Several tables spread out around the room
Red food coloring
1 clear glass (for your upfront presentation)
Large bowls (preferably clear)
Medium size bowls (preferably clear)
Communion cups (preferably clear)
Copies of Isaiah 1:18 and 1 John 1:9 printed off on paper
Candles (optional…to set mood)
Before students arrive, set up several tables around the room. Try to spread the tables out, giving students enough elbow room to move around in. On each table, have a large bowl of water that has been “contaminated” with red food coloring. Put a couple of turkey basters in the large bowl of red liquid.
You will also need a few medium sized bowls filled with bleach. (The bleach should be clear or transparent.) Place a few eyedroppers around the medium sized bowls.
You will also need to have a short stack of small plastic communion cups that are empty. One for each student is sufficient. Finally, make sure enough copies of Isaiah 1:18 and 1 John 1:9 are printed off for every student to read.
Now you’re ready to begin.
Say, “Have you ever noticed how easy it is for our lives to become contaminated by junk in this world? Perhaps you are like me; you want to live a pure life, one that pleases God, but you wind up getting contaminated by temptation and sin. Pretty soon, we are a cloudy, gross, dirty wreck.”
(While you are saying this, hold up a small cup of water in a clear glass and take some red food coloring and add a few drops to it. Swirl it around a bit so that the whole liquid takes on the reddish tint. Students will see that what was once clear is now reddish. Keep holding that glass in front of them and continue.)
Say, “There are plenty of things that can contaminate us in this world. Anger. Lust. Drugs. Alcohol. An unforgiving attitude. Filthy music or movies. Greed. The Internet. Even our best friends and significant others. Just about everything in our lives can contaminate us if we are not very careful.
“Here’s the bad news. Once we become contaminated, there is nothing, I mean NOTHING that we can do to “re-purify” ourselves. Once sin corrupts us and contaminates us, we are marked by the color of it. In this case, my water has become tainted. There is nothing the water can do to purify itself. We are in a similar helpless state. Even just a little bit of sin contaminates us entirely…thus, there is no part of us that remains pure.
“Spend a few moments considering the sin(s) in your lives. What is it that contaminates you? What is it that has tainted you? Was that sin worth ruining your purity over? The bad news is, we have all sinned; the worse news is, there is nothing we can do about it to fix ourselves.
“However, there is some good news. Jesus can forgive us of our sins, and purify us completely. I want to invite you to move to the tables spread out around the room so I can show you how. Our adult leaders will meet you there and give you very specific instructions on what to do when you get there.”
(The adult leaders will already have the large bowls of water “tainted” with the red food coloring when the students arrive. The adults will hand each student a plastic, clear communion cup and ask them to draw some of the red water out of the large bowl and squirt it into their tiny cups.)
(Then, the adult leaders will pass out copies of 1 John 1:9 and Isaiah 1:18. Adult leaders should give students a moment to read over these verses and contemplate them. After enough time has passed, the adult leaders will instruct the students to use the eyedroppers to draw up some bleach from the medium sized bowl and carefully squirt it into their tiny plastic cups.)
(When students do this, they will see their red liquids begin to be purified into a clear substance once again. After everyone has had a chance to read the passages and witness their liquids become purified, ask them to return to their seats quietly.)
Where to take it from here:
We suggest that you spend some time breaking those two Scripture passages down a bit. There are some really important concepts for students to understand within them. First, they are sinners. Secondly, there is nothing they can do to purify themselves. Third, they have to ask Jesus for His forgiveness to be purified.
You may want to ask a few questions to the group for some feedback, and/or give students a chance to share their reaction to the experience.
Close in prayer
Idea by Harvest Ministries
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.