Pay It Forward: Free Youth Group Lesson

Pay It Forward: Free Youth Group Lesson

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What if we took a week to live out the parable of the talents?  What if we tried to take a couple dollars and make an impact on our world?

When we did this lesson in our group, the outcome was really interesting.  Students found themselves really alert and ready to use the money and the stories were inspiring.  One bought a $5 Bible (just happened to be on sale) for someone that didn’t have one.  She went through and highlighted verses that she knew would speak to the challenges her friend was facing.  Another held onto the money for 2 months and then saw an opportunity to use it for a friend in need – how many times does a lesson stick with a student that long?

Lesson Objective:   Expectant, Specific Prayer, Investment, Obedience with God’s gifts,

Scripture:  Matthew 25:14-15 (The Parable of the Talents)

Teaching Points:

  •       We have been given a great gift called Jesus and we need to pay it forward.  It is the simple idea of changing our world by touching one life at a time.
  •       In 2000, there was a movie out that really affected anyone that saw it – it was called “Pay it Forward”.  In the movie, a 7th grade class is challenged by their teacher to think of an idea to change the world and act on it.  It is an extra credit assignment in social studies and Trevor, the main character, gets an idea.  His idea is called pay it forward.  This is how it works.

Video clip from Pay It Forward: (1:19 just the assingment explanation)  or (2:45 more explanation of storyline)

  •       The idea is great and the movie is the story of a life, touching a life, touching a life to make a difference in our world. Trevor invests in three people, who touch people, and so on.  It’s a great story, but it’s not a new idea.  Jesus had his own pay it forward.  He invested in 12 men that in turn changed the world.   He explains this investment in a parable found in Matthew.

** Explain what parables are and how Jesus used them to teach.

Parable of the talents from Matthew 25:14-15 (AMP),

14″Again,(he’s saying this because he is continuing to teach on the same thing) it (it refers to the kingdom of God) will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey

  •       “Talents” which are our abilities/gifts/talents.  We all have different abilities as Jesus states to his disciples.  It is implied that they all won’t have the same results but the master expects them to faithful with what they were given.
  •       There is more to the story because when the master returns, the servants will be held accountable for how they have used the gifts.  He has invested in them and now they need to use those talents wisely – the key is they need to use them.  They need to pay it forward.

Main Illustration:

  •       As Jesus has invested in you, he has entrusted you with talents according to your abilities and he wants you to use them for his glory.  He expects you to pay it forward.  Just as the master gave his servants money, I’m going to give you money and I want you to figure out how to pay it forward.
  •       These five $1 coins represent the 5 talents given to the servant.  I am entrusting you to do discover what God would have you do with it – according to your gifts/abilities – to change your world.  As with the parable, there is risk here.  You could go out and buy some mountain dew OR you could discover God’s direction and take action on it which will require boldness and commitment.

Prayer Time:

  •       For the next 20 minutes, I want you to find a place to pray and you are going to be specific.  Hold these “talents” in your hands and ask God what he would have you do with them?  Seriously.  You’ll need to listen.  Whatever God says – write it down and take it to your group where your leaders will discuss this more in-depth with you.

**During prayer time, please roam and be aware. Be realistic enough to know that some kids will choose to take this seriously and others will not.  Your presence will help keep focus.

Small Group Discussion:

  •      What did you think when you were first given the money?
  •      What does it mean to invest in something or someone?
  •      Have you ever invested your time or money into something or someone?
  •      In your prayer time, what did God ask you to do?  (don’t ask – did you hear God – assume that they did)

Have students share what God has told them to do.

  • This is the exciting part.  I truly believe God will speak and the Holy Spirit will move among them.  They will be excited to share what they have been told to do.
  • You may find some students have similar direction and it may be that God wants them to pool their money to do something together
  • If they didn’t hear God tell them what to do:
    • they may keep the money in expectation that He will tell them
    • or they can give the money to someone that has been given direction.
  • Don’t take the money back…it will only make the point more poignant next week if they wasted it.  I’m willing to risk the $5.00.

If you have time, you can discuss:

  • What’s the difference between humanitarian charity (the movie’s idea) and paying it forward in a godly way?  Does it matter which we do if people are still helped?

Sharing Between Weeks:

Create a way for them to share their stories with each other as they act on God’s direction this week.  a facebook page would be a great option.


Pray a prayer of boldness over your kids as they step out to pay it forward for Christ.

Followup Week

Finish the story in Matthew 25: 16-27, use another clip from the movie Pay It Forward

Teaching Points:

  •       Two servants saw this as an opportunity to serve their master, one saw it as an opportunity to fail.
  •       Investment involves a certain level of risk and provides the possibility of generating returns over a period of time.


  •      Why do you think some people are afraid to step out – even if things are bad?
  •      Some of you are still looking for the way that God wants you to use your talents, but I know that some of you have used them this past week.  I’d like to invite you to come and share your story.  SHARE.
  •      How do you see the talents God has given you?  Do you see it as an opportunity to change your world OR do you see it as one more way to fail?


With God as our master, we can’t fail!  May we all desire to hear these words from our master: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Needed Supplies:

  •       $5 for each student (or have each student bring $5).  To really make the point, have $5 in gold $1 coins for each student.  A lesson on investment requires investment.  It is a bit of a cost, but the result is amazing.
  •       Journals and pen/pencils
  •       Video clip from Pay it Forward


One Response

  1. Thank you for spreading the gospel..I have been teaching teens and young adults for 10 years and I enjoy seeing there life’s changed .God is good

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