September 14 - The Perfect Storm

September 14, 2018

The Perfect Storm

Mark 4:34-41, Matthew 16:13-20

About the title: The title connects with what will be shared in the talk.  When Jesus calms the storm, his closest followers were amazed and astonished by what Jesus could do.  We’re hoping to ignite some of those same feeling in our students with this series.

 

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… who Jesus is and what he did amazed people in Scripture.

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… Express their own beliefs, understandings, and opinions about Jesus.

 

Breakout Groups:
Part 1 (15 minutes)

Spend time catching up with your group.

For some groups it will not be difficult to fill this time.  Others may need some prompting.  Here are some possible questions you could ask:

  • What was your favorite part of the summer?  What was your least favorite part?
  • What one word would you use to describe your summer?
  • When did you feel closest to God this summer?  When did you feel farthest?
  • What’s been the best thing about being back in school?  What’s been the hardest thing?
  • What are you most excited about this upcoming school year?


We’ll also have question balls available for groups to use.  Question balls are large beach balls covered in questions.  You throw it around and when someone catches it, they need to answer the question under their right (or left) thumb.

 


Part 2 (10 minutes)

Spend time sharing some of your hopes for your group this year.  What expectations do you have?  What expectations do your students have?  Is there a key verse that’s going to help shape your group for the year?  What are the top ten things you hope to happen in your group?  As a group come up with a top ten list of goals.

Check page 38 of your handbook for more ideas.

 

Part 3 (15 minutes)

Spend time in Scripture.


Read Matthew 16:13-14

Have students open up to Matthew 16 in their Bibles.  Use this time to teach new students how to use their Bible.  Say things like “The Bible is divided into 2 parts or testaments.  Matthew is at the beginning of the 2nd part, or New Testament.  The big numbers indicate chapters, while the smaller ones are verses.”

In this passage, Jesus is asking his disciples who the people think he is.  Some think he’s John the Baptist, others say he’s one of the prophets.  What are some of the different opinions today about who Jesus is?  [You could write up students’ responses on a dry erase board or large sheet of white paper]

What do you think Jesus looks like?

What are some of the things that Jesus did?

What would it be like if Jesus went to your school?  Who would he spend time with?  How would other people in your school treat him?

Read Matthew 16:15-20

Imagine Jesus is asking you the question from verse 15.  “But what about you, [insert student’s name]?  Who do you say I am?”

Do you think Jesus is important?  [Emphasize the “is”.  Not just “was” Jesus important, but “is” he still important today?  What about tomorrow?  The next day?]

Why or why not?

Over the course of this year, what is one thing you would like to better understand about Jesus?

 

Close your Breakout Group

 

 

September 21 - Christmas in September

September 21, 2018

Christmas in September

John 1:1-14, Luke 2:1-20

 

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… Jesus was not content with being at a distance from us, but instead wants to be with us.


By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… commit to connect with Jesus this week using the Other 6 Bookmarks.

 

Spend time in Scripture. 

2 possible openers (use whichever would work best for your group):


  1. What would it look like if the President were to come visit Towson?  What would happen?  What would our community look like?

  2. If you could spend an hour on uninterrupted time with anyone in the world, who would it be?

 

Have students open up to Luke 1 in their Bibles.  Ask them to put their Bible aside, but being careful not to lose the page.

Say something like: “Tonight, we’re going to spend some time in the Christmas story.  You’ve heard this story before… many, many, many times.  You probably know it by heart.  We’ve become so familiar with this story that it is easy for this story to lose some of it’s wonder.  Set aside all you know about the Christmas story and as I read through it, listen like this is the first time you are hearing it.”

You may want to allow students to lay down, close their eyes, or draw a picture of what they see as you read.

You read Luke 2:1-20

As you listened to the story, what stood out to you?  What did you imagine in your head?  What did you notice this time that you’ve never noticed before?

Read Luke 2:1-20 again together.

Contrast what you imagined a visit from the President would like with what happened around Jesus’ birth.  (Obviously, this only works if you used Opener 1)

What do you think was the purpose of the birth of Jesus?

If students focus in on Christ having to die on the cross, follow up with “If that was the purpose, why didn’t he just show up as a grown man?  Why did he go through the trouble of being born (in a stable) and growing up if the point was simply his death?”

Read John 1:1-14

Let students know that when John is writing about “the Word”, he’s talking about Jesus.

Reread verse 14 and ask students to think about what it means for “the Word to become flesh.”

Now think about all of the things that a baby does (massive spit up, poopy diapers, crying at all hours) and think about God as a baby in Jesus.  Now think about all of the things you go through as you grow up, especially once you hit puberty (odd growth spurts, awkward voice changes, pimples and zits) and now think about Jesus going through those changes.

Why do you think it matters that Jesus spent 30+ years walking around like one of us?

The story of the birth of Jesus is the story of a God who would do anything to be near His people, including becoming flesh and walking among us.  Why do you think God wants to be near you?  (Not only does God love you… but He really likes you!)

Challenge your students to spend some time this next week with the God who has gone to great lengths to draw closer to them.

Brainstorm some ideas of what students in your group could do next week to connect with God.

 

Close your Breakout Group

 

September 28 - The Great Reversal

September 28, 2018

The Great Reversal

Matthew 5:1-12

 

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… how Jesus flipped people’s perspective on the Kingdom of God.


By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… Discern ways they can live into the Beatitudes.

 

Spend time in Scripture.

How would you define the word “blessed”?  How would you describe a person who was “blessed”?

Read Matthew 5:1-12.

At this point in Jesus’ life, a large crowd has gathered to hear him speak and he begins with this list that’s known as the Beatitudes.  Beatitudes is a Latin word for “blessing”.

Ask: “As you look over this list of people Jesus considers blessed, what do you think of?”

Are these the kind of people that our culture would consider blessed?  If we were to rewrite these statements to better reflect what our culture would consider blessed, what would they say?

Let’s call the first part of each statement (the poor in spirit) the “condition” and the second part (theirs is the kingdom of heaven) the “blessing”.

Have you ever felt like any of these conditions?  Have you felt meek?  Have you mourned?  Have you been persecuted (picked on)?

Did you feel blessed?  If not, how did you feel?

Would Jesus’ blessings offer any hope or encouragement?

Why do you think the kingdom of heaven is reserved for the poor in spirit?

Why do you think Jesus chooses the “meek” to “inherit the earth”?  Do you think this is who our society would choose?

What do you think it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness?  (Righteousness is a churchy-word that you may need to define.)  What would it look like for this hunger to be satisfied?

What do you think it looks like to be pure in heart?  How would this allow you to “see God”?

Reread verse 11.  Have you ever been made fun of, picked on, or singled out because of your belief in Jesus?  Have you ever seen someone else made fun of because of their faith?  What was it like?

What encouragement does Jesus offer to those who have been picked on because of him?

As you look over the Beatitudes again, can you think of a person that best represents each one?

Which of these Beatitudes would you like to have in your life now?  Why?

 

Close your Breakout Group

 

October 5 - Storyteller Night

October 19 - Jesus Hates Religion

October 26 - Righteous Anger

November 2 - Jesus Loves Losers

November 16 - The Servant King

November 13, 2015
The Servant King
John 13:1-17, Matthew 5:38-42

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… how Jesus modeled what it looks like to serve others.

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… Discern ways they can serve others in their life.

Spend time in Scripture.

What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

Read John 13:1-17.

If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do tonight?

What did Jesus choose to do on his last night?

If this scene were to happen today, what would be the equivalent of washing someone’s feet?

From what you know up until this point, how would you describe the disciples relationship with Jesus?

If you were one of the disciples sitting at the table, what would you be thinking as Jesus started washing feet?  What would you say?

Why is it significant the Jesus is washing his disciples feet?

In verse 12, Jesus asks his disciples if they understand what he’s done.  Do you understand why Jesus did what he did?

Jesus says that now that he has washed their feet, they should also wash each others feet.  Is that all he is asking them to do, give the occasional foot bath?  Or is there a deeper meaning?  What is Jesus asking them to do?

If the point was to encourage his disciples to serve others, Jesus could have done any number of things.  He could have poured their drinks, prepared and served their food.  Why do you think Jesus went to the extreme of washing the crap off their feet?

What does radical servanthood look like?

Read Matthew 5:38-42.

In this passage, Jesus gives another picture of radical servanthood.  What would the situations Jesus describes look like today in your school?

When it comes to washing feet and turning the other cheek, how easy is it to live out this radical servanthood that Jesus is talking about? (Scale of 1-10, 1 being too easy, 10 being too hard.)

Why should we do it then?

How can you take on the role of a servant in your family this weekend?  What about in your school next week?

Close your Breakout Group

November 30 - Life Hurts, Jesus Heals

November 20, 2015

Life Hurts, Jesus Heals

Mark 2:1-12

 

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… ways that Jesus heals.


By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… discern areas in their lives where they need healing.

 

Spend time in Scripture.

 

Can you think of an example of someone needing physical healing?  What about emotional healing?  Relational healing?  Spiritual healing?

Can you think of a time when you need a type of healing above?

Read Matthew 8:1-3, Luke 17:11-17, Matthew 9:18-22, Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 8:22-26, John 9:1-12, Mark 7:31-37, Luke 7:1-10.   (Have students divide up the list and each read one passage.)

Follow up each passage with these questions:


In this passage, how did Jesus heal the person involved?  What did he do and/or say?


Did anything stand out to you about what happened here?  Do any questions come to mind?  (I like pointing out how significant it was for Jesus to touch the leper in Matthew 8.)

Read Mark 2:1-12.

If you were part of the crowd in this house, what would you be thinking when you saw these people digging through the roof and lowering a man down from the ceiling?  How would you react?

Who in your life would go out of there way to help you?  Who would you be willing to go out of the way for?

When Jesus sees what is happening, what does he say to the paralyzed man?  In those times, people often connected sickness with sin.  If a person was sick or injured, it was assumed that it was because they had done something against God.  Even today, people connect what happens to them (good or bad ) with how they live their life.  (Good things happen to me because I’m a good person or Why do bad things happen to good people?)  Jesus was affirming this man and the crowd that there was no unresolved sin between God and this man.

Why are the religious teachers upset by what the Jesus says?

What question does Jesus ask the religion teachers?  How would you answer?  Which is easier to say “you’re sins are forgiven” or “take your mat and walk”?  Which is easier to see the results of?

In what way is forgiveness healing?  Think individually… think relationally.

How is life going to be different for the paralyzed man?  Think beyond just that he can now walk.

Think about the different people in this passage.  Which one best represents where you are tonight?  The Man: You are in need of some sort of healing (physical, emotional, relational, spiritual).  The Friends: You are willing to take risks to help a friend in need.  The Teachers: You’re too distracted to understand what Jesus is doing around you.  The Crowd: You are just sitting back, observing.

 

Optional Small Group Closing Activity. (This might not work with every group.)


Give each student a piece of paper with an outline of a person on it and 1-2 band-aids.  Have students place the band-aid over a place that represents where they need healing (physical, emotional, spiritual).  Pass the papers around your small group, giving students an opportunity to pray for each person silently.

 

 

 

Close your Breakout Group

 

 

Healing Prayer (from the Book of Uncommon Prayer)

 

God of love, we need to be made well.  There is so much wrong in this world that we are starting to feel it deep inside.  We feel it in our hearts.  We feel it in our souls.  Your son didn’t just heal the bodies of the sick.  He healed their souls.  We need to feel the healing hands of the Savior, God.  We need to feel your love pouring through us and making us whole again.  We haven’t felt whole in a long time.  We take our sickness and our sadness and hold them up for you.  Take them from us, God.  Take them far away and let us grow from here.  Let us feel the beginning of becoming whole.  We will become yours.  Amen.

 

December 7 - How to Be a Sell-Out

December 4, 2015

How to Be a Sell-Out

Matthew 13:44-45, Mark 10:17-22, Luke 14:28-33, Matthew 7:13-14

 

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… what it costs to follow Jesus.

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… Discern whether or not they are willing to follow Jesus.

 

Spend time in Scripture.

 

In what ways is it hard to follow Jesus in your school? In what ways is it hard to follow Jesus in your home?


Read Matthew 13:44-45.

What does Jesus compare the Kingdom of Heaven to in these stories? What is the response of the people who find the treasure and the pearl?


What would you be willing to give up everything for?

OR another way to ask that… Suppose I came to you with a magic box and said you could have whatever was in the box if you gave me everything you had. What would need to be in that box for you to take the deal? An iPhone, XBOX ONE, boyfriend/girlfriend, certain car, world peace…

 

Read Mark 10:17-22.


What question does the man ask Jesus in this passage? How does Jesus respond?

 

The man tells Jesus that he’s followed all the commandments since he was a boy. Would you believe him? If you were to be graded on how well you followed the commandments, how would you rate? (A+ on not committing adultery, C- on honoring my parents.)

 

Then what does Jesus tell the man to do and how does the man respond?

 

How would you respond if Jesus asked you to give away all your possessions?

 

What if he asked you to leave your family? What if he asked you to leave your friends?

 

Why do you think it was so important for the man to give everything he had away before he could follow Jesus? In what way does our “stuff” distract/keep us from following Jesus?

 

Read Luke 14:28-33.

 

Jesus uses examples to illustrate the importance of counting the cost before deciding to follow Him. Why is this so important?

 

If you’ve made a decision to follow Jesus, do you think you have a good understanding of what is costs to be a follower of Jesus?

 

It would be a lot easier for Jesus to gather followers if he’d stop talking about sacrifice, and denying oneself, and giving up wealth, and losing your life. Why does Jesus talk about this?

 

In Whirlwind Middle School Ministry, we make no secret that our hope is for Middle School students to BECOME lifelong pursuers of Jesus. That would be a lot easier if we ignored passages like these. Why do you think we are talking about this?

 

Read Matthew 7:13-14.

 

Where does the wide gate and broad road lead to? Why is it so easy to find?

 

What do you think life of the broad road looks like? What do you think life on the narrow road looks like?

 

Why do you think the narrow road is harder to find? Where does the narrow road lead to?

 

Which road do you think you are on? The broad road or the narrow road?

 

If you are on the broad road, what keeps you from the narrow road?

 

What would you need to do to cross over to the narrow road? Are you willing to?

 

Close your Breakout Group

 

December 21 - Prayer Stations

January 8, 2016

Prayer Stations

 

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… God is speaking.

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… experience God’s presence through different prayer stations.

 

Instead of a traditional night with a Talk and Bible Study in Breakout Groups, students and leaders with move around to different prayer stations where they will be led into an encounter with God through the Holy Spirit.

In the past, these nights have typically been well received by the students and they tend to share more than usual in the Breakout Groups.

To help facilitate a discussion, here are some questions you can use in your Breakout Groups.

  • Which station was the most meaningful to you?
  • At which station did you feel most connected to God?
  • What did you learn about God through your experience tonight with the different stations?
  • How were your thoughts or ideas about God or Jesus challenged?
  • What did you learn about yourself through the stations?
  • What questions came to you through your experience?
  • In what ways were you challenged in how you should be following Jesus?

**Additional questions may come to you based on your experience of the different prayer stations.

 

Close your Breakout Group

January 18 - Wise Choices 1

January 15, 2016

Choose Your Own Adventure

Philippians 3:7-21

 

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… the value of making wise choices


By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… practice making wise choices.

 

 

 

Spend time in Scripture.

 


Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions this year?  Have you kept any of them?

Think about what was shared tonight.  Can you think of an example of how a series of small innocent decision might lead you to a place you don’t want to be?  (This doesn’t need to be an example of something that actually happened.  It can be totally made up and your group could have a lot of fun with this.)

What types of big decisions did you make this past week?  What are some of the little decisions you made this past week, or just today?

What “good” decisions did you make this week?  What “bad” decisions do you think you made?  (These can be related to big or little decisions.  A bad decision could be “I should not have eaten that many M&M’s on Tuesday.”)

How do you make big decisions?  Do you think about, make a pros and cons list, get advice from someone, or just make it?

How much time to you spend thinking about the little decisions?

Read Philippians 3:7-11.

Philippians is a letter written by a follower of Jesus named Paul to a church is the city of Philippi.  After reading these few verse, what is the most important thing to Paul?

How important is it?  (Very, considering how much he is willing to give up to obtain it.)

What is important to you?  What do you value?

On a scale of 1-10, how important is what Paul is talking about to you?

Read Philippians 3:12-21.

According to Paul, has he become the follow of Jesus he wants to be? Back up your answer with Scripture.  (No, he says “Not that I have already obtained all this…” and “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.”)  How does that impact how he continues to live in relation to what he longs for?

If you were to share Paul’s goal (which Paul encourages in verse 15), what types of big decisions would impact whether you move closer or farther from this goal?

In what way can little decisions significantly impact whether you more closer or farther from this goal of knowing Jesus better?

Jump ahead 5 or 6 months to the end of this school year.  What kind of person do you want to be in June 2016?  What kind of friend do you want to be in June 2016?  What kind of son/daughter, brother/sister do you want to be in June 2016?

What kind of Jesus follower do you want to be in June 2010?

If you were to set this as your goal, how should it impact the big decisions you will need to make between now and then?  How should it impact the little decisions you’ll need to make?

Take some time to reflect on the past week.  Can you think of an example of decision (big or little) that you’ve made this past week that has brought you closer to the goals you just mentioned?  Can you think of an example of a decision you’ve made that has brought you farther from where you want to be?

What different decisions do you need to make this week to be one step closer to your goals?

 

Close your Breakout Group

 

February 1 - Wise Choices 2

February 12, 2016

PAUSE!

Various Proverbs

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… how the outcomes of our different decisions impact us..


By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… apply wisdom to different situations.

 

 

 

Spend time in Discernment.


We’re going to use Case Studies for the Breakout time.  Below are several Case Studies for you to choose from.  You won’t need all of them.  Choose maybe 2 or 3 depending on how the discussion goes.  Feel free to tweak and adapt as necessary.  Change the grades, gender, names, or details.  Some of the grades have been left as high school so students will have a chance to think through how they might respond when they get to high school.


It’s time to apply some of what’s been talked about.


Case Study #1

Amy, a freshman in high school has only one close girlfriend in her entire small-town school.  Amy is first chair flute in her high school marching band and she is known throughout the band for her respectable reputation.


Lately, though, Amy’s been hanging out with Jasper and Lucas, two junior boys who are also in the band.  Jasper and Lucas have a reputation for partying pretty hard – cigarettes, beer, pot, and who knows what else.  So far, Amy, has been able to steer clear of Jasper and Lucas’s efforts to engage her in their weekend behavior.  However, on Friday, the football team has an away game in Industrial, a town 2 hours away.  The entire marching band travels to the game with the team, and on the way there, Jasper and Lucas announce to everyone in the back of the bus that there’s no chaperone aboard.  Amy, sitting in the last seat of the bus, notices the same thing.


Jasper turns to Lucas with a grin, and then they both lean over the back of the seat to face Amy.  Jasper is holding a pack of cigarettes in one hand and a lighter in the other.  He says, “Hey, Amy, do you want to smoke?  No one will ever know.”


  1. Read Proverbs 15:22.  How might these words help Amy as she struggles to make a decision?

  2. Read Proverbs 13:20.  How does this passage play out in this case study?

  3. How might Amy’s lack of friends affect he decision-making?

  4. Read Proverbs 29:25.  How does this play out in Amy’s decision-making process?

  5. What would you do?  Would this be an easy or difficult decision for you to make?

  6. What should Amy do?

Case Study #2

Violet, a freshman, is enrolled in a special computer class.  It’s her last class of the school day.  When she was in middle school, Violet wasn’t accepted by very many of her peers.  However, in this computer class, some popular senior girls have decided they like Violet and they want her to be a part of their group.  That kind of acceptance is a new experience for Violet, and she really enjoys it.


The girls in this group are upright for the most part.  They don’t party, they make straight A’s, and they all have cars.  And since they’ve decided they like Violet, they take her everywhere with them – lunch, shopping, and movies.  Violet really feels as though she’s part of the group.


But one thing makes Violet uncomfortable – most of the group skips the computer class every Friday afternoon.  Alycia, the leader of the group, started the trend, and now most of the other girls follow her lead.  They’ve been doing it for about six weeks now; and even though Mrs. Harrell, the teacher, hasn’t said a word about the girls’ absences, the idea of skipping school doesn’t seem right to Violet.  She’s glad no one in the group has asked her to join them yet.


The only girl in the group who refuses to skip class is Stasia, a junior.  She stays behind every Friday and attends the class despite the group’s mass absence.  But lately, the other girls have been giving Stasia a hard time about it during lunch – almost to the point of making Stasia cry.


During one Friday lunch period, Violet finally gets asked the question she’s been dreading.  Alycia turns to her and asks, “So, are you going to skip with us today, Violet?”  Violet hesitates.  “Come on, Violet,” Alycia presses.  “It’s just this once.”


  1. Read Proverbs 16:25.  How does this apply to this situation?

  2. How many options does Violet have in making this decision?  What are they?

  3. Could more that one of these options be right?  Why or why not?

  4. How might the words of Proverbs 13:20 help Violet with her decision?

  5. What would you do?  Would this be an easy or difficult decision for you to make?

  6. What should Violet do?

Case Study #3

Since the beginning of Matt’s time in middle school, graffiti has been showing up on one of the outside walls of his school.  Initially the graffiti was nothing more than pictures of the school mascot and some harmless words.  But as the year progressed, the graffiti’s gotten worse – with offensive pictures and derogatory words.  Now it’s almost spring break, and the school’s administrators are threatening to have the culprits arrested once they figure out who’s responsible for the graffiti.


During lunch one day, Matt is sitting with friends he’s known since grade school.  When he mentions something about the administration cracking down on the graffiti, Cliff, one of the guys int he group, asks, “Hey, Matt, who do you think’s doing all that graffiti?”  Before Matt can respond, another one of his friends, Tyler, leans in and whispers, “It’s us.”  The rest of them chuckle at the look on Matt’s face as he puts this new information together.  Tyler kicks back in his chair and says, “Come on, it’s an expression of art.”


Later, during the last class of the day, Mr. Richmond says, “I’ve been asked to announce that if you have any information about the people who are responsible for the graffiti on school property, you must notify a faculty member.”


  1. Whose well-being should weigh more heavily in Matt’s decision-making: his friends’ or the school administrators’?  Why?

  2. How might the wisdom of Proverbs 29:25 factor into Matt’s decision-making process?

  3. What are Matt’s options in this situation?  Which one should he choose?  Why?

  4. How do the words of Proverbs 24:26 apply to this situation?

  5. What would you do?  Would this be an easy or difficult decision for you to make?

Case Study #4

Charli is a straight-A, honors, AP, junior in high school.  She’s editor of the yearbook, president of the art club, and a varsity cheerleader.  Charli works part-time as a checker at a local grocery store, and she dates Michael, a senior.  Good grades don’t come easily for Charli.  She studies hard and long for her exams.  She often gets less than five hours of sleep at night because she pushes herself so hard to make the grade.


This Friday Mrs. Kenntop has scheduled a midterm in her AP English course.  Unfortunately, Mr. Barnes, who’s known for his horrendous honors history midterms, has also scheduled his dreaded test for Friday.


On Tuesday, three days before the tests, Charli is sitting in the library and diligently trying to keep her facts straight regarding William Faulkner and Woodrow Wilson.  Michael walks in, sits down, and places several pieces of paper facedown on the table in front of Charli.  “Hey, do you know what this is?” he asks.  Charli shrugs.  “It’s the answer key to Barnes’ midterm exam,” he says.


  1. How might the wisdom of Proverbs 16:25 help Charli make a decision?

  2. How might the words of Proverbs 16:3 play into Charli’s thought process?

  3. What are the differences between Michael’s thoughts, Mr. Barnes’ thoughts, God’s thoughts, and Charli’s thoughts regarding this situation?

  4. How might considering each viewpoint help Charli make a decision?

  5. What are Charli’s options now?  Which should she choose?  Why?

Case Study #5

Roni is in eighth grade.  She just moved to a new school in a new state because her dad got a new job at a new church.  Roni misses her old school and her old youth group.  For three weeks, she’s tried making new friends at school, but it’s not going very well.


The youth group at her dad’s church however, is a different story.  At her very first meeting, Roni is put at ease right away.  The other girls are extremely friendly, and they invite her to sit with them during small-group time and then invite her out to lunch afterward.  Roni accepts.  After lunch, the girls ask Roni to join them for a trip to the mall.  Roni eagerly accepts again, as she’s grateful for the camaraderie.


At the mall, Anna, one of the older girls, leads the group to the Hollister store.  Inside, the girls start grabbing clothes off the racks and discussing how adorable and cute everything looks.  Each of them heads for a dressing room, leavign Roni slone int he middle of the store.  After a few minutes, they all come out empty-handed.


Anna walks up to Roni and whispers, “What did you get?”  Roni looks at her quizzically.  “You know,” Anna says as she lifts up her shirt just enough to show Roni the three stolen shirts she’s wearing underneath, “what did you get?”


  1. What are Roni’s options for dealing with the situation?

  2. Is there anything Roni could have done to prevent being put in this situation?  If so, what?

  3. How might the words of Proverbs 13:20 help Roni make a decision?

  4. How might the wisdom of Proverbs 29:25 influence Roni?

  5. Based on Proverbs 23:17, what should Roni do?

  6. What would you do?

Case Study #6

Gwen, in seventh grade, is very involved at her school and in her church.  Stacey is also a in seventh grade, and she just moved to the area at the beginning of the semester.  Stacey is bright, bubbly, and beautiful.  She loves people, and she’s made quite a few friends at her new school.  Some of her new friends are also Gwen’s friends.  In fact, when Gwen called her best friends about doing something on Friday night, she found out that her friends was already hanging out with Stacey.  Rather than getting angry, Gwen decided that Stacey would make a great addition to her group of friends.


On Monday, Gwen spots Stacey int he lunch room and invites her to sit with Gwen and her friends.  Stacey is delighted.  As she sits down, she hears the conversation at the table and immediately chimes in with some embarrassing information about the people being discussed.  Stacey reveals things that no one else at the table knows.  When someone tries to point out that what Stacey is saying is none of their business, Stacey just smiles and says, “Oh, I know.  But you didn’t hear it from me.”


  1. How might the wisdom of Proverbs 20:19 help Stacey?  How might it help Gwen deal with the situation?

  2. Should Gwen pull Stacey aside and say something about her gossiping?  If so, when would be a good time and what should she say?  If not, why?

  3. How might Proverbs 17:9 help the friendships in this situation?

  4. How might the wisdom of Proverbs 27:6 apply to this situation?

  5. In what ways could Gwen help Stacey?

Case Study #7

Parker and Wayne are in eighth grade and best friends.  They attend the same church, and they’ve spent three years in youth group together.  Parker and Wayne both do really well in school and are both heavily involved in sports and other activities.


Recently, Parker hasn’t been able to hang out with Wayne much on the weekends because he’s volunteering at the hospital.  So Wayne has started going with some guys from the football team instead.  Parker has heard that Wayne and his new buddies have been drinking on Friday and Saturday nights.  When Parker asks Wayne about it, Wayne seems extremely regretful.


“I don’t want to do it,” he explains, “but the other guys love to drink, so I go along with them.”  Wayne confesses that he’s gotten drunk several times, but he promises he won’t do it again.  The next weekend Parker has to work on Saturday night, so Wayne goes out with his football buddies.  In Sunday school the next morning, Parker can tell that Wayne is hung over.


  1. How might the wisdom of Proverbs 26:11 apply to this situation?

  2. If Wayne were reminded of Proverbs 26:11, do you think he’d act differently?  Why or why not?  If so, how?

  3. What should Parker do now?  What should his attitude be toward the friendship?

  4. Do you think Parker respects Wayne?  Do you think Wayne respects Parker?  Explain.

  5. How could the principle of Proverbs 22:1 change the dynamics of Parker and Wayne’s friendship?

Case Study #8

Vicki and Gail are both first-borns and highly esteemed students in 7th grade.  They attend youth group together.  In fact, Vicki and Gail grew up together, and their moms are also best friends.  Vicki and Gail are the kind of friends who tell each other everything.  Or so one of them thought.


Lately, Gail has noticed that Vicki seems distant.  She’s been pulling away for some reason, and she doesn’t come to youth group as regularly as she used to.  Gail is concerned.


Vicki and Gail attend different Wednesday night Area Bible Studies (ABS).  One Wednesday night, Vicki pulls aside one of her ABS leaders and admits to her that she has an eating disorder.  The leader hugs Vicki, and she assures Vicki that she loves her.  Later that night, the leader takes the proper measures by telling the youth pastor what happened.  Together, with the assistance of Vicki’s parents, they work to get Vicki the help she needs.


A week later, Gail finds out from another student that Vicki has an eating disorder.  Gail tells the student to stop spreading rumors.


“Vicki tells me everything,” Gail says.  “If she had an eating disorder, I’d know it.”  Eventually, Gail asks Vicki about the rumor, and Vicki admits that it’s true.


  1. How might the wisdom of Proverbs 27:6 apply to this situation?

  2. What should Gail do?

  3. How might the truth of Proverbs 27:17 help Vicki and Gail’s friendship?

  4. Do you think Vicki respects Gail?  Do you think Gail respects Vicki?  Explain.

  5. How might the wisdom of Proverbs 18:24 apply to Vicki and Gail’s situation?

Case Study #9

Write your own or have a student in your group suggest a situation.

Close your Breakout Group

 

February 15 - Storyteller Night

February 22 - PRAYER: Jesus Goggles

February 22, 2019

Jesus-Goggles

Romans 12:2, Mark 1:35-37, Mark 6:45-56, Mark 14:32-36

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… that spending time with God allows you to see as God sees.


By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… commit to spend a certain amount of time with God this week.

 

 

 

Spend time in Scripture

 

Who is your favorite person to spend time with?  What do you like doing when you’re with that person?


OR


If you could spend an hour a day with anyone in the world (alive or dead, real or fictional) for the rest of your life, who would you pick?  What would you do?

Read Romans 12:2

What does it mean to “conform” to something?  Can you give an example?

This verse comes from a letter written by Paul to the followers of Jesus in Rome.  What do you think Paul is talking about when he warns against the “patterns of this world”?  (Help students to think of “patterns of the world” as behaviors or actions that society may consider acceptable or ok, but God would not.)

Think about the movies and TV shows you’ve seen.  What “patterns of the world” have you seen?

Think about the way people in your school act.  What attitudes or behaviors have you seen that you should avoid?

Think about the way you act in your school.  In what ways have you already conformed to the patterns of your school/world?

Simple question: what does it mean when something is transformed?

According to Paul, how do we become transformed?

What does it mean to “renew” something?  What are other words for “renew”?  (Think recycle, recharge, and refresh.)

When you get tired or overwhelmed or worn out, what do you do to recharge/refresh/renew?

What do you think it means to “renew your mind”?

Have three students volunteer to read Mark 1:35-37, Mark 6:45-56, Mark 14:32-36.

What does Jesus do in all these passages?  Why do you think it was important for Jesus to go off by himself?

What do you think it means to “spend time with God”?  What does this look like?

How could spending time with God help us to recharge?

How could spending time with God help us to understand God better and what God wants for us?

What keeps you from spending time with God? (Talk about this a little bit.  We’ll go more into this next week!)

Look back at Romans 12:2.  In this verse, there are two types of people.  Those who conform and those who are transformed.  Which is safer?  Which do you want to be?

Close your Breakout Group

March 1 - PRAYER: Holy Rest!

March 1, 2019

Holy Rest!

Philippians 4:6-7, Matthew 6:5-15 (MSG), Mark 6:31

 

 

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… prayer is not a formal, religious relic that we perform, but an opportunity to connect deeply with God.


By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… commit to spend consistent time weekly with God.

 

 

 

Spend time in Scripture

 

What stresses you out?  What makes you really anxious?

Read Philippians 4:6-7.  This comes from a letter written by a follower of Jesus named Paul.  What does Paul encourage us to do when we get anxious?

Does prayer ever stress you out?  Why?

 


What makes prayer hard sometimes?

What are some things that keep you from praying?

When is it easy to pray?

Read Matthew 6:5-15. (Use the Message paraphrase found at BibleGateway.com or printed here.)


Matthew 6:5-15 (The Message)


Pray with Simplicity


5″And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?


6″Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.


7-13″The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

   Our Father in heaven,

Reveal who you are.

Set the world right;

Do what’s best— as above, so below.

Keep us alive with three square meals.

Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.

Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.

You’re in charge!

You can do anything you want!

You’re ablaze in beauty!

Yes. Yes. Yes.

14-15″In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.

The beginning of this passage tells us not to think of as a show.  When can prayer seem like a production?  What would that look like?

Verse 5 warns of seeing God as a spectator to prayer… as an audience.  What’s wrong with that?  (A spectator is passive.  It conjures up images of God sitting back and watching as opposed to actively participating in our prayer.)

What role does God play in prayer?  (Emphasize prayer as a conversation between two active participants.  Both are speaking.  Both are listening.)

When you talk to God, what do you imagine God doing?  Is He listening, talking too, or absent?

Look at verse 6.  What two words should describe how you talk to God?  (simple and honest)

If you were talking to God, what would you be tempted to lie about?

God is described as all-seeing and all-knowing.  Knowing this about God, does it make sense to lie to Him?  Then why do we lie to God in our prayers (or why do we hide things from God in our prayers)?

Are there things in your life that you wish you could talk about with others, but for whatever reason, you feel like you can’t.  Maybe you’re embarrassed or ashamed, confused, or feel guilty.  What would be the benefit of talking to God about those things?

Think about everything you know about prayer.  What formulas, programs, or advice have you found helpful?  What have you found confusing?

Look over the prayer that Jesus prays (also known as the Lord’s Prayer).  Make a list of the things could you talk to God about?

What would you like to talk to God about?

Read Mark 6:31.

In this verse, Jesus and the disciples are surrounded by a huge crowd.  There’s a lot of noise and pressure and stress.  Jesus urges his disciples to slip away with him and find some rest.  In the same way, you are surrounded by crowds, noise, and stress.  Jesus’ invitation to his disciples is still offered to you.  Slip away from it all… go with Him… find some rest.

 

 

 

Close your Breakout Group

 

March 8 - Storyteller Night

Storyteller Night

Spiritual Disciplines

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… about the spiritual disciplines and habits of our guest storyteller.

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… apply what they hear to their own lives.


Breakout Groups

Follow up on the stories that were shared tonight.


Ask:

  • What did you think about what was shared?
  • What stood out to you the most?  What do you think you’re going to remember most?
  • What follow-up questions would you like to ask anyone who shared tonight?
  • How do you think what was shared might influence you in your decision-making?

 


Option #1

Storyteller Night Continued…

This time, the students are the storytellers!


Use these prompts to encourage students to share stories within their group regarding wise choices.  In my experience, it’s usually a good idea to give them some time to think about the story.  Maybe you want to write out or display all the prompts, ask students to pick one and give them a few minutes to think of the story related to it.  Then you can either have a few students share or (if there’s time) have them all share.


If you have a large group, divide your group into pairs and have them tell each other their stories.  Challenge them in their listening too.  Have whoever is listening to the story think of one follow-up question to ask when the storyteller is done.

This may not go as smoothly as you like.  We’re trying to teach them to be storytellers, so be patient.


Story prompts:

 

  • Tell a story about a time when you felt close to God. Tell a story about a time when you felt far from God.
  • Tell a story about when you felt like you really belonged somewhere. Tell a story about when you felt out of place.
  • Tell a story about the best thing that happened this week. Tell a story about the worst thing that happened.
  • Make up your own!

 


Option #2

Night of Prayer

Set up a Prayer Night for your Breakout Group.  Here are some ideas:

 

  • Have students form a circle around 1 student and everyone prays for them. Do this for everyone in your group.
  • Use white wristbands as prayer bands. Here are two ways to do this:
  • Everyone writes their name and a list of prayer requests on a wristband. Collect the wristbands and redistribute them so everyone gets someone else to pray for this week.
  • Pass around wristbands and everyone writes their name and a prayer request. At the end, everyone has a wristband full of prayer requests for the group.
  • Lead a guided meditation. There may be some resources available in the Student Ministry Office or online.
  • Use a prayer service from The Book of Uncommon Prayer. Volumes 1 and 2 are available in the Student Ministry Office.

 


Option #3

Choose Your Own Adventure!  

In other words, write your own curriculum.  Is there something else you want to go over with your group?

 

 

Close your Breakout Group

 

 

March 29 - Boundaries

March 11, 2016

The Temple

John 2:12-17, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, Romans 12:2, Proverbs 4:23

 

 

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… that God views their bodies as special and sacred.


By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… make decisions to protect themselves from choices that will harm them physically and emotionally.

 

 

Spend time in Scripture

 

What does “sacred” mean to you?

 


Can you think of a place you consider to be sacred or special to you personally?  What makes it so?

 


Imagine someone trashed this place… offensive graffiti… garbage all over the place… everything is destroyed.  How would you feel?

 


Read John 2:12-17.

 


We’ve looked at this passage back in the Fall, but it’s going to help us with what we’re going to talk about tonight.

 


What is the temple?  What makes it so special and sacred?

 


[LEADER’S NOTE: The temple was considered the place where God’s Spirit dwelt.  The innermost part of the temple was called the Holy of Holies.]

 


Why is Jesus so upset about what is happening in the temple?

 


Read 1 Corinthians 6:19.

 


This verse comes from a letter written by a follower of Jesus named Paul to the followers of Jesus in Corinth, but it still applies to us today.  Why does Paul call our bodies “temples”?

 


Before we were using words like “sacred” and “special” to describe the temple.  How does it make you feel to consider your body as “special” or “sacred”?

 


In what ways might people (intentionally or unintentionally) hurt themselves?  Think physically and emotionally.

 


Remember how upset Jesus was when people were abusing the temple building, which is just a place made of wood and stone.  Think about how much more Jesus cares about what happens to the temple that is you.

 


Read Romans 12:2.

 


We looked at this verse a few weeks ago and we talked about some patterns of the world.  In regards to illegal drugs, alcohol, and underage drinking, what are some of the patterns of the this world?  Think about what you see in your school or what you see going on around you.  Think about what you see in TV and movies.

 


In regards to sex, what are the patterns of this world?  What is expected?  What is acceptable?

 


In Romans 12:2, we are challenged not to conform to the patterns of this world, but instead to what?


Go back to 1 Corinthians 6 and read verses 12-20.

 


Look at verse 13, what does it say about sex?  What would be the difference between sex and sexual immorality?  (LEADER’S NOTE: Sexual immorality being sex outside of the context God created it for.)

 


In what way is sexual immorality a temptation for someone in Middle School?  [LEADER’s NOTE: For most, it probably isn’t… but they are going to establish patterns now in their relationship with the opposite sex that will make it easier or harder to be tempted to make mistakes.]

 


What does it mean to “honor God with your body”?

 


Read Proverbs 4:23.

 


This proverb challenges us to guard our hearts.  What can we do to guard against temptation from illegal drugs and underage drinking?  What can we do to guard against going too far with the opposite sex?  What can we do to help guard each other?

 

 

 

Close your Breakout Group

 

April 5 - Healthy Friendships

April 8, 2016

My Squad

Genesis 2:15-22, Proverbs 17:17, Proverbs 13:20

 

 

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… the importance of true friends.


By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… evaluate to quality of their friends and their own ability to be a friend.

 

 

 

 

Spend time in Scripture

 

Leaders share a story about something that happened to you and a friend.  It can be serious, hilarious, or embarrassing.  Invite 1 or 2 students to share a story about them and a friend.

Read Genesis 2:15-22

In the beginning of this passage, what does God say about the man?  What does this reveal about what God thinks about friendships?

Who are some of your best friends?

What is it about them that makes them a true friend?

Read Ruth 1:16-17.

In this passage, Ruth is talking to a woman named Naomi.  After reading what Ruth says, how would you describe their relationship?

Read Proverbs 17:17

What does this verse say about the importance of true friends?

What is the best thing about having true friends?

In what ways do your friends make you a better person?

Read Proverbs 13:20

What does this proverbs say about who you should have as a good friend?  (Remind students that when we say “good friend”, we’re talking about some of the Friend Triangle.  The Friend Triangle will make more sense after the talk.)

Who should you avoid as your good friend?

What are some of the qualities of a person who would not be a good friend?

Who has more influence over you – God or your friends?

In what ways do you allow friends to pull you away from God?

Why is it important to have friends that strengthen your relationship with God?

Do you have any friends that help you be a better follow of Jesus?  What do they do that helps you?

Take a hard look at yourself.  Given what we’ve talked about so far and what we’ve read in Scripture, how good a friend are you?

In what ways are you a true friend?  In what ways do you need to work harder at being a true friend?

Given what we’ve shared in the Breakout Group, what do you need to do this week?  (Invite students to come up with a challenge for themselves.  Some challenges may relate to who in their life has been a true friend.  Some may relate to the people they consider friends that are having a negative influence on their life.  Some may relate the what kind of friend they are being.)


Close your Breakout Group

 

April 26 - Healthy Friendships 2

April 22, 2016

My Squad 2

John 4:1-30, 39-42, Matthew 25:34-45

 

 

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… that following Jesus is about including people, not excluding them.


By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… live lives open to those around them.

 

 

 

 

Spend time in Scripture

 

[This Breakout Time could go two ways.  Either focusing on excluding others or on being excluded.  Your group may naturally lean toward one of those ways.]

 


Have you ever felt excluded or left out?  How did it feel?  What did you do?

 


Have you ever been part of a group that excluded others?  Why were others excluded?

 


How did it feel to be on the inside of that group?  How do you think it felt to be outside?

 


Read John 4:1-26


What is the Samaritan woman’s response when Jesus asks for a drink?  Why do you think she responded in this way?

 


Any other Jewish Rabbi would never put himself in the situation Jesus is in.  What reasons would there be for Jesus to not interact with this woman?

 

 

Leader Notes:

  1. She was a Samaritan and he was a Jew. As mentioned in verse 9, Samaritans and Jews didn’t interact.  
  2. She was a woman and men were not to interact with women in public, especially Rabbis.
  3. There are some questions as to the woman been considered an outcast in her own village.
  4. Apparently there was water in the village of Sychar, so why would she walk to this well for water?
  5. Some suggest that going to draw water was a social time, but this woman is the only one present.  Why is she alone?
  6. The 6th hour is noon, when the day is at it’s hottest.  Why would the woman have gone now instead of earlier or later unless she was trying to avoid people.


What do we learn about this woman that might indicate she was an outcast among her own people?


Think about the people in your school.  Who would be considered the outcasts?  How are outcasts treated by others in your school?  (Leader Note: Strongly encourage your students to avoid using names)


Why do you think people in your schools are excluded?


Have you ever excluded someone else, so you could feel included?  Why do you think you did that?  How did it make you feel?  Do you think it was okay to do it?  If so, why?


Have any of your friends excluded people?  Would you ever talk to your friends about the way they treat others?  Why or why not?


Read Matthew 25:34-45


How do these verses apply to the way people are treated in your school?


Think about the way you treat others in your school.  If you don’t feel excluded, how do you treat those that are?  If you do feel excluded, how do you treat those doing the excluding or other that are excluded?

 


Based on how you treat others and on what Jesus says in this parable, which group (in Jesus’ parable) would you most likely fall into?

 


Read John 4:27-30, 39-42

 


Many would see this woman has having little or no value, but not Jesus.  What happens as a result of Jesus’ interaction with this woman?  (Leader Note: An entire Samaritan village comes to believe in Jesus)

 

 

Based on what’s been talked about in Breakout Groups, in what way do you need to be challenged this week?

 

 

Close your Breakout Group

 

May 10 - Prayer Stations

May 13, 2016

Follow the Leader

Exodus 16

 

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to know… trusting God means living life His way.

By the end of WHIRLWIND, we want students to be able to… trust God enough to pursue Him.

 

Spend time in Scripture

 Who do you trust?  Why do you trust them?

 [Leader Note: Much of the background for this passage will be shared in the talk.]

 
It’s been almost 2 months since God brought Israel out of slavery in Egypt. For almost 2 months, they’ve been led thru the dessert by a pillar of clouds by day and a pillar of fire by night.  Exodus 13:22 says, “Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.”

If you were with the Israelites traveling through the desert, what would you be thinking every time you looked up at night and saw that pillar of fire?

 

What do you think it meant to the Israelites?

 

Read Exodus 16:1-3

 

Why are the Israelites complaining?

 

Do you think they really believed that they were brought out to the desert to starve?

 

What should the pillar of fire have reminded them?

 

Read Exodus 16:4-12

 

The people “grumbled against Moses and Aaron”, but who were they really complaining about?

 

Have you ever “grumbled” against God?  What have you “grumbled” about?

 

How did God respond?

 

Read Exodus 16:13-35

 

How often did God send manna?  (6 days a week for forty years… that’s 12,480 days of manna.)

 

What day did it not rain manna?  Why?

 

How were they supposed to eat on the seventh day if it didn’t rain manna?

 

What happened when they saved manna any other day?

 

What do you think collecting manna each day taught Israel about God?

 

Why do you think some people didn’t listen and saved some manna?

 

Every day and night, the Israelites had a pillar of clouds and fire to remind them God was with them.  What reminds you that God is with you?

 

Are you feeling like you need a reminder now?  Would you ask God for one?

 

Every morning, a blanket of manna on the ground reminded the Israelites that God would provide for them.  How has God provided for you recently?

 

What reminds you that God provides for you?

 

Despite the pillars, the people of Israel still doubted God was going to care for them and they were going to starve in the desert.  Despite the daily downpour of manna, some doubted the God would provide for them tomorrow.

 

Are there times when you don’t think God cares about what happens to you?

 

Are there parts of your life that you don’t think God cares about?  What makes you think that?

 

Are there parts of your life (people, relationships, situations) that you don’t want God to be a part of?  Why?

 

Does this story offer any encouragement for you?

 

On a scale of 1-10, how much do you trust God?

 

What would cause you to trust God less?

 

What would need to happen for you to trust God more fully?

 

Based on what’s been talked about in Breakout Groups, in what way do you need to be challenged this week?

 

Close your Breakout Group