Here’s a free lesson and game on Thankfulness based on Colossians 2:6-7; Ephesians 5:20; and 1 Chronicles 16:34.
The lesson’s bottom line: God has blessed us with so much, but sometimes, we take that for granted and forget to be thankful. We should take the time to be thankful for all the things in our life, so that we can live our lives in Him, overflowing with thankfulness.
Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
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Youth Group Lesson & Game on Thankfulness
A Great Thanksgiving Lesson & Game
Bible: Colossians 2:6-7; Ephesians 5:20; 1 Chronicles 16:34
Description: God has blessed us with so much, but sometimes, we take that for granted and forget to be thankful. We should take the time to be thankful for all the things in our life, so that we can live our lives in Him, overflowing with thankfulness.
- Water balloons
- Two buckets
- A tarp or towels (If you’re going to play the game inside)
- A roll of paper (for the students to write on)
- Pens or markers
OPENING GAME: Make it Overflow
This game can be played outside in order to minimize the mess. If you choose to play it inside, lay down a tarp or some towels before beginning.
Split the group into two teams and have them line up. On the opposite side of the room, put a bucket for each team.
On the side of the room where the teams are lined up, put all the water balloons.
Explain that the object of this game is to be the first team to get their bucket to overflow with water.
One at a time, students from each team must get a water balloon to their bucket without using their hands. They then have to pop it and get the water in the bucket, still without the use of their hands.
The first team to get their bucket to overflow wins!
Teach – Thankfulness
How often do you complain? No, really. Think about it. How often do you complain about something, big or small?
Sadly, you probably can’t even think of a real answer, because we tend to complain so much that we don’t even know we’re doing it.
How often do you say the things you’re thankful for?
Probably not nearly as much as you complain, right? Because for some reason, it just seems easier to complain than to be thankful.
Do you feel happier when you’re complaining or when you’re being thankful? Personally, I’m much happier when I’m living a thankful life. It’s just easier to be happy when you’re thankful!
How can you not be thankful when you think of all that God has done for you?
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:6-7
Do you want something to be thankful for? How about the fact that you’ve received Jesus? That’s worth being thankful for, right?
This verse is telling us how we should live. It says we should live our lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in faith, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Isn’t that a cool thing to think of? Overflowing with thankfulness. Being so full of thankfulness that you just can’t keep it to yourself, and it just bubbles out of you.
Just like in the game we played, where you filled up the bucket again and again, until eventually it overflowed!
I would say that most of the time, you’re overflowing with something. Even if you don’t realize it and even if it’s not on purpose.
Sometimes, during the school year, you guys come in here and you’re overflowing with stress. Stress about homework, assignments, projects, and studying. It’s all you can think about, and you can’t help but overflow with it.
Sometimes, you’re overflowing with happiness. You’ve had a great day hanging out with your friends, you guys have plans for tomorrow, and you’re having so much fun that you’re just overflowing with happiness.
I’ve also seen people overflow with jealousy, wanting what someone else has so badly that they just can’t help the emotion from flooding out of them. I’ve seen people overflow with compassion, so moved by someone else’s situation that the desire to help just overflowed.
Whatever you’re feeling the most, or thinking about the most, that’s what you’re going to be overflowing with.
So how do you overflow with thankfulness?
Well, you first have to try.
You have to make a decision to start being thankful more than you are now. Make an effort to be thankful on purpose. Don’t just wait for something to come along that makes you feel thankful, but instead, actively look at all of the things in your life that you’re thankful for.
Another way to overflow with thankfulness is to be thankful for the big things and for the little things.
Don’t just be thankful for the big things that happen, like getting an A in your toughest class, or getting exactly what you wanted for your birthday. Be thankful for the small things too, like when your mom makes you breakfast, or when the bus is on time.
You don’t only complain in the big things, do you? Of course you don’t. We complain about pretty much everything, big or small.
If you’re wearing shoes that are uncomfortable, what do you do? Well, you probably complain about them. About how they are pinching your feet, about how your feet hurt, and about how you’re so uncomfortable.
When was the last time that you were thankful because your shoes were comfortable?
Do you see where I’m going with this? If it’s big enough to complain about, then it’s certainly big enough to be thankful about. So be thankful! For comfortable shoes, for good friends, for the piece of pizza you got that had the perfect ratio of cheese and sauce…be thankful for it all!
Another thing that is sure to make you overflow with thankfulness is to make being thankful a part of your prayer life.
Sure, most of us would say that we’re very thankful to God and all He’s done for us. We would probably all say that we’re extremely thankful for the things God has blessed us with. But when you pray, is it usually to say thank you, or is it to ask for something?
“…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 5:20
When was the last time you just said thank you to God?
This verse says we should be always giving thanks to God for everything. It’s easy to read a verse like that and kind of skip over its actual meaning. Because seriously—give thanks for everything? Is that even possible?
I need a couple of volunteers to come up here.
Okay, I want you guys to start at the beginning of your day today, and tell me some things that happened that you should be giving thanks to God for.
Let each student say just a couple of things, or as many as they want—it’s up to you and how long you have.
Okay, great. Those are some awesome things, and you’re right, you should definitely give thanks to God for those.
But, I think you missed a few things.
First of all, you woke up today. That’s something to be thankful for all on its own. You woke up, you were breathing, and you were physically able to get out of bed. Don’t you think God deserves some thankfulness for that?
Also, the sun was rising when you got up. A beautiful sunrise brought the good news that, surprise; you’re not going to freeze to death today!
Then, you got to go to a bathroom with a working shower, toilet, and sink. You got to brush your teeth with running water without being afraid about whether or not the water was going to give you any diseases. Most of the world can’t say the same, so that’s something worth being thankful for!
And let’s not forget that when you woke up, you woke up into a promise of eternal life, not death. You woke up forgiven, because Jesus has died for your sins.
All of these things you have to be thankful for in your day, and your day hasn’t even really started yet!
But, did you thank God for all of those things this morning? Probably not. We become so used to them that we start to take them for granted, and we forget to be thankful for them.
If you want to overflow with thankfulness, start telling God thank you every single time you encounter something that He’s blessed you with. You won’t stop saying thank you all day!
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;his love endures forever.” – 1 Chronicles 16:34
When things get tough in our lives, it can become a little hard to be thankful. We tend to focus on the bad stuff instead of the good stuff, complaining instead of saying thank you. And sometimes, things are just going to be hard. Things in life are going to get pretty bad every now and then, but that doesn’t mean the thankfulness should stop.
Even if you’re going through a hard time where it’s hard to think of things to be thankful for, you have this. The Lord is good, and His love for you endures forever.
No matter what else goes wrong in your day, or week, or month, The Lord is good. No matter how many times you mess up, make mistakes, and fail, His love for you endures forever. And that’s worth thanking Him for.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Do you think there are things in your life that you forget to say thank you for? Like what?
Is saying thank you to Jesus something you need to do more often?
What do you think you overflow with most often? Is it thankfulness or something else?
Do you think that taking the time to think about all God has blessed you with will cause you to overflow with thankfulness?
Do you spend more time complaining than you do being thankful? Is that something you want to change?
Do you think it’s possible to give God thanks for everything?
What are some small things you’re going to work on being thankful for this week?
Do you agree that you’re happier when you’re thankful than you are when you’re complaining?
How do you feel when you do something really nice for someone and they don’t say thank you? Do you think Jesus ever feels that way?
We have eternal life through Jesus. Is that something you think about every day? If not, do you think it’s something that you should think about every day?
At the beginning of the night, overflowing with thankfulness for everything in our life seemed like it may be difficult to do. But after remembering all that God has done for us and all that we have to be thankful for, it doesn’t seem hard at all.
It’s so important to be thankful, and we have so much to be thankful for. But if you’re used to complaining all the time and not really used to being thankful, it’s going to take a little bit of effort. I thought we could get started on that tonight, all together.
Roll out paper and pass out pens or markers.
On this, I want everyone to write a couple of things they’re thankful for. Whether they’re big things or small things, it doesn’t matter. Just write some things on here that are worth being thankful for.
Allow some time for students to do this.
I’m going to hang this banner (in my office, in this room, etc…wherever you can). And then next week, we’re all going to write something else we’re thankful for, until it’s completely full of thankfulness.
So if you find yourself having a hard time being thankful this week, I understand. It’s a new thing and can be difficult. But if nothing else, I want you to come back with three more things to write on this banner. So at least three times this week, stop and be thankful for something.
We all have so much to be thankful for because of Jesus. And I know that if we make an effort, and really start thinking about all He has done for us, it won’t be long at all until we’re overflowing with thankfulness.
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