The gospel according to duct tape

Duct tape, duck tape, gaffer tape. Call it what you will, it provided me with a ‘theme’ for the youth club last Friday. I had been asked to step in since the regular leader had a prior commitment and the other leaders weren’t too experienced. Not long before a ‘youth leader email’ had dropped into my inbox extolling the virtues of duct tape for silly games. Now the interesting thing about duct tape is that it can fix just about anything, has a million and one uses but it’s rubbish at the one thing it was designed for – sealing ducts. Apparently the adhesive dries out too quickly and it starts to leak. There are now better products on the market for sealing ducts, but duct tape is still a huge seller. Anyway, duct tape was my theme for the night. And here’s how it went…

We started off the ‘themed’ part with a silly game. The group had to get themselves into three teams. Each team had a roll of duct tape. I scattered lots of small squares of paper on the hall floor. Each team member in turn had to have a single wrap of duct tape round them, sticky side out, and then had 20seconds to ‘catch’ as many of the paper squares as possible. The team that collected the most were the winners and got to be first in the queue for the tuckshop. (The losers got to pick up any paper still lying around.)

Next up was the ‘God-slot’. I spoke about the million and one uses of duct tape, how good it was at so many different things and explained to them why it was rubbish at the one thing it was intended for. I then spoke about creation and how humanity was made ‘in God’s image’. We spoke a bit about what that meant, always nudging towards the idea of ‘relationship with God’ being one of the key things it means (God, as Trinity, is the perfect relationship of grace). And, of course, like duct tape, we have many talents and uses, but generally speaking, we’re pretty hopeless at the one thing we were meant to have – a relationship with God (and for that to be reflected in our relationships with each other). However, unlike duct tape, we haven’t been replaced by something better (skimming swiftly around the flood story at this point). Rather, God seeks to reconcile us to Him, imperfect as we are, through Jesus. There endeth the lesson.

I then set them another duct tape challenge. Back in their teams they had to see who could build the highest tower using only newspaper and duct tape. As they were building them, they were intent only in making their own tower as high as absolutely possible. Of course, they started to keel over and had to be propped up or guyed to try and get them to stand. At this point I had a burst of inspiration. During the chat about what it meant to be made in God’s image, someone suggested that we should have been perfect. I pointed out that in the creation narratives, God doesn’t declare creation to be perfect, but ‘very good’ – good enough, fit for purpose, just as it was intended to be. After calling time on the tower building (2 of the 3 had collapsed by this stage) I called everyone together and pointed out that what I had asked them was to see who could build the highest tower – that is, the highest of the three – which didn’t mean that it had to be a towering edifice, just higher than the other two – good enough, fit for purpose. We so often strive for perfection, driven by a false sense of what perfection is – fastest car, slimmest figure, biggest house, most money. We forget that we haven’t been made perfect, but we’re often good enough. It doesn’t quite fit with the highest tower analogy, but it did give me a chance to slip in another message.

So, there’s the gospel according to duct tape. Contrived, I’ll agree, but it sort of worked.


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