Main Point: Remaining “academically pure” is a great way to show that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ.
Discussion Starter: Pop Quiz: Cheating or Not Cheating?
While students are still in a large group (before they break into smaller “discussion groups”), announce that there will be a pop quiz, and hand each of them a note card and a pen/pencil. Tell them you are going to describe four situations to them that might take place in a typical school setting, and you want them to write down “cheating” or “not cheating” for each one of them.
- Situation 1. A student is in the middle of a history test and doesn’t know the answer to a question, so he pulls out his web-enabled cell phone to search the internet for the answer. Cheating or not cheating?
Situation 2. Rick knew the paper on “The Mating Rituals of the Australian Wallaroo” (yes, that’s a real animal!) was due in science class today, but he never got around to writing the paper. Instead, he spent his lunch break in the school library downloading a report on the subject which he handed in to his science teacher later that day. Cheating or not cheating?
Situation 3. A girl in Algebra class can’t remember the formula for calculating the volume of a cube so she silently texts her friend across the room asking for the correct formula. Cheating or not cheating?
Situation 4. Carrie has biology during first period, and the midterm is slated for today. Her friends have asked her to take a picture of the test using her cell phone and show it to them during second period before they have to take the test in fifth period later that day. Cheating or not cheating?
So, you probably guessed what we’re gonna talk about tonight: cheating. Some of you may be asking yourselves why we’re gonna talk about cheating at youth group. Let me go ahead and answer that. When we cheat, it not only destroys our integrity as individuals, it also discredits the name of Jesus because we call ourselves His disciples. If we want to prove ourselves as true disciples of Jesus Christ, we are going to have to remain “academically pure” when it comes to our school life.
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.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we begin, let’s all take a second to share our names and our favorite subject at school.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Without naming names – and I mean it… no names – do any of you know someone who was busted for cheating?
- ASK A FEW: What is the most “creative” form of cheating you’ve ever heard of?
- ASK A FEW: Let’s take a moment to go over our answers to those four questions we just answered on the “pop quiz.” (Leaders – ask one or two students for their answers to each question. Hopefully, most of the students will have listed all four of the actions as “cheating.” If not, graciously allow the students to defend why they chose a different answer. Make sure that respect is given to every student, regardless of his or her position.)
- ASK A FEW: What are the motivations to cheat?
- ASK A FEW: Do you think most students cheat, or do you think most students do not cheat? Why?
- 35% of teens who own a cell phone admitted to cheating at least once with them. Of this group, some of them (26%) store information on the cell phone to look at during a test, some of them (25%) text friends during the test asking for answers, some (17%) take pictures of the test to send to friends, and some (20%) search the internet for answers to test questions during the test on their web-enabled phones.
- 65% of teens say they know other students who have used their cell phones to cheat.
- 48% of teens with cell phones call or text their friends to warn them about pop quizzes.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: OK, you knew it was coming. Have you ever cheated?
Say, “Let me read something to you before we open our Bibles to discuss this further. In a recent poll by Common Sense Media, teenagers were asked about cheating in school, and in particular, cheating in school using their cell phones.” (The entire report can be accessed by clicking here.)
“Here’s what they found.”
Finally, Dr. Donald McCabe from Rutgers University, who has dedicated his career to studying academic cheating, believes 95% of all high school students have cheated.
Read the following passage:
Psalm 15:1-5 (NLT)
1 Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
2 Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
3 Those who refuse to gossip
or harm their neighbors
or speak evil of their friends.
4 Those who despise flagrant sinners,
and honor the faithful followers of the Lord,
and keep their promises even when it hurts.
5 Those who lend money without charging interest,
and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever.
Alright guys, we’ve covered a lot of ground tonight. We’ve looked at some of the ways lots of teenagers cheat today, and we’ve discussed whether or not these actions qualify as cheating or not. Hopefully in your discussion groups, you’ve all agreed by now that all four of the actions from our “pop quiz” should be labeled “cheating.”
We also took a look at some stats from students who use their cell phones to cheat in school. Yeah, some of those actions are creative and sneaky, but they are still all very wrong. When teenagers do those things, they jeopardize their integrity, but when Christian students do it, we jeopardize the name of Jesus, too. If our friends, who are not believers, listen to us talk about “the change” Jesus has brought into our lives, but we cheat on tests just like they do, it’s not gonna be long before they really begin to wonder if this whole Jesus thing is all it claims to be.
But, we also took a look at a passage from the Bible that sheds some light on how we are supposed to act. We are told to “do what is right,” “honor the faithful followers of God” and “speak the truth” among other things. If we do, God says we can enjoy His presence.
Look, making good grades isn’t easy, and to tell you the truth, a lot of times, people who choose to cheat get away with it and they make better grades than those of us who choose to study instead of cheat. It doesn’t seem fair does it? But, God honors those who want to do life His way. Clearly, God would never allow cheating, so when we commit to being “academically pure,” God will honor that and help us.
Now, I’m not saying that we can never ever study, and just zip a prayer to God as the teacher is handing out the tests. That’s not what I mean! Don’t try that… you’ll probably get a big fat “F.” We must study AND ask God to help us make a great grade. Do all that you can on your own, and then say, “God, you and I both know that I could have cheated on this test tomorrow, but I want to honor You by staying academically pure. Please help me bring glory to your Name by helping me make a great grade on the test tomorrow in a way that pleases You.”
That’s the kind of prayer God loves to answer! Speaking of prayer, we’re gonna close in prayer in just a second. But if you want to talk more about what it means to stay academically pure, just come grab me or another one of our terrific adult leaders, and we’ll be happy to chat with you a little longer.
Close in Prayer
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.