Throwback Thursday: Chalkboard Altar

18 09 2014

Chalkboard paint has been ubiquitous in the crafting world for several years.  The ultimate DIY supply, it can spruce up and personalize anything…from tabletops to wine glasses.

Two years ago, we decided to redo the altar in our youth room, using — you guessed it — chalkboard paint. The project itself was simple. We already had a wooden altar, and we just painted it with three coats of paint.

After that, the possibilities were endless!

Altar1Notice the mirrors on the wall? 

Wondering what you could do with a chalkboard altar? Here are just a few ideas to spark your creativity:

Altar21. Distribute copies of a Scripture passage. Ask students to write or draw the images or words that stand out to them the most. (In the photo at left, students responded to Hebrews 13:15-16)

2. Collaborate with the budding artists in your youth group ahead of time, and invite them to create an original backdrop to enhance your upcoming series or worship service.

3. Collect prayer requests by encouraging students to write down the names of people whom they would like to pray for.

4. Write out a simple Bible verse, and lead students in a Word Association Prayer.

Altar45. Pose a question to your students, and ask them to answer it on the altar.  (In the photo at right, we asked students about something they wanted to say “no” to. On the other side of the altar, not pictured, they illustrated what they wanted to say “yes” to.)

6. Divide students into groups, and assign them each a section from a longer passage of Scripture. Have them illustrate the passage, storyboard style, with each group in charge of one panel.

7. Set up an ongoing prayer station, where students can freely come to write or draw whatever is on their heart.

8. Cover the altar in chalk, and explore the spiritual practice of erasing. Might be a great object lesson to teach about forgiveness!

How else could you use a chalkboard altar??

 





The Pallet Post

12 07 2013

One day before high school mission trip…All of the paperwork was filled out, all of the programming was written, and all of the supplies had been bought. (Hallelujah!!)

But instead of taking a rest, Luke (my summer intern) and I went on an adventure around town to create a Pinterest-inspired worship background. First, we had to find a free pallet. (Shreveport folks, if you need a free pallet, I can connect you!) Then, we printed and cut out giant letter stencils. Next, we experimented with white spray paint that we found in a closet before moving on to our more effective acrylic paint. We ended up staying up at the church until well into the evening!

Each night of the trip, we explored one of the “One Another” verses in the Bible. Some of our girls took responsibility for adding a new word each night, and then on the last night, we had each participant sign the board using a paint pen.

Love, love, love the result!!! Here’s the evolution of our pallet:

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In honor of World Communion Sunday…

8 10 2012

Here are some pictures from my worship experience last Sunday. My master’s degree cohort attended a trilingual church in West Philadelphia, and it was a beautiful experience of what the body of Christ can be!

Every Scripture passage, every song lyric, every prayer had to be repeated three times: once in Spanish, once in English, and once in Indonesian. In contrast to most churches I know, which aim to get people out the door in exactly 60 minutes, this service showed us the value of slowing down…even if we only understood 1/3 of what was being said. But it was a beautiful inefficiency, reminding us of our connection to Christians throughout the world and throughout history.

The service was wonderfully inclusive and participatory. Men and women of all different nationalities sang in the band onstage; then, after each reading, three new speakers would move to the podium for the next segment of the service. Probably half of the congregation was involved somehow in leading worship for their church.

There’s just something about stumbling through the Indonesian lyrics of “Shout to the Lord” that makes you appreciate the power of music. Many of the tunes were familiar to me; some were not. I can hardly put into words how amazing it was to know that we were all praising the same God, with the same tunes, in our own languages.

The sermon for the morning was about prayer; but rather than simply challenging us to pray “more” or “better,” the pastors sent us into the neighborhood to pray. So we, the Urban Studies students who had just arrived in the city one day earlier, joined lifelong residents and immigrant families in praying for their community.

We returned to the church to share a meal together…well, two meals really. First, the sacred Communion ritual practiced by Christians worldwide. Then, a home-cooked Indonesian meal prepared and served by the church members.

 

It was an incredible start to the week. I was challenged throughout the residency to deepen my faith, sharpen my reason, and act upon my sense of justice; this church spoke to me on all three levels. Church members admitted freely that they were far from perfect; they’ve had their share of growing pains and cultural misunderstandings. But in spite of it all, they have remained faithful to their calling: growing, serving, and worshiping together.

(photos by Nathan Corbitt)





Mosaic Crosses

30 04 2012

At our spring retreat this year, we spent a night thinking about grace and salvation. We looked at the story of the woman caught in adultery and talked about how the message of the cross is that God makes beautiful things out of our brokenness. After singing, playing a game, and talking through this story, we divided into our small groups for a time of creative response. We gave each group a hammer, old towels, and one ceramic tile per person. We invited the youth to smash their tile into tiny pieces as they reflected on the idea of “brokenness.” (The idea was, each small group would amass a variety of different colored tile pieces in the process). Then, we passed out plain wooden crosses (we bought them for $1 at Hobby Lobby), mosaic grout, and plastic spoons, and we let the youth create to their hearts’ content! Hand wipes also came in handy (no pun intended).

If you want to do this craft for less money and less mess, check home improvement stores and ask if you can have their broken tile pieces. But for us, it totally worked to break our own tiles!

breaking tiles

Jordan's cross in progress

Remind students not to eat the grout 🙂

one small group's completed crosses!





Manifesto!

15 04 2012

Another video, because I was super proud of my youth today!!! Our youth band led music in our contemporary service and combined with the adult praise band for the song Manifesto, by City Harmonic.  (Sorry we didn’t catch it from the beginning. But take notice…we staid Methodists were actually raising our hands in worship!!!)





Stations of the Cross: Year 1

5 03 2012

As we gear up for our third annual Stations of the Cross worship service, I thought I’d take a look back at what we’ve done in previous years.  During the first year (2010), we simply started with the question, “Where would Jesus go if he lived in Bossier City, Louisiana?”  And so we found modern-day parallels for the events in the Gospel of Matthew: Mardi Gras parades symbolized the original palm parade, and the parsonage served as our “Upper Room.”  Along the way we passed out both Mardi Gras beads and Fig Newtons.

The highlight of the evening: we  colluded with the city marshal (also a member of the church) to stage the arrest of one of the youth counselors.  It was all great fun until the police cars pulled up, and we realized, for the first time, how everything might look to other people in the park. Our buses were in the parking lot with our church’s name plastered across the side, but to my knowledge, no one ever called the church to inquire. (And since we had already been to the pastor’s house that night, he was in on the stunt!)

The “arrested” youth counselor was a high school teacher, and some of our kids posted information about the evening to their facebook statuses … long story short, she ended up in the principal’s office the next morning.  Fortunately, her principal has a good sense of humor and actually commended her for making the story of Jesus more exciting for young people!

Here’s our template for the evening, complete with Scriptures, readings, and materials/set-up information.  Feel free to use and adapt for your own context…and let me know how it goes!

Download here: 2010 Stations of the Cross





Happy New Year! (aka. One Sleepless Night…)

15 12 2011

Ever since my very first youth ministry job back in college, I have wanted to host a sleepover on the night before Advent, and theme it as a New Year’s Eve Party (you know, to celebrate the beginning of the Christian New Year!)

This year, that dream finally became a reality!  We invited three other youth groups to join us, and the result was certainly a night to remember!

Here was our schedule:

7 p.m. – Meet at the church
7:30 p.m. – Roller Skating
9:00 p.m. – Photo Scavenger Hunt
(let me be honest…we didn’t plan this one ahead of time…but the youth were getting bored, and we had to come up with something fast! It ended up being the kids’ favorite part of the whole night!)
10:45 p.m. – Worship at our church (to ring in the New Year!)
12:30 a.m.– Bowling

Sending our prayers up to God (photo by Eric McFarland)

3:00 a.m. – Games at another church
5:00 a.m. – Movie at another church (we chose Elf)
7:00 a.m. – Breakfast and closing worship at another church (we had a cool prayer service, where the youth wrote their prayers on paper lanterns and we lit them on fire as they rose up in the sky!)
8:30 a.m. – Early church to worship with the whole congregation!
(although, fair warning…don’t sit in the front row, because your kids will be nodding off the whole service!)

The late-night worship service was my favorite…we turned out the lights in the Fellowship Hall, and gave all of the youth glow necklaces.  We focused on living a “different” life (i.e. a different calendar, a different rhythm of being).  Right as midnight struck, we served communion.  In addition to receiving bread and juice, they also received a noisemaker with which to ring in the New Year!  It was a really neat mix of solemn worship and joyful celebration…a balance we should probably try to strike a little more often.

Here’s a video from the communion portion of the service (notice the noisemakers in the background, getting louder and louder as the song goes on!)

I’m pretty partial to the worship leader in this video, as he happens to be my husband! 🙂