Below is a free youth group lesson on truth from our series – Proof.
The main idea of the lesson, based on John 18:28-38, is: When we seek truth, we’re seeking God.
Looking for youth ministry curriculum? Check out the…
ONE YEAR CURRICULUM, VOL 3 – Save 82% on one year of Bible studies and teaching curriculum for youth ministry.
YOUTH GROUP LESSON ON TRUTH
Bible: John 18:28-38a
Bottom Line: When we seek truth, we’re seeking God.
OPENING GAME: TWO TRUTHS, A LIE AND A WISH
Say: Today we’re starting with a twist on a classic youth ministry game. It’s called – Two Truths, a Lie and a Wish.
You can probably guess the rules, but let me explain, just in case.
The instructions are:
- Think of three statements about yourself that you’ll share with the group. One has to be true, one has to be a lie, and one has to be a wish – something you WISH was true, but it isn’t (at least not yet) – the more unique or interesting the statements, the better.
- Be strategic! If two of your statements are negative – “I accidentally swallowed a whole frog, I forgot to wear pants to school one day” – and only one is positive, we’ll know what your WISH is. Unless adding “ribbit” to your normal speech is a wish.”
- One at a time, you’ll share your three statements with the group.
- The group will vote on which statements were the truth, the lie, and the wish.
- You’ll share which statement was the lie and let us know if we were right.
- If you have a large group, then only choose a handful of students to share. Or break up into small groups of 8-10 students. Each group sits in a circle as students take a turn.
- Give students a few minutes to think of their statements.
- Bring them up one at a time to share their statements.
- Have the rest of your group vote on which statement they think is which.
- Allow the sharing student to reveal which statements were which.
For online version:
- Play the same as above, but decide how you’ll allow students to share with the rest of the group and how you’ll tally votes on which statement is which.
The fun of this game is the way you interact with the students’ statements. Play them up, make a big deal out of them, tease the group a bit.
Supplies: A sheet of poster board and marker OR a way to record brainstorming on your screen.
Wow … I learned a lot today!
Mainly I learned that you are all great liars! Ha ha.
I’ll bet a lot of you have played “Two Truths and a Lie,” (though you probably never put the dream statement in). Have you ever thought about how you decide which of the three statements is true?
What’s your strategy? (Allow a few students to share. Interact with their answers as time allows.)
Some of you could pick out the lie because you had experience with the person sharing, and you knew details of their lives. You could pick out the dream for the same reasons.
Some of you could pick out the lie because the person said something crazy, and you knew it couldn’t reasonably be true. Same for the dream.
Some of you had no idea because you’re a trusting person, and you believe anything you hear.
But all of you paid attention and listened carefully because you know the person sharing was supposed to be telling you one lie and one dream.
You were super-tuned in and thoughtful about what the person was saying because you expected them to say something untrue.
Should we approach all conversations that way?
When someone is speaking to us on a normal day, should we listen with the same attention?
What about when we’re reading something …or watching a video on social media?
I don’t mean we assume everyone we meet is lying to us, but should we assume that everything everyone says is true?
You might be thinking, “You’re crazy,” and maybe I am, but in today’s world, with so many opinions about everything, I don’t always know who to believe!
It’s hard to know what’s true and what’s real.
We live in a time when there is more information available from more places than ever before.
Because of this overwhelming amount of information, we should dig for truth rather than simply taking everything at face value.
But how do you do it?
What should you challenge?
Where do you look to help decide what is right (and true and real)?
Why does all this matter?
These are the kinds of questions we’ll be answering for the next few weeks:
- What is truth?
- Who (or what) is my authority?
- What about doubt?
- Why does all this matter?
A minute ago, I said we should dig for truth rather than simply taking everything at face value because of the overwhelming amount of information we have access to today.
Let’s have some “mandatory fun time.”
Let’s say you’re looking for an answer to the question, “Which Marvel movie is the best?”
I guess that either you already have a strong opinion, or you could care less…but let’s pretend you want to make a good, clear decision.
Where would you look first? Who would you ask?
Help me make a list of all the places you might look to get as much information as you can.
[If you need to give some answers to get the ball rolling, try your BFF, Instagram, Rotten Tomatoes, etc. Try to make an obnoxiously long list.]
That’s a great list.
How many of those places can you use to get information about other topics?
[Give a minute to go through your list again.]
You can see how many places you can look to find information and opinions about pretty much anything. It can seem overwhelming.
What is the truth?
And what if you’re getting information about something of deeper significance than Marvel movies…not that Marvel movies aren’t important.
What is the truth?
And what if you’re looking into spiritual things?
What about getting input from someone you trust?
Should you just accept it as truth?
What if it’s from me? I’ve done the research. I’ve prayed about it. I’m telling you the truth.
Should you just accept that what I say as truth?
The Bible has four books called gospels that tell a lot of the story of Jesus’ life: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Later tonight we’re going to read from the gospel of John.
This same John also wrote a few letters that we have in the Bible called 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John.
Would someone read 1 John 4:1 for the group? [I LOVE having students read from the Bible. If it doesn’t work for your group, feel free to read it yourself or have another adult read it.]
4 Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. 1 John 4:1 (NLT)
What is a false prophet?
Will someone read 2 Timothy 4:3-4 out loud? [Again, I love having students read, but if it doesn’t work for your group, have you or another adult read.]
3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NLT)
Like John, Timothy was another leader in the early church.
If you link those two verses together, John and Timothy are saying that you should test everything that you hear–even if it comes from someone claiming to come from God–because people will naturally turn away from hard truths and find people who only say what they like to hear.
But would God allow that?
Would someone read Paul’s words in Romans 1:21-22? [Same as before … if it doesn’t work for your group, no worries!]
21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. Romans 1:21-22 (NLT)
God gave us brains to think, and He also gave us freedom.
If we choose to surround ourselves with people who only say what we want to hear, God will allow us to do that.
If we choose to reject the truth about God and make up “foolish ideas” about what God is like, God will allow us to do that, too.
This seems crazy, but it’s not a new issue.
Even in the time of Jesus, people were asking the question, “What is the truth?”
Before we jump into things, let’s have some “mandatory fun time.” Turn to someone around you and answer the question, “How do you define ‘truth?”
[FOR ONLINE GROUPS, say: Let’s have some “mandatory fun time. In the chat window, type in your answer to the question, “How do you define ‘truth?”]
[Give time for students to share and debrief.]
Those are great answers.
There are lots of nuances in how you define truth.
Are you talking about absolute truth…relative truth?
What we’ll learn from Jesus is that any pursuit of truth is a pursuit of God.
Let’s look at this conversation that took place 2000+ years ago to get some insights.
Jesus is arrested by both Roman and Jewish guards because He was a Jewish citizen, and the area they lived in was under Roman control.
The guards didn’t know who had the authority to sentence him, so they took Him to several different places.
First, they took Jesus to Annas, a relative of the Jewish high priest.
That conversation didn’t go well, so they took him to Caiaphas, the high priest.
With Caiaphas, there was some sort of overnight Jewish trial, and Jesus was found guilty.
After the trial, the Jewish leaders sent Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor of the region.
Jesus’ conversation with Pilate is recorded in the gospel of John.
Would someone read John 18:28-38a out loud for the group? [Same as before …]
33 Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.
34 Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?”
Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked.
This is a weird conversation, but I only want you to notice two things.
One, notice that truth is important to Jesus.
He said he came into the world to testify to the truth.
He said that what He says is true.
Truth is important to Jesus.
Two, notice that some people are skeptical to acknowledge truth.
Pilate has probably heard a bunch of things about Jesus–some true and some not.
He might have even seen Jesus or his followers around–some impressive, some confusing.
But when you’re trying to decide on something, and you’ve got two (or more) different perspectives, you end up asking, “What is the truth?”
That seems to be the situation we find ourselves in today. We’re trying to make good decisions and think clearly about things, but we’re getting a lot of different perspectives from a lot of different people.
Three, notice that any pursuit of truth is a pursuit of God.
Jesus makes strong comments about truth to Pilate, but earlier in John’s gospel, Jesus said He IS the truth.
Any time we are pursuing truth, we’re pursuing God.
Augustine, one of the greatest theologians in history, said it like this, “Nay, but let every good and true Christian understand that wherever truth may be found, it belongs to his Master…”
So, pursuing truth is a big deal, and we should do it happily because we’re pursuing God.
For the next three weeks of this series, we’ll unpack ways we can dig for the truth together.
Go have a great small group, and I’ll see you next week!
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- What is your favorite Marvel movie and why?
- What is something you used to believe as a little kid that you learned wasn’t true? How did you learn the truth? How did it affect you?
- With all the places, we can look for information, which is the most confusing? Reliable? Destructive?
- How do you decide which is the best source of information for you?
- When it comes to significant issues, how do you decide what is true in your life?
- Reread 2 Timothy 4:3-4. What are some issues you believe people have allowed their “itching ears” to confuse instead of pursuing the truth?
- Why are some people resistant to digging for the truth?
- Why are some people skeptical to acknowledge the truth?
- What does it mean that when we seek truth, we’re seeking God?
Looking for youth ministry curriculum? Check out the…