Before you dive into the free lesson, here’s how my family experienced change when we made a bold move 2,300 miles away…
I was born and raised in a suburb of New Orleans, LA called Metairie.
It was all I knew for 32 years. Well, sort of. I did go to LSU about an hour away in Baton Rouge for a year and a half. But Baton Rouge was really similar.
Back in 2009 our family made a bold move to San Diego, CA.
We packed up the 27 foot Uhaul and began a new chapter in our lives.
It was an epic experience full of change. As you can imagine, the west coast was vastly different than the south. It was a culture shock…in a good way.
Our kids went to an elementary school in Ocean Beach. It was 5 blocks from the beach. Nice 🙂 At the time, they were ages 8, 5, and 4.
I vividly remember Joey’s first day of kindergarten.
FIVE of his classmates had mohawks! One of them had a green mohawk. These were kindergarteners!
Also, at least a third or more of the boys in his class had long hair below the shoulders.
I thought it was cool.
At least 50% or more of the parents had their arms or legs covered in tattoos.
One of the mom’s of his classmate owned an herb shop a few blocks away called – Happy, Healthy, Horny and High.
We weren’t in the south anymore. The diversity was a breath of fresh air!
The school they went to was the best school ever! Seriously, it was a place filled with joy, diversity, passion, acceptance, and love. Nothing like the schools I experienced growing up, which were strict private schools with a lot of rules to follow.
Another big change was the weather. In New Orleans, it’s REALLY HOT about 7 months of the year. In San Diego, it’s a constant 75 degrees most of the year. In the winter it will hit the 60’s.
I remember grilling outside in the middle of the summer when we first moved there. I enjoyed the 75 degree weather, cool breeze, and the absence of mosquitos.
Back in New Orleans, grilling in the middle of the summer was not a pleasant experience. You’re face is melting off and sweating bullets trying to bear the 99 degree heat and high humidity. Not to mention killing about 100 mosquitos who want to eat your BBQ.
Our house, which was close to about 4 of the coolest beaches in the country, didn’t even have an A/C unit. The constant cool air from the ocean kept us cool. We kept the windows open all the time, which kept us cool day and night.
We lived most of our social lives in OB (Ocean Beach), lived near the Bay a few minutes away, and I worked at a church in La Jolla.
La Jolla was much different than OB. It was a community of wealthy people. Just to give you an idea, a 900 square foot condo goes for around 1 million dollars. Ouch!
I loved La Jolla though because it was by the ocean. I would regularly take walks by the ocean and would breathe in the natural beauty around me. I would also go surfing nearby before work a few days a week. It was amazing.
Yeah, San Diego was pretty much paradise. It was a time in our lives full of change.
I could go on and on about the many many changes we experienced living in San Diego.
It took about a year or so for all of us to get adjusted to all the change.
We embraced it all and really enjoyed the many new experiences.
The students in your ministry undergo change as well.
Maybe not a big move to a new city like our family. But on some level, they are experiencing change all the time. Just the fact they’re teenagers means they’re in the process of becoming an adult.
They’re in a constant state of change.
Middle school is a big change from elementary school. High school is different than middle school.
Friendships are constantly evolving and changing.
Seniors are preparing for college and the experience
Somewhere around 10th grade, students can get a job of their own.
Teenagers get their license around their junior year (depending on where they live).
You get the idea. Change is a big part of the life of a teenager.
That’s why we created this free lesson on change (see below). To help the students in your ministry cope with it.
Alternative topics include: stress, worry, and new beginnings.
We lived there for 3 years, then moved back to the New Orleans area again. We currently live about 30 minutes north of New Orleans in a town called Mandeville.
Those three years in San Diego were some of the best years of our lives. We’re fortunate enough to visit there about once a year. In fact, we’ll be going there later this month. We’re pretty excited for the trip.
Enjoy the youth group lesson on change.
Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
Youth Group Lesson on Change
Possible topics include: Change, Worry, Stress, New Beginnings
Bible: “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? ’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:31-33 (NLT)
Bottom Line: Life is full of change. This is never more true than during the teen years. This season of constant new beginnings can lead to a lot of stress and worry. God knows what we need. If He cares so much about something small like a flower or a bird, what do you think that says about how much He wants to take care of you?
Enough plastic spoons for everyone
Large enough space for teams to stand in a line
Split your entire group into equal teams and have each team stand in a line. Each person should have a plastic spoon. The must put the tip of the spoon in their mouths (so that the actual spoon portion is out) and their hands behind their backs.
The first person in each line will start with a peanut on their spoon. Once you tell them to go, they must, without using their hands or anything else, pass the peanut to the person behind them. If the peanut falls, you must start all over again. The first team to get the peanut to the end of the line, wins!
Having to start over can be stressful. Though in this game, starting over came after a mistake, it often is just a part of life.
Starting over comes with the many changes in life that come our way.
TEACH – Change
Life is filled with change. No one understands that more than a teenager. Think about it. Look over the last 10 years or so of your life.
How many times have you had to start a “new beginning”? Grades change every year which means new teachers, new classmates.
Many of you change school at least three times (elementary to middle to high school). When you get to middle school and high school, you change your entire learning routine by having multiple teachers that teach different subjects.
There are the changes with friends. The friends that were your closest in say 2nd grade are most likely not the same by the time you are a sophomore in high school. Finally, your teen years end with your biggest change yet. You leave the part of your life you’ve grown to understand in high school to the vastly different worlds of college or the career field.
This period of constant change can be equal parts scary and exciting.
There are so many unknowns involved in new beginnings.
Will I be able to handle the change? How will people like me at my new school? What will be expected of me? For those who find change to be difficult (which is probably all of us at some point or another), the scariest part is that we can’t stop the changes from coming.
We are left with having to adapt or get left behind. How can we learn to navigate this constantly changing world? What are some ways that we can start our “new beginnings” on a good fit.
Let’s look at a few keys from the Bible.
Ever heard the saying, “Don’t worry, be happy”? I’m not a fan. It sounds like painfully simple advice that just isn’t realistic. When something is looming on the horizon—maybe it’s a change you know is coming that you are dreading—isn’t it hard to do anything but worry? As hard as it is to fathom, one of the keys to starting a new beginning on the right foot is to surrender your worry to God. In Matthew 6, Jesus paints an amazing picture of the freedom from worrying we can find in Him.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? – Matthew 6:25 (NLT)
We are going to look at a few verses from this passage, but it’s good to start here.
There are two interesting things to point out.
First, Jesus clearly understands the pangs of worry. He starts with the essentials of life: food and drink.
Then, he hits on clothing—something that protects us from the “elements” as well as show our status to the world.
Whenever we start a new beginning, we want to know that we are going to be okay, that whatever changes may come, we will survive it. Jesus knows that feeling.
Though this verse may not specifically mention high school or college, it does identify some of the most basic ingredients to a good life that people have been worrying about for centuries.
Second, Jesus goes on to ask a critical question: “Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?”
In other words, there’s more to life than just these things we need for survival and protection/status. Before we dive any further, I want to join with Jesus and say that, no matter what you may feel at the moment, there is more to life than school, social groups, and your teen years.
They can seem so big, so overwhelming some times, but there is certainly more to our lives and our Savior than the circumstances you are facing right now.
In the next verse, Jesus gives the example of birds. They don’t have warehouses full of food that they have been storing; yet, somehow they survive. God provides for them. What Jesus is saying is that if God will take care of birds, how much more will He take care of you? You are His masterpiece. You are worthy dying for. I think that says it all.
“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” – Matthew 6:27
Great point, Jesus! Though I definitely struggle with this, the point Jesus is making is that when you get right down to it, what good does worry do?
Maybe you’re stressed out about changing grades or schools. What will worrying about it solve? Will it make the transition go smoothly?
Will it make it come faster?
The obvious answer is no. New beginnings are a part of life. Worry doesn’t have to be.
Jesus goes on to make another analogy using flowers. If God cares so much about them to clothe them in such beauty, how much more will He take care of you?
Again, you are incredibly important as an individual to the Creator of the universe. He knows you by name. If He cares about flowers, what does that say about His true masterpiece?
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? ’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.” – Matthew 6:31-32 (NLT)
Why worry? When you get right down to it, God knows all of your needs.
He knows the new beginnings looming on the horizon. He knows exactly what you need to not only survive but to thrive in this situation.
Does that mean that everything will go perfectly smoothly all the time?
No, God doesn’t promise a problem-free life, but what He does promise is that He knows what you are going through and will be right there with you at all times. Again, I cannot overstate this, you have the all-powerful God, Creator of the universe saying, “I’ve got your back.”
So far, we have looked at some compelling words from Jesus. He tells us that worrying is pointless. God has you covered. But how do you truly defeat worry? Jesus has a rather simple (yet, incredibly complicated) answer.
Read Matthew 6:33
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
The answer to happiness in life is right there in that verse.
Or maybe, it is better to say that the answer to joy in life is right there. You see, happiness is an emotional state that is sometimes hard to control, but joy—something far greater and more lasting—is something we can live in every day.
The key, is found in seeking the Kingdom of God above all else. What does this mean?
The first step is seeking God’s way over everything else.
God’s way isn’t always the easiest, but it is always the best.
Pursuing the kind of life that Jesus talks about throughout Scripture is the key to joyful living.
So, I live the way that God wants, and I get what I want? Um, almost.
The second part of this verse is key. If you seek to live like Christ, God “will give you everything you need.”
What we need is not always the same as what we want.
I want a billion dollars. I don’t need that much money, though.
When you worry about a new beginning, many of the things that are stressing you out are wants.
What do you need?
Pursue God and He will make that happen.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What are some of the “new beginnings” that you have faced or will face soon in your life?
What makes new beginnings scary?
What does it mean to seek the Kingdom of God above all else?
What are your true “needs” in life? What are some of your “wants”?