Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on rethinkingyouthministry.com and is reprinted here with permission.
by Brian Kirk
This is a cool ancient form of prayer that asks you to think back over the last week or month. Let your mind wander through the following questions as you pray: Thinking back over the recent past, focus on the moments when you were most grateful and the moments when you were least grateful. What were they? Which moments did you give and receive God’s love the most? When did you give and receive love the least? When you were paying the most attention to the love of God in the world? When were you paying the least attention? Finish by thanking God for the gift of today and ask for guidance in being more open to God’s presence in your daily life.
Pick up a Bible and start reading. Select a verse such as, “Truly, I say to you,as you did it to one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it to me” and turn it into a prayer: “God help me to to reach out to the least of these in my world and to treat them as your beloved children.” Or select a Psalm as an inspiration for prayer. Try taking the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and write your own translation in a way that reflects your life and needs.
If prayer is a conversation, then you also need to listen in silence. Simply sit in silence, perhaps close your eyes, and see what comes to you.
Pick up some natural object nearby (a rock, a leaf, a stick, a flower) and just focus on it for awhile. Admire all its details, its quality, its texture. Consider what a gift this piece of nature is and give thanks.
Using paper or a journal, make a word cloud or list of all the things in your life or in the world for which you are thankful. If you are feeling artistic, doodle images of all the things you are thankful for today.
Chanting or repeating a mantra over and over can focus your thoughts and free your mind to be open to new things. Pick a word to say slowly and repeatedly to yourself quietly (or in your thoughts) such as “love,” “peace,” “life,” or perhaps the name of someone or something important to you. You could also choose a phrase such as “Jesus, be with me,” or “God so loves the world,” or “Open my mind, open my heart.”
What are the big questions of life you’d like answers to today? You know—the ones like, “Why is there suffering in the world?” Spend some time just asking those questions, one after another, offering them to God and see what happens.
Close your eyes for awhile and imagine the world as God would have it be—not as it is. What do you see? How is that world different from the one we live in today? Now imagine yourself as part of that vision, helping to make it come true. What are you doing? How is God calling you to be part of bringing that vision to reality in your own little corner of the world?
Find a copy of a finger labyrinth. Sit in a quiet place and take time to slowly trace your finger along the path of the labyrinth, all the way to the center and the slowly back out. Even better, use a finger of your non-dominant hand. As you move along the path, spend time thinking about your journey of faith, the journey of your life, all the people you have met, the things you have done, the problems you have overcome, the challenges you still face, and focus on where you have encountered God along the way.
Take off your shoes and sit in the grass. Let your feet and hands feel the cool grass and the earth beneath you. Open your awareness to the natural world around you and see yourself as part of it. Listen for sounds of insects and animals. Sense the movement of the wind. Enjoy the warmth of the sun. Give thanks for your place in God’s creation.
We are hearing from numerous youth ministers that during this season their plate is just too full. Caring for others is a ministry staple, but often it comes at the expense of caring for oneself. Self care for the Youth MInister is so important. If you don’t take time for yourself and your own relationship with God, not only will you suffer, but eventually your students will too.
We’ve created a Pandemic Youth Week curriculum bundle that combines elements of both a summer camp and a youth week. Many youth are missing out on both of these due to cancelled camps and trips among other cancelled important events your youth would usually attend. We’ve written this curriculum such that it can be used in person while socially distancing, online, or some combination of both.
Despite all the challenges the pandemic has presented to youth ministries, it has also created an opportunity to allow youth more involvement in worship. Although youth sunday will look very different this year, it is a great opportunity to empower our youth to be leaders. Youth’s comfort and familiarity with technology make them a great resource for churches who are seeking to move their worship services online for the first time.