Have you asked your students to give up something for Lent? Maybe you are asking the wrong question.
This past Sunday I preached on a passage I'd never encountered before -- a passage in which Paul argues that Jesus is God's "Yes" to the world (2 Cor 1: 18-22). I asked the congregation if they'd be willing to walk around wearing T-shirts that declared that message. We agreed that those looking at our shirts might all have the same question: What is Jesus saying Yes to?
Lent is often thought of as a season of "No." We say no to chocolate or Facebook or TV or some other bad habit that we think would be worth saying goodbye to for a few weeks. But what if Lent was seen as the season of "Yes." What if the reason for saying "No" to some of that stuff was really a reason to say "Yes" to things that really matter -- to the things Jesus says "Yes" to? What if Lent was the season to say "Yes" to a richer prayer life, a deeper study of scripture, more involvement in Christian community, greater outreach to those in need, or a more intentional effort to love others and ourselves? What if Lent was seen as a season to say "Yes" to real sabbath, to sharing our faith, or simply enjoying the beauty of God's creation?
I was inspired recently to think of Lent as "40 Days of Yes" by something I read on Jonny Baker's blog. What might this look like for your youth ministry? You could invite your teens to each adapt one practice that they could say "Yes" to for 40 Days. Maybe this could include saying "I love you" to someone each day, creating art each day, reading scripture each day, hugging their parents each day. Or you could covenant as a group to spend the 40 days doing the same thing together, perhaps posting positive messages on Facebook, praying at the same time each day wherever you may be, or reading a book together. Get creative and see what new experiences you can say "Yes" to in Lent that will help you and your youth be more open to Gods' presence.