Suzybower's Blog

Creative ideas for church and youth ministry.

Archive for creative

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.



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!

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 resources blog

I’ve just come across a really great blog full of creative resources for youth ministry. Check it out here:

I look forward to checking out the websites he has suggested.


Creative Communion: idea & service plan

On Easter Sunday evening we were due to have a communion service. There was some debate as to whether it was appropriate to have communion which focussing on the cross, on a day when we are supposed to be remembering the resurrection. In the end we decided we would do a service based around living in the hope and light of the resurrection which is possible through the cross.

So this got my brain ticking over about light, and I decided to make a light box type thing as part of communion:

I used hot cross buns for the communion bread (mainly because I had loads left over!), and shone a lamp from underneath the bread (The bread was placed on a cooling rack, but you could use a piece of glass or transparent plastic if it was on a larger scale). As people took the bread, the light shone through more strongly. I then spoke about God’s kingdom breaking through here on Earth.

For more creative ways to do communion, check out this amazing resource: ‘Tabled’

In case you’re interested in how the whole communion service fitted together, here was the plan (let me know if you want a copy of the service plan with all the verses, and also the little service booklets I made).

Service plan

SETTING AND INTRODUCTION: As people arrived I stood outside to welcomed them and give them a service booklet. I asked them to remain silent as they went in, and to reflect on the verses about light that were pinned up around the room, or just sit and be. The chairs were positioned around the outside with the light box thing in the middle. There was some plinky plonky music playing as background (Arvo Part, Spiegel im Spiegel).

– The room was in darkness as people arrived, apart from the light coming off a video clips of various sunrises.

– As the service progressed I lit more candles around the room so it physically got lighter, until the last song which we went outside for and watched the sunset whilst we were singing.

BEGINNING BIT: I lit the candle in the middle of the room (representing Jesus) and read out various verses about light.

FOCUSSING ON: I spoke briefly about the light imagery surrounding the resurrection (Matt 28:3, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:4) and explained the link we were making between light, communion and the resurrection.

SUNG WORSHIP: All Hail the Lamb, Our God is an awesome God interspersed with Our God reigns, Jesus is Lord.

CONFESSION AND FORGIVENESS: ‘Forbid it Lord that I might boast’, ‘All the vain things that charm me most’. Words from the next song. Reflect on these things that charm us, and that we are boastful of (give a few mins for confession in silence).

– ‘I sacrifice them to you all’. Spend a few momnets seeking forgiveness for those things.

– Ephesians 5:8 – once in darkness, now live as children of light.

SUNG WORSHIP: When I survey

TALK: About hope/light/resurrection/God’s kingdom breaking through here on Earth made possible through the cross.

COMMUNION: As described above.

– Jesus is the light of the world, and now we are also the light of the world (Matt 5:14)

PRAYERS: for those in need of God’s light.

SUNG WORSHIP: Light of the world. Everyone was given a tealight, and during this song one person lit their candle from the middle flame (which had been lit from the beginning, representing Jesus), then passed this on to others – representing that we need to take God’s light into dark situations.

– Thine be the glory: by this point the room was light with all the candles I had been lighting throughout, but we went outside for the final song and watched the sunset – it was truly glorious! When I’m leading a service, I usually find it difficult to focus on God rather than on the next item on the programme – but this moment was just amazing and I will remember it for quite a while I think. We then hung around after the service to polish off the hot cross buns. Perfect end to Easter day!

Let me know if you want a copy of the service plan with all the verses, and also the little service booklets I made.

Things needed:

– Verses about light printed out to be stuck around the room.

– Sunrise videos: youtube, search for sunrise time lapse.

– Plinky plonky music (e.g. Arvo Part, Spiegel im Spiegel)

– Light box thing with commuion on.

– A lot of candles – check with health and safety person first!

– Service sheets.

(Thanks go to Ben Bell who sparked off the idea of doing a service that gradually gets lighter – he does this for advent services, what a fab idea!)


Psalm 139

What an amazing discovery, I’m pretty excited.

It’s a bit like a doodle, but with words = wordle.

Basically there’s a website where you can type in some text or a url and get a wordle (e.g. the image shown above). You can then edit this and make it into whatever style you like.

My initial thoughts were that this would make a great accompaniment to a reading or sermon/talk. Or you could print them out onto card so that people could add their own wordles/doodles as you’re speaking. I’ve always been a bit of a doodler, so I love it when people leave space for that kind of thing on their handouts.

Anyway, have a little play at

Thanks go to Steve for introducing me to this wonderful thing!

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.