Spiritual Growth Agendas, Topical Curriculum

Penn Gets a Bible

Main Point of Discussion: If we truly believe in Heaven and Hell, we absolutely MUST share our faith.

Discussion Starter: Penn the magician gets a Bible

Penn Jillette is an entertainer as well as an outspoken atheist. Despite his skepticism of God and Christians, Penn was able to look honestly at an encounter with a Christian and respect the individual.

If you don’t know much about Penn, he has recently stated that he may consider himself to be an Anarcho-capitalist as well as adhering to Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy, according to his Penn Says podcast. Being a religious skeptic, Penn had no problem taking the “Blasphemy Challenge” sponsored by the Rational Response Squad. By so doing, he publicly denied the existence of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, one of his car license plates reads “DOG ON” (“NO GOD” backwards).

The discussion clip is taken from Penn’s vlog recounting his response to an incident where a stranger approached him to gave him a Bible.

Introducing the Clip:
I’m going to show you two clips of the same person. His name is Penn Jillette, and he’s part of the comedy duo known worldwide as Penn and Teller.

This first clip is part of a movement sponsored by an atheistic group that tries to get as many ‘blasphemies of the Spirit’ as possible posted on the Internet. According to this group’s theory, by blaspheming the Holy Spirit – which the Bible says in an unpardonable sin – they are assuring themselves a place in hell. Of course they don’t believe in God, the Holy Spirit, hell, etc., so it’s obviously a mockery of Christianity. Let’s take a quick look.

So given what we now know about Penn’s rejection and outright scorn for Christianity, let’s take a look at this next clip.

Transitional Statement:
As you can see, Penn’s reaction was not what we might have expected from someone who is so outspoken and even militant about his atheism. And even more perplexing was his positive description of the Gideon representative. (Youth leader- you may need to explain The Gideons and their calling http://www.gideons.org/Splash.aspx ) But EVEN PENN knows Christians should be sharing their faith!

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: Before we begin, everybody share your name and take a second to talk about a time when someone made you feel awkward.

  2. ASK A FEW: How do you feel when you’re approached by a stranger?

  3. ASK A FEW: Have you ever struck up a conversation with someone you’ve never met? How did it feel?

  4. ASK A FEW: If you are comfortable sharing, tell us what happened.

  5. ASK A FEW: Are there times when it is appropriate and even necessary for us to address strangers? (i.e. if they are in danger, need help, etc.) Why or why not?

  6. ASK A FEW: If you knew someone was in danger or in need of help, would you try and help them even if you didn’t know them? Why or why not?

  7. Read the following passage:

      2 Corinthians 4:13-16 (New Living Translation)

      But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

      That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.

  8. ASK A FEW: What does Paul mean when he says we ‘continue to preach’?

  9. ASK A FEW: What images come to mind when you hear the word ‘preach’?

  10. ASK A FEW: Are there different ways to preach? If so, what are some examples? (i.e. helping people in need, sharing your faith)

  11. ASK A FEW: What is Paul’s motive for sharing his faith with those who don’t believe?

  12. ASK A FEW: What was the Gideon’s motive in sharing a Bible with Penn?

  13. ASK A FEW: Would you consider that ‘preaching’? Why or why not?

  14. ASK A FEW: How would you define proselytizing? (Youth leader: you may need to help them with this… the dictionary states that proselytize means “to try to convert somebody to a religious faith or political doctrine”)

  15. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Is proselytizing the same as preaching? Why or why not?

  16. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Share Penn’s quote: “I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, and you think, ‘Well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward’… how much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?” Do you agree or disagree? Why?

  17. AROUND THE CIRCLE: If you really believe in a place called hell and you also believe people who haven’t trusted in Jesus will go there, should we get out of our comfort zones to help them? Why or why not?

  18. ASK A FEW: How can we balance being awkward or even offensive with the urgent nature of sharing the gospel?

  19. AROUND THE CIRCLE: What are some specific ways we can approach our friends and family who don’t know Jesus? (i.e. giving them a Bible, sharing the gospel, inviting them to church, etc.)

Wrap Up:
One of the key takeaways with this video is the powerful impact just one person can make. Penn has obviously been offended by Christians in the past, but you also saw how the Gideon man made a positive impression as well. He was humble, compassionate, and most importantly he was authentic. I want to challenge each of us to pray for an opportunity to make an authentic connection with an unbeliever this week and a chance to share the gospel. Take a moment and think of one or two people whom God might be leading you to share your faith with.

This week, I am asking you to put your faith in action and share the love of Jesus with that person. If you’re willing to do that, we want to hear from you next week to see how it went. We’ll be praying for you, so let’s do it!

Close in Prayer

Written by Lane Palmer


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.

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