Friday, April 26, 2013

    Youth Ministry Pin-of-the-Day: Affirmation Mugs

    This idea gets passed around on Pinterest a lot, probably because it is so simple and so cool. 

    I think this project would make the perfect gift from your church or youth group to give to your graduating seniors. Just get some plain white mugs from the dollar store. Let everyone write an affirming message to the person on the mug with a sharpie (and, if doing a lot of these, be sure to write the person's name on the side or bottom of the mug).  Then, you bake the mugs in the oven for thirty minutes at 350 degrees and "Pesto!" -- the writing is permanent and you have the perfect gift for your graduates to drink coffee, tea or cocoa from as they start the next step in their journey of life and faith.

    Read more about this idea here and check out all my Pinterest pins on youth ministry, creative prayer, and more here

    Thursday, April 25, 2013

    YouTube Faith: Week 3

    This is part three of our series of resources developed to be used with a mixed group of youth and adults, discussing issues of faith through the lens of various videos discovered on YouTube. We are intentionally drawing from both religious and secular videos.  Part one is here. Part two is here.

    Week Three: What is the Meaning of Life?

    Share: What is life all about? Is the answer different if you are a Christian? Has anyone figured it out? This week we look at how the world of YouTube has tried to address that question.

    1. The Meaning of Life - Dan Is Not On Fire

    • Do you relate to Dan’s experience of “permanent existential crisis”?
    • How important is this question of “meaning”? Dan treats it humorously – does that seem like the right approach?
    • Dan says that the answer is “do whatever you have to do to be happy”? What do you think about that? Dan says "There's way too much fun and joy in the world for anyone to waste their time or their life doing something that makes them unhappy."  What would you say to him about this? Does your thinking on this change depending on what a person might say makes him or her "happy?"

    Share: Dan seems to be having fun with the question of existence. But for others, this is a much more serious consideration – especially those who have a lot less time to figure it out. As you watch this next video, think about how your answer might change if you were forced to come to your conclusions against a ticking clock:

    Thursday, April 18, 2013

    Would You Be Willing to Be Gay for a Day?

    What would it be like for you to experience a day from the perspective of a gay teen?  Would you be willing to find out? If you are a gay pastor or youth leader, you already know what it's like. Everyone else: keep reading.

    This year the Day of Silence falls on Friday April 19. This is annual observance when students choose to remain silent in their schools for one day to show solidarity with LGBTQ teens who are silenced every day by being kept in the closet through intolerance and fear.  I participated in this day in seminary years ago and it was a powerful experience that even included a worship service held completely in silence.  

    Of course, the Day of Silence is not without its controversy, particularly for those who feel participating in the event might (God forbid!) send the message to gay teens that they are loved, accepted and affirmed. But wherever you place yourself within that debate, I think that blogger Kimberly Knight is really on to something when she suggests that straight persons try becoming "gay for a day": 

    What do I mean by this? Well, this is a bit of a challenge for my straight friends. Those of you with boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands or wives – for the next 24 hours, imagine that the one you love, the planet around which your heart is in orbit, is someone you can not openly acknowledge in any conversation – anywhere. When you are at work, do not talk about your boyfriend or husband. When you are at lunch, don’t mention the Friday night date you are looking forward to. When you are grabbing that mid-morning coffee, don’t talk about your weekend plans with the wife....So here it is, a challenge – be gay for a day. Really, really – I invite you to give this a try. For 24 hours beginning on the morning of Friday, April 19 live your every moment as if the people you love are just friends, roommates, strangers.... (Read the full post here.)

    Participating in what Kimberly is suggesting has nothing to do with whether or not you have problems with a person's sexual orientation. But it has everything to do with whether or not you believe that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Being willing to spend a day in the other person's shoes is a step away from treating LGBTQ teens as an "issue" and toward treating them as individual children of God.  Of course, "being gay for a day" isn't going to let you really see what like is like living in the closet anymore than sleeping on your church parking lot for one night is going to teach your teens what it is like to be homeless.  In fact, the power of both of those experiences is in helping the participant to become aware of how little they know of what life is like for the "other" and that so often we are willing to pontificate and share our absolutist opinions and beliefs about something we have no knowledge of first-hand (and in some cases never will).

    Update: You may be interested in this piece about a young blogger who dared to suggest that the Church's inflexibility on the welcoming of LGBTQ persons is causing young people to leave the Church in droves.  In response, the church camp where she would had been employed this summer promptly fired her.  

    Monday, April 15, 2013

    Youth Ministry Pin-of-the-Day: Hand Prayers

    Here's a thoughtful idea for helping your teens pray for each other or to encourage your congregation to pray for your youth.

    This latest find from Pinterest comes from the blog by Pastor Lisa. The idea itself is simple: have a person trace their hand and then pass that along to someone else. Each time the receiver places their own hand into the person's hand print, they stop and pray for them.  I could see this as a great creative project with youth, encouraging them not only to trace their hands but also filling the hand print with words, images, drawings, symbols, and so on that relate to the things in their lives for which they need prayer.  When everyone is finished, trade around the hand prints and each person takes one home, committing to regularly pray for the owner of the hand print.  A related approach might be to collect the youth's hand prints and distribute them to your elders or other adults in the congregation who would be willing to regularly pray for the teen whose
    hand print they receive.  Pastor Lisa also suggests other approaches:  

    Praying for a sister congregation.
    Praying for students away at college.
    Praying for those who are imprisoned.
    Praying for your local firefighters, police officers, or city officials.
    Praying for a mission team while they are away.
    Praying for those who are home bound or nursing homebound.
    Praying for those who are in the midst of long treatments or recovering from surgery.

    You can read the full post here and check out all my Pinterest pins on youth ministry, creative prayer, and more here