Monday, March 01, 2010

    Youth Ministry Ideas for Lent '10: #4 Post Secret

    Use the idea behind PostSecret to invite your youth into the spiritual practice of confession as part of their Lenten journey.

    For many protestants, the spiritual practice of confession only finds expression a few Sundays a year during Lent in the form of responsive readings in worship. I'll admit that I generally refuse to participate in these "Dear, God...we are so wretched and unworthy of your love" type of liturgies. Yet, the practice of confession is a powerful way of reminding us of the unique relationship we have with God. It's not that in the confessing that we share secrets that God does not already know. Rather, it is in the act of confessing that we are reminded that God knows us completely, even in our brokenness, and yet still loves us unconditionally.

    It's no great revelation to say that teenagers struggle with identity and self-worth and may find the notion of God's unconditional love difficult to accept. After all, they live in a culture that constantly tells them they are not good enough -- unless of course they buy the right car, the best brand of toothpaste, make the highest grades, win the ball game, or earn more money than the next person. I have to imagine the world would be a better place if we could help people learn to both be honest about their brokenness and also accept that despite their "sin" they are beloved of God. What better place to start than with our youth?

    You could invite your group into a conversation and practice of confession by tapping into the popularity of PostSecret -- a blog that features confessional postcards sent in by real people. Some of these confessions are funny, some touching, and some sad and tragic. Perhaps show the group some of the postcards from the PostSecret website (or one of the PostSecret books) and then set out a variety of art materials (paint, markers, crayons, magazine images, glue, etc) and provide each teen with a large blank index card. Ask them to find a spot where they can work quietly alone as they create their own confessional postcard. You may not want your youth to confess deep dark secrets. Instead, invite them into a time of introspection. Consider offering them some sentence starters like these:

    Something I don't want anyone to know about me is...
    I wish I could stop....
    I always lie when someone asks me...
    I think people wouldn't like me if they knew...
    I feel guilty when...
    One thing I wish I could change about myself is...
    I hope no one ever finds out that...


    It's important to maintain anonymity in a project like this. When students finish their work, perhaps have them place all the postcards in a lidded box. If you plan to display the cards later, tell students who do not want their card displayed to fold it in half before placing it in the box. Finish this project with a time of worship together in which the box of postcard confessions are placed in the center of the worship space as an offering. Invite youth to reflect on the experience of confession and finish with an assurance of God's unbounded, unconditional love for all. Close by sharing Romans 8: 38-39 which declares that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

    --Brian

    4 comments:

    Jason Chenoweth said...

    Brian,

    Thanks SO MUCH for the work you put into posting these ideas. I'm a 20 year youth min vet, and it's our first year teaching through Lent. We're doing a series we're calling "40" with our sr high, and we're using many of your ideas from your blog. What a gift and resource your work is. Thanks man!

    Brian said...

    Jason, thanks so much for the feedback. Glad to know some of this is of use to fellow youth workers! Hope your Lenten journey is a great one. Peace.

    Swiss Miss said...

    Thank you! I'm planning to use this exercise tonight--great idea!

    Brian said...

    Hope this activity goes well for all that try it. If you'd be willing to share some of the results of your students postcards, we'd be honored to share them here on the blog.