Tag Archives: the prodigal son

overheard at my 7th grade guys small group

i missed a bunch of consecutive weeks with my small group due to travel. luckily, my amazing co-leader (ian robertson, former YS staff, and husband of our junior high pastor, christina robertson) has a decade of middle school ministry experience and can easily lead the group with one ear closed (ha! that’s a joke, because ian’s deaf in one ear!). but it was SO great to be back with my guys last week. we had 13, and they were just about as squirrelly as you can imagine; and yet we still had a good night. ian and i had decided recently to have a series of conversations with the guys around jesus’ parables. but when i (bad but honest admission approaching!) went to prepare to lead the group last night, about 30 minutes before i had to leave for the church, i couldn’t find the curriculum he’d sent me (or christina had, or no one had). i suspected that i’d written lessons on a parable or two in one of the six Wild Truth Bible Lessons books, so grabbed the first book off my office shelf. sure enough, there was a lesson on the older brother in the prodigal son story (called “Whiny Bro: The Fair-Share Demander”). 30 minutes later, i was (mostly) ready to go!

without going into too much detail, here are some quotes, as well as some photographic and video highlights.

first, all the quotes this time around are from our “high and low” sharing time. we keep the WWJD bear in our little supply tub now, and the guys demanded we use it (you can only talk when you have the bear). the little button that makes the bear say “what would jesus do?” in the most annoying and cheesy voice you can imagine, is not working so well after so much middle school guy mauling. again, i remind you: the button is awkwardly placed under the bear’s fur in his crotch (it’s supposed to be in the belly, but i purposely bought a defective one). several of the guys were having a difficult time getting the voice to sound. but one guy was great at it. in this context, he stage whispered: I am the bear toucher. funny and awkward (just like middle school guys in general).

while one guy was sharing his excitement about going to a rock concert, and his mom’s concern, he shared how he’d told her, “There will be security guards, and they CARE about you. They CARE about you.” (he was emphatic about this!)

random yelled comment: “POP QUIZ, where did YOLO come from!?”

one guy’s high point: “We got to go to the desert, and be men, and blow stuff up, and pee on trees.”

the sweetest moment during the sharing time came when one of the guys asked if he could be last to share. then (this guy’s dad is a military contractor, and has shared with us his pain about his dad being gone for months and months at a time) he stated loudly: “I HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT: TODAY MY DAD CAME HOME!” (so cool. i loved how he assumed it would be a big deal to all of us also.)

some photos from our “teaching time” (quotes, as that term is probably an overstatement)

we played a game about “giving up rights” where each guy added another “right” we all had to give up. it started with “i give up my right to not have my finger in my nose,” then went to “i give up my right to stand on both legs,” then to “…to stand on either leg,” then to “…to have my eyes open,” and to “…to kneel.” i think it was shortly after this moment that i ended the game.

three pics from the spontaneous melodrama of the prodigal son story (read straight from scripture). first, a dying pig:

and, the loving reunion of the father and prodigal son:

and, the killing of the fatted calf:

i asked the guys to prayerfully write down a “right” they would be willing to give up for 24 – 28 hours, just to see what it felt like, and to remind them of how jesus gave up his “rights” for us. a few papers got left on the table:
I sacrifice my right to television
I give up the right to play games
I give up the right to peanut butter toast

finally: here’s ben’s amazing re-telling of the prodigal son story (my iphone camera stopped at the 2:20 mark, so you don’t get to hear the whole thing):