Preteen Youth Group Lesson – Wisdom of the Elders

A couple of months ago, we had “Gray Night” in our preteen ministry. This is the second time in three years we’ve done this during our church’s midweek programming.

We’ve heard since last week how this service was a defining moment for some of our preteens, how they rethought their relationship with their parents and grandparents, and how they’ve reflected on God’s plans to guide them with wisdom.

We are in a world:

  • Where “new” is almost always considered better than “old”.
  • Where having gray hair often means you are seen as more of a burden than a gift.
  • Where there isn’t one television show on Nickelodeon or Disney Channel where characters go to their grandparents for wisdom.

In fact, the recent trend is that parents play the part of buffoons on most tween-targeted shows. This is especially true for the role of Dad.

None of this lines up with what the Bible teaches about the gray-haired royalty among us.

This lesson is about reclaiming the gift that God has given preteens – the blessed treasure of wisdom that our elders have been entrusted with, and would love to share with us.

Preteen Ministry Lesson about Wisdom: Gray Night (or Gray Day)

Written by Sean Sweet

Bible Verses: Proverbs 16:31, 20:29, and 19:20; Leviticus 19:32; and 2 Corinthians 4:16

Bottom Line: God wants to bless you through the wisdom of elders.

SUPPLIES

  • OPTIONAL: Prizes for costume contest winners
  • a small piece of cardstock paper for each student
  • a pen for each student
  • little books of wisdom (see Preparation, below)
  • a “Request for Wisdom” card for each student, with text like this printed on it:

Dear _____________,

I would like to ask for your wisdom. As I face difficult things in life, I would like to be able to come to you and hear your wisdom on how I might face those difficult things.

I think your wisdom would help me to make wise choices, even when I’m a teenager or adult. Would you be willing to share your wisdom with me as I grow and learn?

Sincerely, _____________

 

PREPARATION

  • Promote Gray Night (or Gray Day) in advance with your preteens and invite them to either wear gray clothes or dress like they are really old. You might want to say that it will be a contest and that prizes will be given to the most creative costume. Both times we’ve done this service in our ministry, many of the preteens have had a ton of fun coming dressed up for this evening.
  • Gather some of those little books of wisdom that they sell at bookstores (you might even have some on your bookshelf at home). Alternately, find pictures of some wisdom books that you can project onto a screen.
  • Pick out some one sentence bits of wisdom from these books that you will share during the lesson. The funnier or stranger the wisdom, the better. Something like “If you squeeze an orange, you’ll end up with orange juice.” would be perfect.
  • Ask an older couple from your church who has exhibited wisdom to come and speak for a few minutes at the end of your message. If your own parents fall into that category, it would be even more meaningful to ask them to share. You could ask them to share one piece of wisdom each that they would like to give to the preteens. You could also ask them if they’d be willing to listen to a few questions from the preteens and share any wisdom that they might have.
  • If you are able to play video, find a few short clips of CURRENT Disney/Nickelodeon shows where the adults act like fools. We’ve used clips from “The Thundermans”, “Phineas and Ferb”, and “Fairly Odd Parents”. Here’s an example of the type of clip you could use:

 

Or this clip (Watch from 1:09 to 1:51):

 

 

 

LESSON

(SAY:) Tonight is gray night, and we’re going to talk about wisdom. I think you’ll see how these two ideas “GRAY” and ‘WISDOM” fit together as the lesson goes on.

Have any of you ever seen those little books of wisdom that they sell at stores? Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about. (Show the books of wisdom that you’ve gathered.)

These books are full of one sentence pieces of advice and wisdom. Things like this: (Share a few of the bits of silly wisdom that you’ve gathered from these books.)

I thought it would be fun if we created our own book of wisdom. And I think, since it’s gray night, we should call our book of wisdom: “Preteen Wisdom for Gray-Haired People”.

Some of you dressed up tonight as older people. Come up here for a minute if you dressed up. (Have students who dressed up come to the front.) You guys look great!

Now, these are preteens, but imagine for a minute that they really are the age of most grandmas and grandpas. What pieces of advice or wisdom do you think would be helpful to them? What would you want them to know that might be useful advice?

Your leaders are going to hand you a small piece of paper and a pen so you can write your sentence of wisdom or advice for older people. We would love to take all of your advice and put it together into our new book: “Preteen Wisdom for Gray-Haired People”.

(Give the preteens a minute to write down their “words of wisdom” and then have them break into small groups to share what they wrote. Have leaders collect these pieces of wisdom and turn them in at the end of the evening.

You might consider actually making a book and presenting it to the senior citizens of your church. In the past, we’ve taken the book of preteen wisdom and presented it to the “Prime Time” ministry at our church and then asked them, in exchange, to write pieces of wisdom for the preteens. We then collected the “Prime Timers” wisdom and made it into books for our preteens.)

(When everybody returns from small groups, say:) You know, wisdom and advice can really help people out. I can think of a time in my life when somebody gave me some wisdom, and it was so incredibly helpful. (If you have a short story of a time when somebody gave you wisdom, you could share it.)

There are areas of my life right now where I could use some wisdom. Maybe some of you have problems or struggles in your life where you’d like some good solid advice. Maybe you’re having issues with friends, or at your home with brothers and sisters. Maybe you struggle at school, or there’s something else that weighs on you.

I want everybody to close their eyes and think for just a minute about a problem or struggle or area of your life where you’d like a little bit of wisdom. (Pause and allow students to think.)

I’m not going to call on any of you, but would you raise your hand if there’s at least one area of your life where you would love some good, solid, helpful wisdom? (Look for hands.)

Great. You can put your hands down.

I hope that tonight’s message will really help you with whatever area of your life you are thinking about.

So, tonight is “Gray Night”. And check this out: If you search the Bible for the word “gray”, you’ll find it 14 times (ESV). But each and every time the word “gray” shows up, do you know what it’s about? (Take responses.)

Every time the word “gray” is in the Bible, it’s talking about elderly people. It’s talking about gray hair.

Here’s just two examples:

Proverbs 20:29 (NIrV): “Young men are proud of their strength. Gray hair brings honor to old men.”

Proverbs 16:31 (NIrV):Gray hair is a glorious crown. You get it by living the right way.”

Think about what those verses are saying about gray hair. It brings honor. And it’s like a glorious crown. Now what kind of people wear a crown and are honored? (Kings and Queens.)

Do you see what the Bible is saying about our elders? They are like royalty. They are like Kings and Queens.

Wow! God has a really interesting idea of how we should think about old people, doesn’t he? I mean look at this verse:

Leviticus 19:32 (NIrV): “Stand up in order to show your respect for old people. Also have respect for me. I am the Lord your God.”

Wait a second. In the same verse, God says, “show your respect for old people.” And then he says, “also have respect for me.”

God is really elevating old people, isn’t he? Show your respect for old people, and also for God. That’s God’s message to us.

So if we put all these verses together, we see that gray-haired people are like royalty, and they deserve honor and respect.

You know, God has really given us a blessing by putting older people in our lives. And I don’t just mean our grandparents and the elders here at our church. I mean our parents, too.

One of the greatest ways that you can be blessed by people older than you, by these royal, honorable, respectable people, is by listening to their wisdom and advice.

Think about this: Do you know more than you did when you were 5? (YES.) Do you think you’ll know even more by the time you’re 20 years old? (YES.) Just think how much you’ll know in 30 years….40 years…50 OR 60 YEARS!!!

Older people have been around much longer than you have. And God wants to bless you through them. Look at Proverbs 19:20 with me:

Proverbs 19:20 (NIrV): “Listen to advice and accept correction. In the end you will be counted among those who are wise.”

Do you remember earlier when I asked you to close your eyes and think about a problem or issue in your life – an area where you could use some wisdom?

Well, one place you can go for wisdom is to gray-haired people. Especially older people who’ve walked with Jesus for a long time. You might get just the answer you need to help you with whatever your facing in your life.

Here’s the problem though. Our world has a very different message about old people than the picture that the Bible give us. That picture of respect and honorability and royalty.

The picture our world gives us is of people who are basically useless. Can anybody tell me even one show on Nickelodeon or Disney Channel where kids your age go to their grandparents for advice and wisdom? (Pause for response.)

I can’t think of any shows like that. In fact, think of the way that even parents are shown on most of these shows.

(Show clips of preteen-targeted shows where the parents are portrayed as buffoons. If you don’t have video-capability, have a conversation with your preteens about how they’ve seen parents portrayed in shows like “Fairly Odd Parents”, “Thundermans”, etc.)

Do these shows honor parents? Does the message of these shows line up with God’s picture of how we should treat and think about our elders?

Here’s another thing that may keep you from asking for advice from an older person. Sometimes they can look like they are getting weaker. As people get older, their bodies can become more and more fragile. They look sometimes like they don’t have much to offer us.

But we have to remember…we only see the outside. What’s happening in an old person’s spirit is a different story altogether. Look at this verse:

2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIrV): “We don’t give up. Our bodies are becoming weaker and weaker. But our spirits are being renewed day by day.”

God is doing something beautiful in people’s spirits every day. The more years a person walks with God, the more time he has to show them glorious things. Even if their bodies are becoming weaker and weaker, somebody who walks with God is being renewed in their spirit every day. They are actually getting stronger and stronger!

In just a minute, your leaders are going to hand you a “Request for Wisdom” card. Here’s what’s written on these cards:

“Dear [BLANK],

“I would like to ask for your wisdom. As I face difficult things in life, I would like to be able to come to you and hear your wisdom on how I might face those difficult things.

“I think your wisdom would help me to make wise choices, even when I’m a teenager or adult. Would you be willing to share your wisdom with me as I grow and learn?

“Sincerely, [BLANK]”

I want you to take a minute and think about somebody that you could give this card to. Somebody that’s older than you who you’d like to ask for wisdom from. It could be a parent or grandparent. It might be a pastor at our church. It might be a small group leader. Whoever this older person is, you’re going to write their name in the first blank. Your name goes in the second blank where it says “Sincerely, [BLANK]”.

Before we do that, I want us to welcome some very special guests to our ministry tonight. They are going to come and share a little bit of wisdom with you that they think would have helped them when they were preteens. You’re also going to have a chance to ask them if they have any wisdom for your area of struggle in life. (Have the students stand to show honor as your special guests come in. Invite them to have a seat in the front of the room, and then give them a chance to talk with the students. You might give the preteens who would like to ask a question about an area where they need wisdom the opportunity to do so.)

(Thank the older couple for coming and sharing their wisdom, and then give the students a moment to fill out the two [BLANKS] on a “Request for Wisdom” Card.

(Close your service by having the preteens share in small groups who they are going to give the card to, and discuss how their view of their elders changes as they think about what God’s word says about the gray-haired people.)

Enjoyed this lesson? Then you’ll love this one:

Preteen Ministry Lesson on Respecting Authorities

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

 

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