As youth ministers and Christian ed leaders we make spaces available where it is easier to experience God. God is already there, we hopefully point to God and make God more visible.
Kendra Dean Creasy called this being “God Bearers” in her book The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry . It is one one of my favorite books that I recommend to every youth minister.
A great Godbearing practice for every youth minister is theologically reflecting about a situation, video, song just about anything with a group of youth. The idea is to listen to each other and hear how we experience God in the situation. Every time I have done this I have been amazed and surprised with ways that others had experienced God that was not apparent to me at all.
This works best in a quieter space. I have often done this by asking youth to lie down in a pew in an empty sanctuary. I have also led this by sitting around a campfire at an event.
Then follow these 7 steps.
- Identify a situation on which to reflect. Many times I have used videos, songs or a story as the situation. However this can also be a great way to process a problem or situation that has occurred in the group.
- Name and describe your feelings about the situation. Explain that this is a time for “I” language. When this happens I feel…. When I see this it makes me feel….
- Explore what you think about the situation and what dynamics are at play. What is going on in the media or situation? What happened before? What happened to bring about this?
- Connect with God, and ask, “Where God is present in your chosen situation?” This is sometimes obvious but many times needs to really be asked as a wonder question. Let the group sit in silence with this between answers.
- Think about what you have learned from this reflection. Is there anything that this reflection has brought up in you? For example, if there a side of the situation you did not see until someone else talk about it.
- Pray. Say a short prayer thanking God for this time together to listen and grow closer to each other and to God .
- Present to the group. This can be a short reflection of your own bringing together what was said in the group.
This is a simple process, but one that can be used many times in small group settings with youth.
adapted from the Alban Institute Theological Reflection in a small group