by? >>Do you think people should change their names just to help their showbiz profile? 4 Read Genesis 17:3–5 to the group and explain that Abram’s name meant ‘blessed father’, but God changed it to Abraham, which means ‘father of many’. They may remember that God made a promise a few years back to bless Abram with countless descendants. By changing his name, God was committing to fulfill his promise. Abraham must have been a bit nervous about his new name, because he’d probably have been ridiculed if he didn’t go on to have lots of descendants. 5 Finish by saying that this story is yet another example of why we can trust God to keep his promises.


Level 2 Interface

What: animation Why: to trust God to keep is promises With: animation for Session 8 from the CD-ROM, a laptop or PC, projector, PA system

What: experiment and Bible study Why: to trust God to keep his promises With: Bibles, reference books, slips of paper and pens

1 Gather the group together and show the animation. 2 Ask the young people to discuss why they think we should trust God to keep his promises. 3 Encourage the group to think about promises they have made recently. How are they going to ensure they keep them? Chat about why it’s important for us to keep our promises.

God slot What: story and sound effects Why: to trust God to keep his promises With: script for Session 8 from the CD-ROM 1 Make sure you familiarise yourself with the script before the session. 2 Explain to the young people that when you mention certain characters they have to make the relevant ‘sound effects’ or ‘statements’. 3 After explaining their participation, read the story in an animated and over-the-top way. Remember to allow pauses for when they have to say things!

1 Give everyone a slip of paper and a pen. Then tell them to write down any two letters and two numbers as a sort of combination code. 2 Without talking or making gestures to each other or looking at anyone else’s sheet, give them a minute to write down the same password as everybody else. 3 After 60 seconds get them all to show the group what their combination was. The chances of them having remotely the same combinations are very slim. 4 Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 17:1–8 to the group. Explain that, in short, what God has promised Abram/ Abraham is that he will ensure that his family line will always continue and that there will be kings amongst his descendants. 5 Ask them to discover (using the reference books): >>How do we know that God kept his promise? >>How many years are there between the time of Abraham, the time of David and the time of Jesus? (Approximately, 2000 BC, 900 BC and AD 30) 6 Explain that the chances of people fixing these events and recording them as convincing history over thousands of years, is about as likely as each of the young people independently coming up with exactly the same combination codes! 7 Finish by saying that much of the Bible is actually a historical document and even most non-Christian historians wouldn’t dispute the remarkable historical accuracy of it. Therefore, we have so much evidence that we can trust God to keep his promises – because he’s already been proven that he does for thousands of years.


1 Divide the group into twos and threes, and ask them to work through the ‘Bible names quiz’ on resource page 8A. 2 Gather the group together and go through the answers. (Answers: 1 d; 2 f; 3 b; 4 h; 5 a; 6 i; 7 g; 8 c; 9 e.) Explain that the point of that quiz was to show how every name in the Bible has a specific meaning to it and that in Bible times names were of great importance. 3 In their small groups, ask the young people to summarise what they’ve learnt over the past few sessions. Ask them to consider what they’ve learnt about Abram, what they’ve learnt about God, and what they can learn for themselves as they seek to follow God today. 4 Explain that in the last session Abram didn’t do too well! However, God didn’t give up on him, and in this session God, once again, reaffirms his promises to Abram. Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 17 to the group or encourage the young people to read a verse each. 5 Ask the young people (in their small groups) to make a list of questions the passage raises for them. Discuss these questions as a large group. Make sure you familiarise yourself with the passage beforehand and are ready to respond to any particularly tricky questions you think they might ask! For example, make sure you know what the names Abram and Abraham mean and you’ll almost certainly need to be prepared to talk about circumcision. 6 Conclude by asking: >>What is the key thing that you have learnt about God during the last few sessions? >>How is this going to affect how you live your life?





What: songwriting Why: to worship God for the fact that he is trustworthy With: flip chart, paper, pens, music, words, instruments

What: collages Why: to allow creative expression of God’s promises With: theGRID lifestyle magazine, A3 paper, magazines and newspapers, scissors, glue

1 Use the word ‘trust’ in your worship. Divide the young people into four groups and give each group a letter from the word ‘trust’ and ask them to brainstorm as many words as possible that begin with that letter that apply to God, for instance ‘trustworthy’, ‘reliable’, ‘unchanging’, ‘sovereign’. 2 Work together to incorporate these words into a song. Take a well known worship song and include an instrumental verse in which each group sings their words in unison. Alternatively, if everyone is feeling creative, encourage them to write their own song that incorporates the words they have listed. 3 Sing some other well known worship songs that talk about trusting God.

1 Give each person a sheet of A3 paper and a copy of theGRID lifestyle magazine. Using the magazines and newspapers, ask each person to make a collage using one or two of the promises on page 23. 2 They can write their own words if they want to, but encourage them to use as many cut-out words and images as possible.

Chillzone Use this time as a ‘question and answer’ session to allow the young people to discuss and clarify anything they’ve been thinking about over the past four sessions.

Practical What: meditation and prayer Why: to allow space for reflection on God’s promises With: theGRID lifestyle magazine, relaxing music, a CD player

This week, SUbmerge has been looking at Acts 10,11. Conclude by inviting the young people to write down their own dreams on a large cloud-shaped sheet of paper. When everyone has written on the cloud, roll it up and tell them that they will look at the cloud again in six months’ time! When you do this, encourage the young people to talk about their dreams and discuss how they can help each other achieve them. Then roll the cloud up once more, and bring it out again in another six months. Have any of the dreams been achieved?

1 Play some relaxing music and get everyone to find a space on the floor. 2 Give each young person a copy theGRID lifestyle magazine and get them to read through the promises on page 00. 3 Encourage them to meditate on the promises by reading them repeatedly and thinking about what feelings and emotions they may stir up in them. 4 Tell them they could also simply close their eyes and pray to God about each promise, asking for more faith or thanking God for his promises.

Next week, SUbmerge will be continuing to look at the life of Jacob in Genesis 29–31. Prepare them for this by recapping the story so far. Divide the young people into small groups and get them to flick through Genesis 25–28, noting the key events in Jacob’s life. Make a definitive list as a whole group and then ask each small group to devise a very short sketch exploring one of these events. After giving everyone a few minutes to prepare their sketches, watch them in the correct order.



theGRID leaders taster session  

The GRID for 11-14s includes creative activity suggestions suitable for traditional Sunday groups, cell groups, and open youth groups

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