Main Point of Discussion:
To show what our heavenly Father is like and how He can be a Father to us all.
Make sure everyone has a piece of paper and something to write with. Instruct them to fold the paper as if they were folding a letter for a regular envelope (tri-fold). Then have them fold that in half. Now have them unfold the paper to reveal the six small “squares” that the folds created. Explain that this exercise is a way to express feelings in a creative way.
Family Discussion Drama (Optional):
- Say, in the first square draw a letter, a symbol, or a picture of the first thing you think of when you think of your dad.
- Say, in the second square draw a letter, a symbol, or a picture of the first thing you think of when you think of your mom.
- Say, in the third square draw a horizontal line across it. On the left side of the line write CLOSER and on the far right side of the line write FARTHER AWAY. Now place yourself as a dot on the line, indicating which direction you are moving in your relationship with your parents—ask yourself if you’re drawing “closer” to them or “farther away.”
- Say, in the fourth square draw a letter, a symbol, or a picture of something you would do the same way if you were in your parents’ shoes. (In other words, symbolize something that they do that you like.)
- Say, in the fifth square draw a letter, a symbol, or a picture of something that you would do differently if you were in your parents’ shoes. (In other words, symbolize something that you don’t like or wish they did differently.)
- Say, in the sixth square draw a picture of something that represents the perfect relationship with a parent.
- After your students are finished, allow them to share the meanings of their drawings.
You can use this if you have time or prefer it to the drawing exercise. Tell your students that they’re going to role-play a few situations typical to most families. Limit dramas to about four minutes each.
You’ll need at least 3 actors (1 Mom, 1 Dad, and 1 Son)
Last night the son came home an hour late. It's breakfast the next morning, and the subject is being discussed. Go.
You’ll need at least 3 actors (1 Mom, 1 Dad, and 1 Daughter)
The family is sitting down discussing oldest sister's future. The parents want her to go to college, but she wants to get a job and live with her friends. Go.
You’ll need at least 4 actors (1 Mom, 1 Dad, 1 Son, and 1 Girlfriend)
Son and girlfriend have been dating for a long time now. The subject of dating has come up at the table while the son’s girlfriend is over for dinner. Son’s parents want to make sure that they are being careful (from the standpoint of sex). Go.
Did you ever wish that your parents could be better parents? Well, you may not know this, but your parents most likely have wished that about themselves, too! To them, raising children is the biggest thing in their lives—nothing else comes close. And when your parents make mistakes with you (and believe me, they know about their mistakes—much more than you realize), they wish they could take it all back. Which is why we need to remember that our parents are just like you in a very important way—that is, you’re both human. That is, you both make mistakes. So in that way, we need to give our parents a break. But our parents are like us in another important way, too—for both of you, God is the ultimate parent! Our heavenly father is the big “parent” for us as well as for our moms and dads! And God always deals with us in the best way.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Say three words that describe your family.
- ASK A FEW: If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
Read the following passage from the Bible:
ASK SOMEONE: In Jesus’ story, the “father” represents God, the Father. Who do you think the “sons” represent? (Leader—answer you’re looking for: us.)
ASK A FEW: What words would you use to describe the father Jesus talks about in this story?
ASK A FEW: We already know the father in this parable represents God the Father—but would you use those words to describe God? Why or why not?
ASK A FEW: What does Jesus’ teaching—that He is willing to let “bad” people like prostitutes and tax collectors into His Kingdom—say about the personality of God? (Leader—answer you’re looking for: God is gracious.)
28"What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 29" 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30"Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. 31"Which of the two did what his father wanted?"
"The first," they answered.
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”
Families are so important because they impact EVERYTHING we do. But we also looked at another kind of family—God’s. You heard Jesus describe His Father, God, as a radically forgiving and gracious father who loves his “sons” even though they do not exactly please him. We also saw that Jesus’ used “sons” to describe us!
Listen to another verse from the Bible that describes God’s love for us:
How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
Tonight, some of you described parents who are sometimes absent from your lives. God the Father promises to never leave us, nor forsake us—EVER.
Tonight, some of you described parents who are sometimes unforgiving. God the Father is a loving Father who graciously forgives every single mistake and sin if we ask him.
Tonight, some of you described parents who sometimes seem to want nothing to do with you. God the Father has paid the highest price in the Universe to ensure that we have the opportunity to have a relationship with Him through Jesus His Son.
Tonight, some of you described parents who don’t seem to love God. God the Father wants you to know that you should honor them with your life, no matter what.
I mess up a lot in life; you probably do, too. But I always know that God is still going to be there for me, ready to forgive me, and show me EVEN MORE of His love. Although it makes Him sad when I mess things up for myself, He still loves me. Some of you don't always get this kind of love at home. This is the kind of love only God can give. If you want to start a relationship with this God tonight, all you need to do is talk to one of the adults before you leave. They can tell you what to do. Your mother and father aren’t perfect. None of us are. Only God is the perfect parent. And only God can offer love that never fails.
Close in Prayer