Spiritual Growth Agendas, Topical Curriculum

Encouraging Others

Main Point: As brothers and sisters in Christ, we must affirm the value of one another and encourage each other.

Discussion Starter: “Annie Jumped”
This is a powerful story I’ve used several times when speaking around the country. It never fails to connect with lots of students because all of us have felt like Annie at some point or another.

    Annie was a large, rather unattractive girl. Actually, Annie was fat. A member of a youth group, Annie regularly attended most of the youth functions and Bible studies. During one of those meetings, the youth leader introduced a situational learning game called, “The Lifeboat.”

    He instructed the dozen high school kids present to form their chairs to resemble the seating on a lifeboat. Then he said, “You twelve are the only survivors of a shipwreck. You have managed to make it to this lifeboat. Once you are aboard, however, you find to your horror that there are only provisions for eleven. Also, the boat can hold only eleven survivors. Twelve people will capsize the boat, leaving you all to drown. You must decide what to do.”

    The group stared blankly at each other for a few moments before bursting into lively discussion. They decided that for the good of the majority of the members of the group, one person must be sacrificed.

    But who?

    As the group discussed who would be left to drown, they eliminated various individuals perceived to be of value to the survivors. The strongest and most athletic boys couldn’t be sacrificed-their strength would be needed to row. Naturally, the boys wouldn’t think of letting any of the pretty girls become shark food. Slowly each individual in the group, with the exception of Annie, was mentioned and then discarded as a candidate for sacrifice. Some were too smart, too talented, or too popular.

    Finally, Annie, who may not have been the most attractive but who was not the dumbest, either, blurted out, “I’ll jump.”

    “No, no!” protested the group. But when pressed, they couldn’t think of one good reason why she shouldn’t jump-so they remained silent. When the time to play the game ran out, the group members announced that they couldn’t reach a decision on what to do. The youth worker went on to teach a lesson using the example of the lifeboat.

    But Annie had already learned a lesson. The next day, Annie jumped from the top of her apartment complex. Her youth group had affirmed her worst thoughts about herself. She truly was of no value. Her “friends” in the youth group were baffled and deeply saddened by her death and couldn’t figure out why she would do it.

Transition Statement:
That story is a really sad one. Unfortunately, it literally plays itself out several thousand times each year as teenagers just like Annie take their own life. They believe that no one loves them, that they are unwanted, and unimportant. The reality is, God loves them and they are valuable, incredibly valuable! Sadly though, too many of us – as fellow Christians – let the Annie’s amongst us go un-encouraged and un-affirmed. That’s a mistake that we cannot afford to make, because every single one of us is crucial to God’s plan for our ministry.

Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we begin, let’s all take a second to share our names and whether we like being in big crowds of people or small groups of people.

  2. ASK A FEW: What would you have said to Annie that night in “The Life Boat” exercise?

  3. ASK A FEW: Do you think that sort of thing really happens in youth groups? Do you think it happens in our youth group?

  4. ASK A FEW: Do you think there are some people in our youth group who are more important than others? Why or why not?

  5. ASK A FEW: What do you think Jesus would have said to Annie that night in “The Life Boat”?

  6. Read the following passage:

      1 Corinthians 12:12-26 (NIV)

      The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body– whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free– and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

      Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

      The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

  7. ASK SOMEONE: How many bodies does the Apostle Paul say there are in this passage?

  8. ASK A FEW: What are some of the body parts Paul uses to teach his lesson here?

  9. ASK A FEW: Based on this passage, do you think that we are a part of this youth group by coincidence or God’s planning? How do you know?

  10. ASK A FEW: If you had to sum this passage up in ONE SENTENCE, how would you do it? (Leaders – There are several possible answers, but you’re looking for something like, “God has put us together and we are all important to the group so we should treat each other accordingly.”)

  11. ASK A FEW: What is one teaching point FROM THIS PASSAGE that we need to work on as a youth group?

  12. ASK A FEW: How would our youth group be different if we actually lived our lives the way this passage tells us to?

  13. AROUND THE CIRCLE: What’s one thing you’re gonna do in the life of our youth group to make sure it looks more like 1 Corinthians 12:12-26?

Wrap Up:
Tonight was a touching time for many of us. The truth is, we’ve all felt like Annie at some point or another. We think we are useless or worthless or unwanted or unloved. It’s sad when that moment is during science class or the on gym floor. But when it happens inside our youth group, it stings even more.

We read a powerful passage of Scripture tonight. Truth be told, there is probably a lot of improvement that could be made around our youth group to make it look more like 1 Corinthians 12. That said, we want to give you a chance to act on what we’ve discussed tonight.

(Make sure all the students have 3 X 5cards and pens.)

I want you to take your 3 X 5 card and write down answers to three questions I’m gonna ask you.

    QUESTION 1: Without saying anything to anyone, do you know “an Annie” in our youth group? If so, write down their name on your card now.

    QUESTION 2: What does that “Annie” need to hear?

    QUESTION 3: How could YOU meet that “Annie’s” need?

Thanks for doing this simple exercise.

Last question: Look at your card; what are you gonna do about it?

Close in Prayer

Written by David R. Smith


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; 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.


  1. Melodie Linder
    July 25, 2011 at 12:00 am

    We did this lesson last Wed. All the students listened intently after hearing the Lifeboat story with Annie. Well put together. It did what I was hoping it would, getting our youth to notice and encourage the "Annie’s" out there. A+

  2. rosie olvera
    October 8, 2013 at 12:00 am

    touching lesson to learn, i will share with my youth group. God bless you

  3. mark
    June 21, 2014 at 12:00 am

    This lesson worked very well. Great discussions. I changed the "annie" story so she was a person who never seamed to fit in. I thought the "fat" spin was wrong for my group.

  4. Aradhana
    November 18, 2017 at 12:00 am

    I am truly blessed by your resources. God bless you abundantly. Thank you for sharing such wonderful ideas.

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