I’m including some program ideas. Please feel free to add to them, or delete them as is applicable to your group. Some of the ideas I have used with various groups, some are new ones (to me) that I haven’t tested out yet. Many of these ideas have been developed over the years of researching for my own CGIT group. I don’t claim them to be original ideas, many of you may have used the same or similar activities yourselves.
One of our basic rules in CGIT is, “What happens in CGIT stays in CGIT”. We remind the girls that they may be honest with the group and that we won’t be sharing their thoughts and feelings with others. Of course, if there is a disclosure of some kind that needs to be dealt with, we do that. It’s more to ensure that the girls aren’t going back and sharing others personal ideas/thoughts with people outside of the group.
We try to use at least three different versions of the Bible when we are looking at the Scriptures. This encourages us to look at the different language and talk about how the times of the Bible were different from now and how different interpretations/wording may influence our thinking.
Please remember that the most important thing is to listen to the girls and follow their lead. This is an opportunity to see where the girls are in understanding our four-fold purpose. You may end up in a totally different place than you anticipated, or you may end up where you planned but through a totally different route.
There are many different aspects of “Cherish Health”. As CGIT we need to look at our physical health, mental/spiritual health, and emotional health. These are all interrelated. It is possible to study each individually or to combine them together. I will often focus on one aspect of our health each year. Bringing the others into the discussions, but maintaining one as the main focus. Over the past few years, we have also included the health of the earth in our discussions. Recognizing that if the earth is not healthy, we can’t be totally healthy either.
Physical Health – Think of your body as a temple
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6: 12 – 20, focusing on 19
Start the session with the girls writing down how they feel about themselves. Ensure that they know they will not be handing anything in, and that they don’t need to share if they don’t wish to. It is important that they know they are in a safe environment where they can be honest with themselves.
Ask them what they are:
- Really happy with,
- Satisfied with,
- Don’t really care about.
Are there things that they would change if they could?
Are there things that they would like to change, but don’t feel that they can?
Are there things that they’d like to change, but can’t and are having a hard time coping with it?
Does anyone have ideas to help us cope with these things?
Remind them to look at: (add any others)
- amount of sleep
- physical exercise
- ability to express oneself
- feelings of self-worth
- how I cope with stress
- choice of friends
Ask if anyone is willing to share their thoughts, be willing to share some of yours.
- Start with the positives, then work on what they don’t like, but finish with ideas to help change things. We might not be able to change everything, like our height, but maybe we can help each other to look at being short as a good thing (or being tall). What are the advantages?
Ensure that everyone has some things they are happy about before you move on.
After sitting for a while I like to get up and move, and often will use a song. Put “Your left hand in”, works well here, as does “We are one in the Spirit”, or “Grab another Hand”. Or try a community massage, where everyone stands in a circle, facing one direction and massages the shoulders of the person in front of them. Remember that not everyone likes to touch or be touched by someone they don’t know.
Mental/Spiritual Health – Still thinking of your body as a temple
Scripture: Philippians 4: 4-9
I like to start with giving a brief history of Paul and his visit to Philippi, the friendship that developed between Paul and the church of the Philippians. Paul writes this while being imprisoned in Rome about 10 years after his visit. Paul is trying to encourage the people of Philippi to grow in their faith in God despite his own current circumstances.
Read the scripture together, from at least 2 different translations. Ask the girls to jot down the virtues that are listed. Then ask them to think of their opposites. Talk about which words they use most often to describe themselves, why are those the ones that they use.
Virtues: (I’ve listed some of the different words that appear in various translations)
Talk about which words we should use to describe ourselves (ie: the positive ones)
What stops us from using them? Encourage the girls to talk about each other and other people using only positive virtues. Stress that virtues are positive. Make it a challenge. See how many can go through the day at school/work only talking about the virtues of other people.
Make a collage of pictures or words cut out of magazines or newspapers showing examples of these virtues. Or, have the girls draw a picture. Use any combination of the above idea. The girls could work individually or as a group.
Another activity is to have the girls draw a large circle with spokes (think bike wheel but not that many spokes!, 5 is good.) You could also draw the wheel ahead of time and either complete it individually or as a group.
In the centre of the circle, write an action that describes a virtue you or someone else has exhibited.
In one section write some words or short phrases about that action. (Thoughts)
Emotional Health – Matthew 6: 25 – 34
So often our health is affected by how we are dealing with stress, we need to adopt healthy ways to reduce our stress. In this passage we aren’t being told to be reckless and thoughtless. Instead we are being told that God is aware of our needs and that we will be looked after. God has given us life, so we need to trust that God will also give us what we need to live our lives to our full potential. Verse 33 tells us that God will provide everything we need. In verse 34 we are being told to live one day at a time, tomorrow will come whether or not we worry about it.
With the girls read the passage over, again, from a couple of different translations.
Talk about the two different types of stress: positive and negative
Positive stress can be challenging, exciting, making life interesting and fun. This type of stress with give you a “natural” high.
Negative stress can be feeling unable to cope, frustrated, even being in a “high risk” situation. Stress that is negative may affect you both physically and emotionally.
Physically: muscle tension, headache, pounding or racing heart, queasy stomach, fatigue
Emotionally: inability to concentrate, irritability, feeling wiped out/exhausted
Invite a guest speaker in to talk to the girls about various forms of relaxation: exercise, yoga, mediation, ……
Encourage them to “live for the moment”. When you are worried about all you need to do, tell yourself to stop and just enjoy the moment you have in front of you. “Take time to smell the roses”.
Concentrate on your tense muscles. Massage the spot if you can, or ask a friend to, but make sure you return the favour. Take deep, slow breaths, open and close your fists, rotate your ankles, stretch.
Talk about stress reducers that we have available to ourselves.
- Regular exercise
- Eat well-balanced meals
- Plan your time
- Say “no” when you need to
- Talk to someone
- Have faith in our Creator
- Develop a good support system
- Regular rest
- Learn how to express your anger or frustration effectively
- Choose an activity to do just because you enjoy it, not because you have to do it
- Break your problem into small, manageable pieces – tackle one at a time
There are many others that the girls may come up with on their own.
As a group play a silly game, sing a silly song, just have some fun and laughter for a few minutes (or longer!)
- make snow angels
- have a relay game
- make “warm fuzzies”
- play “statues”
- play with modelling clay
Songs: (from various CGIT songbooks)
- “Who Stole My Chickens and My Hens”
- “Don’t dump your junk in my backyard”
- “One bottle of pop”
- “The more we get together”
- “Put your left foot in”
There are many ways to “Seek Truth”. One that our group enjoyed a few years ago was looking at Illusions. We printed off a number of black line illusions free from the internet and looked at them. We discussed how different people saw different images. When we helped each other we were able to see the same things.
For some of the images we only looked at them for about 10 seconds and then quickly jotted down what we saw. We’d do this for a couple and then compare our perspectives. Then continue with a few more.
Have the girls sit in pairs with one girl holding something like a cereal box or Kleenex box. Have each girl describe what they see, and only what they see. One may describe the Kleenex coming out the top of the box, one may see French words, a UPC code, manufacturer’s information, etc.
Point out that they were looking at the same thing, but “seeing” different things. One was not right and the other wrong, just different.
We all see things from different perspectives and viewpoints. That doesn’t make a difference.
Ask the girls if they can come up with examples of when they’ve seen something differently than someone else. Discuss how it is important to accept other’s viewpoints, and how we need to be willing to listen to others and our differing ideas.
Scriptures: Exodus 20 & Matthew 22: 34 – 40
We also looked at these passages from various translations and how they were similar, and how they differed. We talked about how different people interpret them in the world now.
I also shared an old story I had with the girls about a man who dies and goes to Heaven where he meets St. Peter. St. Peter tells him that before he is admitted to Heaven he has to complete an entrance exam.
This exam has only 3 questions:
- What days of the week begin with the letter “T”?
- How many seconds are there in a year?
- What is God’s first name?
The man goes away and thinks for a while and returns ready to give St. Peter the answers. Ask the girls for answers before you share the man’s answers.
- That would be “Today and Tomorrow”
St. Peter agrees with him although that wasn’t what he was really expecting.
2. The answer is 12
St. Peter can’t see how he got that answer so he asks the man to explain.
The man replies, “January second, February second, March second, …….”
Again, St. Peter agrees that although that wasn’t what he was expecting, he’d accept the man’s answer as correct.
3. God’s first name is “Andy”.
St. Peter is astonished and asks the man how he came up with that answer. The man replies: “From the song we use to sing in Sunday School. “Andy he walks with me, Andy he talks with me, Andy he tells me I am his own……..”
Just because someone doesn’t see things the same way you do, or understand things the same, does not mean it’s wrong!!
We have also looked at ads on TV, in the newspaper, or magazines. Reading newspaper or magazine articles that present different points of view on a topic are also a way to encourage the girls to try to “see things” differently and to “Seek Truth” about what is happening.
Also remember, that what we “See as Truth” today, may change as we grow and experience new and different things. Our lives will determine our perspective.
There is always another point of view!
“Knowing God” is a concept many of us struggle with. We have to rely on others interpretations of what happened many, many years ago in the Bible, as well as our own experiences in our individual faith journeys. There are many ways to encourage our girls to “Know God”. This is one part of the purpose where I seem to learn something new every year. Be open to the girls ideas and listen to how they have come to “Know God”.
- Choose a story from the Bible. Read it from a number of different translations and discuss how they are similar/different, and how they relate to todays world. One I like to use is the story of Peter and John in Acts 4: 1-14. Focusing especially on verse 13. The Good News version says: “ They realized then that they had been companions of Jesus”. How would the people have known this? How did Peter and John act or talk that was different from the other people? What did they do? (They talked about Jesus without fear). Peter and John were kind, and considerate, but also strong and fearless because of their faith. The people in the crowd probably saw in them some of the same qualities that Jesus had.
How should we be acting in our daily lives so that others may know that we are Christians without us saying so?
- Look at the Christian symbols around us. What do they mean? Why do we use them? Are they still meaningful to us? Design a new one that is meaningful to your group. You may want to have some samples of Christian images with you. Depending upon where you meet, there may or may not be some visible.
- Study the meaning of worship and what the different sections of a worship service are. The “5 W’s”. Who worships? What is worship? When do we worship? Where do we worship? Why do we worship?
- Visit other denominations and learn about their beliefs and practices.
- “If God Should Speak” This is a girl saying the Lord’s Prayer, and “God” answers her. Using this dialogue can be quite thought provoking. Either two leaders should read the parts, or a leader and a senior girl. I have seen many different versions of this over the years, but my favourite part is still when God says: “Praying is a dangerous thing. You could wind up changed, you know.”
- Ask the girls about people they know, or know of who’s lives demonstrate a strong faith in God. This could include historical people, as well as parents or grandparents, people in the community, teachers, etc. I often share the story of Jean Vanier and the L’Arche communities that he has created.
- In a book called “Goof-Proof Skits” there is a skit called “All the Answers”. This is about a girl, Brenda, looking at universities. She is trying to decide where she should attend. The girl starts to pray and God answers her. Throughout their dialogue, God is telling Brenda how she should act, and God’s will for her and her life.
Discuss how our faith affects our daily lives.
- I’ve also used a rock, sponge, and some water. In this activity, I compare how the Word of God won’t affect someone with a hard heart (stone), but can affect someone with the right heart (sponge). Put the rock in the centre of the table and talk about how it represents someone with a hard heart. Spray it with some water and discuss the changes. The water just rolls off. It will not soak in.
Then place the sponge in the centre of the table. Discuss what it looks like, and how it is to represent someone with an open heart. Spray it with some water and point out how the water is soaked up. Just like if we keep an open heart, we will to open to truly “Know God”.
Part of our Purpose is to “Serve Others”, but how do we serve others? The groups I’ve been involved with have done so many things over the years that it’s hard to know where to start. Years ago we had a “Babysitting Course” from the Red Cross, now we tend to do First Aid Training instead. We have gone and helped at the Food Bank, studied Missionaries and how they have “served others”. We’ve had baking nights where we bake cookies or muffins for community schools in our neighbourhood.
The following are a few of the many scriptures I have used with “Serve Others”. I like to emphasize that we are all one family and that we need to look after each other and help each other – this includes respecting the earth for future generations.
John 15: 12 – 15 (Here Jesus tells us that we are no longer servants, but friends)
John 13: 34, 35 (Love one another)
Matthew 5: 14 – 16 (Don’t hide your light, let it shine)
This is a list of some of the activities we have taken on over the years to “Serve Others”. It is by no means a finite list. Each group adds to it, however, there are also many that we do every year.
- Present the Vesper Service in a Senior’s Complex or Nursing Home
- Carol and visit at a hospital
- Help out at teas at the Church or other locations
- Offer free babysitting for Church events in the evenings
- Collect food for the Food Bank
- Gift wrapping – money went to the Food Bank
- Secret Pals
- Help clean up the Church or Church camp
- Take part in Church services: ushering, reading, greeting
- Heart and Stroke walks/Cancer walks/etc
- Adopt a Family at Christmas and provided them with Christmas meals and gifts
- Pancake Supper – ours went to support a local eating disorder centre