by Kelly Soifer
Unexpectedly, I was asked to teach about Advent in two distinctly different contexts: to an adult Sunday school at my church, where the ages range from 40-75, and to the student body of a Christian high school where I was the campus pastor. I thought it would be a cool challenge to keep my lessons essentially the same for both age groups (either that, or I’m really lazy and didn’t want the extra work).
After only two weeks of this grand experiment, I have concluded that very few people outside pretty traditional liturgical churches, whether aged 14 or 75, knows much about Advent! What a sad state of affairs. Advent dates back to the fourth century and is a remarkably symbolic, powerful spiritual exercise. Before I started preparing these lessons, I thought Advent was about cute little kids, candles, and calendars with candy. So did a lot of others! Boy oh boy, are we missing the boat.
Advent is not only a reminder of how God-followers waited for Messiah 2,000 years ago; Advent guides us in our own wandering today as we wait for that dear Messiah to come again for us. In other words, it’s not just about the first coming; it’s about his Second Coming too. Advent is intended to be practice for an entire life of “Advent faith,” where we wait daily with hope and expectation.
Click the link below to download an introductory lesson on the power of Advent, in PowerPoint (MS) and Keynote (Mac). The lesson is purposely “non-Christmas-y” in its formatting and backgrounds in order to get your class or group to break Advent out of a solely Christmas mindset. Make sure you read the comments (MS Word version) or Presenter Notes (Keynote) to now how to guide the lesson.
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.