Tuesday, March 31, 2009

    IDEAS FOR LENT '09 #9: Noisy Silence

    With Holy Week approaching, now is a the perfect time in your youth ministry to illustrate the need for youth to intentionally seek out opportunities for quiet reflection and prayer in the midst of their busy lives. Invite all youth to turn on their cell phones and to activate the nosiest and most obnoxious ring tone or message alert they have. Then, ask them to text some question to one or more friends who they know are pretty likely to respond back quickly. With all that in place, begin a study of the story of Jesus going into the garden to pray near the end of his life (Luke 22: 39-46 or Mark 14: 32-42). Focus on this example of his prayer practice of getting away from the noise of life to listen for the call of God.

    If all goes as planned, your study will be regularly (and perhaps humorously) interrupted by the constant noise of cell phones ringing and buzzing. Continue with the study, allowing the noise to disrupt your thoughtful conversation. When you think everybody gets the point, ask the teens to shut off their phones and invite them to reflect on their experience: What distractions might Jesus have been trying to get away from by going into the garden? What distractions get in our way of spending time focused on God? Why do you think we are so willing to allow phone calls/emails/text messages to invade our time? What can we do during Holy Week to take up a version of Jesus' "get away from it all" prayer practice?

    See more Lent ideas: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8.


    Steven said...

    I used this idea last night. Went very well! I intentionally didn't break into small groups. Instead, we started the study in our large group of about 25. About 10 minutes, 50 ringers, and a couple of instances where I received a text in the middle of asking a question or listening to an answer and one youth spoke saying "If one more cell phone goes off, I will not be a happy person." Sensing the point was proven, I immediately shifted gears and we started talking about "getting away from it all." Then we journaled a bit on what our daily distractions were and strategies to overcome them.

    All in all, this was a very simple and a very effective lesson. The key I found was to let it happen organically. I didn't tell the kids to keep texting. They just did. Worked like a charm!

    Brian said...

    Steven, thanks for sharing your experience. I sounds like it went well,and it's good to know that at least some of our young people are not completely desensitized to the noise of our electronic environment! Peace, Brian