Thursday, December 03, 2009

    Advent '09 Ideas for Youth Ministry #3: Silent Retreat

    Every year, the season of Advent seems to get just a little bit crazier. And at youth group, the kids seem even more anxious and restless than normal. The idea of Christmas break, and the insanity leading up to the break, is almost overwhelming. If we’re honest, at least where I am, it’s hard to get the youth to slow down and appreciate the sacredness and holiness of the season.

    Here’s a new idea. What if you had a one day mini Advent retreat (on a Saturday) at your church? Everyone could arrive around 8:00. The day would be spent in silence, including the meal at lunch. Throughout the day you could gather for intentional periods of scripture reading and reflection. Have on hand art supplies, journals, music, rooms set aside for prayer, and maybe candles lit in a room that is otherwise completely dark. Then, at dinner time, invite people to come out of silence and participate in prayer stations and worship. This is a very different approach to the shopping, stress, and holiday parties that so many of us will experience. But in my experience with youth, I’m pretty sure it will work well. If you try it out, let us know how it goes.



    Donovan said...

    We just finished a variation on your suggestion. We had a quiet retreat in our youth center for an afternoon, and incorporated a bunch of the stations from "Sacred Spaces" by Kimball & Lewin for the interactive portion of the prayer time. Once an hour we came together to read the stories of The Birth as well as a couple of the prophecies from Isaiah about the birth, and I also included "Noise" from the Nooma series in that time.

    The adults who came said they wished the whole church could have done it. We didn't have a lot of teens come, but the ones who did said it made an impact on them. I'm going to be including this idea periodically throughout our calendar. Thanks for sharing it!