Change text size: A A A Change contrast: Normal Dark Light
Related Bible reading(s): Mark 10.17-31

Explore and respond

Ways to engage different ages, spiritual styles and learning preferences

Ideas for a sermon or interactive talk

See also Thought for the week to read out in place of a sermon; and 'The week in focus', linking the readings to the news. 

  • I once knew a family with a disabled son who required constant care. To secure his future they sold up their home and raised money to establish a house in which he and a handful of other disabled people and carers could live securely. Although this is not a story about giving up everything to follow Jesus, is it perhaps an example of the kind of sacrifice Jesus speaks of, and also of the unintended (at the beginning) and positively wonderful consequences of doing so? Do you know other stories of people who have risked all for a different future?
  • Which is the true me? Most of us present ourselves carefully to God and the world. But if God knows us and loves us, why might trusting in him completely be such a risk? What if trusting all to God doesn’t diminish or restrict our lives but enhances them? So, what holds us back from committing totally to God? After all, God has committed himself completely to his creation and to us in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  • Can a camel fit through the eye of a needle? (There is a fun YouTube clip that explores getting a camel through the eye of a needle.) The rich young ruler seemed to be doing everything he could to earn eternal life. He followed the laws and thought that the effort he put in and the way he lived his life would tick all of the boxes. But then Jesus said something that changed everything for him. A humorous comment (what might a modern equivalent be in your context?), but a serious message. What might get in the way of our entering the kingdom of God?
  • In this passage, people make choices. The rich young man chose to follow the laws for most of his life. He had another choice to make when Jesus suggested that he sell all he had in order to inherit eternal life. The disciples also made choices, as Peter points out towards the end of the passage, declaring that they (the disciples) left everything to follow Jesus. Jesus commended them, but that doesn’t mean eternal life is the result of completing a tick list of requirements. So, what is the answer? The real answer is back in verse 27: for humans it is impossible; only God can make it happen. And the real wise choice is to be in a right relationship with God by making Jesus a priority, and weighing up all other choices through the lens of the characteristics of Jesus and his lifestyle.
  • The Gospel passage ends with (another) statement reflecting the revolutionary nature of God’s kingdom, where the ‘first will be last, and the last first’. What would that look like in our church and society? How can we tell if we are genuinely living it?


Thought for the week

Read out in place of a sermon if you wish.

The story of the rich young man could be seen to be saying that rich people cannot have eternal life or a share in God’s kingdom. Jesus is quite clear in his direction: go and sell everything; and, of course, ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ So, are all rich people doomed? And how rich is rich?  

Look a little more closely and we see that the man’s problem was not the fact that he had great wealth, but the importance this had in his life. Jesus’ directive to give up his riches was not a statement about wealth or even lifestyle per se; it was a challenge about what took priority in the man’s life. And that was his wealth. Although he wanted to inherit eternal life, and although he knew God’s commandments and the Law of Moses, his riches were more important to him.  

Why was this? Perhaps it was the status, security, comfort or power they gave him. But we needn’t dwell on that question, because again it is not those things of themselves that caused the problem. Whatever it was, it got in the way of his relationship with God. It prevented him developing or deepening that relationship. That is the challenge posed here. Whatever it is that gets in the way of developing or deepening our relationship with God is the equivalent for us of the rich man’s wealth. Will we take up the challenge to reflect on our lives and see if there is anything that qualifies?   

Having said that – and as good and important as such personal reflection and subsequent repentance is – there is something else we need to note from this passage. And that is the camel – the camel and the eye of a needle. We don’t need to explain it, it is a proverb. We just need to understand the concept: some things are just not possible. No one can earn the right to eternal life. The rich man stood no chance – and not because of his riches. It is not possible. 

Not possible for mortals, for humans, that is. But with God, all things are possible. Jesus’ words remind us that God’s kingdom is open to everyone who puts God at the centre of all they do – even though we know that this is, and always will be, work in progress! 


All age act of worship Session

Active worship

Play Buckaroo!™

A way to think about having too many burdens

  • Play a game of Buckaroo!™ If you don’t have, or can’t borrow the game, you could show part of a video demonstration (e.g. from 4:00 to 9:40, or 10:00 to 11:10).

    The game involves loading a horse with lots of different items until the horse ‘bucks’ and sheds all the items.

  • Like the rich man who came to Jesus, or the overloaded Buckaroo!™ horse, if we carry too much ‘stuff’ it may cause a problem. Invite people to spend a few moments thinking about whether there are things in their lives that are, or risk becoming, so important that they might get in the way of their relationship with God or developing this relationship further.
  • In small groups, invite people to discuss and share one or two ideas for keeping their lives in proper balance. W E A


A simple worship activity

A hymn-based opportunity for reflection and devotion

  • Choose one of these methods to present the hymn ‘Take my life and let it be’:
    – listen to a recording of a choir singing it.
    – display a video clip of the song with words projected.
    – speak the words with the tune playing in the background.
  • Choose one or more of these reflective or devotional activities:
    – give out paper and pens; invite people to respond by drawing any kind of image they wish.
    – give out play dough or modelling clay; invite people to make a model that represents something they would like to offer to God.
    – give out paper and pens; invite people to write down specific things from their own ‘riches’ (e.g. time, resources, skills) that they can offer to God. W E S A


Make a wise heart

Explore the things that fill our hearts.

 You will need: A4 paper, scissors, pencils; copies of the instructions ‘How to make an origami heart’.

  • Give everyone a sheet of paper and a copy of the origami instructions.
  • First, ask people to write down things they hold in their heart, e.g. God, family, relationships, things they are passionate about.
  • When they have finished, invite them to follow the instructions and make a heart. W E S A



Activity sheet 


 Drama: The man who has everything


Spiritual styles abbreviations
W Word E Emotion S Symbol A Action
Read our Spiritual Styles articles
General information and website help
020 3887 8916
Roots for Churches Ltd
86 Tavistock Place
Registered Charity No. 1097466
Subscription services
020 3887 8916
Roots for Churches Ltd
Unit 12, Branbridges Industrial Estate,
East Peckham TN12 5HF
Stay in touch
The ROOTS ecumenical partnership
Bringing together Churches and other Christian organisations since 2002
© Copyright 2002-2024, ROOTS for Churches Ltd. All rights reserved. Print ISSN: 2040-4832 and 2635-280X; Online ISSN: 2635-2818.
This resource is taken from and is copyright © 2002-2024 ROOTS for Churches.