Posts Tagged ‘Youth Ministry’

We are getting ready for another great year at St. Luke. We are really excited for the High School group that meets during Sunday School. Things came together really great last year, and there’s a big group of 10th graders that have now completed confirmation.

Our main goals for the class include:

  1. Getting to know each other better and better throughout the year.
  2. Discovering stories of the Bible and how they matter in our lives today.
  3. Finding out ways that we (and other people) live out their faith.

A few ideas are “brewing,” but I really want to hear from YOU! I have been amazed at how smart, talented, funny, and faith-filled the young people of St. Luke are. It is important that all of you are involved in planning this class. Listed below are a few ideas that have come up. I’d love to hear what you think! Do you like all of thiese ideas? Some of them? NONE of them? Do you have any questions? EVEN BETTER: Do YOU have an idea of how we could spend time on Sunday morning that would help us meet the goals above? You can either comment on this page or email me!

IDEA #1 – “ECHO THE STORY” for exploring the Bible together.

There is a great new Youth learning series called Echo the Story. We would not use it every week, probably every 2-3 weeks as we alternate it with other things (like the ideas below) to keep a good variety on Sunday mornings. Here’s a short video that describes how Echo the Story works:

Weeks that we use Echo the Story will begin with a short video that starts with a fun question to discuss followed by a recap of “the story so far.” Here’s a couple samples:

After the video, everyone listens as a story is told. The stories are read in a way that shows how interesting, moving, and fun it is to hear a good story. While the story is read, everyone has a sketch journal to doodle or write in as they listen. Here is what some of the pages in the journals look like. With journals as a tool to help us experience and think about the stories, we are able to discuss how God’s story connects to our own stories and is meaningful in our lives.

IDEA #2 – FAITH STORIES – What following Jesus looks like.

Wouldn’t it be great to hear from some people about how their faith influences the way they live their life? We can devote some of our Sunday mornings to listening to someone tell us their faith story and then discuss with them what their faith looks like as they live it out. What do you think? Are there particular people (youth or adult) that you would like to invite to share their story?

IDEA #3 – REAL LIFE TOPICS

We can also spend some of our Sundays discussing topics that matter in the real world as we try to see ways that our faith can make a difference. It would be really great to get groups of 2 or 3 teens to pick a topic they are interested in leading and come up with a way for the group to learn about it and discuss (perhaps through sharing video clips or telling a story or sharing some information you’ve learned). What do you think? What topics would be great to discuss? Is there a topic you would like to help share with the group?

IDEA #4 – Youth & Adults Together for ANIMATE (Spring 2015)

For the last 2 years, there has been a really great spring adult class called ANIMATE. Using videos, ANIMATE has explored really great topics about Faith, God, and the Bible with help from speakers including Nadia Bolz-Weber and Shane Claiborne. Many times I have thought these would be great discussions to have with youth. I’m wondering what you all would think about spending 7 weeks in the spring in a class that would be about 50/50 youth and adults (of all ages) having these interesting conversations?

Here’s a sample of one of the videos:

So…there’s the ideas that have come up so far! PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND IDEAS! I can’t wait to see what God does this year! You can share your ideas by replying/commenting below or you can send me an email. THANKS!

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#ASP2014 Links

PHOTO ALBUM / Travel Day / New River Retreat / Worship at River & Arrival Day / Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5 / Affirmations

Tommy W. & Gillian H. working for Team Prince Edward.

Tommy W. & Gillian H. working for Team Prince Edward.

Many of us were moving a little bit slower at the start of our third day of work, but the energy for service was still evident as we gathered for morning devotions. One of the churches from Connecticut led the devotions, but pulled together a group of musicians to help lead the music, including myself.

Today I joined Team Prince Edward as they travelled high into the hills and hollers of Appalachia. Their work site, situated on the top of a foothill, is surrounded by incredible natural beauty. The team quickly got to work on laying down the remaining lauan paneling on the kitchen floor. The work ran smoothly throughout the day with some members nailing down the flooring and others cutting and fitting the next piece. We also needed to move the refrigerator and a large hutch to clear space for the flooring. Last week an error caused a large pile of stone to be

Sam M. placing floor tiles.

Sam M. placing floor tiles.

delivered for a drainage trench when someone mistook inches for feet in the quarry order (for those who know, it was sort of the opposite of the problem Spinal Tap had when they ordered stone). Sam M. Tommy W. & Harrison C. helped load some of the stone into an ASP truck for delivery to another site. The team stopped for lunch and had a great time talking with James & Kathy, who live in the home being repaired. They told us stories of working on a chicken farm, local bluegrass musicians, and their church. As lunch ended, we fed our apple cores to Buck the horse. During the afternoon the floor tiles began to be placed and another truckload of stone was shoveled by Gillian H. and Shannon R.

The other two teams found today to be particularly challenging, even frustrating. Team Simbo continued forward on the roof, but the work is slow and difficult, especially in the heat. It is also difficult to see how the work being done will come together in a way that meets the needs of the woman they are helping. Team Agua continued hanging drywall on the ceiling, but were challenged throughout the day by the reality that the house (like many in Appalachia) is not standing straight and square, so many pieces had to be cut and trimmed repeatedly (and each time required holding the drywall up to the ceiling to see if it fit).

Team Prince Edward with their family after a good day of work.

Team Prince Edward with their family after a good day of work.

During the evening gathering, we focused on the realities of poverty in Appalachia. Much of what we heard resounded clearly in terms of the work we are doing, including the frustrations we are facing as we try to make repairs on homes that have such overwhelming needs that are only being addressed through a network of youth volunteers (like us). We learned about the realities that actual ASP applicants faced before applying and the hard reality that 81% of ASP applicants are turned down due to the limited resources that even an effort as large and established as ASP has to work with. When somebody remarked that it must be hard to choose which houses to repair, the expressions of sadness on the faces of the ASP staff (who made those hard decisions for this summer’s work) were quite obvious. Several of our teen participants accepted an invitation to join the ASP staff for their nightly meeting as a way to learn more about what ASP staff members do and how they can pursue becoming a staff member in the future.

The plan brewing at present is to end the evening with some more ice cream at Ma & Pa’s!

#ASP2014 Links

PHOTO ALBUM / Travel Day / New River Retreat / Worship at River & Arrival Day / Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5 / Affirmations

Kaylin and Emily raising the roof for Team Simbo.

Kaylin and Emily raising the roof for Team Simbo.

Today (Tuesday June 30) was our first day of work at our #ASP2014 sites!

I was a member of Team Simbo today. The home we are working on was a short drive from the ASP center.

Mason and Gabe working for Team Simbo

Mason and Gabe working for Team Simbo

We are doing work on the home of an older woman who has significant health problems for which she has trouble getting around and needs oxygen. She lives alone but a home nurse that is with her for part of the day and some regular visitors that help and support her. There is another work crew from Connecticut also working at this house. Our job is to continue replacing the roof. Our initial assessment indicated that there is two layers of roof on the house (2 layers of both shingles and wood). The main concern is that the beams beneath are not capable of bearing the weight of adding another layer (we will be putting on a tin roof). Early in the day, one of the ASP staff arrived for a site visit and we had a chance (both teams together) to introduce ourselves and each share our hopes and expectations for the week (both related to the work and to our faith journeys) along with our response to what we would fill a kiddie pool with if we could choose anything. The team worked together, half on the roof removing shingles and roof deck and half on the ground managing the debris. As old roofing was removed, we found ourselves faced with the challenge of water damage to the beams underneath.

Team Agua ready to work!

Team Agua ready to work!

Team Agua took on the task of renovating a room in the home of a very nice 92-year old woman who has lived in the home for 65 years. The group removed old drywall and did work to stabilize the beams in order to hang new walls as the week unfolds. The room is filled with a large amount of decorations and bric-a-brac that is very important to the woman, so the team took pictures of everything in the room so that it can be set up just as she likes it when the work is completed. Another team from Connecticut is working on the roof at the same house as Team Agua.

Team Prince Edward traveled to a house high on one of the local foothills. They met a couple with several animals, including a friendly horse. Their work will be primarily in the kitchen and they are starting by replacing the floor. The old floor was removed and two veterans from last year, Sam. M. and Gillian H., were perfectly suited to crawl under the house when new supports were being added under the floor. New subfloor material was put in place to allow the kitchen to be usable overnight and the work will continue through the week.

After we returned to the ASP center and had showers (Wow! Hot water this year!) we had dinner and then joined everybody for the evening gathering. Mike S. and I, along with 2 volunteers from Connecticut led everyone in singing “Country Roads”, “Blessed be Your Name” and “Sanctuary”. One of the ASP staff shared his testimony/faith story.

We ended the night with an incredible surprise taste of Applachia. In search of ice cream, we found Ma & Pa’s Drive In. In addition to great milkshakes and cones, it was “Bluegrass Jam” night. Several local neighbors show up every Monday with guitars, banjos, mandolins, lap steels, etc. and just play whatever comes to mind. They pulled several of us out for some “flatfooting” on the plywood dance floor. It was a remarkable way to end our first day of service. Everyone had a good start to their week and we are all ready to rest and do it again tomorrow. In fact, it’s 10:58…so lights will be out in 2 minutes. I’ll be breaking curfew in order to keep you in the loop…so good night!

#ASP2014 Links

PHOTO ALBUM / Travel Day / New River Retreat / Worship at River & Arrival Day / Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5 / Affirmations

Gathering for worship at the edge of the New River

Gathering for worship at the edge of the New River

We began Sunday morning with worship next to the New River. Our host at New River’s Edge, Paul Moody joined us for worship. We began by singing “Shall We Gather at the River” and then shared a time of confession and forgiveness.  I (Pastor Matt) offered an early “bonus reflection” over the sound of a long freight train hauling coal passed by. Taking a note from Bill Mallonee (a favorite songwriter of mine) I told the group that trains are interesting because they are usually on their way from “Point A” to “Point B” and are somewhere in the midst of the journey. Like that train, we know where we are headed, but we haven’t gotten there yet. This was true for this week as we prepared to depart for St. Paul, but also for our faith journeys as a whole. We have a promised destination, but we are still travelling toward it.

Youth volunteer Emily L. read the story of Jesus’ baptism from the Gospel of Matthew. We then paused to look at the river in front of us and imagined the scene as John was baptizing and Jesus came to him. I shared with the group that the baptism of Jesus marked the beginning of his “ministry” which I defined as “Jesus doing things that changed the world.” I reminded them that our own baptisms mark the same beginning for each of us as we are claimed as children of God and sent out to do things that change the world. Our mission for this week will be “Change the world. Together.” We reflected on the ways that we will make a difference through the work we do, but also through the relationships we become a part of. I then spelled out the importance of doing this work together and unpacked our plans to work together and support one another. I also shared my hopes and plans as I serve as pastor during this week. I told them, referring to last week’s sermon, that my job was to help Jesus ruin their lives. I look forward to this unique opportunity to connect with each person on this remarkable team.

Celebrating Holy Communion in the waters of the New River

Celebrating Holy Communion in the waters of the New River

We then moved to edge of the water. I waded out into the river, mandolin in hand, and led the group in a worship song that I wrote last year (Spirit: Wind and Fire). We sang a new stanza to the song that was appropriate (“Spirit. Living water. Be poured into us.”) Between singing this refrain, everyone shouted out a prayer for the week as they cast a stone into the river. When the prayers ended, we broke off into pairs and each person stuck their finger in the river and made the sign of the cross on their partner’s forehead as we remembered the calling of our baptism.

Worship concluded by celebrating Holy Communion in a way that none of us had ever experienced before. Remembering our baptism, each one of us waded into the river where we received the bread and the cup as the waters of baptism trickled through our toes. It was holy ground.

After worship, we took another tubing trip down the river. It seems to me that every worship service should be followed by tubing!

After packing up and eating lunch, we took to the road and arrived at the #ASPWISE center located at St. Paul Elementary and High School in St. Paul, VA. We met our ASP staff and set up our living quarters for the week. Those of us who served in Hinton, WV last year were overwhelmed and excited to be sleeping on the floors of air-conditioned classrooms and having the gym available for sports instead of sleeping quarters. There is also a lot of nice outside space. The accommodations are still a far cry from most vacations (except for camping), but we are fortunate to be staying in a very nice center. We were also glad to have our group become complete with the arrival of Harrison C.!

Introducing ourselves to the other ASP Teams.

Introducing ourselves to the other ASP Teams.

At 5pm we had our first official #ASP2014 gathering where we met the staff of the #ASPWISE center and shared introductions with the other groups we will spend the week with. The two other churches here are both United Methodist congregations form Connecticut, both avid participants in ASP, and have an interesting connection to one another.  Jesse Lee UMC is now in their 31st year with ASP. They sent approximately 35 volunteers to this site and another similar group to another county. They have used ASP as an ecumenical and community-outreach ministry for youth, so they draw in many participants from outside of their congregation. They have created a year-round program that involves local construction projects, robust training for ASP, and fundraising. Danbury UMC began their relationship by participating through Jesse Lee UMC. Now in their 6th year, Danbury has adopted the same approach to ASP and has 56 participants serving at two centers this week. These are exciting, experienced teams to meet! One of the adult leaders from Jesse Lee UMC is doing this for the 28th time!

We introduced ourselves by sharing how ASP has captured the imagination of our congregation over the past 2 years and then, Led my Mike S., the youth participants shared a series of rhymes about ASP that they had written and then everyone introduced themselves along with their favorite ice cream flavor.

Our three teams for this week are listed below by the ASP “site name” and the team members.

Team Prince Edward: John, Elizabeth & Sam M., Harrison C., Tommy W., Gillian H., Shannon R. (pics from #ASPWISE)

 Team Agua: Dave W., Kim & Michael S., Tommy S., Amani H., Natalie M., Miranda M.

Team Simbo: Steve & Mason M., Claire & Emily L., Gabe H., Kaylin B., Pastor Matt Staniz (I plan to switch with others to visit each site for at least one day) (pics from #ASPWISE)

Both Team Agua and Team Simbo will be working at houses where another team (from Connecticut) will also be doing work. I am hopeful this will open the door for some stronger connections between our people and our new friends and co-laborers.

After dinner, an adult and a youth representative from each team traveled with ASP staff to visit their team’s worksite and (more importantly) the people they will be serving. Other members remained at the center getting oriented to the routine of chores that they will be doing throughout the week and getting settled. Work starts in the morning!

#ASP2014 Links

PHOTO ALBUM / Travel Day / New River Retreat / Worship at River & Arrival Day / Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5 / Affirmations

The Lodge at New River's Edge

The Lodge at New River’s Edge

By 2pm Saturday, all three vans arrived at New River’s Edge, a beautifully serene and rustic lodge just a few yards from the edge of the New River in Pembroke, VA. The group that arrived Friday evening enjoyed a great deal of fun and relationship building including fishing, kayaking, and outdoor recreation. On Saturday morning they took a 4-mile hike to visit Cascade Falls and also a visit to the nearby Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg.

Tubing on the New River

Tubing on the New River

When the entire group (minus Harrison C. who will join us Sunday) was together, we enjoyed the river with some kayaking followed by a group tubing expedition which included some gentle (but still quite fun) river rapids. The owner of New River’s Edge, a gentleman named Paul Moody, has been a fantastic and friendly host.

After a dinner of grilled burgers, hot dogs and chicken along with a stack of pizzas, the group gathered for some team-building activities followed by a bonfire next to the river as the sun went down. We spent time getting to know a little bit more about each other and then did some deep reflecting on our mission for the upcoming week and the

Bonfire at the New River

Bonfire at the New River

opportunities and challenges we will experience as we meet families who might be very different from our own and strive to not only work to make their homes safer, warmer, and drier, but also to connect with them in a way that reflects God’s love for all of us. Paul (our host) shared his faith story with us and how he finds the experience of spending time on the river to be transformative in the same way as spending time in prayer and reflecting on God’s word.  Paul built the lodge to enjoy along with his wife and her brother, but they both died in 2004. He found that God was calling him to turn this place that had become empty into a place where he could invite people to “let the river love on you.” Paul concluded by singing a song he had written about the many ways that he has been amazed and blessed by the river. The song, he told us, “could not be set to music, but definitely has a melody.” Everyone in the group was held in complete silence in the dark as we listened to Paul sing while standing in the dwindling light of the fire. Afterwards, I led the group in prayer and invited them to think of everything and everyone who God used to get us here for the

Our host, Paul Moody

Our host, Paul Moody

week ahead. We agreed that we will literally “gather at the river” for worship in the morning. My plan is to celebrate communion while standing in the water of the New River as we all remember the waters of baptism that call us to serve and love with both words and deeds.