In your career working with youth, inevitably someone (whether it is your Head of Staff or the Youth Committee or a well-meaning church matriarch) will suggest: “Hey, why don’t the youth lead a service?” I entitled my workshop at the upcoming ARW conference, “So You’ve Decided to Plan a Youth Sunday,” because such a thing isn’t for the faint of heart.
Before you retreat to the corner of your office and rock back and forth or make a youth-worker sized hole in the wall Kool-Aid Man style, take a deep breath. It’s all going to be ok.
Planning a Youth Sunday doesn’t have to be stressful. I’m going to offer you a few hacks to get your blood pressure back to normal. (For the full pro-tip/hack list, come to my workshop at ARW!)
Hack #1: Don’t try to write it all yourself. You are the facilitator, you are there to guide. So make sure you set your youth up for success. If you write it, it will sound like you wrote it. You want to make sure it sounds like the youth wrote it. And the youth can write it. I’ve done it for many years at different congregations -- it is possible. Your youth group doesn’t have to be full of theologians to write a great service, just give them a few resources and room to be creative. At my workshop, I’ll detail just how to facilitate the process and make it as smooth as possible.
Hack #2: Things won’t be perfect. We live in a messy world, and our liturgy will undoubtedly reflect that. Don’t worry if someone forgets a prayer or if the microphones go out or if that rogue five-year-old up front steals the show. You are there to show a different way to worship and to help the youth use their gifts to lead.
Hack #3: Keep your eyes and ears open. Be ready for the Holy Spirit to move as you plan and prepare. Oh, and come to ARW to learn more, meet fellow youth workers, and discuss new ideas with your colleagues.
Sarah Leer is Director of Youth and Their Families at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas. Sarah is a graduate of Wake Forest University, Columbia Theological Seminary (where she earned a Master of Arts in Theological Studies and a Master of Theology), and the Clinton School of Public Service. She is currently working on her Doctorate in Educational Ministry at Columbia Seminary. Sarah enjoys singing Broadway songs in her car, geeking out over pop culture, hanging out with her family, traveling, watching college football, and attending youth conferences that include energizers.
Many of us grew up thinking prayer had to happen according to certain formulas - on our knees at bedtime or as blessings before meals or as part of a worship service on Sunday mornings. Many of us just weren't very successful at the discipline of prayer on our own. Prayer stations provide people of all ages with creative ways to experience prayer using a variety of the senses. Stations can be designed to appeal to children, youth, adults, or intergenerational groups. Different stations appeal to different folks depending on their learning styles and preferences, personalities, and experience.
Prayer stations often engage both the right and left brain, as well as the senses. They invite us to connect with God and with our whole selves. Some stations involve visual arts (like praying while coloring or painting); some stations involve the whole body (like yoga poses or sign language prayers); other stations involve creative writing of prayers in response to Scripture prompts or some journaling; some invite prayer in response to photos of people or nature or places in the world.
Prayer stations are a great addition in retreat settings, as part of worship services, during youth groups, or as liturgical season prompts. There are lots of ideas for different prayer stations on line (such as on Pinterest) but you can get first hand experience with Prayer Stations at the Arts, Recreation, and Worship Conference at Montreat, NC in May 2020. Spend a week experiencing a variety of prayer stations, creating some new ones, and setting them up for other conferees to experience. Go home with a wealth of ideas to try out in your own setting. Let us pray.........
Deb Guess is an artist, gardener, lover of good food and all things creative, as well as a proud wife, mom and grandmom.
You can learn more about her ARW workshop HERE.
A new year means a new blog for the Arts, Recreation and Worship Conference. In the year ahead, this blog will be your resource for games, activities, projects, worship ideas AND previews of what's happening at this year's Arts, Recreation and Worship Conference.
The creative powerhouse of the ARW community is one like no other. Artists, youth directors, musicians, Christian educators, preachers, cooks, rec leaders and more come together to create and discover new ways of expressing, deepening and sharing our faith.
In the coming days and weeks, look to this blog as place to find inspiration, ideas and tools to help others recreate and renew through play, art and worship.
If you have a game, art project, worship idea or lesson that you'd like to share with this community, please contact our ARW Board Networking Chair, Anne Russ at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's to a happy, healthy and play-filled New Year!
Not-top-secret blog coming soon!