This morning in our Pathfinders group (11-14 years old) we did a session on heaven, hell and angels:
Opening Game 5 mins:
Give each person a Malteser. Ask them to balance the Malteser visibly on their tongue for as long as they want to stay in the game. The winner is the person who can make it last the longest.
Angel delight 5 mins:
Give three volunteers a jug, milk, whisk and a packet of angel delight. The other young people have to vote for who they think can make the thickest angel delight in 60 seconds, without the volunteers knowing. Set a timer for 60 seconds and get the volunteers to whip up the mixture as fast as they can. Measure who has made the best angel delight – if they are think enough you could hold them over their heads to see if any falls out- may need a shower cap. If they are nowhere near ready add extra minutes. Reveal the winner and the votes.
Paradise in Pictures Visual learners 10mins:
Give the young people a selection of magazines/catalogues and ask them to cut out pictures of their favourite things, which if they had all of them would feel like paradise, maybe give some examples of what you would pick. Talk to the young people about whether they think these things will be in heaven, if they are not then what do they think is there?
The model Angel Activist Learning style 5 mins:
Give each person a small amount of play-dough to make an angel with – what common features do all of them include.
Myth v Truth Theorist Learning style 10 mins:
You could run this short quiz (taken from Urban Saints) to challenge their ideas about angels. They could hold up cards/stand at either ends of the room or use bells as buzzers.
Ask the young people to get into groups of three. To each group give two pieces of paper, one marked with a large T for true and one marked with a large F for false.
Go through the following statements:-
- When children die they become angels F Matthew 22:30 (like angels in not marrying, not that people become angels).
- Angels fly T (Daniel 9:21) although mainly they seem to appear and walk around quite normally! Nowhere in the Bible is there mention of angels having wings.
- Angels are intelligent T (2 Samuel 14:20).
- Angels are more important than people T (Psalm 8:5) (the Bible states that people are beneath angels today but will be above them in heaven 1 Corinthians 6:3).
- Jesus is an angel F (Hebrews 1:1 – 4, Colossians 1:16 – 17).
- Angels play harps F (out of all the mentions of harps in the Bible – none are in connection with angels).
- Angels eat Philadelphia cheese T (Genesis 19:1 – 3) (in a number of accounts angels do eat with people see Genesis 18:8, whether or not Philadelphia cheese was on the menu remains a mystery!)
- Angels are girls F (Hebrews 1:14 & Matthew 22:30) (Angels are spirits that can take on the appearance of humans).
- Satan was an angel T (most beautiful of all angels see Ezekiel 28:12 – 17 but wanting to make himself equal with God Isaiah 14:12 – 15, now masquerades as an angel of light 2 Corinthians 11:14).
- People will judge the angels T (1 Corinthians 6:3).
Allow a small pause after each one for group decision making, then ask each group to hold up either T orF. Don’t comment on their response. Perhaps with the help of an assistant, work out how many each group got right – give out this result but don’t discuss their results.
Once all of the questions have been answered, explore each statement using the relevant Bible references.
Do the initial exercise again – hopefully you will be able to award every team a small prize for being 100% correct, or at least much improved! – these results I could then use in an evaluation of the session to measure how well it worked if we have them but don’t worry if you can’t keep a record.
Short talk Reflector/Visual Learning style 5 mins:
Key scripture: And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” ~Luke 23v43
Ask the young people what an angel looks like. Present them with some images of angles (see the angel images doc for some examples). Through the influence of Disney, types of art such as manga and mythology angels have become images of young glamorous women or children with glowing hallows and pure white feathery wings and magical powers. More and more the images the world feeds us of angels are further removed from the bible’s portrayal of them. To illustrate this point you could show one or both of the two adverts below that portray angels:
[youtube id=”LrPHRnyu8OU” width=”580″ height=”337″]
Often stories and fairy tales have merged ideas about angels and fairies and other supernatural beings. When God created the Earth he created the Heavens and things to go in it. These things are supernatural because they are not from, or living in our natural world, they exist in heaven. God’s power to create goes far beyond what we can see and understand to be real.
The following clip suggests the idea of guardian angels. Ask if the young people think everyone has a guardian angel? Do they have a hand in events that take place on Earth.
[youtube id=”i7rKWQKV5Pw” width=”580″ height=”337″]
Were angels in fact ‘built to protect’. Note how this ad shows angels as average looking men compared the previous ones.
Explain how it is a misconception that we can call on angels to help us. Refer to the story of Jesus’ temptation in the garden of Gethsemane by Satan and Jesus response that we should not put God to the test. When we need help we can ask for it from God who will help us in the best way. Angels never respond to people but are only sent by God to do what he has asked them for example, send a message like Gabriel did to Mary. The Hebrew for angel is ‘messenger’, and they can also guide and protect like the angel who held shut the lions mouth so it couldn’t eat Daniel. This can remind us that Jesus in enough and all we need – we don’t need add-ons to help our faith or make Christianity more ‘fun’ – angels are not like mobile apps. But neither are they an ‘optional extra’ they have a key job given to them by God. Highlight to the young people that the only named angels in the bible are Gabriel and Michael. Read Hebrews 1v 14 ‘Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?’. This would suggest that angels are not made of flesh and blood and may explain why they are often depicted in bright light both in and out of the bible. Give other example of angels in the Bible and how it presents them .
- They worship God like we do (Rev. 7v 11-12)
- They are massive and more like warriors for God than small children with wings (Rev 10 v 1-4)
- They have a massive party every time someone becomes a Christian (Luke 15 v 10)
Talk about how John 3 v 16 says that whoever believes in God will not die but live forever in Heaven with him. All we need to do is believe in God as Father and Jesus as is son sent to save us, even if we are criminals for ever like the second man on the cross and believe in God at the last minute we will still get to Heaven. Jesus will take our souls – the real you – up to heaven and give you the place he has already prepared.
Pray for the group and ask if they have anything they would like us to pray for. Play the Tim Hughes song Join with the Angels (We look to your word). Ask what has struck them about what they have discovered in the session and discuss any outstanding questions they may have.