Happy Thanksgiving from "Rethinking Youth Ministry" and Fred, the most annoying teen (pretending to be a six-year-old) on Youtube!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Though we think of Advent as the four weeks leading up to Christmas, the original observance was something altogether different. In the 4th and 5th centuries, Advent was known as a six week preparation for the season of Epiphany, not Christmas. During this time, much like Lent today, new converts prepared themselves for baptism and faithful believers examined their hearts. Though the focus of Advent is different for us today, the idea of Advent as a time of introspection remains.
- Find a quiet place and take some time to center yourself.
- Think back over the day or week as if you were watching a movie of all that happened. Allow the experiences of that time to flow back to you. Ask yourself: What did I notice? What feelings or thoughts do I associate with this time?
- Think about where you saw God at work during the day/week? Give thanks for these moments.
- Think about where it seemed you were unaware of God's presence.
Think about where you were resisting God's presence. Ask forgiveness for this shortsightedness. Consider where God may be calling you to a new awareness. What new actions/attitudes might God be calling you to in your work/family/ministry/community?
- Close your time of prayer by giving thanks for the time with God and commit to greater awareness of God’s presence in the days to come.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I mistakingly thought that we would really “arrive” as an established youth ministry if we could begin hosting large events like this maybe once a month. I would lie awake at night imagining having multiple youth groups, kids coming in from the streets, maybe even attract a football player or two! All the while, never realizing that what we have already been doing…had been incredible and powerful.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
30% (42 votes) Getting the youth to "dig deeper" in their faith.
17% (24 votes) Increasing youth attendance.
14% (20 votes) Recruiting enough good volunteers.
9% (12 votes) Finding enough money to pursue our dreams.
6% (9 votes) Trying to get parents involved.
4% (5 votes) Getting the church to take me seriously.
Be sure to participate in our new poll in the sidebar!
Who would've ever known it
Note: Yes, that is Elijah Wood in the video.
OPENING UP: Invite the group to pray with you and say:
“Dear God, we come before you and give thanks for everything we have. We ask that you continue to bless us. Give us the things that we need and the things that we want. Help us get the best MP3 players, the best video game systems, the coolest clothes, the hottest sports car. Help us make good grades on all our tests and homework, and help us to win and be number one at whatever we try. Most especially, bless our country so that we continue to be more powerful and more wealthy than any other country in the world. Thanks God. Amen.”
Ask: If you heard this prayer in a worship service, how do you think you would react/feel? How is this prayer different/same as your idea of prayer?
REFLECTION: Go around the circle and invite each person to finish the phrase “Prayer is...” with one word. Do this three times, encouraging them to use a different word each time. Encourage them to consider action words, descriptive words, symbols, emotions, etc. Keep a written list of their responses.
Alternative: Pass out a handout with a variety of images on it related to prayer. The images might include folded hands, a person singing, someone walking in the woods, a lit candle, worshippers holding hands in a circle. Invite youth to share which pictures say something to them about how they understand prayer.
DIGGING INTO THE TEXT: Read Matthew 6: 5-17 together. Ask: How could the text help shape our prayer practice? How might we pray differently than we do now in church/in private?
Read Luke 18: 9-14 (The Pharisee & the Tax Collector). Ask: How do you think the Pharisee would define prayer? How do you think the tax collector would define prayer?
Read Luke 5:16. Ask: What do you think about Jesus' practice of praying alone? What do you imagine he prayed about? What does your own prayer practice look like or what would you like it to look like?
BRINGING TOGETHER SCRIPTURE & OUR STORY: Pose "The Big Question": Do you think God answers prayer? If so, how? What does a prayer sound like if it's not about asking for stuff? What part, if any, do we play in helping God to answer prayers (or own or those of others)?
Encourage the group to reflect on the different ideas and images of prayer that you have discussed. Invite them to create (perhaps in silence, as an act of prayer) a group mural that illustrates, without words, different ways of understanding prayer.
Perhaps commit as a group to pray each day for one week at a certain time and for a certain number of minutes. Then, report back to one another about your experiences.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Count off students into groups of three. Tell them they have two minutes to try to make as long a list as possible of the things that they own. After the two minutes, have them reflect on the following questions with their small group:
How many things on your list do you need?
How many things on your list do you rarely use?
How many things on your list would you be better off giving away?
Consider showing clips from the documentary "What Would Jesus Buy?"(see above).
REFLECTION: (10 minutes)
- Going shopping is sort of like a hobby or pasttime for me.
- I sometimes take my old clothes to a re-sell it store.
- I would work a job I hate to have enough money to buy the stuff I want.
- I'd want to buy the newest video gaming system (or other item), even if my old one worked just fine.
- I sometimes buy something because it's cool -- not because I need it.
- I would consider buying my clothes from Goodwill or the Salvation Army or other re-sell it store.
- There is too much "stuff" in my bedroom!
DIGGING INTO THE TEXT (25 minutes)
Separate into three groups. In this activity, each group will explore a biblical text that speaks to how much importance we should place on our material possessions. Invite participants to listen to a scripture passage and think about what it might have to say about the thingsin our lives:
Group 1: Luke 12: 13-21 The Parable of the Rich Fool
Group 2: Luke 21: 1-4 The Widow’s Mite
Invite the group to prepare a skit or pantomime based on the parable, with one or more persons reading the text as the others act it out.
BRINGING TOGETHER SCRIPTURE & OUR OWN STORY
Bring the whole group back together. Share that, in the Gospels, Jesus talks about our fixation on money and material goods more than anything else. He is remembered as someone who clearly felt that how we view the importance of possessions in our lives has a real impact on our relationship with God.
Have the small groups stage their parable for the whole group. Invite the participants to think about what the stories have to say about how we live in the world today.
Jesus, a poor man living in a world where most people were so poor that they only had the food they needed to live day-to-day, is remembered as teaching people to be careful about thinking that “things” would make them happy. He invited people to see that true life was about something better than just having lots of stuff. But he also knew that in order to see that better way of life, sometimes we have to let go of some of the clutter that keeps us from seeing God’s love more clearly.
Read Matthew 6: 19-21 and invite the group to meditate on the passage in silence or perhaps by using the ancient prayer practice of lectio divina.
Brainstorms some ideas as a group for simplifying your lives, including giving up some unneeded possesions. Try some of these ideas for starting this practice today. Perhaps take on a challenge as a group to adopt some some of these practices during the holiday season.
Close in prayer.
Note: Some of this Bible study was inspired by the resources from the Way to Live text and companion site. Check it out!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
How do you make yourself approachable to youth who have questions about sexuality?
How do you teach parents to talk to their teens about sexuality?
What are the messages you try to convey?
How can those in a secular setting create safe space for teens to explore their faith?
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
We watched this video the other night at youth group. It isn't a video I would typically show. But a number of our youth, and their parents, had already seen the video. We had some good conversation. Some felt the video was an accurate portrayal of the pressures youth face on a daily basis. Others found the video to be racist. And some saw the video as purely a scare tactic--designed to encourage people to follow Jesus out of fear.
What do you think?
Monday, November 03, 2008
What is the "Pig of Truth?" Find out in this insightful post at the pomomusings blog all about maintaining rituals in youth ministry and finding a place to let the Spirit move.