Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on rethinkingyouthministry.com and is reprinted here with permission.
by Brian Kirk
With Christmas music and decorations appearing in stores in the middle of October, it’s a sure sign that our culture needs to slow down and cultivate the spiritual practice of waiting. Though many churches ignore the liturgical calendar, the way our culture runs headlong into the Christmas season (before we’ve even tasted Thanksgiving turkey) reminds us why our youth need the Advent season of waiting and contemplation.
My youth ministry is a cooperative effort with another local church and a recent joint event centered on a great creative project. We set the youth loose to create works of art centered on the themes of Advent. After getting a quick lesson on collage from an artist, the youth proceeded to gather together scrap materials, magazines, odds and ends, glue, paint, brushes, and anything else they could find to spur the creative imagination. They then worked together on large sheets of cardboard to create art pieces, each focused on a different theme of advent: Peace, Hope, Love, and Joy.
The teens were encouraged to think abstractly, working without too much planning and just striving to express the feeling of each theme word. Some youth spent their whole time on one art piece. Others rotated around and added something to every piece. The first image below was created as a collage of faces cut out of magazines. The favorite creation was the “peace” image.
Think about trying this with your group and then displaying each themed painting outside your sanctuary or worship space on the corresponding Sunday. Perhaps include some scripture texts or a written devotion for reflection.
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.