Spiritual Growth Agendas, Topical Curriculum

To Tell or Not to Tell

Main Point of Discussion: It’s wonderful to be believed by others, and for that to happen, we have to tell the truth!

Discussion Starter: Somebody’s Lying

Play these games up front to launch your discussion on the important topic of telling the truth.

The Lying Salesmen:
Supplies: shoebox with roll of toilet paper in it

Choose a student that is really creative, quick, or has a good up-front presence. Have a staff member take them out of the room and explain to them that they are going to try to persuade the audience to buy an item in a shoe-box. The hard part is . . . the “salesman” doesn’t know what’s in the shoe-box, and he or she just has to improvise, telling the audience all the benefits and reasons they should own one of these items. While that adult leader is explaining this to the salesman outside the room, show the audience what’s in the box- A ROLL OF TOILET PAPER- and tell them to pay attention to the person’s sales pitch. The results are very funny. Salesmen often talk about how often you can use it, with friends and family, etc. For an added laugh- open it up for questions. Ask “How many times can you use it?” “Where can you use it?”, etc.

Discussion Starter: To Tell the Truth
This is just like the old 70's TV game show. Pre-arrange four contestants for the game. Backstage, have them share a funny/interesting story that happened to them when they were young that they can say in one sentence. (For example, one of them might say, “My name is Billy and when I was 5, I was walking with my mom and a big guy ran by and grabbed my mom's purse!”) Compare Billy’s statement to the other contestants’ stories.

If Billy’s is the most interesting/funny story, have all 4 contestants use THEIR real name and say the same story in front of the audience when it’s time for the game…as if it was THEIR story! (For example, “My name is Teresa and when I was 5, I was walking with my mom and a big guy ran by and grabbed my mom's purse!” “My name is Roy and when I was 5, I was walking with my mom and a big guy ran by and grabbed my mom’s purse!”) All contestants will tell the audience the exact same thing as if it is their story- but only one of them is telling the truth.

Open up the audience to question individual contestants (like an Oprah show) and three of the contestants will have to lie through their teeth. Then have the audience vote who they think this really happened to. Then have the real person step forward. Great fun!

Transitional Statement:
Wow, that last game reminded me of REAL LIFE a little too much, because there are so many people around us who are very dishonest. If this were real, I would be very upset with the three people who lied to us for the last few minutes. Wouldn’t you?

If you’ve ever told a lie, then you know what I’m talking about. You completely shatter trust when you are caught in a lie. On the other hand, it’s wonderful to be believed by others!

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 go around the circle and have everyone share your name and your favorite fast food place!
  2. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Now let’s each tell a story of a time when we got caught in a lie- maybe when we were a little kid, or maybe recently.

  3. ASK A FEW: Do you think a majority of teens, or a minority of teens, tells lies? Why? (leaders, a 2008 Penn State study found that 98% of teens admit lying to their parents!)
  4. ASK A FEW: In what kind of situation are you most tempted to lie?
  5. ASK A FEW: Have you ever been lied to? If so, what happened to the relationship between you and that person?
  6. ASK A FEW: What do you think “telling a lie” does to our character or integrity?
  7. Read the following passage:

      1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 (NIV)

      [3] For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. [4] On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. [5] You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. [6] We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.

  8. ASK A FEW: What are some of the words/phrases the Apostle Paul used to describe their message to the people at Thessalonica?
  9. ASK A FEW: Paul seems to be denouncing flattery in this passage. Is flattery the same as lying, why or why not?
  10. ASK A FEW: In verse 6, Paul says he and his team were not looking for praise from people. Do people sometimes lie to get praise from others? How does that work?
  11. Read the following passage:

      James 5:12 (NIV)

      [12] Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.

  12. ASK A FEW: In this verse, James is talking about people who make promises by “swearing,” for instance, “I swear on my honor that I did not….” What does he mean when he says let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no?
  13. ASK A FEW: Would our world be different if everyone lived their lives by this verse? If so, how?
  14. AROUND THE CIRCLE: If there was a way that you knew you could go through life and NEVER tell another lie, even under temptation, would you do it?

Wrap Up:
Tonight, we talked about lying and the fallout it has on us and our relationships. We learned that 98% of us tell lies to our parents and our friends. That tells us a lot about our character and our integrity.

Let me tell you a short story about character and integrity. (Tell a PERSONAL story of a time when you told a lie to someone. Talk about the nature of the lie, how the person felt in the aftermath, what happened to the relationship, any consequences you faced, and what you think God felt when you told the lie.)

When I told this lie, I was doing EVERYTHING the Bible says NOT to do. My “yes” was a long way from “yes,” and my “no” was a long way from “no.”

Listen guys, I know it’s tempting to tell a lie when we get into trouble. But as I’ve gotten older, I realize that EVERYBODY sins from time to time. But, not everybody tries to cover up that sin with another sin…by telling a lie. Those are the people I want around me! The people who will tell me the truth, even when they know there might be consequences, are the ones who love me. Telling the truth takes extreme courage.

The Bible says that God is the One who tests our hearts. Our mouths speak what is in our hearts. If we want to have a pure mouth, we MUST have a pure heart. A big part of having a pure heart comes through confession. I challenge you to go to a person you’ve lied to, and confess that to them. Ask them to forgive you, and promise them you will do better in the future because you think your relationship with them is worth it.

If you want to talk more about this with someone before you leave, just grab one of our awesome adult leaders after we close in prayer.

Close in prayer


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. Stephen
    January 12, 2012 at 12:00 am

    It’s hard to argue with the good ol’ "let your yes be yes" passage.

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