Making Lessons Fun

(Sir Richard Branson, Billionaire owner of Virgin Airlines, among other things, poses with a sleeping airline employee)

When I see a funny picture like this online, I don’t stop at just thinking, “that’s a funny picture.” I think, I need to save that and use it in a lesson some day. For an image like this, I might print it out or save it on my phone to show on the TV screen during a lesson. I might use it to point out sometimes we miss great things God wants to do through us because we’re sleeping (or doing anything else that distracts us) instead of paying attention to what he’s┬ádoing right in front of us. Illustrations like this make lessons fun, helps students pay attention, and hopefully helps students remember to live out how they get challenged in Life Group.

Our Lives Trump Stats

Last week I saw a post on Facebook that jarred me pretty good. A friend of mine posted a photo of a bald tire with a caption about his dad. The caption read something like, “5 years ago today my dad was killed in a car wreck on a rainy day. The collision was caused by the other car having bald tires. Please look at your tires. If they’re balding, please get them replaced.”

I never wanted to rush out and get new tires so much. I didn’t even need new tires.

If he said instead, “According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s 2014 report of highway fatality statistics, 1 in every 125 highway accidents was caused by balding tires. Of those 125 accidents, 23 caused at least 1 death”, that would not have nearly as much impact on me. (I made up those statistics in this paragraph – just making a point)

This illustrates perfectly that our stories, shared with a caring heart, trump outside data. When we teach out of our own pain or experience, our lessons become memorable. When our students feel the emotion attached to our illustrations (humor, fear, anticipation, sadness, etc.), they will be more even more likely to remember the illustration. This prolongs the impact of the lessons we teach.

Illustration: Oreos of Change

I used this illustration at 3 summer camps this year. Each time the reaction was the same. The point is to encourage students to embrace the change in their lives, rather than hiding it, when they get home.

Feel free to use it if it’s helpful for your students.

Youth Retreat Illustration: Finish What You Start When You Get Home (The Beard)

Here’s an illustration I used during small group time at our Winter retreat this weekend.

1. I grew my facial hair out into a nasty out-of-control mess for a couple of months leading up to the retreat for this to work.
2. I opened this illustration by warning my cabin guys that this would be a goofy illustration, but to go along with me as I gave it.

The illustration kept my promise of being goofy, but they will remember it, and hopefully the principle behind it. Since these guys are also in the Bible study I teach each week, I’ll be able to refer back to their commitment at camp and ask how “shaving off the beard” is going.

Memorable can equal impactful.

Good luck with this if you choose to use it. Please tell me how it goes.

The illustration:




1. I asked why I have a beard on my face. After they gave a couple of answers (one of which was “because I’m awesome” – I gave that guy more respect after that).2. I told them I have a nasty beard on my face because I let myself go for a while and it just kinda grew there.

3. I said all of us figuratively have a nasty full grown beard on our faces – stuff in life that we have done, allowed to happen, or has happened to us, that we haven’t dealt with… and it’s gotten worse over time.

4. Then I held an open pair of scissors to the whiskers on my chin and cut off a chunk of my beard.

5. I said we come to camp and cut off a small portion of our beard and think we’ve done some serious business with God. The truth is there’s still a lot of beard to deal with when we return home. Many of us will let the part we cut off at camp grow back as we continue on our way through life as it’s always been. Before long, we’ll forget we even began to deal with the nastiness in our lives at camp.

6. I asked what nastiness they need to deal with, let them share, we prayed for each other, and closed the cabin time.

7. After we dismissed, I finished cutting off the beard, shaved, and enjoyed having a smooth face again and getting strange comments from people like, “Did you do something to your face tonight at camp?”