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For The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta
By Sally Ulrey

Key verses: Genesis 16:13

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now
seen the One who sees me.”

Objective: To help youth understand who God is by looking at the names people gave God
in the Bible through their experiences with God.
The Set up: Minimal

The Plan:
 Hook: The Story of Your Name (15 mins)
o Look up the meanings of all the youth’s names, and let the youth tell the story of why they
were named what they were
 Book: Stories of God’s Names (15 mins)
o Look at some of the names people gave God in the Bible and why
 Look: Naming God (10 mins)
o Give youth time to think of their own name for God based on their own relationship with God
and what God has done for them
 Took: Named in Scripture (20 mins)
o Using a concordance (10 mins), find a Scripture that goes along with the name for God the youth made
o Painting God’s Name (OPTIONAL AS TIME PERMITS, 10+ mins): Create a painting depicting that name
The Supplies:
 Copy of lesson
 Bibles
 Concordance OR AV Equipment with internet access if using an online concordance
 Flip Chart/White Board and Marker
 Small canvases, like these:
 Paint & Paint brushes
 Water cups
 Table covers

The Preparation:
 Look up the meanings of the youth’s names in advance:
 Familiarize yourself with the stories of God’s names presented in the lesson
 Be prepared to give an example of your own name for God
 Have a way to use a concordance (online or in Bibles)
 Optional as time permits: Set up a painting area
“What’s in a Name?” by Sally Ulrey
for the Diocese of Atlanta
The Story of Your Name (Hook, 15 mins)
In this section, youth will find out the meaning of their name, and tell the story of how they got their name.
This is a great get-to-know-you activity, but it also will lead into some of the stories of the names given to God
in the Bible, which will help us better understand God’s character and relationship to humanity.

 On the whiteboard/flip chart, write your own name: First, Middle, (Maiden), Last. Take about 2 mins:
o Tell the meaning of your name (see here:
o Tell any stories you know about how you got your name (was it a family name passed down, did
your parents just like it, etc.)

 LEADER TIP: Be mindful of the amount of time you have for this activity and how many kids are in the room
and need to also share; keep your example concise. If you have more than about 7-8 kids, you will need to
split them into small groups and have them share in small groups instead of with the large group.

 Instruct the youth to write their names on the board/flipchart and take about 2 mins or less to share:
o What their name means (if they don’t know, you should have looked this up in advance for
most of the ones you knew would come)
o Any stories of how they got their name/where their name came from

Transition: For most of you, sharing the story of your name told us something about you that we didn’t
already know…something about your family or your history or what you think of the name you were given.
You didn’t choose your name but it can still tell us something about you.

Many people in the Bible gave God names, and those names tell us something about God, and God’s
relationship to God’s people. Some of the names God has in the Bible were names God told us about Godself.
A lot of the names of God were given to God through a relationship with a person. We’re going to look at
some of those stories when believers gave God a name to show something they learned about who God
is…and hopefully, we can learn some things, too.

“What’s in a Name?” by Sally Ulrey

for the Diocese of Atlanta
Stories of God’s Names (Book, 15 mins)
In this section, we take a look at several stories where human beings gave God a name based on their
relationship with God and what God did for them/meant to them. These names that humans gave God can
help us understand better who God is.

 Recruit 6 volunteers to look up and read the following verses (below for your reference) (5 mins):
o Exodus 17:15
o Judges 6:24
o 1 Samuel 7:12
o Genesis 22:14
o Ezekiel 48:35
o Genesis 16:13

Exodus 17:15 (NIV)

Moses built an altar and called it The L ORD is my Banner.

Judges 6:24 (NIV)

So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD Is Peace.

1 Samuel 7:12 (NIV)

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, [a] saying, “Thus far
the LORD has helped us.”

Genesis 22:14 (NIV)

So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of
the LORD it will be provided.”

Ezekiel 48:35 (NIV)

…“And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE.”

Genesis 16:13 (NIV)

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now
seen[c] the One who sees me.”

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

“What’s in a Name?” by Sally Ulrey

for the Diocese of Atlanta
Mini-Lecture (10 mins):

1. Exodus 17:15—Moses named God “The Lord is my Banner” (Jehovah/Yahweh Nissi).

Context: The Israelites are wandering around in the desert with no protection, no real housing,
vulnerable. The Amalekites (another people group who lived around there) took advantage of their
vulnerability and attacked them, but God helped the Israelites win. Moses called God “The Lord is my
Banner”…a banner was a flag in the army that would help people know where to go and how to fight.
God was helping direct them (like a banner would) so they could win.
Bottomline: Through this experience, Moses learned that God would protect them when they were
vulnerable, and would fight for them to help them overcome the things that were against them.

2. Judges 6:24—Gideon called God “The Lord is my Peace” (Jehovah/Yahweh Shalom).

Context: The Philistines were oppressing the Israelites (this is a little later when they had moved into
the Promised Land, so they weren’t quite as vulnerable, but they also weren’t totally united all the
time, and the Philistines were stronger). The Lord was looking to rescue the people from the Philistine
oppression, so God appeared to Gideon, but Gideon didn’t realize it was the Lord. Gideon knew
enough about God’s holiness to know that God can’t be around sin, and Gideon knew enough about
himself to know that he wasn’t perfect. So after he realized that God had appeared to him, he
assumed he should die and wasn’t deserving of pardon (God’s holiness doesn’t mix well with human
sin, and all), but God told him “Peace…don’t be afraid” And so Gideon named God “The Lord is my
Peace”….which is also what God was doing for the whole nation…about to bring them peace from their
Bottomline: when our lives are in turmoil, God offers peace, even when we don’t feel we deserve it.

3. 1 Samuel 7:12—Samuel set up a stone altar at the place where God had helped them, calling it
“Ebenezer” from eben=stone + ezer=help; Stone of Help
Context: The Philistines were at it again, threatening Israel, and the Israelites had assembled to fight
them but they were SCARED! They asked Samuel (prophet, leader, man of God) to pray for them, and
he did. The Lord showed up and made the sky thunder, and the Philistines were in a panic and the
Israelites won miraculously. Samuel set up a stone to commemorate the place where they had prayed
to the Lord for help, and God answered them with the help they needed. “Stone of help” they called it.
Bottomline: Samuel and the Israelites learned that when they turned to God and asked for help, God
gave it…not always in the way they expected (thunder), and they still had to DO something (fight the
battle), but God showed up and gave help.

4. Genesis 22:14—Abraham named God “The Lord will Provide” (Jehovah/Yahweh Jireh).
Context: God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, the son God had promised to Abraham,
through whom God promised the world would be blessed, through whom God would give Abraham
many descendants. So Abraham obeyed, but that sure was a weird command. Well, at the last
minute, God provided a ram to be used for the sacrifice instead of Isaac. So Abraham named God “The
Lord will Provide” because he provided a substitute.
Bottomline: Abraham learned that God provides what we need, sometimes at the very last second, but
we can trust God to provide.

“What’s in a Name?” by Sally Ulrey

for the Diocese of Atlanta
5. Ezekiel 48:35—Ezekiel named God “The Lord is There” (Jehovah/Yahweh Shammah).
Context: The Babylonians had conquered the Israelites, destroyed their temple, and carried them off
into exile in Babylong. Ezekiel was in exile in Babylon when he had a vision of a new rebuilt city and
temple, and they would call it “The Lord is There.” This was especially meaningful to all the Jews who
were exiled in Babylon because it gave them hope, not only that one day they would return, but also
that God had not abandoned them, that God was still with them. That was a message they definitely
needed to hear when they felt that God might be far away.
Bottomline: Ezekiel and the Jews in Exile learned that even when God feels far away, God is THERE with

6. Genesis 16:13—Hagar named God “The God who Sees Me” (El Roi).
Context: Abraham had been promised that he would have a child with Sarah, but it had been years
since that promise was given, and still no child. So Sarah suggested that Abraham have a baby with her
handmaid (legally, the children of the handmaid/slave belonged to her mistress/owner, so Hagar’s
children would legally be considered Sarah’s). (They were trying to do God’s job for God). Well as soon
as Hagar was pregnant, Sarah was jealous and resentful, and mistreated Hagar. This mistreatment
continued so that Hagar fled the abuse into the desert. God met her there in her moment of despair.
And she named God, “The God who Sees Me” since no one else in her life actually saw her for a human
Bottomline: Hagar learned that God sees her, everything she was going through, everything that she
was, saw her as a person when no one else did, no one else cared, and no one else understood.

 Summarize: we can learn about who God is from God’s Names, specifically from the names others gave
to God because of what God had done in their relationship with God.

Transition: We can learn so much about who God is from God’s Names, specifically from the names others
gave to God, because of what God had done in their relationships with God. Some of them are really beautiful
and meaningful, too. So now we’re going to look at what YOU would name God based on YOUR relationship
with God, how YOU have experienced God, and what God has done for YOU…

“What’s in a Name?” by Sally Ulrey

for the Diocese of Atlanta
Naming God (Look, 10 mins)
In this section, the youth will explore their own names for God, thinking about how they experience God in
their lives. They’ll reflect on their own relationship with God, what God has done for them, and how they
personally experience God’s presence in their own lives.

Instructions (15 mins):

 Pass out the paper and pens. Instruct them to reflect over their lives, their own relationships with God,
when they’ve felt close to God, how they’ve experienced God, or what God has done for them.
 Once they have spent a little bit of time reflecting, have them write down what they would name God
and why, based on their relationship with God.

 LEADER TIP: Be prepared to give your own example of what you would name God and why, based on your
own personal experiences with God through relationship.

 Have each youth share their name for God and tell a little bit about why. If you have a really big group,
put the youth in groups of 4-6, and have them share this with their small group.

Transition: Hopefully this has helped you realize all the ways that God loves you and is there for you.
Experiencing God’s presence in your life can be very personal and meaningful, and it’s supposed to be! It was
throughout the biblical narrative, and it still is today. Now we’re going to personalize your name for God a
little bit more…

“What’s in a Name?” by Sally Ulrey

for the Diocese of Atlanta
Named in Scripture (Took, 20 mins)
This section will help youth personalize their name for God in a way that they can literally and figuratively
carry with them, as they create a piece of artwork depicting their own name for God. It will also help them
learn about and use some Bible study tools (which is always a good Christian life skill to have), namely a
concordance. If you don’t have Bibles that have concordances in them, be prepared to use Google.

Concordance (10 mins):

 If using an actual concordance
o Pass them out
o Show the students how to use them by giving them the example of looking up the term “peace”
(if their name for God has something to do with peace, here’s how they might connect that to a
favorite Scripture). It will give them references of all the major (unless it’s an exhaustive
concordance, and then it will give them ALL) uses of the word “peace” in the Bible. They can
look those up, and pick their favorite reference, and they’ll incorporate that into their project.
 If using an online concordance
o Get the AV Equipment (with internet) ready to display
o Show them how to look up “peace” (they can type it into the top bar, making sure it is set to
“Bible” not “Topical” or something else. They can also type it into the search box in the middle
of the page next to the “Bible” button).
o Show them the major references to “peace”. These are not in biblical order, but are in the
order of the most used/relevant verses.
o Online, it’s easy to just click the reference to look it up
 Allow them to use their concordance to search for a Scripture connecting to the Name they gave God
in the next section. You can also allow them to use their phones, so not everyone is trying to use the
same computer/book.
 Give them a chance to share the Scripture they found that connects to their name for God.

Painting (OPTIONAL AS TIME PERMITS—10+ mins):

 Once they have a Scripture, have them plan out how they want to depict their name of God and
Scripture on their canvas/painting.
 Send those who are ready to the painting table, and give them a canvas and paint.
 If they finish, have them share their work.

 LEADER TIP: Learning to use the concordance might take a significant amount of time, which means you
might run out of time for paint. That’s ok. They’ve had lots of classes on how to paint and lots of
opportunities to paint various things throughout their school careers. They may never have even heard of a
concordance. If you have to spend time on one and not the other, help them learn how to study the Bible.
They can paint at home or next week.

Close in Prayer, going around in a circle, and having each youth include their name for God. AMEN!

“What’s in a Name?” by Sally Ulrey

for the Diocese of Atlanta

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