The Expectation Game | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
February 2019

The Expectation Game

By Jeremy Steele

Our expectations drastically shape our experiences of life. They often define what we focus on and what we ignore. Taking time to explore our expectations can reshape our experience of faith. This activity will help students see how their expectations are shaping their experience of Church and help them refocus on what they desire by redefining their expectations.

Begin by asking students to list various ways they experience God (church worship, youth group, bible study, walks in nature, etc.). Once they have a good list, ask them to chose their favorite, their least favorite and one other.

Give each student three pieces of paper (one for each experience) and ask them to write five words that describe how they experience those practices. Once they have the words at the top, ask them to draw something that symbolizes or illustrates those words.

Ask them to turn the page over and draw a line down the middle. On the left side ask them to write what they expect to experience before they begin the practice. On the right side ask them to list what they wish they would experience through the practice.

Once you have completed the papers discuss these questions:

  • How do your expectations match with your experience? Why is this?
  • Knowing that our expectations cause us to not notice the things that we aren’t expecting, what are your expectations causing you to miss?
  • How could adjusting your expectations change or improve these practices for you?

Though it is rare that our least favorite practice will become our most, focusing our expectations on what we desire will help us pay attention to and focus on when that happens rather than when the things that bother us happen.

When he's not playing with his four children with his wonderful wife, Jeremy is the associate pastor at Los Altos UMC in Los Altos, CA. Jeremy has spent over twenty years working in youth and children's ministry and continues to train children and youth workers as well as writing and speaking extensively in that field. His most recent book is the "All the Best Questions." You can find a list of all his books, articles, and resources for churches at