Category | Object Lessons

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Marbles have been around since ancient times. Whether made from glass, stone, or even clay, they have been used in games and as tokens. While not specifically mentioned in the Bible, our modern games of marbles most likely came from the ancient Romans. The oldest known marbles date back to about 3000 B.C. They can be found in many cultures around the world. Many of the games involve taking risks in order to win. In this idea of the week, we use glass marbles not only for games, but also as an object lesson on how we can see differently as Christians and to learn to take risks for God.

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What You Need

* Lots of marbles

A Few Games Using Marbles

  • Barefoot Marble Race – The youth must remove their socks and shoes. Divide them into teams and place two marbles on the starting line in front of each team. On your signal, the first player must pick up a a marble with the toes of each foot and walk to a finish line. They the player can pick up the marbles and race back to the next player in line you repeats the process. First team to finish wins.
  • Chopsticks and Marbles – Using a pair of chopsticks and a couple shallow bowls or saucers, each youth is given one minute to move marbles from bowl to the other using only the chopsticks. Only one hand can be used to hold the chopsticks. The youth to transfer the most marbles wins.
  • Drop the Marble – Line two teams up facing each other. Each youth is given 5 marbles. One youth stands with his or her heels together and toes spread apart in a V shape while the other player stands about 5 feet away and tries to toss a marble so it stays between the feet of the other player. If he fails he loses the marble. If he is successful, the play with his feet in a V shape drops one of his marbles from waist height and tries to hit the marble between his feet. If he hits it, he takes the marble, but if not he loses the marble. They swap for the next round. Continue for a set period of time and then each team adds up their marbles. Team with the most marbles wins.
  • Marble and Straws Relay –┬áDivide the youth into teams and give every person on a team a plastic straw and a paper cup. Place a marble in the first team member’s cup. The youth must create a vacuum in the straw to pick up the marble and place it into the next persons cup. First team to get the marble into the last person’s cup wins. If the marble is dropped on the floor, the team must start completely over at the beginning.
  • Marble Roll – Draw a circle using chalk (about 1 metre in diameter) at one end of the room and a line several meters away for everyone to stand behind. Indoors you can some masking tape. Give each team an equal number of marbles. Each team can play in turn, or if they all play at the same time you will need different coloured marbles for each team. Within a given time teams compete to see who can gets the most marbles in the circle. One person one each team is allowed to return any marbles that miss or get knocked out of the circle back to his or her team.
  • Marble Search – Put some marbles and lots of ice into a roasting pan, tub or wading pool. Divide the youth into teams and have one person from each team must fish out a marble with their toes before the next person on the team can go. The first team to all fish out a marble wins. If it is cold outside, instead of ice, use warm oatmeal, warm pudding or even warm spaghetti noodles. Provide plenty towels for cleanup. Add a few golf balls just for fun. Variation: Team to fish out the most marbles with their toes in a given time limit wins. Variation: Assign each team a given colour of marbles and only those marbles of their given colour count.
  • Marbles and Spoons – Divide into teams, have each team to line up single file, and have a cup with one or more marbles for each team. Give each player a spoon. The first player on each team picks up a marble with the spoon, spins around in place 3 times, then passes the marble to the next person on the team. Marbles can only be touched with the spoon. If a marble is dropped the team must start over again from the beginning. First team to get all the marbles down the line wins.
  • No Know’s – Give everyone a set number of marbles and ask the group to mingle and talk to each other. Choose one or more icebreaker questions that they must ask each other. Whenever a youth says “no” or “know” that youth must give one of his marbles to the person he is talk to. The person who collects the most marbles during a given time period wins.
  • Odds or Evens? – Every youth starts out with the same number of marbles. They pair off with someone then one player hides at least one marble in his hand. The other youth must guess if the number of marbles is odd or even. If he guesses correctly he can add the marbles to his collection. The role of the hider and guesser is then switched. After each youth in a pair guesses, those without any marbles remaining must sit down and the remaining youth pair up with someone new. Continue until one player has all the marbles or a set time limit is reached and then the person with the most marbles wins.
  • Trade off – Using marbles of various colours, give each youth a marble of each colour. Ask the youth to mingle around the room ask each other to makes trades of one colour for another in order to get all their marbles to a single color. They can trade only one marble with each person in the room. First to finish wins.

TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

DEBRIEF

  • What were some of the strategies used in these games?
  • In some of the games, you lost or gained marbles. How did you feel when you lost all your marbles? When you gained marbles?
  • Were your decisions in these games based upon logic or by how you were feeling?
  • How could you have gotten better results?
  • Do you prefer to take risks or play it safe?
  • Would your strategy change if you were using 1 dollar tokens? 5$? 10$
  • What risks are you willing to take in regards to your future? your career? Your family? in relationships? in other areas of life?
  • How do you balance the risks with the opportunities in life?
  • Choose an area of your spiritual life where, to see any results, you are going to have to take a risk? What can you do to moderate the risks? What will the payoff be if you do this? How important is this result for you? Is it worth the risk? If so, are you willing to take the risks in order to see the potential results?

MAKE IT SPIRITUAL

  • Do you prefer to play it safe or take risks in your spiritual walk?
  • Name some Bible characters that were risk takers? Why do you consider them risk takers?
  • Do you think Peter was a risk taker or played it safe? Explain. (See Peter Walking on Water – Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:47-52, John 6:16-21)
  • Did the disciples take a risk in following Christ? (See Matthew 4)

Sometimes what might at first look risky, when see through God’s perspective is really no risk at all. We have everything to gain. Give a clear marble to each student and ask them to look through it. The image of whatever they are looking at will be upside down. Our faith can cause us to turn the things of the world upside-down and the world can turn our faith upside-down too.

  • What are some ways that Christ turns our world upside down?
  • What are some events that cause people’s faith to be turned upside down?
  • Describe a time when your faith was turned upside down?
  • Many of Christ’s teachings were opposite of what people expected. What were some things that Christ taught that turned the world upside down for the early believers?
  • How is looking through the marble similar to looking at things through spiritual eyes?
  • What things affect the way we view life? Has your view on anything changed since you became a Christian? What things have changed?
  • How does seeing things through God’s perspective change things so that what seemed like risks, no longer seem to be risky?

MAKE IT PRACTICAL

  • What risks are worth the reward of knowing Jesus as Lord and living for him?
  • “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” – C. T. Studd
  • Missionary William Carey said, “Expect great things of God, and attempt great things for God.”
  • Jim Eliot said “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
  • Is Christianity a risk? Why or why not?
  • How does seeing things through Christ’s eyes change the risks?

MAKE IT PERSONAL

  • Has God called you to do something out of the ordinary?
  • To what has God called you?
  • Choose an area of your spiritual life where, to see any results, you are going to have to take a risk? What will the payoff be if you do this? How important is this result for you? Is it worth the risk? If so, are you willing to take the risks in order to see the potential results in your relationship with God and others?

CLOSING

  • Challenge the young people to carry a marble in their pockets or purses to remind them of one area of their spiritual lives where they need to learn to trust God and take risks to see Him work through them.

KEY SCRIPTURE VERSE

Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

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MORE IDEAS? See “Creative Object Lessons”

200 page e-book that explains everything you need to know when planning your very own object lessons. It contains 90 fully developed object lesson ideas and another 200 object lesson starter ideas based on Biblical idioms and Names / Descriptions of God.

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