Using Elf to Explore “Who Are You?”
Will Ferrell plays “Buddy,” a full grown, full size man who was raised at the North Pole as an elf. As Buddy goes about the search of trying to find out who he is, we explore our own identities, asking ourselves “who are we?” and “are we as God intended?” Russ Pearson provides this lesson to help us answer the question “Who Are You?”
“Who are You?”
Topic for Conversation: This movie clip study deals with the question of our identity. Buddy the Elf is confronted with the notion that he is not actually an elf for the first time in his life. Our identity is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Sometimes this can be a hard concept to grasp, especially for youth. We are called by Christ and each posses gifts of the Spirit to bring joy to the world and to glorify God. Through this short study youth will be challenged to understand their gifts a bit better and to get a better understanding of their identity as children of God.
Age group/intended group for discussion: Middle or High School Youth Group
Time frame: 45 minutes- 1 hour
Film (Title, year, director, availability – sources and formats): Elf, 2003, Jon Favreau (director), DVD, Blue Ray, and Netflix (as of December 2012)
Scene(s) to use: Chapter 3 on DVD, “A Special Elf”, Time frame 8:57- 14:39
Description of scene(s): In this scene Buddy the Elf learns the truth about his identity as a human. It begins with Buddy making toys and not fulfilling his quota. The other elves try to lift him up by naming other gifts he has such as changing batteries. During the process of finding a spot for him at the North Pole, Buddy overhears two elves saying he is human. This shakes his world as he thinks of all the times he has not fit into the elf world. He then talks to his father, Papa Elf, where he hears the truth about who he is. He then wants to go to New York City to find his father, and find himself.
How to set up clip viewing: This scene is towards the beginning of the movie and really explains many things about the journey Buddy is about to embark on. Begin by telling the group that this movie is about an Elf named Buddy who is a human that was abandoned as a child. One Christmas Eve night in his orphanage Santa comes and begins to eat some cookies. Buddy climbs out of his crib and goes after a toy in Santa’s bag. He eventually ends up at the North Pole where the elves and Santa take him in as one of their own. This clip begins with Buddy as a worker in Santa’s shop where he struggles to find his true gifts, all the while oblivious that he is human.
Questions to ask Youth before watching clip:
1. How many “Etch a Sketches” was Buddy off?
2. What do the elves say to make Buddy feel better?
3. How does Buddy feel when he is labeled as special?
4. How does Buddy feel when he overhears he is human?
5. What questions run through his head when he is confronted with this idea?
6. For those that have seen the movie: What are some of Buddy’s gifts?
View the clip: Chapter 3 on DVD, “A Special Elf”, Time frame 8:57- 14:39
Theological conversation after viewing:
1. Write the 6 questions on a newsprint or chalkboard ahead of time. Let youth answer these questions, give out candy canes for answers.
2. Turn to 1 Corinthians 12:12-21 “Spiritual Gifts” and read it together. Split up the reading among the group if you want.
3. Say “ According to this passage we are all one because we were baptized by the same Spirit into one body”
4. Discussion questions:
a. How do these verses relate to Buddy in this scene?
b. What gifts do the other elves possess?
c. Have you ever felt less of a person because someone can do something better than you? Ask youth to explain if they will
5. Say” Paul has some good words for Buddy. We are all one with different gifts. Just because Buddy cannot make toys like the other elves does not make him less of a person. In the same way, you are who you are because God made you who you are. You do not have to be somebody else for God to love you, and you shouldn’t be somebody else to make your friends like you. Having this confidence is hard but we are assured in these verses that God is with us, that God has given us unique gifts, and these gifts must be used.”
6: Activities- Do at least one depending on time.
Option 1: If your group knows each other pretty well do this activity: Sit in a circle and start with one youth. This youth must be quiet while others share things they like about them. This
can be something they are good at, or just a general “I like you because you are You”.
Option 2: : Split into group of 2-4 depending on size. Let each small group come up with a list of gifts they think are important in the church and explain why each of these are important. Some examples could be : patience, joy, singing, listening, etc.
Option 3: Give each youth a note card or piece of paper and pen. Tell them to write their name at the top of the paper. Underneath tell them to answer the question “Who are you?” They can make a list or write sentences. Encourage them to think of things besides sports (at least for middle school boys!)
Close the session:
Gather in a circle for a prayer. Ask youth to put their hands in front of them and put their thumbs to the left. This should allow for youth to place on hand above their neighbor’s hand and the
other hand below. This is a simple way to show that you are supporting each other. You can also relate the part where the elves tried to lift up Buddy after messing up. We are a family and called by God to love each other.
Close with this prayer or make up your own: Loving God, You have called all of us together to lift each other up. We thank you for stories like Buddy’s where others show their love in our time of need. Help us to also find our identity in You and to explore our own gifts that you have given us. We thank you for being with us here and everyday on our faith journey. Continue to guide us as we seek You. In the name of Emmanuel, God with us, Amen.