Written by:
Kelly Peterson-Cruse


In The Know

Suggestions for Youth Ministry

This lesson starts with “working the program” leading into the Ten Commandments as the foundational principles for living in community with others.  The podcast includes an interview with Joe Daniels, pastor of Emory Fellowship in Washington, DC.  Daniels is the author of Walking with Nehemiah: Your Community Is Your Congregation.  In the interview he talks about a program at his church called “WHOLE” which is to be WHOLE in the NAME of JESUS.  He breaks it down into the following areas, which he works on personally, and encourages his congregation to adapt.   This approach is a healthy way to lead into the Ten Commandments and apply them to Christian living.

W- Being Well Physically.  

  • With young people, try a physical challenge that all can participate in, such as some minutes of exercise per week that youth log and post on social media. Talk about how they are feeling about concentrated, intentional physical exercise.
  • Have your youth sign up for a walk or a run to earn money for one of your church’s ministries.  Train together, arranging walk and talks, or jogging sessions followed by cool downs and conversations.  Use the time to talk about the topics of this lesson.
  • Plan, shop, and cook together, focusing on nutrition and balanced diets.  Look at the snacks you are serving at youth group and consider better choices.

H- Healed Emotionally.

  • Spend some time having your youth explore their thoughts around feelings.  There is an exercise called the M&M activity. 


Although this involves candy (see “better choices” above), it is a conversation starter, and in the end they do get to eat the M & M’s. 

  • Gratitude journals and a place to doodle or draw allow young people to express themselves during discussions.

O- Obedient Spiritually

  • The next section on understanding and learning The Ten Commandments is a place to apply the foundations given to us in Christian living.
  • Teaching young people to read the Bible is not easy.  Traditional “Bible study” seems like work.  Sometimes it is helpful to have a verse of the week, helping them hear it and read it in different translations through Lectio Divina  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lectio_Divina   . 
  • Modeling different forms of prayers and praying often is important.
  • Group texting spiritual thoughts of the day through apps such as “Group Me” is a way to meet youth where they are.

L- Love Unconditionally

  • This piece allows you to put into practice what current research states is most effective with young people-- RELATIONSHIPS with young people.  The key is for adults to love the young people in your church unconditionally.  It's not enough to just know what they're doing - show up to what’s important to them - sports, band, theater, other hobbies and achievements in which they are involved.  It is said that for each youth, 5 people should commit to unconditional love and mentoring from 3rd grade through college. (Source Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church)

E- Empowered Financially

  • Teaching your youth group about money, budgeting, saving, and yes, tithing, is important to include in the development of the health of your youth group.

This lesson then moves on to the importance of the Ten Commandments.   “The Skit Guys” have an awesome Youtube video on the Ten Commandments.  I would show this as a lead-in to the discussion activities around the Ten Commandments. https://skitguys.com/videos/item/the-ten-commandments

Exodus 20:1-17.

STARTERS (15 minutes)


STEP ONE: Read through the Ten Commandments, looking for the ones that are the most challenging for you to follow.

  1. Worship only the Lord God.
  2. Don’t worship idols.
  3. Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
  5. Honor your parents.
  6. Do not commit murder.
  7. Do not commit adultery.
  8. Do not steal.
  9. Do not lie.
  10. Do not covet what other people have.

Discuss with one or two people, and then share with the whole group:

  • What did you discover about yourself as you identified the hardest commandments to follow?
  • What does your ‘two most challenging commandments’ say about you at this time in your life?

STEP TWO: List the four commandments that are hardest for you to follow.

STEP THREE: Look over the four you identified and write down two that most challenge you.


  • If your group has more than seven members, divide into groups of four to discuss the scripture passage. How does being part of a community of faith help you to meditate on the law?
  • What is the link between a person’s love of God and of neighbor? Making It Personal (10 minutes)
    • Similar to a rehab plan, the Ten Commandments were designed to strengthen the character of the Israelites. How do the practices of spiritual disciplines (prayer, worship, reading the Bible, acts of mercy, and so on) become a spiritual formation plan for allowing God to work in us and through us?
    • Oftentimes, the results of a diet or rehab plan seem so slow that we fail to notice them (even though others might). Might this also be the case when it comes to growth in maturity as a Christian? Go back to the thought of becoming WHOLE, have each young person write a personal plan.  


Ceramic of Moses provided by The Upper Room Museum.  Photo by YMC staff member Carol Ann Smolka.