Suzybower's Blog

Creative ideas for church and youth ministry.

Archive for Youth group

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.

Lent Meal cont.

I ran with the idea from my previous post. Here is us sharing our special lent meal…

When talking of ‘skills’ (in the nepolian dynamite sense), I would pride myself on having good skills in the following areas: hospitality, cooking and baking. I must say that before the young people arrived I started getting nervous and felt a bit guilty that I was only going to feed them rice and water! Anyway, the young people responded really well, most of them found it amusing and they all ate a good plate or two full of rice. Here is the plan I settled on in the end (mostly taken from this rethinking youth ministry resource).

One of the main things that stuck with me after the experience was the fact that fairly soon after eating a big plate full of rice I was soon hungry again. All of the young people, except one, had something else to eat once they arrived back home. How fortunate we are to be able to fill up on other things from our kitchen cupboards, when many around the world would not have this option.

Anyway, let me know how you get on if you give this one a go. Especially if you take it down a different route to the one I went down, I’d love to hear what you and your young people make of it.

Lent Meal

[See also the follow up post to this one here]

Last year one of my friends decided that for the 40 days of lent he was only going to eat rice and daal, as this is the staple diet for many people around the world. However, after a few meals of daal he was ill and decided that he didn’t really like it. So he ended up just eating rice for 2 meals a day. I take my hat off to him that he managed to do it! He is giving it another go this year and has managed to persuade his wife to join him.

Although I would not ever recommend the rice diet to any of my young people, I wondered if there was some way I could use this idea in a youth group setting. My plan is to invite the youth group over for Sunday lunch, and then only serve them rice and water. During the meal there are a number of different possible directions I could head in (I suggest using only one!):

– Explore themes of lent through informal input and discussion. e.g. using the story of Jesus in the wilderness to spark discussion. Rethinking Youth Ministry Blog has a great e-book full of lent ideas, including a Bible study that could easily be adapted to use during the meal.

– Exploring the poverty and justice route. How fortunate we are to not expect rice and water for every meal. This lent time, be extra thankful about what God has given us. Perhaps commit to supporting a particular cause with time/money/fundraising etc.

– Simply have a few questions and a bit of input in mind, but then let the young people reflect on the meal themselves and come up with their own thoughts.

Enjoy!

Jigsaw prayers – creative worship idea

Things needed: blank jigsaw, or jigsaw with picture of Jesus on, pens.

Buy a blank jigsaw, or make your own from a thick piece of card using a jigsaw template. If using the blank one you could ask people to write or draw prayers on a piece, and then pray for others requests as the jigsaw is constructed by the group.

Or alternatively you could print a picture of Jesus or the cross on the jigsaw, people could draw or write confessions on the back of a piece, and add it the jigsaw.

One of the pitfalls of alternative worship is it often more individually focussed. Putting the jigsaw together as a group brings in a lovely communal aspect to the activity. When God made the world he remarked at the end of most days that ‘it was good’. However, after the whole of creation was finished, it was only in this completeness that God thought it was ‘very good’. As human beings made in the image of a trinitarian God it is good for us to worship in community with others (Smail 2005). When we are all together, playing our part in the jigsaw that is church – I feel sure that God would see it as ‘very good’.

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!

Christmas service in a stable

It’s that time of year again…

Time to dig out last year’s fairy lights (what they take away in authenticity, they more than make up for in aesthetics),

Dress up in excessive layers of clothing,

And last but not least heat up the hot spiced apple, and mince pies,

then trek over to a nearby farm for an advent service in a stable.

 

The service plan was pretty similar to last years but with more carols (and more people!) added this time. Check it out here.

Many thanks go the horses who made the whole thing possible by being willing to sacrifice their stable for the evening. We couldn’t have done it without you.

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.