Monday, November 26, 2012

"Here I Raise My Ebenezer" Youth Retreat Idea, or Extended Bible Study

Samuel the PROphet

Optional Spiritual Autobiography Retreat


Use this section as a retreat or as a mini-series during your weekly meetings.


Sample Schedule

Friday night – bonfire, campfire games, session 1, board games

Saturday – breakfast, session 2, activity/board games, lunch, camp activity, session, 3, dinner, session 4, flashlight hide and seek, movie, board games

Sunday – breakfast, session 5

Session 1 – Friday night

Praise songs (lyric sheets included at the end of the retreat section) – “Every Move I Make”

“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”


Tell us one thing we don’t know about you.


Read 1 Samuel 7:2-12.

What was an Ebenezer? An Ebenezer is a monument set up to show how far God has helped you.

God helped the Israelites fight and beat the Philistines up to a certain point, so Samuel raised the Ebenezer there.

This weekend, we’re going to be raising our Ebenezers. God is working in our lives all the time, but we don’t always notice it when it’s happening. Writing our spiritual autobiographies will help us look back and see what God has done for us and in us. We’ll see how far God has helped us.

What did the people have to do for God to help them against the Philistines?

1. They had to turn to God (verses 2-4). Part of writing our spiritual autobiographies will be remembering when we turned to God, or when we turned back to God.

2. They had to confess their sins (verse 6). Part of writing our spiritual autobiographies will be remembering and talking about times when we have sinned and made mistakes.

3. They recognized the challenge (verse 7). We’ll also be talking about challenges and scary times that have come up in our lives.

4. They asked God for help (verses 8-9). We’ll talk about times God has helped us and times He hasn’t.

5. They took action. They knew what they had to do and they did it. We’ll talk about the things God is asking us to do as well.

Hand out Writing a Spiritual Autobiography instructions and journals and give time to work on them.

Praise songs – “Awesome God”

“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Writing a Spiritual Biography

The goal is to make notes on every major event in your childhood and teenage years. You will then share your story with the group.

The best way to tell your story is to go in order. Here are some questions to start you thinking.

For each event, think about such things as:

How old were you?

Where did you live? What happened there?

What did God have to do with what was happening in your life? (Hint: God was doing something. Take a moment to reflect on what it may have been.)

In what ways did you experience God?

What did you do well?

What mistakes did you make?


Address these questions as they come up in your story:

When did you first hear about God?

When did you first believe in Him?

When did God become an important part of your life?

Have you ever doubted God? Why?

Have you ever made God a less important part of your life? What made you decide to give Him a more important place in your life again?

Session 2 – Saturday morning

Praise songs – “Every Move I Make”

“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”


Tell a favorite story about your family.

What did God have to do with your story?

Who is the most religious person in your family? The least?


Read Genesis 12:1-5.

What did it cost Abraham to go on this journey?

So God told Abraham to go on this journey. Did Abraham know where he was going? No.

So what was Abraham’s goal? To go where God led him.

Abraham’s goal was to keep going wherever God led him. He didn’t want to stall, or get lost, or get stuck in one place. He started on his journey right away and he wanted to get where God was leading him.

We’re on a journey too. We’re on a spiritual journey with God. We might not know everything that’s going to happen to us in life on our journey, but our goal is follow God and not get stalled, or lost, or stuck on the way, but to keep going forward.

How could we get stalled, lost, or trapped on our spiritual journey?

Read Hebrews 12:1-2.

The big thing that hinders us in our journey, that stalls us, makes us get lost, or trapped, is sin. When we sin, when we don’t follow God and what He wants for us in life, we lose our way on the journey.

So Abraham starts out on this journey. What did God promise him in return? That God would bless him and that he would be a blessing to others.

God will bless us too, if we follow Him in our spiritual journey.

What does it mean to bless others?

How can you be a blessing to others?


Give time to work on spiritual autobiography journals.

Leader shares spiritual autobiography. Pass out Listening to a Spiritual Autobiography instructions.

Listening to a Spiritual Biography


As you listen, think about the following questions. Take notes if you like.


1. How is this person’s story like your own? How is it different?




2. What questions do you want to ask this person about their story?




3. What can you learn about God from this person’s story?




4. What do you think are this person’s spiritual gifts? How do you think God could use them?



Session 3 – Saturday afternoon

When have you experienced God? (Pass out sheet list.)


Read 1 Kings 18:16-40.

Elijah experience God in an amazing way. He won this great victory. And sometimes we experience God in some pretty amazing ways. But watch what happens next?

Read 1 Kings 19:1-10.

Elijah has just had this great time with God, doing this miracle, but now Elijah is feeling low. He’s depressed. Maybe he’s even doubting why God ever did this miracle in the first place. When have you doubted God?

Read 1 Kings 19:11-13.

Just like Elijah, we experience God in some big ways sometimes, and these are special times, but we know that God is also with us on a daily basis in a more subtle kind of way. How can you feel God’s presence every day?


Give students time to work on their spiritual autobiography journals.

Give a couple students time to share their spiritual autobiographies.



When have you experienced God?


In a mystical experience

When you accepted Christ

In a dream

While reading something in the Bible

In a worship service

In nature

While praying

Through music or art

Through a miracle

The Holy Spirit speaking to your heart

While talking to someone

Through an event or “coincidence”


Session 4 – Saturday evening

When you were little, who was the most important person in your life?

Who is the most important person in your life now?

Have you ever had a “spiritual friendship”, a friendship that was centered on helping each other with your faith? What would that kind of friendship be like?


Give students time to work on their spiritual autobiographies.

Give students time to share their spiritual autobiographies.


Praise songs – “Awesome God”

“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”


Session 5 – Sunday morning

What is the scariest to you? (Pass out sheet list.)

What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?


Read Genesis 22:1-18.

How has God provided for you in scary or hard times?

What can we learn about God during scary or hard times?


Finish sharing spiritual autobiographies.


Have students pass journals around. Each student writes something they admire about that person in their journal.


Have each student find a rock from the retreat center, decorate it with their names and other designs in permanent marker and then bring them to the youth room to make an Ebenezer pile of stones in remembrance of the weekend.


What is the scariest to you?



Scuba diving

Hang gliding

Diving in a submarine

Rock climbing

Mountain biking

Sea kayaking

Bungee jumping


Awesome God




Our God is an awesome God, He reigns

From Heaven above with wisdom, power, and love.

Our God is an awesome God.


Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing


Verse 1                    

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come, Thou fount of every blessing,

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.

Streams of mercy never ceasing

Call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet

Sung by flaming tongues above.

Praise His Name, I’m fixed upon it,

Name of God’s redeeming love.


Verse 2

Here I raise my Ebenezer,

Hither by Thy help I’m come

And I hope by Thy good pleasure

Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,

Wandering from the fold of God.

He to rescue me from danger

Interposed His precious blood.


Verse 3

Oh to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be.

Let Thy grace now, like a fetter,

Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,

Prone to leave the God I love.

Here’s my heart, Oh, take and seal it,

Seal it for Thy courts above.


Every Move I Make


Every move I make, I make in You.

You make me move, Jesus.

Every breath I take, I breathe in You.

Every step I take, I take in You.

You are my way, Jesus.

Every breath I take in You, I breathe in You.


Waves of mercy, waves of grace,

Everywhere I look, I see Your face.

Your love has captured me.

Oh my God, this love, how can it be?


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