Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
The following list of true or false questions will engage your participants.
This activity will require some creativity on the part of the participants. Pair up the youth in your Sabbath School and give them a minute or two to come up with a creative, completely made-up introduction for their partner to the rest of the group. Plan on about 30-60 seconds.
Give a zany example, such as, "Esmeralda was born in Ecuador. At the age of seven she moved to Canada, where she developed acrobatic climbing skills. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police would ask her to help with their rescue operations around dangerous mountain cliffs, and Esmerelda could hop, skip, and jump from peak to peak to reach people in distress and then help them to safety. Esmeralda always climbs bare-footed, even in the snowy winter months. She listens to jazz and has recently started writing poetry. She also eats anything that moves. Please give a warm welcome to Esmerelda!"
Let this spark some ideas in the participants. Give them a little more time and then have them introduce their partner to the rest of the group. Go around the circle until everyone
has had a turn. If your group has more than 10-15 people, divide into smaller groups of 7-10 to do the introductions. Instead of identity theft, you will have done an identity replacement!
TRANSITION: As we consider "Identity Theft," our lesson for today, think about what is true about you and what is false—what others might say about you and what you might project
to others for whatever reason. If we posted several statements about you, how many people would know if they were true or false? How would they know? Would it be different from
four years ago? Would it be different four years from now?
This is a short video clip and an idea to help you to create your own video on this week’s topic, plus a few follow-up questions to spark discussion afterwards.
If you do decide to create a video clip yourself, use one that illustrates our world today and how those connected to God live in such a world. Ask someone to create some follow-up questions based on these video clips in advance.
You can also use one of the following two YouTube video clips. You’ll find follow-up questions included afterward for both.
This video is less than three minutes.
This is a short talk by youth Pastor Jeremy Wong from Worthington, Ohio (about 3 ½
"Choose You Lord" is an original song written specifically for Youth Sabbath School.
These are more approaches to the same topic as is in the Teacher’s Guide, but just a different way of looking at it. Expect activities to illustrate the topic followed by some questions.
Jacob’s Ladder—Genesis 27:46–28:22
BASED ON GENESIS 25:23–34 AND GENESIS 27:1–45
Asking "What’s your name?" is a common way for people get acquainted with others. In Bible times, the names parents gave their children indicated the qualities they desired their newborns to have. Today, it’s not unusual for that same thing to happen in our society. You or someone you know might have a name like "Faith" or "Grace" or "Able." While these people may share the same name as that quality, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s who they are. They’re still their own person.
Does your name have a meaning? If it’s a common name, you can easily check it out online. If you have a unique name or one that your parents just made up, you might not be able to find a history for it at all!
A good website for this is BehindtheName.com. Visit it or a similar website and search for some of your participants’ names as part of your Sabbath School class. Some people in your group may already know the meaning of their name, while some people’s names might not have a meaning at all.
We’re more likely to associate certain memories or personalities with a name, aren’t we? Just mentioning a name can make something come to our mind. We each have our own associations based on who has impacted our own lives. On a larger scale, it’s common for celebrities to go by just their first name. What comes to your mind when I say the following name? (Pick 4–5 names of your own, or choose from the following.)
When a baby is born, their parent or parents (or guardians) must come up with a name for them. They might look at lists of names and pass over most of them because they seem too unfamiliar, just sound bad, or (and this shows individual taste and experiences) make the parents think, "I once knew somebody by that name and I’ll never give my child the
same name as them!" You might know already some names you would never give to a child because of your association with someone else who had it.
Our passage for today includes the story of the birth of twin boys, Esau and Jacob—or do you say it the other way around, Jacob and Esau? Let’s read about it in Genesis 25:19–34.
Read it aloud in the group; have people take turns reading the different verses until you complete the passage.
Teens go through many moments when they can naturally change their identity. For example:
It may take a little bit of prep beforehand, especially if you don’t already have a stash of outfits, but you can hold a dress-up game next by having volunteers dress up in costumes and then having everyone else guess who they are. Ifthe participants dressing up are okay with it, add some zest to this activity by asking them to walk out of Sabbath School still wearing their new look and walk through the church at least once, just to see if any of the church members havea reaction. Hopefully someone will say something priceless like, "Who do you think you are?" You can get some outrageous outfits at a low price by going to a thrift store in advance, or by asking someone in your church who has a collection already to share with you just for today. If they agree, invite them to come and be part of this experience.
Then transition to a very serious version of this by reading Genesis 27:1-45 together. It’s a familiar story, so encourage those in your group to pay attention to the details people often miss or forget, or give the group additional clues as you go along. Take turns reading.
BASED ON GENESIS 25:23–34 AND GENESIS 27:1–45
Based on who you are, your interests and desires, and God’s directing in your life, rank the following professions according to how likely you think it is that you’ll go into them, with one being most likely and ten being least likely. There are actually two lists here—the first is a list of jobs that are more traditional, and the second is a list of jobs that are newer and not what first comes to mind when you think about professions.
Hand out a copy of "Guess What I’m Going to Be" and something to write with to each participant. You can go through just one lists or both of them. The question at the bottom of the page is also optional—do it at your discretion.
Although we can analyze and make guesses about who we might be or what profession we’ll have in the future, many people are still surprised along the way. Think of your
own parents, aunts, and uncles. Were there any surprises that affected who or what they became? You might have older siblings or other people you know who seemed to head one direction, and then ended up going in another for whatever reason. Each of you has your own talents, but what you do with them depends on the specific events that happen in your life and what choices you make yourself.
Then there’s the whole question of God’s guidance or intervention—or is it just good luck and bad luck? In the story of Jacob and Esau, would you say what ended up happening was predestined by God, or did God simply know the future and name it in advance—something we can’t do with as much accuracy?
Let’s make a game of this by playing something some of you might have played before. We’ll adjust it some for our Sabbath School lesson today and use it to illustrate how each of us has different talents and are better at some things than other people.
Do you remember the game "Steal the Bacon"? Let’s Adventize the name to "Steal the Stripples" for the fun of it. We’ll have two teams line up and face each other, with the Stripples (a handkerchief) in the middle. I’ll call out a number, or maybe more than one number. The object is to grab the Stripples and get back across your line without the corresponding person from the other team tagging you. If you make it, you get a point. If the other team tags you, they get a point.
Our adaptation is based on how each one of us is different, so some people have an advantage in some situations while other people have an advantage in others. As we go on, you’ll see more and more of these advantages introduced.
Divide the group into two teams. If you have less than six people, you might need to combine with another Sabbath School group for this activity, or have one bold volunteer compete against the rest of the youth. A group of 8–14 is ideal, with 4–7 people standing in line on each side facing the opposite team. If you have more than 20 participants (10 on each side), have two sets do this simultaneously in different parts of the room.
Put a colorful handkerchief (or cloth) in the middle of the two teams and call out a number ("Number…three!"). At that point, the third person from both teams will leave their line and approach the Stripples (or hankerchief). At some point one of them needs to make an attempt to grab it and get back across their team line before the other can tag them. If
neither person attempts a grab, feel free to call another number to join them ("Number one, go get it!").
After one or two tries, start making some adaptations. For example, move the Stripples much closer to one team than the other. Move it more toward one end of the two lines
than the other end. Have one or two people put on a blindfold. Tie another person’s ankles together so they can only hop. You should feel free to come up with your own ideas as well—just remember that the purpose is to illustrate how each one of us has different talents than others and what we choose to do with them makes the difference.
Play until one team reaches eight or ten points. Feel free to adapt this activity however you need to so your participants will understand the underlying point, which is more important than actually winning the game (although the teens might not realize that).
Read Genesis 25:23–34. Have half of the group pretend they are Jacob and the other half pretend they are Esau. After your group reads Genesis 25:23–34 out loud, ask some of the same questions from the Steal the Stripples activity and have the participants answer as if they are those characters.
Now read the longer passage, Genesis 27:1–45. Do the same thing—read the passage aloud as a group with half identifying with Jacob and half identifying with Esau. Then have them answer some of the Steal the Stripples questions as if they were those two brothers.
Here are some additional questions you can ask, just to give you more options.
• What were Jacob’s advantages? What were his disadvantages?
• What were Esau’s advantages? What were his disadvantages?
• What role do parents play in who you are? How does that change at different stages of life?• What role are your parents playing in your life right now?
• What could each person in the story have done differently?
BASED ON GENESIS 27:46–28:22
Give each person in your Youth Sabbath School a copy of the "Jacob’s Ladder" Bible study handout, available for download in both PDF and Word format on the Youth Sabbath School Ideas website.
This type of "relational Bible study" begins with an introductory question designed to make everyone realize they are equal in responding to this passage of Scripture—there are no experts versus beginners here; older people don’t have an advantage over the young. This Bible study depends on
an active Holy Spirit communicating with each person through the Scripture they read and consider, as well as through the words of anyone else in the group.
After the first question, read the passage aloud as a group. We suggest having each person
read a few verses. We also recommend that you work in groups of 4-8 people. If you have a larger group than that, divide into smaller groups. Let your participants know that while they have the option to pass on reading aloud if they want, you’re encouraging them to try anyway since the point of this activity to read Scripture, not to be a professional reader.
After reading the passage, give each person time to jot down their responses to the questions on the sheet. You will ask them to repeat these same responses verbally in a few moments, but giving them a chance to organize their thoughts on paper first will help everyone—not just the quick-witted and highly verbal ones—to do their share of the talking. The questions on the sheet are designed to encourage thought and personal application as one listens to promptings from the Holy Spirit. After everyone has spent some time with the worksheet, open up the study for group discussion, even if it’s just two people in the group. If you have a large group of more than 8-10 people, divide into smaller groups of 4-8 people. Each question has an option to mark "other" in case the respondents have an insight not included in the options presented.
The last two questions are open-ended and may require more thought.
You can go through the questions one at a time, or have one person in the group choose one of the questions and share their response(s) to it. Others can then add their responses to the same question. After discussion comes to a close on that question, either move to the next question or pick another person in the group to choose another question from the sheet. Continue for the time you have available.
Here's a good question to add for the last five minutes: What part of the lesson will you live out this coming week, and what will you do to live it out? See the next section of the Youth Sabbath School Ideas for potential ways to answer this question.
If you’re looking for an Old Testament story about God’s grace, this one could be near the top. Deceptive Jacob loses it all and runs for his life. Sleeping outdoors with a rock for a pillow, he receives a vision of a ladder reaching from heaven to earth, with angels flowing both ways as they go down and come back up. The message is clear: God continues to watch over Jacob. We can see both Jacob’s immaturity and calculated selfishness when God offers him a deal. The games he plays will be over when he returns years later and wrestles with God.
Let this spark your ideas to move from talk to action by living out the lesson in practical ways in your life this week.
The following applications relate to the corresponding Bible Study Guides for Scripture for the lesson above.
A. Think of three of your current heroes or role models. What is it about their identity that you admire? What are some small steps you can take this week to make some of those admirable traits part of your identity?
God refers repeatedly in Scripture to his people as his children (1 John 3:1–4; Galatians 3:27–29; John 1:12). Take at least 5–10 minutes at the start of each day this week to reflect and meditate on your identity as a child of God. Then take that perspective and apply it to how you relate to the people you expect to come in contact with that day. Pray that God will remind you of that perspective of your identity throughout your day.
B. Go to your parent(s) and thank them for specific things they have given you. Don’t limit this to tangible things like a cell phone or clothing or paying for your education. Include intangible things like disciplining you when you needed it, providing encouragement, a place that is safe, listening to your stories and concerns, etc. Then ask your parents (possibly giving them some time to think about it in advance) to give you their input on where they see you five years from now, ten years from now, and fifteen years from now. Make it a dinner date and get their input. Ask them to tell you about how things went at those same ages for them. Close with prayers of thanksgiving, requests, and hope for both you and your parents.
C. This week find a place to be your Bethel, or house of God. Dedicate this as a place where you will meet with God on a regular basis. This could be a specific spot in your room, or maybe some other place where you can get away and be alone without interruption. Another option to live out this lesson this week would be to start a contract/covenant with God. List the expectations you have of God in one column, and then list the expectations God has of you in the other column. Ask a few other people (friends, family members, a mentor) to do the same. Compare your contracts/ covenants with each other after a week; make adjustments, sign them, and then put them someplace where you can refer to them periodically.
This bonus is just for the youth leader—a quick tip and an illustration to enhance your youth leadership. You may already know this idea, have learned it through trial and error, or maybe just need a reminder. Here it is in a quick infusion:
Teens naturally go through changes in their identity. Their bodies have already changed, and now their thinking is beginning to enter new territory. What others think of them starts to become more important than what their family thinks of them. It’s quite common for teens to have multiple identities based on who they’re around at the time. However, if they see adults doing the same and acting differently in different settings, it really bugs them. Without realizing it, they will feel repulsed by seeing their same inconsistency in others. Even if they are acting more hypocritical than the adult or adults in these situations, they can be quick to demonize them. If you are the adult in a situation like this, be real and be real consistent. Come clean (repent, confess, and ask for forgiveness) when you’re the one guilty of it. This will build credibility over time and be a great example for teens to do the same.
Here’s a collection of trends related to the world of young people as well as the sources of that information. This is to help the youth leader understand the general world of young people today.
Your specific youth may differ, but this is the general trend. The topic for this month’s Trending for Teens section is volunteering.
Teens are almost twice as likely to volunteer as adults. Over half (55%) of youth ages 12 to
18 participate in volunteer activities compared to 29% of adults. In fact, teens contribute more than 1.3 billion hours of community service each year. In 2016, more than a third (36%) of high school seniors reported that they volunteered at least once a month, up from a quarter (24%) of seniors in 1991. While some schools mandate community service, nearly two thirds (63%) of teens have no volunteer requirement.
Most teens (93%) say they want to volunteer. Those who actually serve often have the support of family and friends. Three out of four (76%) teens whose friends volunteer on a regular basis also volunteer. Less than half (42%) of teens whose friends do not volunteer regularly go on to serve, anyway. Over half of teens (57%) who volunteer were invited by a friend, family member, or other adult. While the influence of peers on teens’ volunteering habits increases with age, family influence continues to be important throughout high school. A teen with at least one parent who volunteers is almost twice as likely to serve as a teen with no family members who volunteer. Among teens who have both parents and siblings who volunteer, nearly nine in ten (86%) will serve.
Seventy percent of teens from wealthy families volunteer as opposed to only 44 percent from low-income families. However, attending the right school can close this gap. Private high school students are 25% more likely to have volunteered in the last year than public high school students. Seventy-one percent of low-income teens who attend a private school volunteer, bringing them on par with their more affluent classmates.
Religious groups are the primary organizer of teen volunteer activities. Teens who attend religious services regularly are nearly twice as likely to be regular volunteers as those who don’t attend at all. Of these attendees, 47% volunteer with a religious congregation, 8% with a faith-based group, and 45% with a secular organization. Compared with other youth volunteers, they are much more likely to have fundraised (50% more), worked with the aged or sick (34% more), or served the homeless or poor (84% more).
The cause teens are most interested in is animal welfare, followed by hunger, homelessness, the environment, and the economy. Young people in rural areas care most about hunger, while those in the suburbs prioritize animal welfare, and those in the city see homelessness as their top concern. The leading volunteer activity for teens is fundraising, with over a third (39%) of them saying they have fundraised for charity. Other popular activities include clean- ups and working with children in sports and recreation programs.
Engaging in community service has been shown to have a positive effect on students' academic performance during high school and to increase the odds of their going on to graduate from college. Service is also a preventative factor for at-risk behaviors and
improves overall mental health. Helping strangers, in particular, has been shown to improve teens’ self-esteem.
The best predictor of a service activity’s impact on the volunteer is their psychological engagement with that activity, not the number of hours they serve. Planning a service activity around a cause or issue your teens care about will increase the volunteer benefit, as will reflecting with teens on their service before, during, and after the activity. One simple method of debriefing involves asking your volunteers three simple questions: 1) What? ("What did you learn?") 2) So what? ("Why does what you’ve learned matter?") and 3) Now what? ("What will you do with what you’ve learned?")
Based on their research, the Do Something organization offers tips for planning community service activities for teens. They suggest youth leaders create opportunities that are:
VolunteerMatch can help you find volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood. TeenLife has compiled a great list of 50 Community Service Ideas for Teen Volunteers. Select a project with your teens and start planning today.
Child Trends (2018). "Volunteering."
Do Something (2012). "Index on Young People and Volunteering."
Fraga, Juli (2018). "Helping Strangers May Help Teens' Self-Esteem." National Public Radio.
McBride, Duane and Hopkins, Gary (2016). "Helping Others, Helping Ourselves." Adventist
For several older resources (more than 10 years old), check out these three links to see how volunteering was reported more than a decade ago. This illustrates some of the history of current research and trends: