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Making an investment

Just how much could you be worth?

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To explore students’ sense of ambition at the start of the school year (SEAL theme: Motivation).

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and two readers.
  • You will also need a few £20 notes – five would be impressive!
  • Familiarize yourself with the passage from Luke 19.11–27. This has been adapted slightly in the retelling below.
  • Have available the song ‘Johnny B. Goode’ by Chuck Berry and the means to play it at the end of the assembly (check copyright).


Leader (Show the money.) I’ve got some spare cash here. I was wondering about letting some of you have it until next July, to see what you could do with it. I’d want it back then, but I’m sure we could make a deal about any profit that was made.

Can anyone come up with a convincing scheme to make the money grow? Talk about it among yourselves for a moment.

Allow a minute or two for the students to discuss ideas.

This is a bit like Dragons’ Den, isn’t it? So, what proposals do you have for me?

Invite the students up to the front to present their ideas. Comment on each as appropriate, drawing out the imagination and hard work involved.

Give me a little while to consider those proposals. Meanwhile, listen to this story that Jesus told.

Reader 1A very rich man was about to go on a journey. He was concerned about his wealth, so he decided to place it in the care of some of his servants.

Reader 2He divided his wealth up, giving a larger proportion to the senior servants, but making sure everyone had some to take care of.

Reader 1 Then off he went on his journey.

Reader 2 For month  . . .

Reader 1 After month  . . .

Reader 2 After month  . . .

Pause, Readers 1 and 2 standing with arms folded, tapping their feet, looking increasingly bored.

Reader 1
Suddenly he returned and lined up his servants in front of him. ‘So, what did you do with the money I trusted you with?’ he asked each of them.

Reader 2 Proudly, the first servant declared that he’d managed to double the value of the amount he’d been looking after, by wisely investing it in a local company.

Reader 1 Similarly, other servants reported profits made over the previous year, of 10 per cent, 20 per cent, 50 per cent. The rich man praised each servant highly and allowed all a cut of the profits.

Reader 2 There were a few, however, who came to him rather shame-faced. Mumbling their apologies, they returned the original amount exactly as it had been given to them.

Reader 1 The rich man looked at them with great disappointment. Here was a chance in life that they’d been given and they’d missed the opportunity. He was tempted to punish them for their idleness and sloth, but felt that maybe their embarrassment, guilt and lack of further opportunity was going to be punishment enough.


Time for reflection

Leader I wonder if you realize that each one of you here is already the result of investment. Your parents or carers have invested time, money and effort into making each of you the person you are today. Teachers have invested their time and imagination in helping you each to develop, too. Even the government believes you’re worth investing in, to the tune of thousands of pounds for each year of your life.

In some ways, this week, the start of a new school year, is just like the beginning of Jesus’ story. The investment has been made for the next ten months of your life. The structure is in place, the staff, the resources, the timetable, the support. When we get together in July, at the end of this school year, what sort of return are you going to be able to show for this investment that’s been entrusted to you?

Reader 1 (Enthusiastically.)Some of us are going to be very pleased with ourselves. We’ll have new achievements, new friendships, new experiences, new skills and new understanding that we’ve been able to gain during the year.

Reader 2 (Moderately pleased.) Lots of us will be able to say that, on the whole, we are better, more understanding, more knowledgeable students than we are right now.

LeaderThen there are a few (there are always a few, aren’t there?) who will look at themselves and see very little difference. They’ll have taken all that they’ve been given, been trusted with, and simply wasted it. Some will feel a little embarrassed. Some will feel a little guilty. All of them will find the next year more difficult because they missed making the most of the opportunity that was given to them.


I love the beginning of a new school year. Why? Quite simply because it’s new. This has never been done before. You have never been like this before. There are new opportunities, new relationships, new questions, new prospects. No one is quite sure what we’re going to create. It’s just like a bag of money placed in your hand and my hand. Some bags may appear to be a little bigger than others, but that doesn’t matter, we’ve all got our bag.

Show the money again.

So, what are we going to do with it?



Dear Lord,
Thank you for the investment made in each one of us.
May we place real value on what others trust us to do with it.
Next July, may we feel pleased with the return we have made on that investment.



‘Johnny B. Goode’ by Chuck Berry

Publication date: September 2014   (Vol.16 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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