Suzybower's Blog

Creative ideas for church and youth ministry.

Archive for Creative response

Letting go


Things needed:

– A4 Paper & pens

– Instructions on making origami boats

– A flowing river

What to do

People write down things they want to let go of. This could be a number of things such as regrets they are holding onto, people or situations they overly worried about, or a goodbye to someone who has died.

Once this has been written, make a boat out of the paper (click here for instructions).

Take it to a river, and voilà – a simple but potentially powerful act to symbolise letting these things go. For a Christian audience, the focus could be on letting them go and trusting God with them. Or the letters could be written to ask for forgiveness from God for things.

Perhaps you could read a poem or Bible verses, or say a prayer as the boats float away.

The story behind this lil idea

I recently heard some sad news about a friend of mine. I found it difficult to let go of worrying about the situation and to not carry it. This idea suddenly popped into my head on the way back from church after I had asked for prayer for the situation and that I would be able to let it go. In my job as a youth worker in schools I listen to a lot of young people who have difficult and chaotic lives. So I used this idea as an individual act of worship by writing a letter and making a boat out of it for my friend, but also for each of the young people that I need to make sure I don’t carry. I think I will do this from time to time to make sure I let these things go and trust God with them.

Some considerations…

Some of what I wrote in the letters the young people had told me in confidence. So I did not write any names in it, or anything that they would be able to be identified from. Perhaps being overly cautious, I stuck another piece of plain paper over each letter before I made it into a boat so no writing was visible – just in case!

I’m not sure it’s very eco friendly to be putting paper in rivers! I should look this up sometime and perhaps use eco friendly bio degradable paper. You may want to consider this if you are making more than a few boats.

My final consideration is that the swans thought that I was bringing them some lunch. In future I hope not to disappoint by providing them with something a bit more nutritious as a side order for the paper boats.

Post-it note prayers

Things needed: post-it notes (preferably in 3 different colours) and, pens.

Context: can be used in lots of different contexts.

This very simple idea uses the beautifully adaptable medium of post-it notes to facilitate prayer. If you have 3 different colours or shaped post-its then write the word ‘thanks’, ‘sorry’, or ‘please’ on each and stick them on some paper/the wall. It would be worth saying to people here that they do not need to write down their sorry prayers. They can just leave it blank, or draw a symbol or write a code word.

The group then spends some time writing or drawing prayers on the post-its and sticking them up with the rest (they follow the colours of the original ones, for example by writing their thanks prayers on pink, sorry prayers on yellow etc.).

This activity works well within a variety of contexts, but particularly with small groups. And it’s great for people who aren’t used to praying out loud. I have often used it when people have only just become Christians as a way of facilitating them to pray.

As ever, feel free to use this idea, adapt and change it – and let me know how it goes!

Baggage: creative worship

This idea popped into my head the other day whilst I was trying to focus on doing my expenses. The illustration or creative worship session is themed around the idea of baggage and burdens (but I haven’t actually used the idea yet, so the plan is fairly loose).

As people arrive there are loads of different bags in the centre of the room which people sit round (suitcase, tesco bag, backpack etc.). At some point people have to choose a bag to represent the burdens they are carrying. They could perhaps walk around with it for some of the session/service. Then at some point they place their baggage down at the foot of the cross and leave it there:

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7 (and Psalm 55:22)

I spoke to someone else about this the other day, and they said it could be quite powerful if some people’s bags were too heavy to carry and others had to share the load. This could add more of a corporate element to the time. But I guess that if you’re loading the bags up with bricks or something, you may just have to make a short health and safety announcement – you don’t want people putting their backs out!

Let me know if you have any further thoughts or reflections on this idea as I would like to put it into practice sometime.

Giant Blob Tree: Creative reflection

If you haven’t heard of Pip Wilson’s Blob drawings, then you’re in for a treat. The most famous one is probably the blob tree which features a scene of different blobs all doing different things:

People can look at the picture and find a blob which represents their answers to questions such as ‘how do you feel today?’. For example someone may answer that they feel great, on top of the world and are therefore the blob at the top. This kind of thing is great for the beginning of a weekend away. Pip has produced a number of different books with different pictures in (I think they are quite expensive to buy though – you could always have a go at drawing your own!).

I recently took part in a youth festival called SOLID, where I spent time at the prayer tent. I took with me a giant version of the blob tree:

I had some really great conversations based on the blob scenes. I explained the tree to them, and generally asked people three questions:

– How are you feeling today?

– How are you feeling in relation to God?

– Where would you like to be with God?

Then if people wanted to they could write on a piece of paper shaped like a speech bubble their answer to the last 2 questions, and stick this on the scene. If they were still keen they could draw their own blob and add it to the ‘Blob SOLID’ scene.

It seemed to go down really well. Apart from the fact that I sat outside in the sun all day on the hottest day of the year which resulted in me getting heat stroke! It was all worth it though.

Book Recommendations

Here are some great books packed full of creative ideas for prayer, worship and meditation:

Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength: 50 Creative Worship Ideas for Youth Groups – by Jenny Baker.

This book is full of loads of excellent ready to use ideas for creative worship. Available from the book section of Proost.

Be. Live. Pray. – by Becca Dean.

This book is aimed at 14-18 year olds as a resource to inspire them to pray. There are activities within the book which could easily be used within a youth group setting. It’s available from Amazon.

Osmosis – by Suzi Stock.

I had never attempted leading my young people in christian meditation before I came across this book. I must say, I was fairly dubious about if young people could be quite for that long. But Suzi convinced me to give it a go, and the young people actually loved it! This book has about 5 different sessions in it where the group are led through a meditation, listen to songs, and fill out worksheets. The song suggestions are a bit outdated now, but it is easy to replace them with more modern equivalents. Apart from that there is fairly little prep needed for the sessions. The book is available from Kevin Mayhew.

Pixilated Jesus: creative corporate worship

This is a corporate worship idea which involves everyone doing a little bit of painting. Everyone gets a little slip of paper which looks something like this, and has a code on the back (e.g. A1):

They paint what they see onto a piece of A4 card. The code on the back is then used to put the finished paintings in order, onto a grid on the floor. As people add their pictures, it slowly becomes clear that what they have painted is a small section of a picture of Jesus. When everyone has added their painting there will be a giant montage of Jesus.

Here are some possible themes and reflections you could draw from this experience:

– Body of Christ: That individually we make up different parts of the same body (1 Cor 12).

– Creation: At the end of most days in the creation story God said ‘it was good’. But when creation was finished with everything together God said that ‘it was very good’. We were also created in the image of a trinitarian God, and we are therefore intrinsically relational. We were made not just to bring glory to God on our own, but instead called to worship God together. The combined effect of the finished mural was far greater than the individual parts.

– Sometimes we can’t see the point of what God is doing at the time, but looking back it becomes clear He knows where He’s going with it all. He’s got the big picture in his mind.

So here’s the detail of how to get it all ready…

– Find a detailed picture of Jesus. Either a close up of his face (like the one used for the Passion publicity), or one of him on the cross would work well.

– Make the picture greyscale, and perhaps increase the contrast so that it is easier to distinguish the grey areas.

– Split the picture up into a grid and blow it up.

– Print it out, cut it up, and write the code on the back:

Thanks go to Kat Orr who used this idea at Leading Edge a few years ago.

Creative prayer idea: oragami game thing

I haven’t used this idea, and it’s not totally formed yet, but thought I’d share it with you anyway!

Who doesn’t remember making one of these oragami quiz/game things in boring lessons at school? I seem to remember them being particularly good for predicting who you would end up marrying, whilst at the same time being exceptionally excellent at getting that particular fact so very wrong…

Anyway, how about a bit of reclaiming of this old school time filler, as a creative prayer resource (click here for instructions on making/using it). You could either make them beforehand with prayer requests already inside them, or you could get people to make them during a session and fill in their own, or the groups prayer requests. People then play the game in twos and pray for the request they end up landing on. They then take it home with them and continue to use it for prayer during the following week.

Alternatively you could be used in a response time where people write their thoughts, or commitments to actions in the spaces e.g. people could write in things like: ask a random person if you can pray for them today, bless someone financially today, make someone laugh. Then each day they play the game and try to do the thing it lands on.

Or you could write Bible verses in them e.g. verses relating to our identity in God and do something with that.

Basically, you can use it however you like really in a variety of different setting. Let me know how you get on with it if you do use it, I’d be interested to know.