Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Youth Group Series "F.A.Q.": Week 1 - How do we know that we have the right New Testament books?

I've mentioned before that during the school year I lead a small group with our church youth, then in the summers I teach a topic to a combined large group of youth. Last year I taught, "Evangelizing to Evolutionists."

This year's topic is "F.A.Q."--where we are addressing the frequently asked questions about the faith. Our first two weeks deal with the reliability of the Scriptures, for example: last week we answered the question, "How can we trust that we have the right books in the New Testament?" We focused on attacking the myth that the Catholics in 325 AD set the canon.

As we go through this series each week I will briefly summarize what we did and attach the files. This series is going to be very interactive/game-intensive...I find that younger kids in the middle school range in particular stay engaged more and absorb more information that way.

This week we essentially played two games.

Game 1:  Draw a Zoo Animal

  • The group was told that I would take two witnesses from the group along with my kids into a separate room. My kids would describe their favorite zoo animal and the two witnesses would draw it and sign their names.
  • Each other member of the youth group was supposed to guess and draw their guess.
  • When all was done, we put them in a big pile in the middle of the floor.
  • One youth group member then had to create a book that best represents my kids' favorite zoo animal. They were given no instructions on how to do it...they just had to figure it out themselves.
What they did was the only logical thing, of course: they chose the drawings of the two witnesses and then chose any others which matched.

The point of the game:  there is no magical method used to pick the New Testament canon, it was common sense--the things written by witnesses (apostles) or their followers (Luke and Mark, for example) are canon. Other things written later aren't.


Game 2:  Archaeology Game
  • Prior to the game, I spread out on the floor a 20 foot long timeline. One end of the timeline represents 1 AD, the other end is 2013 AD.
  • Along the timeline I wrote a series of numbers. Each number corresponds to a scroll that I made. (the list of scrolls and numbers are in the linked Excel file). They are placed on the timeline at the appropriate "year"/inch mark.
  • Each youth group member grabbed a scroll and stood on the appropriate number.
  • One youth group member was dressed as Indiana Jones, and he had to "investigate" the evidence. Every time he touched someone, that person opened their scroll and read the evidence.
  • By the time we were done, we'd read most of the ancient evidence available to us today about the early canon.
The point of the game:  the students were able to see a few things:
  1. The Canon was established very very early in church history.
  2. The councils which met never set the canon. The canon was nearly universally accepted even by 100-150 AD. The councils met whenever someone proposed a radical departure, and often cast that person (like Marcion) out.
  3. There was a lot less disagreement than people might think, considering that there were about 1800 bishops out there!

The purpose of these games is to engage the kids and let them see that the evidence for the Biblical canon is actually quite strong.



Update:  The links should now work for sharing. :)

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