Sidewalk Chalk Prayers

29 02 2012

This is one of my favorite creative prayer ideas, which I stole from Steven Case’s book Crash: Prayers from the Collision of Heaven and Earth.  We’ve done this activity twice: once on our high school mission trip last year, and once about a month ago during youth group.  Although the context was different in each situation, it worked really well for us both times and proved to be a great way to get students’ creative juices going! I could see this working really well as a community-building art activity, as well.

1. First, choose your Scripture.  (Case recommends choosing something simple.  We’ve done Ephesians 4:4-6 and Galatians 5:22-23 ).  Before your students arrive, write the verse out in big letters on a parking lot or sidewalk. Use big letters!!

2. Give each student a piece of sidewalk chalk, and spend some time explaining the concept of word associations (i.e. What’s the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear the word clock? Time.  Okay, what’s the first word that comes into your mind when you hear the word time? Race.  And so on.)  Tell them that they will be brainstorming word associations from the various words in the Scripture passage by drawing a line from the original word and adding their new word.  They can offshoot from any word in the parking lot, not just the original words of Scripture.  And they don’t have to write Sunday School answers…just the first

word that comes into their mind.

3. Remind them before they begin that this is a form of prayer.  (We made our students do this exercise in silence).  Then see what happens!

4. The debriefing is up to you.  The first time, we talked about the words the students had written; the second time, we had our students walk back over their words in silence.

Click on each of the photos for a better look!

Donations (not!) Accepted

28 02 2012

For the past month, the children’s ministry at our church has been collecting stuffed animals for a mission project at Shriner’s hospital. This morning, our children’s minister was sorting through the donations bins.  There were your usual stuffed elephants and tigers and dogs.  And then, there was this:

There’s so much wrong here, I don’t even know where to begin.  First of all, this doll has no nose or mouth, just two black button eyes.  And then, the doll itself!  (The backside was even raunchier than the front!  I’ll leave that to your imagination, though…)

Best of all (worst of all??), there was not just one, but TWO, of these lovely donations.  We’re still trying to figure out what to do with them…but needless to say, they will not be given to the children at the hospital!

Photo of the Day!

28 02 2012

Location: Shreveport, LA

How is it with YOUR soul?

27 02 2012

Three reasons that I am especially thankful for my Wesleyan heritage this Lenten season:

1. Connectionalism!!  (A big fancy word describing the polity of the United Methodist Church.)  Unlike a lot of Baptist or non-denominational churches, we Methodists are deeply connected through a (sometimes tedious) system of districts, conferences, and jurisdictions.  The youth workers in our district have really capitalized on this connection: we meet together monthly for lunch and fellowship, we plan crazy fun events together (like our lock-out last fall or the Mardi Gras parade last week!), and we’ve just started a Lenten Bible study together.  For the next six Thursdays, we are meeting in various churches for a brown-bag lunch and discussion of Richard Rohr’s book Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent.

2. Diversity: Okay, we could still do better in this area.  But the 11 of us who got together last Thursday represented a variety of different backgrounds, and none of us is exactly the ‘typical’ youth minister (only one goatee in the whole bunch!)  In all seriousness, though, we are going to learn so much from each other!  The oldest in our group has been in full-time youth ministry for 22 years; the newest member, for just 26 days!  Some have kids, some have “other jobs,” some are working toward ordination, some are in school, some are single…no matter what issue we discuss, we are guaranteed to have a lot of different wisdom and perspectives to share.

art journal page

3. Small Group Heritage: John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was a big believer in small groups.  He organized people into “bands” and “class meetings” for Scripture study and accountability.  Each small group was instructed to begin with the question, “How is it with your soul?”  Up until last week, I always found that question to be a little invasive, and rather difficult for an icebreaker!  But last Thursday, I realized what power this question has!  Our souls, we discovered, were tired, frazzled, excited, burned out, overwhelmed, and joyful.  As we responded to this simple question, we were able to understand each other on an much deeper level than we would have otherwise.  And the lovely thing about gathering together with other youth workers is: we get each other!  As each person shared, I looked around the room and saw the rest of us nodding our heads.  Whether or not we had been in that exact situation before, we understood…and thus were able to validate each other’s fears, questions, and vulnerabilities.

Often we think of Lent as a time of going into the desert, where it is dry and barren.  But we are discovering that we find God in that very same wilderness…so it can’t really be empty, can it?  Perhaps instead, Lent is a season of oasis and refreshment, in the midst of the deserts where we find ourselves! 

Lord’s Prayer Stations!

27 02 2012

my favorite station: "Forgive us our trespasses..."

Last night, as part of our Lenten series on prayer, we set up a series of small group stations to take an interactive look at the Lord’s Prayer.  I’m including our planning resource as a free download if you ever want to use it!

Download here: Lords Prayer Stations

Here’s what made this work (for us…of course, feel free to adapt with your own group!):

1. We did NOT have the students go to the stations in order. At each station, the youth received a foam puzzle piece, on which they re-wrote that section of the Lord’s prayer (in youth-friendly words!)  After completing all the stations, each small group put their puzzle together to see their final version of the prayer.

2. We gave each group a candle to take with them to each station, as a way of marking that space as sacred.  This simple technique helped keep the youth focused throughout the evening!

3. These stations really engaged all five senses (including smell and taste, which  I find notoriously hard to incorporate into Bible study!)

4. We paired a high school senior up with each of the middle school groups…and it worked great!  Our seniors stepped up to the challenge of leading their groups, and the middle schoolers loved having a “fun adult” at the stations with them.  Afterward, one of the seniors remarked, “My favorite part was at the end, when I had them put their puzzle together and read what they had written.  That’s when I realized: they got it.  It worked.”  

(And when he shared that, I thought the exact same thing!)