Valentine’s Day is sneaking up on me this year.

I live just outside New Orleans, and tomorrow is Mardi Gras Day. That means for the last week and a half our city has thrown one parade after another.

In fact, last Friday night one of those parades passed in front of my house. We had a bunch of friends over, many of whom had kids. Tons of fun!

Then, yesterday was Superbowl Sunday. Woohoo…way to go Broncos (I fell ya pain though…all those Panthers fans out there).

So, until today it didn’t even settle in that Valentines Day is this Sunday. Oh my 🙂 I better get some flowers and book a reservation at restaurant asap!

Since it’s on a Sunday, what a great idea it is to do a lesson in your preteen ministry built around the big day.

That’s why we created this free Valentine’s Day lesson

Here’s the main idea: Our lives will be sweeter when we seek to love God first.

The lesson is built around Matthew 6:33 & Matthew 22:37-39.

I think the preteens in your ministry will really enjoy this lesson.

Well, I hope you have an awesome Valentine’s Day!

Nick Diliberto, The Preteen Ministry Guy

Preteen Ministry Lesson for Valentine’s Day: The Sweetest Love


Written by Sean Sweet

Bible Verses: Matthew 6:33 and Matthew 22:37-39

Bottom Line: Our lives will be sweeter when we seek to love God first.


  • A package of medium-sized Valentines’ candies. Get candies that are about the size of a large grape (The large, foil wrapped hearts, for example)
  • A package of small Valentine’s candies (The standard Valentine’s conversation hearts, for example. The bigger the size difference between the medium-sized candy and the small candy, the better the illustration will work.)
  • A bag of granulated sugar
  • 8 large plastic cups (Clear is best)
  • A Valentines’ Day card with a heart on it
  • One large, heart shaped Valentine’s Day candy
  • A table (a card table would be great)
  • Matthew 6:33 and Matthew 22:37-39 written on strips of paper


In order to set up this lesson to succeed, you’ll need to follow these steps carefully:

In one of the clear cups, pour in the medium-sized Valentine’s candies until it’s full. There should still be natural gaps between the candies.

Into the same cup, pour in the small Valentine’s candies. These should pour in and around the medium-sized candies. Do this until you can’t pour any more in.

Now, into the same cup, pour in the sugar. The sugar should pour in and around the candies that are already in the cup. Pour in the sugar until the cup is full.

You have just “measured” the correct amount of sugar, small candies, and medium candies for the lesson illustration to work.

Separate out the sugar, small candies, and medium candies from the one cup into three cups, so that one cup has the sugar, one cup has the small candies, and one cup has the medium candies.

During the lesson, you will pour these three cups back into one cup.

That’s why it was important to measure it first.

Now, create an identical set of cups, so that you’ll end up with 2 cups with sugar, 2 cups with small candies, and 2 cups with medium candies.

On two empty cups, draw a large heart.

Set all 8 cups on a table in the center of your teaching area, with the Valentines’ card and the single, large heart-shaped candy.

Here’s what all that set up was for: if a student pours in the sugar, the small candies, and then the medium-sized candies into an empty cup (in that order), it won’t all fit. If, however, a student pours in the medium-sized candies, the small candies, and then the sugar (in that order), everything will fit.

During the lesson, you’ll use this as an illustration about the importance of priorities, that if you put in the big things first, then there’s room for everything else.

However, if you go after the small things in life first, there won’t be room for the big things. (see Matthew 6:33)

Preselect two students who can read well and give them the strips of paper with the two scriptures written on them.

Tell them their cue to stand up and read these scriptures with a loud voice in the middle of the lesson.

Their cue is: “Let’s say this time, you listen to God’s instructions for life.


(SAY:) Valentine’s Day can be a fun day, full of cute cards and candy hearts. If I were to ask you to tell me one word that’s at the center of Valentine’s Day, what would you say? (Pause for response)

LOVE. That’s right. LOVE. That’s why, on most every Valentine’s Day card you’ll see a heart (hold up Valentine’s Day card), and most Valentine’s Day candy is shaped like a heart (hold up single Valentine’s Day candy).

Now, love is a wonderful thing. Love was God’s idea to start with. In fact, the Bible tells us that “God is Love.” in 1 John 4:8.

Love is so sweet, so when I see a Valentine’s Day candy – it just makes sense.  It just works. Love and sweetness go together!

Now, God has given us a lot of things to love:

First of all (holding up the cups with medium-sized candy), he’s given us himself. There is so much to love about God, and these medium-sized candies are going to represent those things.

Who can tell me one thing about God that you love? (Take responses, and as a option, writing those things on the the candy with a sharpie.

If your group is small enough, you could give each student one of these medium-sized candies and have them write what they love about God on their candy before putting it back in the cup).

Secondly (holding up the cups with small-sized candy), he’s put people in our lives to love. Brothers, sisters, friends, parents, teachers, and maybe someday a husband or a wife and your own children.

I want you to think of some of the people in your life that you can love, and let these smaller candies represent them. (Take responses, and again, you have the option of writing those responses on the hearts.)

Finally (holding up the cups with sugar in them), God’s given us things in life to enjoy.

Who enjoys playing video games? Who enjoys reading books? What are some other things you enjoy in life? (For me, it’s a Gourmet Chicken Taco from Rubios.)

Let’s let these little sugar grains represent those sweet things in life that we love.  These things are gifts from God.

Now, I need a volunteer to help me show everybody something. (Choose a preteen to come forward and stand on the opposite side of the table as you.)

God has given us so much in life to enjoy. We can enjoy the sweetness that comes from the things we love (hold up a cup of sugar and place in front of the preteen volunteer).

We can enjoy the sweetness that comes from the people we love (hold up a cup of small candies and place in front of the preteen).

We can enjoy the sweetness that comes from knowing and loving God himself (hold up a cup of medium-sized candies and place in front of the preteen).

God is the one who’s given us all of these things to enjoy. And he’s given us instructions on how to enjoy them.

But let’s forget about the instructions God’s given us for a minute.

Let’s say that this cup represents your life (hold up an empty cup with a heart drawn on it and place in front of the preteen).

And, your first priority in life, your top love in life, is all the stuff of the world…the video games, the great movies, the gourmet chicken tacos. And you LOVE these things so much that you put them above people and God. You lay down your life for these things.

It might look like this: You stay home from church to watch T.V. or to do something that you enjoy. You don’t spend time with God because you’re busy playing some game that you just love. You don’t go and play with friends because you love playing video games so much.

It can look 1,000 different ways, but the bottom line is this – the top priority, the first love of your life, are the things of this world.

Since we’re imagining that this is how you are living, go ahead and pour the sugar into the empty cup. (Pause for student to pour in the sugar.) You poured in the sugar first, because the sugar represents the things in life, and that’s your first love.

Now, let’s continue. Let’s say that you love God somewhat, but more than that, you love people.

What might that look like? It might look like this: instead of singing during worship, you stand there with your mouth shut because you worry what other people might think.

OR maybe you never talk about God at school because you’re afraid your friends will think it’s not cool.

OR maybe you spend all your time thinking about a cute boy – or girl – and spend very little time thinking about Jesus.

What else might it look like if we love people more than God? (Take responses.)

One way this can really mess people up is when it comes to boyfriends, girlfriends, dating and all that. We can “love” a guy or a girl so much, and then ignore God’s instructions about how we should live and how we should love.

You might know a teenager, or even a preteen from your school, who has allowed their “love” for people to take them down roads that lead to big disasters in their lives because they ignore God’s instructions for people and just “follow their hearts”.

“Follow your heart” is not very good advice at times, but it’s advice you’ll probably hear a lot.

Let’s say you (returning your attention to the preteen volunteer) “follow your heart”, and your next love in life, rather that God, is people. Go ahead and pour the small candies into the heart cup next.

Now, (holding up the heart cup with the sugar and the small candies in it) you have a life that is already pretty full…it’s full of love for things and people.

This is what many people end up with, a life that feels pretty full because of all the amazing things and people God has given them to enjoy.

But, does a person who lives like this (referring to cup) have room for God? (Instruct the preteen volunteer to try to pour in the medium-sized candies that represent God. They shouldn’t fit.)

When we put things and people as our top priorities in life, when we love things and people more than we love God, we will find that we don’t have enough time for God.

This is the way 1 John 2:15 puts it: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

You simply can not love the world and put the things and people in this world as your priority and still say that you love God. It just doesn’t work.

OK. (to volunteer:) I’m going to give you a second chance. (Put second empty heart cup in front of the volunteer along with the second set of cups with small candies, medium-sized candies, and sugar.)

Let’s say this time, you listen to God’s instructions for life. (This is the cue for your pre-selected students in the audience to stand up and read the scriptures you’ve given them:)

“But put God’s kingdom first. Do what he wants you to do. Then all those things will also be given to you.” -Matthew 6:33

“Jesus replied, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind.’ This is the first and most important commandment. 39 And the second is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’” -Matthew 22:37-39

(Say to volunteer:) What are those scriptures are telling you about what your first love in life should be? (Take response and have the student pour in the medium-sized candy, which represents God, into the empty cup.)

Yes, God is instructing us to put love for him as our top priority. That’s why you’re pouring in those medium-sized candies first.

It said the first and greatest command is to love God, but did you notice what was second? Was it to love the things in this world? Was it to love nature and laughter and soccer? NO!

It was to love people. So let’s pour that cup (indicate the one with the small candy) next.

And look, even though this cup looks full, there is still room for all the sweet things that God has created for us to enjoy (have the student pour in the sugar – it should all fit this time).

See, the way to have the sweetest life – the fullest life – is to seek God and his Kingdom FIRST! That’s so important.

This Valentine’s Day, as you are thinking about love, as you are enjoying sweet heart-shaped candies, focus your love on God. Let God be the focus of your heart, and he’ll add everything else that we need to have a sweet life.

You don’t need to go chasing after a certain boy – or girl. You don’t need to go chasing after more and more STUFF. The way to have the sweetest life – a life that’s full of God’s best – is to seek GOD first, and to love him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Let’s pray.


Like this lesson? Check this out…

Preteen Ministry Lesson on Respecting Authority

Sean Pic 2Sean Sweet is the Community Facilitator for, and is dedicated to raising the value of your ministry to preteens.

Check out FourFiveSix’s Preteen Ministry Leader’s Online Conference coming in April.


4 Replies to “Preteen Youth Group Lesson for Valentine’s Day”

  1. Deidra Turner
    • February 8, 2016

    Excellent! Thank you for sharing this lesson! May God continue to bless you!

  2. Dan Temple
    • February 9, 2016

    Great lesson. Thanks again!

  3. Sean Sweet
    • February 13, 2016

    Deidra and Dan: thank you for the encouragement! I’m praying that this lesson is a blessing to you and your preteens!

  4. Anne L
    • February 19, 2019

    This lesson was great. We didn’t get to it until after Valentines Day but it didn’t matter. I actually used some different items and they worked really well. For “God” I used a chocolate bunny. For “people” I used jelly beans and for “things” I stuck with the sugar. When we put the sugar and jelly beans in first the bunny only fit in the glass about 1/5 of the way so we talked about how when we put other things first we only have room for a little bit of God and He is not part of our whole life. Then when we put the bunny in first and poured the jelly beans and sugar in on top of it it all flowed through the glass to fit and was a great illustration of how God was now part of our whole life. Thanks so much for this ministry and all the creative and fun ideas that lead kids closer to God. We pray for you and your ministry at the end of our class time.

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