Why must everything in youth ministry be so programmed? How about just allowing some free unstructured time when your youth are gathered? How much of that do they ever get in their daily routine? The "Rest Stop" ideas below would be a simple way to create spaces within your youth room that would allow teens, whenever the spirit moves them, to step away and just sink into a time of meditation and introspection (something we should be encouraging during Lent). Rather than organizing a time when all the youth cycle through the "rest stops," just leave an open invitation for teens to make use of them as needed (and what a nice gift this would be for your introverted youth who might want a good excuse to bow out of a crazy, wild game but still have something meaningful to do).
Rest Stop 1 - Rocky Road: Set-up includes some smooth rocks (found at craft stores) and permanent ink pens. Suggested text: Joshua 4: 21-24.
Directions: In the Old Testament, journeys are often marked with altars of rocks as a way to show where something important has happened – to mark the way across a difficult path – to say: “We were here. We endured.” Consider writing a word on one of the rocks before you – a word about your spiritual journey, your struggles, your questions, your doubts, your triumphs – and add it to our altar of stones to symbolize that your story of walking this wilderness journey is part of the faith story of our whole community.
Rest Stop 2 - Write!: Set-up for this includes several bibles, pens, and notepads or journals on which you have attached or written a question, one per journal, about a text you would like youth to reflect upon in writing.
Directions: Reflect on the scripture passage before you. Consider the questions below and offer your thoughts on them in one or more of the journals before you. Your response may be brief or lengthy. You may choose to write your thoughts, write a poem, maybe even just write one word. When finished, reflect for a moment on what God might be trying to say to you through the words of this text. Where might God’s Spirit be leading you by way of this scripture? Pray for openness to that call.
Rest Stop 3 - Tree of Life: Set-up for this requires a potted tree or a tree branch placed in some sort of stand. Cut-out leaf shapes from green paper, punch a hole in the end of each leaf and thread a piece of yarn or string through the hole. Suggested text: Mark 3: 7.
Directions: Many individuals accompany us on the journey of faith and through the wilderness. Some offer us a shoulder to lean on when we tire of the walk. Others ask for our help when they weary of the journey. Take some time to reflect on those in your life, past or present, who you want to remember in prayer. Write each name on a leaf and attach the leaves to the tree, reflecting on how these relationships provide us opportunities to grow in the ways of love, kindness, hospitality, peace, patience and grace.
Rest Stop 4 - Postcards to God: String a clothesline somewhere in the room and provide clothespins or paperclips. Create "postcards" out of colored cardstock and glue various images from magazines on the front, or leave some blank. Suggested text: Psalm 139.
Directions: Lent is part of the journey of faith. Think about how far you have come already. What have been the challenges of your walk with Christ so far? The ups? The downs? The blind alleys? The backtracks? The side trips? The spiritual companions along the way? Take time to write a postcard to God from this point on your spiritual journey. Select a postcard with an image that connects with your experience, or draw your own picture. You could pose a question to God, ask for guidance, describe where you are right now on the journey, or give thanks for those who have walked with you. Leave the postcard on the clothesline before you to inspire others.
Rest Stop 5 - Reality: On a wall , set out a series of images of events and people in need from around the world (I pulled most of my images from news magazines and National Geographic.) Separate the photos to make it easier to focus on one at a time. Suggested text: Matthew 5: 5.
Directions: Search the images before you, representing the struggles of our world until one hooks your attention. Meditate on it for a moment. Consider where you see God in the image. It may be hard to discern at first. Sometimes it seems God is hidden away and we have to focus our attention more carefully. Ask yourself: How is God calling me to pray for this situation, place, or people? Offer your thoughts as a prayer for the concerns of this world.