Here’s a free youth group lesson on how God gives us a clean slate. It’s a great one to use around the beginning of the year, and is based on: Psalm 51:7; Genesis 6:5-22; Genesis 7:2-24; and Genesis 8:1-22.

The lesson’s big idea: We do not have to carry the burdens of our past failings, sins, and grief throughout our entire lives because God offers us a clean slate. 

It includes a fun opening game to set up the message.

Enjoy!

Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

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YOUTH GROUP LESSON – CLEAN SLATE

BIBLE: Psalm 51:7; Genesis 6:5-22; Genesis 7:2-24; Genesis 8:1-22

BOTTOM LINE: We do not have to carry the burdens of our past failings, sins, and grief throughout our entire lives because God offers us a clean slate. 

SUPPLIES

OPENING GAME (IN-PERSON)

  • 2 Bananas
  • 2 Wrapped gifts (equal size)
  • 1 Roll of painter’s tape
  • Music (optional)

OPENING GAME (ONLINE)

Each person participating online will need to collect the following items before the game begins.

  • Tape 
  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Shoe (with shoe laces)

TEACH

  • Several items of various weights and sizes (optional)

OPENING GAME (IN-PERSON VERSION): RULE OF THUMB

HOW TO PLAY THE GAME

Invite two contestants (wearing laced shoes) to play.

Have each contestant untie one shoe and place it in the back of the room.

Bring the contestants back to the front and tape their thumb and index finger together on both hands.

When the music begins, or on your cue, instruct the students that they will have to complete three tasks without using their thumbs and in the order that you give them.

  1. Retrieve their shoe, put it on, and tie it.
  1. Peel the banana.
  1. Unwrap the gift.

The first person to complete everything wins!

You can get creative with other tasks that would be hard to do without a thumb! 

Caution: This could be hilarious!

Debrief with your students by talking about how the game was challenging without the use of their thumbs.

When our minds, bodies, and spirits are weighed down by sin, failures, and grief, accomplishing what God has planned for us to do is very difficult – Just like tying a shoe without a thumb!

OPENING GAME (ONLINE VERSION): RULE OF THUMB

HOW TO PLAY THE GAME

Have each student quickly collect the needed items (listed above) before the game begins.

Instruct each person to untie one shoe and place it in front of them.

They will also need to place a piece of paper and pen beside the shoe.

Next, each person will need to tape their thumb and index finger together on both hands.

On GO, each person will attempt to tie the laces on their shoe and then, write their name on the piece of paper.

The first person to complete the two tasks – wins!

Debrief with your students by talking about how the game was challenging without the use of their thumbs.

When our minds, bodies, and spirits are weighed down by sin, failures, and grief, accomplishing what God has planned for us to do is very difficult – Just like tying a shoe without a thumb!

TEACH

Illustration option: Collect several items of various weights and sizes. 

When you teach about the baggage we carry, you can use it to illustrate how difficult it becomes to keep up with all of it and why we need a “clean slate.” 

Say: Today, we’re beginning a brand-new series called “Clean Slate.”

A new year brings about new ways to create a fresh start, and this time of the year always signifies new beginnings.

Traditionally, at the turn of a new year, people make up resolutions to improve upon their lives, accomplish bucket-list dreams, and even give up bad habits.  

Perhaps many of you have your own resolutions.

By a show of hands, how many are going to bring up their grades? Be kinder? Eat more healthy? Read your Bible? Attend church more regularly? 

To engage your students, share with them a story about one of your past resolutions. 

Did you know that the practice of making resolutions for the new year has been around for over 4,000 years?

Making resolutions at a new year was a religious and celebratory ritual that began with the Babylonians and has changed throughout the years. Still, the concept of the practice remains the same.

For early Christians, the first day of a new year was the traditional day to think about their past mistakes and resolve to do and become better in the year ahead.

When we think about having a clean slate today, there are probably specific times of the year that come to mind, the new year, the start of a new school year or semester, or maybe even a new job. 

Sometimes we seek a clean slate, and sometimes we don’t. 

Each of us needs a clean slate, spiritually speaking. 

Today we’re going to dive into what this means for us and why we need it. 

Sin causes our relationship with God to be broken and in need of a fresh start. 

Without addressing the sin in our lives, our grief, guilt, and failures begin to add up, and eventually, the weight of those will prevent us from hearing the voice of God and accomplishing the plans he has for us. 

But there’s good news!

We do not have to carry the burdens of our past failings, sins, and griefs throughout our entire lives because God offers us a clean slate.

Jesus died for our sins to bring us new life.

Because He died for us on the cross, we can have a clean slate, a fresh start. 

There’s no specific timeline for when we can have a clean slate. 

There’s not a right time in our lives, the year, week, or day. 

People at any age can come to know Christ and accept the free gift of salvation, which offers us a clean slate. 

Jesus is available to give us a fresh start at any time. 

Let’s look at a time in the Bible when God needed to wipe the slate clean…literally!

Do you remember hearing about the story of the great flood?

Maybe it is more familiar if we describe it as the story of Noah and the ark. 

The story of Noah building the ark is probably one of the few stories in the Bible that most people recognize. 

If you’ve been around church for any length of time, it’s probably come up in conversation or in a sermon.

It’s one of the childhood Bible story-time favorites!

Let’s read the story and look at how God chose to give His creation a clean slate.

Read Genesis 6:5-7.

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.” 

“So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.”

“And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.”

Clearly, creation needed a clean slate!

Continue reading Genesis 6:8-10, 18.

“But Noah found favor with the Lord. 

“This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.” 

“Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” 

“But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives.” 

As the Bible continues to unfold the story, we learn that God told Noah to build an ark and instructed him precisely how to fill it. 

Noah endured harsh ridicule for his obedience, but God worked even in that to accomplish his plan to rid the earth of sin and corruption. 

Then, the flood began. 

The fountains of the deep broke open, and the windows of heaven were opened. 

Rain poured for forty days and forty nights. 

The waters rose until every high hill on the earth was covered. 

Everything that lived on land perished in the raging floodwaters.

Water covered the earth for 150 days without end. 

That’s a really long time to be in a boat!

When the rain stopped, and the water subsided, the earth was left barren of people and animals apart from those who were on the ark. 

God used the flood to wipe the earth clean of sin, leaving behind a clean slate.

As humans, born into sin, we must recognize our need for Christ’s redemption.

When He transforms our lives through salvation, He wipes the slate clean, and we are given a fresh start. 

We don’t have to weigh ourselves down with the burden of the mess our sin leaves us in. 

Over time, if we don’t allow Christ to transform our lives and relieve us of the weight of sin, it will get heavier and heavier and eventually be too heavy to carry.

Living in sin, without the hope of Christ, is like continually carrying the weight of heavy baggage. 

Have you ever had to carry something with some weight for a distance? 

No matter how strong you are, eventually, the weight becomes too heavy to carry, and we need to set the load down.

The failings of our past and the grief associated with that can also create a heavy load for us. 

God invites us to lay it down and allow him to give us a clean slate. 

Optional Illustration:

*Leaders: Invite a student to volunteer. 

You will need to have several heavy or awkwardly shaped objects such as blocks, books, large bean bag chairs, a broom, even items of different weights…get creative! 

Ask the student to stand and begin to hand them the objects one by one. 

Instruct them that the objects may not touch the floor, and the item of the illustration is to keep them from falling. 

You can really play it up and make it a fun spectacle for your students. 

As you place each item on the student, name a sin, area of failure, or grief that your students may struggle with.

Regardless of the journey each of us has taken to get here, we need to realize that eventually, the baggage adds up, and we run out of space to carry it. 

It can weigh us down and prevent us from doing what God has called us to do.

We do not have to carry the burdens of our past failings, sins, and griefs throughout our entire lives because God offers us a clean slate.

Jesus came to set us free and offer us a fresh start.

There is hope in that! 

There is freedom in a fresh start!

What does that look like?

When we ask Jesus into our heart, He wipes away our sins and gives us a new start.

Or maybe you have asked Jesus to be your Savior at one time, but you need to rededicate your life to him and start again.

Rededication is a refocusing of our priorities. 

It means that we recognize we’ve become lax, or lazy, in fervently seeking God and living for him.

Sometimes it can be easy to get distracted and be drawn away, but there is always hope in Christ.

Jesus’s death on the cross gives us access to come to him for help. 

All we have to do is ask.

The request is as simple as what Psalm 51:7 says, “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” 

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

END LESSON

  1. In what ways does sin weigh us down?
  2. Talk about a time you felt heavy or weighed down by a past failure.
  3. What things in life might distract you from recognizing that God wants to give you a clean slate?
  4. What are the consequences of not allowing God to give us a fresh start?
  5. If you were Noah building the ark, describe how you would’ve felt.
  6. What lesson can we learn from God flooding the earth? 
  7. God said that he would never flood the earth again. How can we make this story relevant to us today?
  8. Describe what you think living on the ark was like for 150 days. 
  9. What would prevent you from allowing God to wipe your slate clean?
  10. What are the rewards of a clean slate? How would this look in your life?

Looking for youth ministry curriculum? Check out our …

EXCLUSIVE TEACHING CURRICULUM – Get one year of strategic teaching curriculum for youth ministry. Save 77% on $429 worth of new youth ministry lessons and games!

Exclusive Teaching Curriculum Year 1 Graphic

5 Replies to “YOUTH GROUP LESSON – CLEAN SLATE”

  1. Susie Barker
    • January 21, 2022

    Perfect for me to use at shelter for teens!

    Reply
  2. lilian fuentebella
    • January 25, 2022

    this is great lesson. i love the game in the beginning to break the ice. thank you for sharing this to us. will definitely use it next sunday!

    Reply
  3. Heather
    • February 1, 2022

    What happened to the pdf version?

    Reply
  4. Patience
    • February 2, 2022

    great lesson. so uplifting. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. KAYE PRATT
    • April 25, 2022

    This is an excellent lesson for youth and adults. The message is awesome and definitely spiritually motivating.

    Reply

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