Give Thanks | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
August 2018

Give Thanks

Note to the Teacher

This week’s exploration of living in love focuses on giving thanks, and this passage offers an interesting instruction about giving thanks: it encourages us to sing.

According to the passage, singing as an act of thanksgiving is corporate in nature. We are to sing among ourselves, addressing one another in song. When we sing, we resonate with one another. Singing may be the most desirable form of embodying transformed and transformative communication because we are not called to sing at someone, but sing with someone, to resonate. Singing together allows us to embody and to make present—to realize—the unity to which we are called.

All of that flows out of the filling of the Holy Spirit. The Wesleyan understanding of being filled with the Holy Spirit is a sort of empowerment that occurs when we surrender our lives to the transforming power of God’s love. As we surrender more and more of our life to God, we are transformed more and more, and are empowered to love more and more. It is from that deep well of God’s love that we offer our thanks and praise.

TimeDescription of Activity
10 min

1. Filling Questions

Assign one person to be the group’s timer and another as the interviewer. The interviewer will ask each student questions from the list below and they will have 30 seconds to answer as many questions as they can.

  • What is your favorite pie filling?

  • What food can you eat until you are too full?

  • How much money does it take to fill your car with gas?

  • How full is your dirty laundry basket right now at home?

  • When was the last time your phone storage was full?

  • Do you like to have a full schedule on the weekends or an empty one?

  • What is your favorite doughnut filling?

  • How many balloons do you think it would take to fill this room?

  • Have you ever tried to fill someone’s desk drawer with rice?

5 min

2. Read Scripture

This scripture passage is shorter than the rest. Consider asking students to read it in a couple of translations.

Read: Ephesians 5:15-20

15 min

3. Discussion

Before you begin the discussion, take a moment to explain the term being “filled with the Holy Spirit.”

  • What is the connection between being “filled with the Holy Spirit” in verse 18 and being “careful how we live” in verse 15?

  • What about the connection between being “filled with the Holy Spirit” and “always giving thanks” in verse 20?

  • Think of something that people don’t generally think of as something for which to be thankful. How might the Holy Spirit allow you to give thanks for it?

  • How do songs help us give thanks?

  • What worship song helps bring a sense of warmth and/or thankfulness in your heart when you sing it?

  • How does singing in worship connect us to each other in thankfulness?

Invite students to spend some time in personal reflection on these questions. After some silent reflection, offer a space for students to share (or not) what they were thinking about:

  • What is something you are thankful for in your past?

  • What is something you are not usually thankful for in your past?

  • What is something you are thankful for in your present?

  • What is something you are not usually thankful for in your present?

20 min

4. Activity and Discussion:

Take this lesson to the next level by getting students’ whole bodies involved using the activity “My Jar Overflows” from the Youth Worker Collective available at https:/

5 min

5. Closing

Close in prayer spending specific time thanking God for things that have happened in the present and past.

55 min

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Return To in Love Worship Planning Series For Youth