Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
Choose a famous person you know your participants will be familiar with (a movie star, sports star, a professional singer, etc.) and ask for a volunteer to come up and impersonate him or her to the rest of the class. The goal is for the volunteer to get the rest of the participants to guess who the famous person is. If no one can guess successfully, allow the volunteer to give the group one clue at a time until someone gets it right. You may want to have several names prepared ahead of time, or ask each participant to write down one or two names on their own before the game starts and put them all in a hat for the volunteer(s) to draw from.
You can also try this activity using the names of people in your church rather than famous people, or even with well-known characters from the Bible. If you choose to do the second, you could possibly do one round focusing on people from the Old Testament (Joseph, Daniel, Abraham, Moses, Esther, David, Ruth) and another round focusing on people from the New Testament (Peter, Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, Paul, Judas).
We feel the impact when others build us up or tear us down. The well-known proverb that says, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me” simply isn’t true. Those in leadership receive a greater amount of feedback than other people—both good and bad—because they are in the public eye. For them, it can seem like everyone has a comment or opinion about how they’re doing.
Print out the “ and ¯” handout and cut each phrase out onto a strip of paper. Then gather all those phrases and put them into a hat or bowl or box. Ask your participants to take turns picking a phrase from the hat, reading it, and sharing whether hearing someone say that to them would affect them in a positive, negative, or neutral way.
As we consider the lesson for today, keep in mind that there are times when people both want to emulate leaders and be them. Can you identify with either of those desires? Maybe there are lots of people in your life you feel that way about. You may even feel that way about one of your parents, teachers, or leaders in your church! The Scripture passage we’re studying today is talks about some people who wanted to replace Moses and Aaron as leaders of the children of Israel. We’re going to call these people “wannabes.”
Create a video clip that illustrates leadership or failure to follow good and godly leaders. As young people find themselves leading more often and more and more people, it can be easy for them to question or put down the leadership of others. This can be especially easy when they don’t know the whole story. But even leaders need to be able to follow others—at the right time and at the right place. Some people also confuse leadership with popularity. But in reality, leadership is about how well you can serve others! After you create a clip that reflects all these ideas, remember to create a list of follow-up questions as well so your participants can discuss it afterwards.
This 6:12-minute iBelieveBible video, called “I Send My Scourge,” is about the controversial topic of when God chooses to send death and destruction to his people. Some today can’t imagine a God who would ever do something like this, attributing all such actions to either Satan or the absence of God. But the Bible does say that God did this. We can read about one example in Numbers 16-17. This video is about the judgement God passed on Egypt when he sent the ten plagues to the Egyptians, which we already covered earlier this year. It may not be about the topic we’re studying today, but the principles it covers are closely related to it.
For a humorous (and short) clip on different ways Christians can say no, check out this 1:17-minute video by Christian comedian John Crist.
These are more approaches to the same topic featured in the Teacher’s Guide, but just a different way of looking at it. Expect activities to illustrate the topic followed by some questions.
BASED ON NUMBERS 16-17
Have you ever gone for a walk with no destination? Does your family ever hop in the car and drive for hours just to see what’s out there?
Imagine setting out on a walk with a group of people that lasted for forty years. Sometimes you walked for days without stopping for anything but a night’s sleep. Other times you found yourself camping in the same spot for months. Day after day you ate the same food, drank the same lukewarm water, wore the same clothes, and saw the same scenery.
The children of Israel were in exactly this kind of situation in Numbers 16-17. Sometime during that forty years they spent wandering through the desert, some of them began to question God and Moses’ leadership. We’re going to read the first chapter, do an activity together, and then finish up by reading the second chapter.
As a quick overview, one day three men named Korah, Dathan, and Abiram expressed to Moses that they thought he and Aaron weren’t the ones God should be using to lead them on their journey from Egypt to Canaan. They asserted that because of the lack of progress they’d made so far, it was time for someone else to be in charge. They were questioning not only them, but God.
God responded by making some intense judgements. Moses had a very human moment—at first responding with anger, then deciding to plead with God to spare His people. In the end, God responded by opening a hole in the ground that swallowed up Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and everyone in their family. Later on, he also killed a bunch of other disgruntled people in the multitude.
Wow, that’s a lot! Let’s begin with Numbers 16.
Have the participants take turns reading Numbers 16. After each paragraph, have them write down a question about it. There are 18-20 paragraphs in total, so that can potentially mean/come to a total of quite a few questions. When everyone is finished, draw from those questions and discuss them as a group. If your participants have trouble coming up with enough questions for this discussion, here’s a list of sample ones you can add to the collection.
In an open space in your Youth Sabbath School or church, use random items (books, chairs, half-filled glasses of water, plants, mouse traps, etc.) to create a rectangular maze approximately 10 ft. x 12 ft. on the floor. From there, you have several options for how to do this activity with your participants.
The first option is to choose a volunteer from the group and blindfold him or her. Gently turn them in a circle several times and stop them when they are facing the maze. Then have the rest of the group give them directions on how to navigate their way through the maze without touching any of the objects in their way.
The second option is to a choose a volunteer to serve as the group leader and have them stand with their back to the maze. Then ask for a second volunteer and blindfold them. With the blindfolded person standing near the maze, turn them gently in a circle several times and stop them when they’re facing the maze. Allow the rest of the participants to see the maze and communicate to the group leader where the blindfolded person needs to go to get through it, but only through hand signals. The group leader then gives verbal directions to the blindfolded person until they have successfully navigated their way through the maze.
The third option is to blindfold one volunteer and ask a second to guide them through the maze while walking by their side.
(For large groups with more than ten people, create a larger maze and send multiple blindfolded participants in at one time.)
In Numbers 17, God showed his approval of Aaron’s priestly calling by causing his staff to blossom and sprout flowers and almonds! The people of Israel, however, were ungrateful and responded by continuing to grouse, grumble, and gesticulate about the unfairness of God.
Have the participants read Numbers 17 in the same way they read the previous chapter—with each participant writing down a question after each person reads a paragraph. This is a much shorter chapter than Numbers 16, with only four paragraphs in total. Again, there is a list of sample questions included below.
When we put Numbers 16 and 17 together, it brings up some questions. Remember that the chapters leading up to these two (which we studied during last week’s lesson) were about the twelve spies who scouted out Canaan and the choice the Israelites made to go with the majority report that went against God’s plan for his people.
The story of the Great Controversy was an epic battle between good and evil—God and Satan—and it played out once more in this part of the Israelites’ journey from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. Numbers 16, 17 displays both the sovereignty of God and the humanity of his people. They tell a story about the choice each of us has to rebel against him or be faithful to him. Which will you choose?
BASED ON NUMBERS 17
The following Bible study takes part of the Scripture passage for the lesson this week (Numbers 17) and puts it in a format for a small group discussion between 3-6 people. If you have more than six people in your Youth Sabbath School, form additional groups.
Print out a copy of the Bible study handout for each participant and have them mark their responses on it as their group goes through it. (There might be more than one good answer for some questions, and each question also has an option to choose “Other” if the participant feels like the correct answer was not included.) When everyone in the small group has finished marking their responses, have them share their answers with each other and why they chose them.
Note: With teens, this type of Bible study can often be done without a designated leader in each small group. Also, if a participant is looking for one correct answer for each question, this exercise might frustrate them; this study is designed to encourage a broader understanding rather than a narrow one. If it doesn’t or won’t work for the participants in your Youth Sabbath School, feel free to use the other lesson option for this week.
Here is a copy of the questions found in the Bible study:
LIFE OUT OF DEATH BIBLE STUDY HANDOUT
Have you ever seen a magic trick that made you think something supernatural was happening?
Read Numbers 17:1-13.
God took action after Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and 250 other recalcitrant leaders made repeated challenges to the leadership of Moses and Aaron. His punishments were opening a great hole in the earth, sending a blazing fire from heaven, and letting loose a plague on his people. Afterward, God demonstrated his power through a leadership test that resulted in Aaron’s walking stick budding, blossoming, and producing almonds overnight—creating a living symbol of God’s power in the process, and making it clear what his choice for the leadership of Israel truly was.
Let these spark ideas for ways you can move from talk to action and live out the lesson in a practical way this week. The following applications relate to the corresponding Bible study guide options for this lesson above.
Walking in the Dark
Stack seven pennies by your toothbrush. Each morning (assuming you brush your teeth each morning), put a penny in your pocket and carry it with you all day to remind you to pray for your family. Ask God to help them know what steps to take and how to encourage others to take the right steps as well. Instead of just walking in the dark, walk in the light and call out what you see so others can walk well, too,
Life out of Death
Identify a godly leader and affirm them this week. This could be someone you know at church (a pastor, a youth leader, a young person who is also a spiritual leader, a parent, etc.), but it doesn’t have to be limited to that sphere. Once you’ve identified him or her, the next step is to affirm that leader. You can do this by sharing words of affirmation with them in person or sending them a text, a message via their social media, or even an email. You could even go retro and send them a handmade card or poster! Whatever method you use to convey your affirmation, make sure to talk about any specific characteristics that you think make them a godly leader. Consider what God’s call for that leader’s life was, especially if it’s been many years since he or she first responded to it!
This is a bonus just for the youth leader—a quick tip and an illustration to enhance your youth leadership. You may already know this idea, have learned it through trial and error, or just need a quick reminder.
Children who grow up in the church often memorize the correct answers to questions about the Bible or spiritual matters. By the time they enter adolescence, the challenge becomes personalizing those responses so they match the young person’s experience rather than that of their parents or Sabbath School teachers. A key part of the job description for a youth leader is to help teens find Jesus for themselves. Sometimes an adult who isn’t currently parenting a teen can have a fresh approach to this compared to a faithful parent, who may have grown used to teaching teens a different way.
Here are a few resources for you to add to your collection as a Youth Sabbath School leader. The fourth week of each month has a few extra resources that you can use for a variety of purposes.
1. Out of the Hat
The resource comes as a ready-made activity that can be used as an icebreaker or for deeper discussions. Three different shapes of cards come in the box.
Round shapes are for questions about light topics, such as “What is your favorite color?” or “How would you talk your way out of a speeding ticket?” Square cards are questions about deeper topics, such as “What are two secrets for a good friendship?” or “What’s one thing you really want out of life?” Octagonal shapes are for deep, spiritual questions, such as “What’s one problem in the world today that you would like for Jesus to fix?” or “Why would Jesus take you to heaven?”
By putting these in a hat, you or a member of your youth group can draw them out in a random fashion, which usually makes him or her more open to responding than if someone had asked them the question directly. Put the participants in pairs or have one person answer and then let others give their answers as well.
You can obtain this resource through AdventSource at https://www.adventsource.org/store/youth-ministries/out-of-the-hat-35688.
2. Messy Church
The name of this product itself might draw you to it or repel you from it. Messy Church is an intergenerational experience that uses a variety of play, crafts, and activities centered on a given topic. It runs at a different time than the regular services you’ll have at church, such as on Tuesday evening once or twice a month. Because it’s intergenerational, there are multiple depths available for each activity.
This book describes the philosophy and nuts and bolts of how this experience works. It then provides a bunch of complete Messy Church programs you can implement on your own! Once you’ve done these (or tweaked them to fit your specific setting), you’ll be able to create your own.
For those who think this is just for artistic types, consider how many people you can reach in your community with just a primarily cognitive church experience. Go ahead and get messy. Jesus did!
3. A Quote to Think About
Just surfing the web or perusing social media can sometimes yield good material too! One thing you can do in your church is find and copy a meaningful quote from someone online, and then share it with your Youth Sabbath School.
Here’s one by Cutrice Williams:
“God didn’t help you heal to go back to the unhealthy behaviors that contributed to your brokenness and heartbreak. Don’t just run back to what’s familiar. Run to God. Let Him introduce you to what will last, what will help you grow and continue to embrace the wonderful person you were created to be.”
Similarly, here are some phrases that young people can repeat to themselves when they sense they’re in a spiritual battle or feel distracted or overwhelmed.