This is a fantastic “activity” you can do with your group no matter how big or how small. I recently did this with a group of over 200 kids.
The One Requirement: A clear night-time sky! But it’s also great to have someone that can lead worship with a guitar in the dark.
Activity: You are going to take your entire group out, lay on the ground and look up at the stars in silence. Then you will give a short talk about space (provided below), next lead worship with the group as they are lying on the ground staring at the stars.
Prep your group the week prior to wear warm clothes for this activity—if you want, you can instruct them to bring a beach towel or blanket to lay down on. (This is not totally necessary, but nice for those kids who are wearing their bright clean yellow jacket or in case the ground is wet!)
Announce the Activity: Tell the group that you’re going to do something a little different. “We’re all going to go outside and take a peek at the night sky. But we’re going to try something a little different. We’re going to do this with no talking at all. Just follow me to the clearing (designate the location- last place I did this activity all the kids laid out on the tennis courts of a camp) and then we’re going to find a spot to lay down by ourselves. We’ll be crowded together, but we’ll spread out a couple feet apart. I’ll give you instructions while we’re out there. Follow me!”
Once Everyone is Lying Under the Stars: tell them to look at the sky for a minute or two in silence. Then give the following talk (or pieces of it) before leading the group in worship.
Star Talk: Take a look up in the sky and just look at it for a moment. Look from one horizon to the other and look at how many stars you see.
Whenever I look up at this night sky, I’m reminded how small we are.
Think about it for a few moments while you look up at the sky. Picture how small you are here on earth. Think how far of a walk it would be if you didn’t have a ride home tonight and you had to walk home to your house tonight. It might seem far to you, but that walk is probably just a dot on a map of this region. And our region is just a small blot on a map of our continent. And think how small earth actually is compared to all the stars you are seeing out there. If the sun was as big as a bowling ball, the earth would be the size of a peppercorn or “BB” from a BB-gun. And if the earth was the size of a BB, the distance from one end of our solar system to the other would be 10 football fields. Now a “BB” sounds pretty small. Well, the earth is small when compared to our solar system.
How big is our solar system? Our solar system is just a small part of our galaxy which is the Milky Way. As a matter of fact, our solar system is in a spiral arm called the Orion Arm which is just a part of the Milky Way galaxy. A galaxy is just a huge collection of a few million to trillions of stars, gas, and dust held together by gravity. They can be several thousand to hundreds of thousands of light years across.
How far is a light year? The light-year is a measure of distance, not time. It is the total distance that a beam of light, moving in a straight line, travels in one year. To understand an idea of the size of a light-year, take the circumference of the earth (24,900 miles) and lay it out in a straight line. Since light travels 186,000 miles per second, it could travel the circumference of the earth over 7 times in just one second. That’s pretty fast. Now picture how far light can travel, not in just one second, but in an entire year. About 6 trillion miles, or 5,865,696,000,000 miles to be exact. That distance….is a light year. And to think that galaxies like ours can be literally hundreds of thousands of light years across.
All of the stars that you see out tonight belong to the Milky Way. If the night was very clear and we were away from city lights, you would see a milky, misty-looking band stretching across the sky. When you look at this band, you are looking into the densest parts of the Milky Way.
But that’s just our own galaxy. There are galaxies beyond ours. The closest galaxy like ours (a spiral galaxy) is Andromeda, a galaxy much like our own Milky Way. It is 2.2 million light years away from us. Andromeda is approaching our galaxy at a rate of 670,000 miles per hour. Five billion years from now it may even collide with our Milky Way galaxy. Anyone planning on being here then?
When I look at space I’m amazed because we know that space has no end.
Think about that for a second as you look up into space. We can only see the Milky Way, but beyond that there is more. It keeps going and going and going…. it has no beginning and no end.
I can’t even understand that. I used to think, “There must be a wall or something eventually… it can’t go on forever!” But if there was a wall… what is on the other side of it?
It’s hard for our brains to even comprehend space. It has no beginning and it has no end.
Guess what? It’s hard to comprehend God. God is so big. He always was and always will be. He has no beginning and he has no end. I’ve had friends that have come up to me and said, “But how can that be?”
I just tell them, “Look up. You’re looking at something that has no beginning and has no end.”
Space gives us just a glimpse of who God is as we look at his incredible, vast creation.
Lead the Group in Worship: Let’s worship a little bit together while we look at the sky. Go ahead and just continue lying there and we’re going to sing some songs praising God for his creation. If you don’t know the words, no worries, just listen along and take in the beautiful sky that God has created.
For More Ideas on looking at God through the sky, take a peek at some of Louie Giglio's messages on the subject. He does a phenomenal job! Click Here Scroll down and select either his 9/18/05 sermon “Astronomical Grace” or his 9/11/05 sermon “Significant Insignificance.” You can listen for free or purchase the sermon from their web site.
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.