This Challenge makes the point that God’s timing often seems slow to us but that we have to be careful not to rush ahead of God. Things work out best when we follow closely behind Him. The challenge is accomplish by staging a “race” between pouring a bottle of ketchup and pouring cups of water.
- Bottles of ketchup – 1 per group (The glass bottles are best, because the ketchup comes out much more slowly, and you can’t squeeze them. However, if you can’t find glass bottles, plastic will work.)
- Challenge Card (The file for printing is called, “JJ – God’s Timing – Challenge Card (CHALLENGE),” and it can be found on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com. This can be printed in black and white on regular paper. There are two Challenge Cards per page.)
- Prizes – 1 per person – recommend candy or something sweet to eat (The prize is used to create urgency for completing the task. It should be something the participants are eager to get so that they will want to try to rush the task they are given. This is to show that we often have to be patient and wait for the good things God has planned for us.)
- Large, clear, plastic cups – 2 per person and one extra for the group leader (These are to pour the liquid into and from. Each participant will need one, and one group leader will need one for each group. The cups can have color, but the kids should be able to see through the plastic so that they can judge their progress against the leader’s cup.)
- Ziplock bags – gallon size – 1 per group
- Gallon jug of water – 1 per group
- Red food coloring – 1 per group (OPTIONAL – used to make the water similar to the ketchup in color but not change the consistency of the liquid. If you want, you can use this to illustrate that we are like God in some ways, but He is much better and worth waiting for – or so the ketchup commercials used to say.)
- Put enough plastic cups (2 for each person in each group plus one extra for the leader) in each of the Ziplock bag.
- Put a bottle of ketchup in each of the Ziplock bag.
- Put a bottle of red food coloring in each of the Ziplock bags. (OPTIONAL)
- Print out the Challenge Card document.
- Set aside the gallon jugs of water where each group can get them.
- Cut the Challenge Card document in half (each half is identical), and put one in each Ziplock bag (one per group).
- Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “We’re going to do a group Challenge today.”
- “It’s called, “God’s Timing” and it’s part of the Joseph’s Journey Series.”
- “First, I’ll need to divide you into groups.” (Divide the participants into the number of groups for which you have prepared kits.)
- “Each group will have a Ziplock bag with a Challenge Card, cups, and a bottle of ketchup (and possibly a bottle of red food coloring).”
- “When I tell you to go, open your Ziplock bags, and read the Challenge Card.” (Allow them to read the Challenge Card.)
- “Now, you will then have a race!”
- “Your group leader will pour ketchup out into one of the cups.”
- “The ketchup represents God’s timing – how fast or slow He chooses to move.”
- “The ketchup cup represents God’s will. When it is full, God’s will has been fully accomplished.”
- “The rest of you will each get two cups and fill one full with water.”
- “Then you will pour your water from that cup into your empty cup.”
- “When everyone’s empty cups are full, you will each get a prize.”
- “Sounds easy, right?”
- “But here’s the hard part!”
- “You can’t ever fill your cup faster than the cup that is being filled with ketchup.”
- “In life, we often want to go faster than God’s timing, but this is a very bad thing to do.”
- “We have to be patient and wait for the good things God has planned for us.”
- “In the Bible, Joseph knew when he was 17 years old that he would one day rule over his brothers, but he had to patiently wait for 13 years before God’s will was accomplished in his life.”
- “Back to our race – If one of your leaders notices that you have gotten ahead of the ketchup, you will have to pour the water back into your first cup and start all over.”
- “Does anyone have any questions before we race?” (Answer their questions.)
- (Then, allow them to fill up their cups and add red food coloring (optional). You can then begin the “race.” If anyone’s cup becomes fuller than the ketchup cup, have them empty it and start over again. If the ketchup just isn’t moving, try slightly tipping the bottle to let more air in to replace the ketchup that is coming out. (If you have a squeezable bottle, try to squeeze it without being noticed.) When you are finished, have them answer the Debrief Questions below (also on their Challenge Cards. The Rhyme Time is to help them remember that God is using even the times when we are waiting on Him. If we trust Him and obey Him during these times, God will use them to make us ready for His blessings.)
- How difficult was it to wait for “God’s timing” (the ketchup)?
- Have you ever had to wait for God to do something in your life? How did that feel?
- Why do you think it’s important to wait for God to work in His time?
- How can you be better about waiting for God in the future?
If we trust Him and obey,
God makes bad things go OUR way!
For summer camp this year, I’ve written ten Challenges (Bible activities for small groups and a leader to do together – sometimes in competition with other groups) and some large group lessons on the story of Joseph. They are all located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page (see the link at the top of the screen), and you can find them alphabetically in the list. They all start with the letters “JJ” for “Joseph’s Journey.”
Hope you can find some lessons that will be useful for you!
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This object lesson teaches about how difficult it can be for us to stay focused on following Jesus.
- A toy rocket or spaceship (or if you don’t have anything like that, improvise with a cardboard tube or just about anything else – the kids won’t mind)
- One large ball (preferably yellow or orange)
- Several smaller balls of varying sizes
- Permanent marker
- Index cards (one for each ball)
- Write the following words on different index cards, “SON,” “WORLD,” “Jealousy,” “Bitterness,” “Selfishness,” “Unkindness,” “Worry,” “Doubt,” “Foolishness,” “Pride,” “Fear,” “Greed,” “Ignorance,” or any others that you want to use. The only ones that are required are the “SON” card and the “WORLD” card.
- Tape these cards onto different balls. The “SON” card should be taped to the largest ball.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):
- “Do any of you ever have trouble staying focused on following God?” (Acknowledge responses.)
- “Me, too! It’s so hard to always do what is right and stay on the path toward Him.”
- “We are kind of like a rocket ship heading toward the sun (but actually, we are headed to the S-O-N, because we won’t burn up when we reach Him!)” (Ask for enough volunteers to hold all the props you’ve brought – one for the rocket ship and one for each ball. Put the person holding the “SON” ball at one end of the room, and place the person with the “WORLD” ball and the person with the rocket ship at the other end of the room. Space those with the balls along either side of the path between the large ball and the rocket ship.)
- “Before we know Jesus, we are stuck in the WORLD’s orbit.” (Guide the person with the rocket ship by the shoulders to make several orbits around the person with the “WORLD” ball.”
- “But then, we catch a glimpse of the SON and decide we want to follow Him.”
- “We break free from the WORLD’s orbit and start heading toward the SON.” (Guide the person with the rocket ship slowly toward the SON, but as soon as you get to the first person with a ball on the path, break off and orbit around that person.”
- “Unfortunately, on the way to the SON, we get distracted by ________ (name whatever is printed on the card on the ball), and we go into orbit around it for a while.” (Keep going around this person.)
- “The more times we go around _____________ (say what is on the ball again), the more we hate it, but it is soooooooo hard to break free from its gravitational pull!” (Keep going around this person.)
- “We keep seeing the SON every time we pass around __________________ (say the name of the ball), and eventually, His power pulls us free of the orbit of the dead planet we have been circling.” (Break free and start back toward the SON.)
- “Not everything is a temptation for us, so we will be able to pass some of these dead planets without any problem, but our Enemy, Satan, is not going to give us up without a fight.
- “He will put a very tempting planet in our path, and sure enough, we will get distracted looking at it and get sucked into its gravitational pull!” (Guide the person with rocket to begin orbiting this new dead planet.)
- “Even though the planet looked tempting from a distance, when we get close to it, we find that it is empty and lifeless. It doesn’t satisfy.”
- “The SON won’t let us forget Him. We will see Him on every orbit, and eventually, He will pull us free from that dead planet and set us back on the path toward Him.” (Guide the person with the rocket to break away and head toward the Son.)
- “This keeps happening over and over and over again. It’s very frustrating!” (Guide the person with the rocket to get sucked into one orbit and then break away and then get sucked into another orbit and so on….)
- “But there is good news! The closer we get to the SON, the easier it gets to break free from these temptations.”
- “We get stronger and stronger in our faith and our ability to resist temptation, and we stay longer and longer on the path toward the SON.”
- “We just need to keep striving to reach the SON. Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
- “Paul was saying that he doesn’t look back at what’s behind him; he just keeps straining toward what is ahead of him.”
- “He keeps his ship pointed toward the SON, and when he gets off-course, he gets back on-course as soon as possible to follow the SON.”
- “One day, it will be time, and the SON will bring us the rest of the way to Him when we join Him in heaven (or when He comes back to join us on earth). (Guide the person with the rocket ship to the SON and have him orbit the SON several times before ending the lesson.)
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