Outreach Agendas, Topical Curriculum

When the World Sees God

Main Point: The world has lots of misconceptions about who God is. Sadly, many of them would rather continue in ignorance about His character, than turn to the Bible and truly discover Him for themselves.

Discussion Starter: God According to the World
Break your students into groups of 3-4 and give them each a packet of markers or paint brushes or crayons and a sheet of butcher paper. Assign each of them a section of a wall where they can tape up their butcher paper.

When they get their paper attached to the wall (vertical orientation is probably best), instruct them that they are going to draw a depiction of God…as the world sees Him. It’s important that they understand that this is how THE WORLD sees God, not how they see God. They will have to reflect on what their unsaved friends have to say about Him, what other religions have to say about Him, and even what atheists have to say about Him.

Give them about 10 minutes to draw that “god” and then, if time permits, give each team about a minute to share their “god” with the other groups.

Transitional Statement:
This was an interesting challenge, wasn’t it? Not only did you have to really reflect on what the world sees when they see God, but you then had to actually depict that. I wanted us to start off our small group discussions with this activity because there’s a sad truth alive and well today: The world has lots of misconceptions about who God is, and many of them would rather continue in ignorance about His character, than turn to the Bible and truly discover Him for themselves. If you want proof of those misconceptions, just look around the walls of this room. That is just a few of the things the world thinks about our God. But let’s turn to the Bible so we can better understand exactly who He is…and isn’t.

Divide into Small Groups:
(If you have 10-15 students, one group will work. If you have more than that, you may want to break them into separate groups for the discussion.)

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 get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and which group’s picture of God most surprised us.
  2. ASK A FEW: Based on the groups’ work, what were some of the most popular misconceptions about God?
  3. ASK A FEW: Why do people have misconceptions about Him?
  4. ASK A FEW: What do YOU think about God? What is He like?
  5. ASK A FEW: How do you know? Where do you get your knowledge of God?
  6. ASK A FEW: What do you think would happen if the world opened the Bible to discover God for themselves? Would anything change?

  7. Read the following passage:

      1 John 4:7-17 (NIV)

      7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.

  8. ASK A FEW: After reading this passage, how would you describe God?

  9. ASK SOMEONE: How does verse 8 describe God. (Leaders – Please point out that this is a crucial passage in Christian doctrine, regardless of denominational differences. Our God IS love.)

  10. ASK A FEW: According to this passage, how did God show (or prove) His love for us?

  11. ASK A FEW: What do you think John means when he says in verse 12 that “no one has ever seen God”?

  12. ASK A FEW: How does that play into people’s misconceptions about God?

  13. ASK A FEW: How does the Bible impact our view and understanding of God?

  14. ASK A FEW: Does anyone know of any other ways the Bible reveals God? (Leaders – There are more ways the Bible describes God than you have time for in your small group time! Creator, Redeemer, Judge, Lord, Teacher, Friend, Father, Savior, Protector, Rock, Compassionate, Suffering Servant, Fortress, Almighty, Provider, King, Peace, Everlasting, and Master just to name a few.)

  15. ASK A FEW: Do you think the world would be surprised to learn what the Bible says about God? Why or why not?

  16. AROUND THE CIRCLE: How will you correct some misconceptions about God this week?

Wrap Up:
In our time together, we talked about how the world sees God. We even drew pictures of those depictions of Him, and to tell the truth, some of them were quite sad. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that some people’s misconceptions about God are nothing short of heartbreaking. They have completely incorrect data on which they’ve built their understanding of God, and as a result, they want nothing to do with Him.

But our truth for tonight is simple: if you want to know who God is, there is only one place to turn…the Bible!

The Bible is the best source for determining who God is. God hasn’t chosen to reveal Himself through TV shows, music, movies, or grilled cheese sandwiches…even the grilled cheese sandwiches that might have some sort of Jesus-y face on them!

Nope. The best place to look to gain an understanding of who God is, is the Bible. The passage that we looked at tonight claimed that God is love. Let me point out something to you. Twice this Bible passage said, “God is love.” Interesting. It didn’t say, “God brings love,” or “God offers love.” It said, “God IS love.”

Let me close up our time together by asking you a few very personal questions. Don’t worry; I’m not going to ask you to answer out loud. No, in fact, I would prefer that you answer these questions in the privacy of your own heart. I’ll give you a few seconds to ponder each one. Ready?

  1. Do you believe God exists?
  2. Have you personally searched the Bible to discover God for yourself?
  3. If so, what did you find? If not, why not?
  4. In your opinion, what is the best way to describe God?
  5. Where did you learn the truth about God?
  6. Who is God to you?

On behalf of all our leaders, let me encourage those of you with doubts to hang around a little while longer. We’ll be available to chat with you after everyone leaves if you want to try and get your questions answered.

We believe with everything that we are that Jesus is God’s Son and that He loves us so much He gave His life on a cross for us. We want you to experience that truth as well. So, if you need to talk, please hang back after we close in prayer.

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. Sean
    April 25, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Can you list some of these misconceptions?

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