Suzybower's Blog

Creative ideas for church and youth ministry.

Archive for response

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:

String Thing

Things needed: string which can easily be untied.

I ran a session for my Friday night youth group on identity in God. As a response at the end I gave them all a piece of string, and asked them to think of three things that people had said about them or that they believed about themselves that was different to how God saw them. For each thing they identified I asked them to tie a knot in the string. They then swapped the string with someone else in the group who prayed for them as they untied the knots.

One of the young people said that she wanted to untie the string herself rather than giving it to someone else to do. I let her do this, but she had tied the last knot too tight. In the end after trying for quite a while she asked me to help her. I eventually loosened the knot, and gave it back to her to untie the rest of the way.

I found this experience really profound.

The girl’s struggle with the knot was a perfect illustration that issues to do with identity can be so deep rooted that they sometimes take years of wrestling with, and a lot of effort and determination to overcome. And when it’s difficult to see how that knot can ever be undone, the experience stood as a reminder that all the sheer determination and will power in the world may not be enough to be able to budge it. We need God, and God working through others to be able to undo those toughies.

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.