Justin Thacker

Coronavirus – youth group session plan

I ran this youth group session today (March 15th 2020) and thought others might want to use it too. I ran it with a group of six 14 to 18 year olds but I’m sure it would work with a larger group.


St John’s Youth Group

1. Game:

Play a game of Ninja. Instructions for this classic youth group game can be found here:


2. Intro discussion:

The goal of Ninja is to avoid being touched. The game is just a bit of fun, but in the history of the world there are various groups who have been avoided by others – usually in response to prejudice. Can you think of examples where this has been the case?

[Medieval Plague, HIV / AIDS, Leprosy in 1st Century, BAME communities during 50s / 60s in US, and during apartheid South Africa.]

Was staying away / avoiding touch justified in any of these cases? If not, why did people do it?

[Only in respond to the plague was there any justification for avoiding touch. Otherwise it was pure prejudice / ignorance]

3. Bible Study

Read luke 5:12-16 using whatever creative way you’re used to. We like popcorn reading.

a) What’s unusual about what the man does? [He approached a rabbi. This was doubly unusual, firstly because he had leprosy; secondly because it was a rabbi he was approaching. Yet he does approach which suggests he had previously heard Jesus would be welcoming]

b) Why did Jesus touch the man given that he had the power to heal at a distance? (cf. Luke 7:1-10)  [Jesus was making the point to the onlookers that there was no reason not to touch those with leprosy. Leprosy is not a very conagious condition. He was also demonstrating acceptance of the man.]

c) What did Jesus mean by the phrase ‘be clean’ (v13)

[I think there are arguably five different meanings to Jesus’ phrase here, and it helps to draw these out:

  • Spiritually – anyone affected by leprosy was ceremonially unclean which meant they had to abide by a range of restrictions and in particular they were excluded from worshipping with others in the Temple. Jesus’ declaration included the restoration of this man into the worshipping community
  • Physically – Jesus’ declaration was a pronouncement that the man was healed of his physical disease
  • Socially – by healing him physically and by restoring him to the worshipping community, Jesus was also restoring him socially so that he could engage in relationships with the rest of the community once again
  • Psychologically – it is very likely that this man would have suffered psychologically from the spiritual / social isolation that his condition had caused. Jesus’ touch would also have helped address the man’s pyschological wounds by demonstrating acceptance and welcome
  • Economically – as he was now healed, the man could once again work and earn an income and not be dependent on begging to survive

4. Coronavirus discussion

What are your fears / thoughts about Coronavirus [give the young people an opportunit]y to express what they feel, how they are most concerned]

Thinking about those five areas summed up in the phrase ‘be clean’, what can we do in response to Coronavirus? [Suggestions could include:

  • Spiritual – we have already seen some people claiming that coronavirus is God’s judgement on sin. It is NOT, except in the sense that we live in a fallen world, so all sickness is a result of the fall. There is nothing special about coronavirus in this regard. As the number of deaths increase, we may have a particular role to reassure people that this is not God’s judgement, and that eternal hope is possible
  • Physical – handwashing, don’t touch faces, keep appropriate distances, don’t shake hands etc
  • Social – we might need to reach out to those who are socially isolated. This may mean making more phone / facetime calls rather than physically visiting. It might mean visiting in person but only if we are completely well
  • Pychologically – we may need to provide emotional support / comfort to our friends as they are sick, as relatives die.
  • Economically – it might help if we shop for neighbours or show generosity in other places]

5. To end – it might help to point out that church historians point to the way the church responded to a series of plagues in the first 300 years of its life as the primary reason why the church grew so rapidly. While pagans threw their sick out, Christians cared both for their own who were sick and for non-Christians. cf Stark, The Rise of Christianity. How are we the church going to respond to this crisis?


15/03/2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments