How confident would you say you are? When you’re met with a challenge or when someone asks you to do something, what goes through your mind?

  • Yeah! I can do that!
  • Ahhh! Hide me!
  • Why me, why me, why me?!
  • I guess I could try…
  • But… but…

What kinds of requests do you really like getting? What kinds do you want to avoid at all costs?

Read Judges 6:11-18, 25-27, 36-40

How confident does Gideon sound to you?

What kinds of doubts or fears does Gideon have? (vv. 13, 15, 17-18, 27)

What do you think of all of the requests Gideon made? (vv. 36-40)
Have you ever wanted to ask God similar questions?

Read Judges 7:1-22

Does anything in this story surprise you?

Why does God keep telling Gideon to thin out his army? (v. 2)
How many men are left by the end?

Was Gideon still afraid even after all the wet and dry fleeces?

What finally gives Gideon some confidence? (vv. 13-14)

Gideon isn’t your typical hero. He’s the smallest in his family. Maybe Gideon had a big, hairy brother named “Gidibig.” Why do you think God chose to work through Gideon of all people?

What about you?

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to do something that seemed too big or scary?
(standing up to someone, doing the “hard” thing instead of the “easy” thing, telling the truth, etc...)
What happened?

Read Augustine’s story

What do you think of Augustine?
Is he weird? daring? impressive? shifty-eyed? gutsy? something else?

Have you ever had to go through a change in your life that you didn’t like?

How do you think Augustine felt when the Pope told him he had to move to England from Rome?
He was respected in Rome. Now he had to move to a place where he was a nobody and had to do a pretty difficult job.

What do you think of the choices Augustine made when he was in England?
He sort of disobeyed the Pope. He was supposed to be really assertive and start preaching right away. Why do you think Augustine chose to do things differently? What seemed to be most important to Augustine?

Putting it together

Put Gideon and Augustine side by side in your mind.

How are they similar?

How are they different?

How did Gideon end up accomplishing his task?
How about Augustine?

Sometimes when God asks something of us, it doesn’t always happen the way we first think. Sometimes we might be afraid to even try because what God wants us to do seems too big. Sometimes we have to deal with a lot of pressure -- some people think they know what’s best and tell us how to live or talk or what we should care about.

The most important thing we can ever do is to listen to God and to love the people around us. God isn’t a flimsy human -- he knows the big picture of your situation and sees more than you do. We can trust God to help us make good decisions and to get through tough times because he cares about what we’re going through and what happens to us.

What kind of advice do you think Augustine would give us if he showed up at youth group?

Augustine of Canterbury

First Archbishop of Canterbury, died May 26, 605 AD

Today we remember Augustine, the first archbishop of Canterbury. In the year 596, he had an important job in a monastery in Rome. He would have been quite happy to remain in that position, but Pope Gregory the Great chose him to lead a mission to the Anglo-Saxons of England. The Pope asked Augustine to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity and to organize a system of churches in England.

Augustine traveled to England with 30 or 40 monks, and landed on the coast of the kingdom of Kent in the spring of 597. The local king had married a Christian wife from France, and she convinced him to let the missionaries enter the town of Canterbury and occupy a small, broken-down church, abandoned by British Christians when they fled from the invading Anglo-Saxons. The pagan king also allowed the Roman missionaries to preach the gospel without giving them any trouble.

Augustine was a reluctant missionary. He doubted his ability as a missionary and feared that if he tried to convert the people of Kent forcefully, they would reject him. Instead of actively proclaiming the gospel like Pope Gregory wanted him to, Augustine and the monks tried to become a normal part of life in the kingdom of Kent. They held liturgical church services just like they would have if they were still in Rome — wearing their church robes, reading scripture, praying, and celebrating the Eucharist. Any of the Anglo-Saxons who wished to join them were welcome, but Augustine and the monks did not go looking for converts. This strategy worked — within four years the king of Kent and the people who ruled under him were baptized as Christians. Pope Gregory could see that Augustine had acted wisely and made him Archbishop of Canterbury. By the time he died, on May 26, 605, the foundations of the English church were truly laid.

(Adapted from For All the Saints, 174.)

Rowan Williams, 104th Archbishop of Canterbury (2002-2012)

Justin Welby, 105th Archbishop of Canterbury