There’s nothing more American than LEGOs…

which actually are from Denmark…

so never mind that.

It’s wild how many people have been looking forward to the LEGO Movie – not just kids, but teenagers, parents, grandparents and more. The movie “clicks” – not just on the level you hope for, but with some extra layers of insight that give you plenty to talk about. It’s an easy enough movie to just go and see with your youth group.

What if you built on that, though?


For example, our Middle School ministry met together at our local theater on the movie’s opening night. Afterward, we sat down over some pizza and talked about the movie’s plot. Without spoiling it for you, the basic concept is “Emmet,” a random construction character/mini-fig you might find in a LEGO set spontaneously becomes a part of a major quest. It involves some Matrix-like revolutionaries and “master builders” who think he’s “the Special.” When it appears he isn’t that person of influence, everyone wants to bail on him.

What tween or teen can’t relate to that?

The movie offers its own satire, along the way dropping appropriate jokes for all ages and several hidden gems that only adults might get. Along the way, we learn what the movie is really about – something I won’t spoil for you here.

Here are some questions that you can easily talk over as you’re yapping with your students in the car ride or over pizza:

  • Basic open-ended question: What did you like about the movie? Any surprises?
  • Who were some of your favorite characters? What about them did you like most?
  • If you could be an actual LEGO character for a day in the LEGO universe (or make up your own character), what pieces or special components would you have?
  • Could you relate at all to Emmet? In what ways does life seem sort of “ordinary?” Could you ever see yourself getting swept up into something “special?”
  • What are some things Emmet did to try to impress others? Have you ever done something to impress another person?
  • Emmet said, “When you told me I was important and special, that was the first time anybody had ever told me that.” Who is someone in your life who needs to hear this kind of encouragement from you today? Do you want to be encouraged right now by us?
  • One of the characters says that when it comes to Emmet’s ideas that the villains end up overlooking him because “they’re so dumb that no one expects them to work.” Do you think God uses ordinary people the same way?
  • The characters talk about their perspective of something else that’s out there – “the man upstairs.” What do you think people think of “the man upstairs” (God) in our world?
  • Imagine that God was to whisper something to you today – what might He tell you is “special” about you?

There are also a number of religious themes that the movie explores, as summarized by an article on the Huffington Post.

Did you see the movie? Any plans to?

What might be some other good takeaways? 

How do you reach the students who come in, don’t say a word, sit by themselves and leave as quickly and as silently as they entered?

Every ministry has students like these – here are a few ways to “go after them” and invite them to be a part of the ministry:

No on sits alone.
When you talk to your student leaders, make sure they know that “no one sits alone.” Determine that when someone visits for the first time (or the 21st time) they’re going to feel welcome. Prepare them with some basic questions to get the conversation going, and cast the vision time and time again: No one sits alone!

Consider adding a short greeting time.
We’ve recently added in a short greeting time (we stole the idea from big church), and have seen it work wonders. Put your core students on notice that everyone gets greeted, smiled at, and touched in some way. Adding a greeting time is a short and somewhat artificial taste of community, but it’s a chance to break down the walls of the wallflowers.

Add discussion questions to your program.
If you’re looking to build community in your youth service, what about inviting students to discuss the message right there in their row or at their table? If you’ve got a great volunteer in the room, make sure he/she ison the lookout to get everyone involved in the discussion, too.

Invite someone out for a Coke each week.
Ask God to direct you to the right student he wants you to give special attention to this week. When he points you to the right student, invite them out for a Coke and use the time to pour into them one-on-one. Most students who feel like losers or are lonely will find little help at a large group program, but would come alive across the table at Taco Bell.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

What makes a great small group discussion for you?  Is it the teens consistently talking?  Is it about controversial debates?  Is it one teen opening up about a huge issue in their life?  What makes a great small group discussion will differ from person to person; however, if what you are talking about isn’t bringing the group closer together and to Christ you might want to rethink structure and content.

While you can’t force deep and engaging conversation there are things you can do to create a framework that will make them possible.

Some of those factors are:

Preparing Your Team In Advance – Not that conversations need to be orchestrated; however, if you want teens to go deeper in certain areas of their faith you need to create a path to lead them down.  This means preparing your small group ministers to lead them.  Get them the questions out early enough, make sure they don’t have any questions and give them resources to widen their knowledge of the subject.

Setting Up The Right Environment – If teens are uncomfortable they’ll be distracted from engaging in conversation.  Make sure the room is clean, comfortable and set up for engaging conversation.

Embracing Silence – If it’s a heavy subject give them the time to process the question.  The tendency is to blow through the questions because silence is awkward; however, you might be cutting off a thought, question or idea that will move the discussion to a deeper level.

Gauging The Mood – It might not be the right night to talk about certain subjects; therefore, don’t force it.  If there is pushback on a subject ask the teens, “Why?” if they aren’t ready to talk about it, then have the conversation move to something they want to discuss.  By gauging the mood you are showing them that you care about what’s on their heart and mind.

Great discussions are ones that move us into a deeper relationship with one another.  However, don’t get frustrated if every small group isn’t profound and deep.  There are going to be times when you are amazed by what comes forth and others when you feel like a failure.  Small groups need to be organic, which means growth.  But a small group that grows through discussion is one that will strengthen and last.

What else can create great discussion in small group?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.