Saturday, December 03, 2011

    Advent 2011 Ideas for Youth Ministry: Out-of-the-Box Jesus

    This Advent idea for youth ministry comes from a really great blog I recently came across entitled Creative Theology, authored by Callie, a United Methodist youth director.  

    Callie created a great lesson for Lent entitled "Letting Jesus Out of the Box," and I think it could be adapted as a great Advent experience as well. As this is the time of year we wait to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it's a great opportunity to have youth reflect upon how they understand this one for whom we wait.  What image of Jesus speaks most meaningfully to them. Which image of Jesus challenges them?  Provokes them?  Encourages them?  

    Callie challenged her students to contemplate how they see Jesus and this is how the lesson evolved:

    On Monday afternoon, while cleaning out the Sunday School closets of the Youth Wing, some of the youth and I ran across the big party box of the game Apples to Apples. (If you’re unfamiliar with the game, click on the link to read wikipedia’s version of the rules…very briefly, it involves matching nouns and descriptive adjectives). So, during our Wednesday night Bible study, we put Jesus at the center of the game. (The youth informed me that there is apparently a Bible version of the game that may have been more immediately relevant, but we used the real game). I scattered all of the green cards — the adjectives — around the floor, and asked the students to find the word that best described Jesus. We discussed their choices, and then went on to read some Bible passages that showed some conflicting images of Jesus: i.e. the meek and mild moral teacher vs. the conquering king of Revelation. After each reading, the youth were invited to pick up a new card.

    One thing I’ve learned about my role as a youth director: every week, I get to learn, teach, and experience the lessons, all at the same time. By the end of the game, I had collected cards that said “Revolutionary,” “Rare,” and “Stunning.” My answers surprised me, as they were different from the cards that I thought I would choose.

    But that was what the lesson was all about: expanding our image of Jesus. Too often we put Jesus in a box and never let him out (like Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights, who insists on praying to little baby Jesus in a manger). But that’s no way to treat the Son of God! 

    You can read more of Callie's creative ideas at her blog