Here’s an awesome, yet unconventional, youth group lesson on the Fruits of the Spirit.
But before you dive into the lesson, here’s a quick story…
Awhile back, I was driving my car on a two lane road, each lane going in the opposite direction.
The car behind me didn’t like my speed. He repeatedly honked his horn and yelled at me (actually I just assume he was yelling because in my head he was).
He drove his car just inches from mine and continued to honk.
This infuriated me. I went from calm Nick to angry road rage Nick in just seconds.
Next, he tried passing me up. I didn’t like that and turned into the opposing lane (no one was coming towards me) preventing him from passing me up.
This angered him even more, and in return escalated my anger as well.
So, I stopped my car and got out yelling at him face to face.
When I looked into the drivers seat I saw a man in his 70’s yelling back at me.
At that moment, I came to my senses.
What the heck was I doing?!?! Yelling at an old man!! Goof ball.
I got back in my car and allowed him to pass me.
We all have those moments in life when we mess up. When we fail to live like Jesus.
It’s a part of being human.
A Different Angle on the Fruits of the Spirit
So often when we talk about the Fruits of the Spirit the core of our message is…
Be more loving, kind, forgiving, etc.
The problem is that we’re not designed to live that way in our own power.
It’s only when we stay connected to Jesus that those characteristics flow out of our lives.
Instead, the message needs to be…
Stay connected to Jesus and good stuff comes out of your life.
When we nurture our relationship with God, we become more loving, kind, forgiving etc. It’s what naturally happens as a result of what God is doing in and through us.
That’s the core message of this free youth group lesson.
– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
Youth Group Lesson – Fruit of the Spirit
DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS LESSON
Bible: John 15:5, Galatians 5:20:22–23, Proverbs 16:32, Matthew 5:43–48
Bottom Line: Stay connected to Jesus and good stuff comes out of your life.
OPENING GAME: KEEP IT UP
- Masking tape
- 2–3 beach balls (more if your group is large)
Split the group into two even teams and mark a line down the middle of the playing area with masking tape. Each group takes one side of the playing area.
Players spread out wherever they want on their side.
The game will consist of beach balls being thrown (or hit) and caught between the two sides.
Players attempt to keep the balls moving and not allow the balls to hit the ground on their side of the playing area.
If a ball hits the ground, the opposing team is awarded points.
The team that has the most points at the end of the game wins.
- If your group is large, consider adding more beach balls.
- If your group is really big, consider dividing it into four parts instead of two.
After the game, say:
In life, we often react to others in the same way we are treated.
If your brother hits you, you hit him back. If your parents yell at you, you yell back.
Sort of like what happened in the game we just played.
If one team hit the ball hard, the other team reacted by hitting it hard too.
If one team got real competitive, the other team did too.
Today, we’re going to explore how we can react differently to others.
We’re going to discover how we can break the cycle.
If someone is mean to us, we’re going to learn the secret to how we can react in love rather than hate.
Let’s get started!
- Jar of small pickles
- A few trash bags
- Bag of large marshmallows
- Good, ripe fruit
- Rotten fruit
Say: To get started today, I need two volunteers.
Choose two volunteers to come up front. Have them stand about 10 feet apart.
Give one volunteer an open jar of pickles.
Put a trash bag over the other preteen (so their clothes don’t get pickle juice on them).
Place trash bag or plastic sheeting over the floor where the volunteer is standing.
Give the volunteer an open bag of large marshmallows.
The volunteer then attempts to throw a pickle into the mouth of the other volunteer.
Next, the other volunteer attempts to throw a marshmallow into the mouth of the other volunteer.
They must stay 10 feet apart while throwing the items. Continue, throwing a pickle and marshmallow.
Keep track of how many marshmallows and pickles land in the mouth of a volunteer.
After the activity, congratulate each volunteer for their effort and ask the audience to give them a round of applause.
Believe it or not, if someone throws a smelly pickle at our faces, we can learn to throw a soft delicious marshmallow back at them!
What do I mean by that? I mean that it is possible for us to react in love rather than anger.
We can forgive rather than seek revenge. But, we can’t do it by ourselves.
Let’s look up a verse in the Bible that helps explain this.
Read Galatians 5:22–23 (NCV):
But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong.
What do you think these verses means? (Get responses)
A lot of times people misunderstand these verses.
They think God is saying to be full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. God is saying more than that.
He is saying that those characteristics are formed in our lives when we stay connected to Jesus.
Let’s take a look at another verse that will help us understand this concept.
Read John 15:5 (NCV):
I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing.
Jesus is saying that a branch needs to stay connected to the vine in order for fruit to grow. Good fruit will naturally come out of a branch that is connected to the vine.
The branch doesn’t need to try and create the fruit in its own power. Its job is to stay connected to the vine.
When it does, good fruit will be produced. Like this fruit I’m holding in my hand.
Jesus is saying that we are like the branch. Our goal is to stay connected to Jesus.
If we stay close to him in our everyday lives, then good fruit will come out of us.
The good fruit is the characteristics we read about in Galatians 5:22–23 – love, patience, kindness, goodness, etc.
Like a branch can’t make the fruit, we can’t simply choose to be loving, patience, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and have self-control.
It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to create those characteristics in our lives. Our job is to stay connected to Jesus.
When we do, good characteristics flow out of us.
We find ourselves naturally reacting to the bully at school with love and compassion. We are more likely to forgive our friends. We are more patient.
Sure, it’s a choice we make. But ultimately, it’s God working through us to make us more like Him.
So, what happens when we don’t take the time and effort to stay connected to Jesus?
Well, bad stuff comes out of our lives. Much like if you were to break off a branch from the vine, the fruit goes bad.
Our lives begin to look like rotten fruit, like in this fruit I’m holding. Yuck.
The Bible actually talks about what this bad fruit looks like.
Read Galatians 5:20 (NCV):
…worshiping gods, doing witchcraft, hating, making trouble, being jealous, being angry, being selfish, making people angry with each other, causing divisions among people…
So, when we’re feeling jealous, angry, and selfish or causing drama around us, those things are the bad stuff coming out of our lives because we are not connected to Jesus.
We’re unconnected to Him.
We’re not spending time with God in prayer, worship or allowing God to speak to us from the Bible.
Here’s the bottom line of today’s lesson: Stay connected to Jesus and good stuff comes out of your life.
When we choose to surrender our lives to Jesus, the pollution of sin in our lives is cleaned up.
We now have an opportunity for good stuff to come out of our lives.
We have an opportunity to live the way God wants us to live.
We won’t be perfect. We’ll mess up often. That’s just a part of being human.
In order to have good stuff come out of our lives, we have to stay connected to Jesus.
When we do, the Holy Spirit will make us more loving, kind, patient, etc.
We’ll be able to return a sour pickle with a soft marshmallow.
We’ll be able to react differently than we were treated.
DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS LESSON
Liked this lesson? You’ll also like this free…
Youth Group Lesson on Grace
“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
On Teaching Paul
I love teaching the letters of Paul. True, the good saint has his detractors…. I tell my kids, I have come to terms with those counsels with which I disagree. Not all of the Apostle’s words must speak to me – after all, Paul was writing to people in different times and in different communities. Similarly, if all of my young students were to go to sleep-away camp, I might write them each very different letters suggesting ways to make the most of the camp experience. To the shy one, I might suggest trying to speak to one new person daily. To the boisterous one, I might offer a recommendation to find time for contemplation. To the nervous one, I might reassure them of my love as well as suggest the potential affection they might find in new friendships.
So it is with Paul. His letters often address specific situations. Some of his advice is beautifully applicable to our present day and personal reality. Sometimes, we find new and unexpected gems in passages that we’ve read many times.
Fruits of the Spirit
Paul’s lists of the fruits of the spirit are well-known and beloved. One such list appears in Galatians: “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (5:22-23). When teaching about the fruits of the spirit, I start by asking my kids about fruit. I ask them to think of words that describe fruit in general, rather than specific kinds of fruit.
Typically they respond with adjectives such as:
Refreshing … Sweet … Ripe … Fresh … Yummy … Juicy
I remind my kids that fruit has been called “nature’s candy.” So why, I ask, them did Paul use the term “fruit” to describe these desirable characteristics? Why not “Vegetables of the Spirit”? Even if you love the green stuff, that phrase just doesn’t have the same appeal!
Recently, in posing this question, a young child looked at me quizzically and said, “You know, fruits have seeds. The seeds can grow to produce more good fruit.” Boom. Mic drop. Once again the brilliant intuitive grasp of a child’s theology took my breath away.
Seeds of Faith
Fruit does have seeds. And if I gave each child a seed to plant, whether it germinated, grew and produced fruit would depend on how it was treated. A seed watered and given sufficient sunlight would blossom; a seed neglected, unwatered, or left in the dark would remain dormant.
The fruits of the spirits are like seeds planted by God in our hearts. We can nurture them, surrounding ourselves by the people and situations who will cause the seeds to flourish; or we can stunt their growth, leaving them dormant. But these traits – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are always there – waiting to be nurtured.
Youth Group Activities for this Lesson
There are many ways to encourage your children to think about and nurture the fruits of their spirit. Here are just a few ideas:
Make fruit salad! Use 9 different kinds of fruits and talk about which might represent each fruit of the spirit. Of course there is no right answer, but the kids will come up with really interesting theories!
A physical reminder. Create some other memory device to remember each fruit – a different colored bead or piece of yarn to make a bracelet; or different fruit-shaped ornaments.
Act it out. For older kids, have them make up a skit or charade to illustrate how each spiritual gift might be expressed, then have the rest of the class guess which one they are acting out.
Social media. For social media savvy teens and tweens, have them create a visual meme (an image with a word or phrase) for each fruit of the spirit. They can then post these on Instagram or Twitter (don’t forget there are lots of fruit emojis!). Ask them as a group to come up with useful hashtags.
Lisa Brown recently accepted a position as the Director of Digital Ministry with Membership Vision. Building on her work in Children’s Ministry and Communications at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, PA, she helps churches connect to people and to God in the digital space. An active member of Forma and Girl Scout leader, Lisa is passionate about enriching the spiritual lives of people. Her book “The Best Do-It-Yourself VBS Workbook Ever” will be published in early 2017.
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I’m not sure which one of these is gentleness
As we’ve mentioned before, coming up with youth retreat themes can be one of the hardest parts of planning a youth retreat. To make your life easier, we’re providing ideas for different youth retreat themes – this week, it’s a Fruits Of The Spirit theme.
As you might be able to tell, this is aimed at Christian youth retreats. However, even if your work with youth isn’t faith-based, there are still a number of principles and activities that you might find helpful.
Table of contents
Fruits Of The Spirit Activities
Depending on how many young people you have on your youth retreat, split them up into smaller groups or by themselves. Give each group a sheet of flipchart paper and a marker pen.
On the paper, have each group write out a different fruit of the spirit in the center. They should then brainstorm ideas on what the fruits might look like in real life. This could either be written down or drawn out on each sheet. Once they’ve come up with loads of ideas, have each group present their thoughts back to everyone else.
If there are only a few groups, consider only splitting the youth into three groups – that way, you can give each group three of the fruits to work on.
Fruits Of The Spirit Skit
Now that your youth have thought through the different ways the fruits might manifest themselves, it’s time for them to get even more creative. Have each group put together a series of short dramas/skits based on what the fruits look like in real life.
Alternatively, suggest that they do some skits of opposites – a skit on what a fruit doesn’t look like and a skit on what a fruit does look like.
Encourage them to be funny and silly with their fruits of the spirit skits, while still making a serious point.
Fruits Of The Spirit Games
A great youth retreat game when learning about the fruits of the spirit would be Fruit Salad. In this game, you set up a circle of chairs, with enough chairs for every person playing minus one. Everyone takes a seat, except for one person who starts in the middle.
Have a leader go round tapping each young person on the head, allocating a fruit to them – you don’t use many though as you need multiple youth with the same fruit being allocated to them. With Fruit Salad, you’d normally use actual fruit names, but for a fruits of the spirit game, you could use fruits like love, joy and peace.
To play, the person in the middle calls out a fruit. All the young people who are that fruit have to get up and change which chair they’re sitting in – the person in the middle has to also try and find a chair. Whoever’s left standing has to call out another fruit – all those youth have to swap chairs, etc.
If they want, the person in the middle can call “Fruit Salad”. When this is called, everyone has to get up and change where they’re sitting.
Another fruit-related youth retreat game you could play is the Banana Sprite Challenge.
Fruits Of The Spirit Meetings
The 9 fruits of the spirit should give you plenty to talk about in the youth retreat meetings. However, there are plenty of other fruit-related references in the Bible that you could use in your teaching times to link in to the fruits of the spirit:
- Jesus being the true vine
- Recognizing people by their fruit
- Eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge
n.b. I’d avoid using any references to fruit in Song Of Songs 😉
Fruits Of The Spirit Food
Needless to say, a fruits of the spirit youth retreat theme lends itself perfectly to eating various fruit-related foods. One of my favorite foods is fruit salsa with sweet tortilla chips. Here’s how to make it:
Finely chop up loads of different fruits – bananas, apples, strawberries, pineapples, kiwi fruit – and mix altogether.
Sweet Tortilla Chips
Pre-heat an oven to 375°F. Spread butter or margarine on to flour tortilla wraps (just one side). In a bowl, mix 1 part ground cinnamon with 3 parts white sugar, then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the tortillas.
Slice the tortillas into triangles – this can be done most easily using a pizza slicer. Arrange the triangles in a single layer on baking trays, then bake for 8-10 minutes – they’ll be crispy and slightly browned (but not burnt) when done properly. You’ll probably need to make the chips in batches as there probably won’t be enough space in the oven to do it all in one go.
To eat, just add the fruit salsa to the sweet tortilla chips in the same way you’d normally eat chips & salsa.
If you’re planning a youth retreat, you may find our book helpful as it gives a step-by-step guide on how to plan a youth retreat.
Question: What other activities would you do for a fruits of the spirit youth retreat theme? We’d really love to hear your great ideas in the comments below.
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What is the goal and purpose of theChristian life? For some youth, the highpoint of their Christian lives was theirsalvation experience -the sinner’s prayer istheir ticket to heaven and that’s the end of that. For other youth, God continues to bea part of their lives -but as a divine vendingmachine, dispensing blessings and helpwhenever they call on Him. For others,their Christian life is full of challenge andpersecution, yet they persist in beingfaithful to what God has called them to outof obligation. But Jesus saw life as abeliever as a much richer experience. Hesaid that He came that we might have lifeto the fullest -an abundant life(John 10:10).