Fall is a great time of the year to emphasize the connectedness of the faith community and to encourage your youth to see themselves as "one" even when they aren't together at church. Try this creative worship experience to help encourage the group to stay connected all week long.
Set out markers, crayons, and "leaves" for each participant that you have cut out of green construction paper (see template here). Each leaf should be about the size of one half piece of construction paper. Have one or more youth read aloud John 15: 1-11. This is the well-known text in which Jesus shares with his friends "I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit...." Invite the group to consider that one way we make this text real is in the way we stay connected to one another as the body of Christ.
Pass out the leaves and invite participants to choose a variety of crayons or markers. Begin by having each person place his or her name on one side of the leaf. Next, ask them to draw a symbol on the front of the leaf that reminds them of the group (it might be a heart or stick figure people or a cross, etc). When everyone is ready, have each person pass their leaf clockwise to the person next to them. This person should first add her or his name to same side of the leaf where the owner wrote his or her name. Now, invite everyone to write on the leaf something they are looking forward to about the new youth group year. Continue this process, passing the leaves, having each person add their name to each leaf and responding to prompts like these below:
- Write a "feeling" word to describe how you are feeling about your life right now.
- Draw a symbol or write a word/phrase describing how you feel about your relationship with God right now.
- List three things you are thankful for about this group.
- Write the name of at least one adult who has helped you experience the love of God.
- List at least one thing you hope we do in youth group this school year.
- List one class at school you are excited about.
- List one class at school you are dreading.
- Draw a symbol/write a word or phrase for something in your own life for which you'd like others to pray about
- Write the name of person/place in the world you hope others will pray for
- List one or more gifts you have to share with the group this year
You are finished when the leaves make their way back to their original owners (if your ministry is big, you will likely want to do this worship experience sitting in smaller groups). Encourage the youth to take a few moments of silence to meditate on all the responses on their leaf and to pray for the group. Then invite the teens to take their leaves home with them, post them in a visible place, and use them as a "touchstone" for keeping mindful about their connection to their fellow brothers and sisters in faith. When they see the leaf each day, perhaps they can stop for a moment to offer a prayer for those in the group.