Suzybower's Blog

Creative ideas for church and youth ministry.

Archive for all age

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’.

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.

Shooting Jesus: Easter Resource

Jesus' triumphant entry

For the past couple of years I’ve used a resource over Easter called ‘Shooting Jesus’. Check out the website to find out more about the inspiration for the project and about the people behind the whole thing. But basically it’s a collection of 6 photos portraying scenes from the Easter story in a modern day setting. There are discussion questions to accompany each photo, and a resource pack with ideas about what it can be used for (including primary school assemblies/lessons if I remember correctly). The photos can be downloaded free, or you can buy the pack.

I used this resource a couple of years ago as part of an easter alternative service. We explored the story through the photos, discussion, sung worship, and a video clip from Jesus of Nazareth (with the sound muted and another song played over the top). It seemed to go down well, and was particularly engaging for the table of young people. Some of their comments were really perceptive (and they loved all the conceptual arty stuff!). I used the resource again the following year in a youth group setting – and again it went down well.

If you want to use the resource for an audience older than primary school age, then it may be a good idea to alter some of the discussion questions. Let me know if you want a copy of the ones we used.

Something that would have been nice to do if we had the space and the right setting would be to put the photos up at different stations around the room. Then at each station you could have discussion/creative worship/multimedia stuff. I think it could be quite powerful to feel like you are walking with Jesus on a journey through his last few weeks on Earth.

The Resurrection and Ascension

Again, thanks go to Ben Bell for being part of this project, then introducing it to our PFG meeting and letting us have a little sneak preview.

Whiter than snow (creative prayer)

Needed: snow, bowls for the snow to go in.

Very simple, but whilst the world was all beautifully white and snowy I asked the young people to go and get some snow each in a bowl. We chatted a bit about David’s life and the background behind Psalm 51.  I then invited the young people to reflect on the imagery of ‘wash me, I shall be whiter than snow’ as I  read out some of Psalm 51, Isaiah 1:16-18 and some other verses about forgiveness (interspersed with silence).

We then shared any thoughts or reflections that we had been mulling over.

You could adapt this idea to: Play a song as people use the snow to reflect on forgiveness (e.g. ‘Search Me’ by Vicky Beeching from Yesterday, Today and Forever album). I would encourage you to still ask people to feedback at the end, thus making the worship more corporate rather than individualistic. And from an extroverts point of view, is good for some people to be able to formalize what they have been thinking about.

[Photo courtesy of Kore via flickr – a fab site]

Another String Thing

Things needed: String, paper, cellotape.

The other week at our cafe style service, we were focussing on the story of the woman at the well. The theme of the service was an encounter with Jesus, leading to sharing the good news with others. As a response to this people had the opportunity to respond in a number of different ways – one of which involved string again….

I encouraged people to think about their journey with God, and to map this out using a piece of string on paper. So for example they could map out moments in their lives when things weren’t so great with God by making that bit a messy ball of string. Or the string could go along flat at times when their faith in God was fairly stable etc.

We then asked people to tell their story to one another using this as a tool. Some great conversations came out of this time, and I was particularly touched by my young people’s honesty in talking about some of the high points and low points of their faith.

Also, if you’re looking at the story of the woman at the well, then there’s a brilliant video by Student Life that can be found on the Kore website:

Using creativity for reflection

Things needed: general arty bits and pieces, nature.

Having arty materials on hand so people can respond to, or reflect on sessions is a great way for people to express what’s being going on inside their heads. People all learn in different way, so it’s not always good for everyone, but I’ve found that there are always some people within each group who really value having space to respond creatively.

Our church recently had an away day, where we were looking at the ‘centrifugal kingdom’ – in a nutshell, not being inwardly focused but instead looking to how we can engage with people outside of the church. For the last session of the day people had the option of how they wanted to respond, including in an arty way, or through discussion, or just going for a walk either with a group or on their own.

I had been asked to run the arty thing, so I just brought along a load of different paints and materials. I didn’t direct people much, but instead let them respond in whatever way they wanted to. One lady wasn’t arty in a painting and drawing way, so I suggested that she collected different things from the grounds, and did something with them. We also had a couple of children who wanted to do the arty stuff, which was great.

Overall I guess my reflections were:

– An arty response can be so simple to facilitate, and if left really loose can enable people to be as creative as possible.

– It engages all ages.

– It’s not only for people who can draw or paint. Everyone is creative because we were made in the image of a creative God.