Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Discipleship

Postmodern Youth Ministry Ideas

The rules have changed. Everything you believe is suspect. The world is up for grabs. Or have they?

Welcome to the emerging postmodern culture. A free zone of rapid change that places high value on community, authenticity, even God-but has little interest in modern, Western-tinged Christianity.

Digging Deeper for the Heart of God

The rules have changed. Everything you believe is suspect. The world is up for grabs. Or have they? Or have they? Welcome to the emerging postmodern culture. A free zone of rapid change that places high value on community, authenticity, even God-but has little interest in modern, Western-tinged Christianity.
 
This is a supplement to the Youth Specialties book "Postmodern Youth Ministry," by Tony Jones. And the "Going Deep thoughts in our book, "Into Thy Word,"  by Richard J. Krejcir

Here you'll find brief outlines for services and spiritual exercises-the kind of ancient-yet-modern expressions of faith that Tony discusses in Postmodern Youth Ministry. The sessions included are:

Living Stations of the Cross

see http://www.crivoice.org/stations.html  

Every three years at summer camp (so each camper only experiences it once), we run the Stations of the Cross. Using staff and counselors as actors, each of the following stations is set up somewhere in camp. All the campers and one counselor per cabin are gathered in the chapel in the evening where we have quiet reflective singing and prayer. One cabin at a time, they are released to follow Jesus' journey to the cross, singing a song between stations and reciting the following liturgy at each station. This can also be done with artwork, music, or any other experiential medium.

Also see the Cursillo retreat movement (to find out more, surf to www.natl-cursillo.org/whatis.html):

 

The Easter Vigil

There is a long-standing tradition in the church that Christians should "make Vigil" the night before Easter. Having gone through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the church has become a dark and depressing place. On Ash Wednesday, the Pascal Candle that symbolizes Christ's sacrifice is extinguished, and it remains, unlit, on the platform at the front of the sanctuary throughout Lent.

We gather with students and adults on Holy Saturday at 10 p.m. by the fireplace outside the sanctuary. Taking a flame from the hearth, we relight the paschal candle and follow it into the totally dark sanctuary. People are invited to take the flame from the paschal candle and light all of the other candles in the sanctuary.

The following liturgy reflects the ancient practice of focusing on many of the biblical passages about light and dark and about water, all leading to Easter morning-the light of Christ and the saving waters of baptism.

The Service of Light

Welcome

Opening prayer

Liturgy of the light

Leader: It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our whole heart and mind and voice, to praise you, the invisible, almighty, and eternal God, and your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam's sin, and by his blood delivered your faithful people.

Students: This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land.

Leader: This is the night when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life.

Students: This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.

Leader: How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son.

Students: How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord.

Leader: How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and men and women are reconciled to God.

All: Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this candle in your honor. May it shine continually to drive away all darkness. May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find it ever burning-he who gives his light to all creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. .

Procession of the light into the sanctuary

Responsive greeting

Leader: Jesus Christ is the light of the world,

Students: the light no darkness can overcome.

Leader: Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening

Students: and the day is almost over.

Leader: Let your light scatter the darkness

Students: and illumine your church.

Hymn: "O Gracious Light, Lord Jesus Christ"
The Phos Hilarion is an ancient hymn of light, found in most hymnals.

The Service of Lessons

First lesson: The Story of Creation   Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Silence
Prayer

Second lesson: The Flood   Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:13-18; 9:8-13
Silence

Third lesson: Israel's Deliverance   Exodus 14:21-15:1a

Song of Moses and Miriam (responsively)

Leader: I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and its rider he has thrown into the sea.

Students: The Lord is my strength and my song; he has been my Savior.

Leader: This is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.

Students: Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.

Leader: Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders?

Students: In your mercy you led forth the people you set free; you guided them in your strength to your holy habitation.

Leader: You will bring them in and plant them on the mount that is your possession,

Students: The place, O Lord, you have made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have prepared.

All: The Lord shall reign forever and ever.

Silence

Song: "Jesus, I Surrender"
Jesus, I surrender, all my life I give.
I'm sick of only dying, I want to really live.
You're the only one who can bring peace to my life,
so you can have me, Jesus, I yield you all my rights.
Lord, I'm yours. I surrender, I am yours. (Repeat line.) (Repeat all.)

Fourth lesson: Salvation Offered Freely to All   Isaiah 55:6-11
Silence
Prayer

Fifth lesson: A New Heart and New Spirit   Jeremiah 31:31-34

All (in unison): The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt--a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the Lord," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Sixth lesson: Dying and Rising with Christ     Romans 6:3-11
Silence

Seventh lesson: Sealing the Tomb    Matthew 27:57-66

Affirmation of faith
Apostles' Creed
All (in unison): I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Closing song: "All in All"

Benediction 

Reaffirmation of Baptism

Christy, who was graduating from high school, came to see me. She had been a faithful Christian as a sophomore and junior, but had fallen away from her faith as a senior. Before she left for college, she wanted to be baptized again. She said she didn't feel like her earlier baptism was valid because of how she had lived her life as a senior, so we talked about the nature of baptism in our tradition and about the pragmatics of baptizing people every time they fall away from Christ.

We decided it would be better for her to reaffirm her baptism, and I did some research on a service for such an occasion. Combining the best of the few I found, I designed the following service. Christy invited her family and a few of her closest friends, some of whom read scripture. We held the service in a circle at the front of the sanctuary. (You can modify this service for use with a large group.)

Welcome

Reaffirmation of baptismal vows

Do you turn to Christ? I turn to Christ.

Do you repent of your sins? I repent of my sins.

Do you renounce evil and the false values of this world? I renounce them.

And now I ask you to confess the faith into which you were baptized, and in which you continue to live and grow-

Do you believe in God, who made you and loves you? I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, your Savior and Lord? I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven; he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, and the continuing work of our salvation? I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

This is the faith of God's baptized people. We are not ashamed to confess it in Christ our Lord.

I ask you now to pledge yourselves to Christ's ministry in the world-

Will you continue in the community of faith, the apostles' teaching, the breaking of bread and the prayers? With God's help, I will.

Will you proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ? With God's help, I will.

Will you seek Christ in all people, and love your neighbor as yourself? With God's help, I will.

Will you strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every human being? With God's help, I will.

May almighty God, who has given us new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, keep you steadfast in the faith and bring you to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture readings

Silent meditation on the meaning of baptism

The pastor makes the sign of the cross with water on the forehead of each person who is reaffirming baptismal vows and says, "Remember that you have been baptized into Christ in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

The pastor then sprinkles water on everyone present (preferably with a palm branch), saying, "Remember your baptism!"

Close with a song and a prayer of blessing.

The Easter Vigil

There is a long-standing tradition in the church that Christians should "make Vigil" the night before Easter. Having gone through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the church has become a dark and depressing place. On Ash Wednesday, the Pascal Candle that symbolizes Christ's sacrifice is extinguished, and it remains, unlit, on the platform at the front of the sanctuary throughout Lent.

We gather with students and adults on Holy Saturday at 10 p.m. by the fireplace outside the sanctuary. Taking a flame from the hearth, we relight the paschal candle and follow it into the totally dark sanctuary. People are invited to take the flame from the paschal candle and light all of the other candles in the sanctuary.

The following liturgy reflects the ancient practice of focusing on many of the biblical passages about light and dark and about water, all leading to Easter morning-the light of Christ and the saving waters of baptism.

The Service of Light

Welcome

Opening prayer

Liturgy of the light

Leader: It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our whole heart and mind and voice, to praise you, the invisible, almighty, and eternal God, and your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam's sin, and by his blood delivered your faithful people.

Students: This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land.

Leader: This is the night when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life.

Students: This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.

Leader: How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son.

Students: How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord.

Leader: How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and men and women are reconciled to God.

All: Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this candle in your honor. May it shine continually to drive away all darkness. May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find it ever burning-he who gives his light to all creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. .

Procession of the light into the sanctuary

Responsive greeting

Leader: Jesus Christ is the light of the world,

Students: the light no darkness can overcome.

Leader: Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening

Students: and the day is almost over.

Leader: Let your light scatter the darkness

Students: and illumine your church.

Hymn: "O Gracious Light, Lord Jesus Christ"
The Phos Hilarion is an ancient hymn of light, found in most hymnals.

The Service of Lessons

First lesson: The Story of Creation   Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Silence
Prayer

Second lesson: The Flood   Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:13-18; 9:8-13
Silence

Third lesson: Israel's Deliverance   Exodus 14:21-15:1a

Song of Moses and Miriam (responsively)

Leader: I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and its rider he has thrown into the sea.

Students: The Lord is my strength and my song; he has been my Savior.

Leader: This is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.

Students: Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.

Leader: Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders?

Students: In your mercy you led forth the people you set free; you guided them in your strength to your holy habitation.

Leader: You will bring them in and plant them on the mount that is your possession,

Students: The place, O Lord, you have made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have prepared.

All: The Lord shall reign forever and ever.

Silence

Song: "Jesus, I Surrender"
Jesus, I surrender, all my life I give.
I'm sick of only dying, I want to really live.
You're the only one who can bring peace to my life,
so you can have me, Jesus, I yield you all my rights.
Lord, I'm yours. I surrender, I am yours. (Repeat line.) (Repeat all.)

Fourth lesson: Salvation Offered Freely to All   Isaiah 55:6-11
Silence
Prayer

Fifth lesson: A New Heart and New Spirit   Jeremiah 31:31-34

All (in unison): The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt--a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the Lord," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Sixth lesson: Dying and Rising with Christ     Romans 6:3-11
Silence

Seventh lesson: Sealing the Tomb    Matthew 27:57-66

Affirmation of faith
Apostles' Creed
All (in unison): I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Closing song: "All in All"

Benediction

Lectio Divina

This method of praying Scripture dates back to the Middle Ages (or before). Used most by monks of the Benedictine order, it has recently gained popularity among Protestants. We have used it often in our youth group and among the wider congregation, in private and with large groups.

Setting the mood and tone of the room is important-remember…it's used most often by monks and nuns in monasteries and convents. Candles and polyphonic chant can be effective in this regard. Remember also that creativity is key-there is no set form for lectio-it can be practiced in myriad ways. Lectio can take 10 minutes or two hours. The following four elements are often found, in some form or another, during lectio:

Lectio ("reading"): First, pick a biblical passage that naturally leads to reflective prayer-passages that lend themselves to this type of reading can be found in many books, but good places to start are the Psalms and the Johanine epistles. Choose a passage that's fairly short and have it read several times out loud by different voices in different cadences.

Meditatio ("meditation") / Ruminatio ("ruminate"): Give the opportunity to quietly reflect on the passage and listen for what God has to say (ruminate is from the Latin word for to chew)-listen for the word or phrase that seems to strike you in a unique way and contemplate that word (and only that word) in silence for an extended period of time.

Oratio ("speak"): There are two aspects to the speaking element of lectio. The first is prayer: Ask God, "Why this word? What are you saying to me today?" Deal with God and dialogue with God-and let God speak to you. The second aspect, when done in a group, is to speak what God has revealed to you to the group-this makes the truth real and adds a level of accountability.

Contemplatio ("contemplate"): Finally, spend some more time in silence, contemplating what has been revealed to you during lectio. One way is to quietly rest in God's presence; other ways are more active, such as writing or journaling, painting, or throwing pottery.

The Pilgrimage

In an attempt to bring the narrative of the gospel to life, we have a night at camp where the campers journey around the grounds in their cabin groups, visiting different stations. After about 10 minutes, a bell rings and they move to the next station. The stations change every year, but here are some examples:

Mosaic: Students write down prayer requests and praises on different colored sticky notes, which are then pasted to a big, bay window in the chapel. The rest of the week, the sun shines through these colorful pieces of paper-it's awesome!

Singing: A couple of our band members sit by a campfire and take requests for campers' favorite songs and lead them in singing with a guitar and hand drum.

The World: A map of the world is hung on the side of a cabin - a staff member gives an update on the persecution of Christians and of Christian missions in different countries, closing with prayer for Christians around the world.

Psalm: A psalm is written on tag board and hung on a wall. The campers and counselors are given paper and pen and asked to write the psalm in their own words.

Silence: At the station in the middle of a ball field, the campers and counselor kneel in silence.

Bracelet: Everyone makes the bracelet (common at camps) with a leather strap and five beads: white (grace), black (sin), red (blood), green (growth), and gold (streets of heaven).

Foot washing: The camp director reads John 13:1-20 and then washes the feet of every camper and counselor.

For more information contact Youth Specialties or San Francisco Theological Seminary's Youth Ministry Department 

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