For Youth Workers Post
“In the Habit” session for devozine meditations for May 13–19, 2013.
MAKING THE CONNECTION
“I’m a talker. Give me a chance, and I’ll wax lyrical about anything and everything. My particular passions are theology, faith, mission. Give me a coffee and a nice chair, and you can say goodbye to the rest of the day.
“I started at a young age. Conversations of faith were not strange; in fact, I thrived on them. But the people around me weren’t afraid of questions, doubts, or searching. Early faith talk was probably why I ended up studying theology at university, another place where asking questions about faith and life was welcomed; in fact, it was necessary.
“Lots of our conversations around young people is fluff. Heck, a lot of our conversations with friends and family is fluff. What would happen if we created a culture in which talking about our faith, especially talking about our doubts and troubles, is welcome.
“And what about conversations with people from faiths different from our own or people without faith? Do we avoid them, thinking we’re supposed to enter into argument rather than conversation?
“Sometimes talking with friends who believe as we do is difficult enough because we fear judgment or condemnation from them (“You believe that?” “How can you doubt this?”).
“What would our ministries look like if we talked less fluff and more faith?
“Today’s session is simple. It’s about engaging in conversation about our faith, our doubts, our lives. The main issue for the group facilitator will be to make the space welcoming and conducive for discussion.” —Darren
MEET THE WRITER
Darren Wright is a Uniting Church Youth Worker serving in the Riverina Presbytery in New South Wales, Australia, as the Presbytery Youth and Children’s Ministry Worker. Darren has previously worked in congregational ministry, high school chaplaincy, and local government as a youth worker. He has also been a petrol station attendant, supermarket employee, dairy manager, and furniture sales person. His interests include music (Moby, Radiohead, Ben Harper, The National, Muse, All India Radio), film (MegaMind, Harry Potter, How to Train your Dragon, Scott Pilgrim), TV (Chuck, Doctor Who, Big Bang Theory, Community), theology, pop-culture, and working with young people in at-risk areas. He is particularly interested in how the church and theology connect with pop culture. Check out Darren’s blog and youth ministry resources.
STUFF YOU WILL NEED
- beanbags or comfortable chairs
- a candle and matches
- If possible, provide a meal. If not a meal, then definitely provide coffee, tea, drinks, and cake or biscuits.
- “FaithTalk” cards or iPhone/iPad app (or index cards)
- copies of The Apostles’ Creed or The Nicene Creed
- copies of the closing prayer (see “Sharing in Prayer”)
- Print-Friendly Version of this Session
If you want to develop this session in other ways, here are a few resources that may be of help.
+ Banned Questions about the Bible
This is a spectacular book by Christian Piatt and many others. It’s a book of questions and answers; many of the questions have been deemed difficult, silly, or odd. The aim of the book is not to provide definitive answers but to offer a number of different viewpoints and ways to approach the questions. The answers are often as different as the people responding to them.
+ Deep Stuff
This book, by Michael Riddell, is “a mostly fictional search for meaning and a good meal.” Deep Stuff is about a group of young adults and faith talk. It tells what could happen to a community of friends if they started to discuss topics that matter.
+ Searching 4 Faith (Questions of Faith)
Brian Draper has crafted a beautiful book that explores spirituality, faith, and culture; raises questions; and provides space for contemplation.
From Vibrant Faith, the FaithTalk® series is one of the best collections of resources. The original resource is old. I’ve had it in my bag of tricks for twelve years or more. Designed to spark conversation about faith, the FaithTalk® series includes these items:
- FaithTalk® with Children
- FaithTalk® Four Key
- FaithTalk® iPhone App
> Volume 1
> Volume 2
> Volume 3
Here are a few films that you could use to encourage discussion of faith and doubt:
As people arrive, invite them into the space that you’ve made as comfortable as possible.
Have at least one lighted candle in the center of the room. (Lighted candles send an immediate message that says, “We’re doing something different here; this is a special place.”)
Have tea, coffee, hot chocolate, drinks, and food prepared and available.
Explain to the group that this week’s theme is “Faith Talk” and that during the session they will be inviting one another to enter into a conversation about faith.
Use the FaithTalk® cards to engage people in conversation. Ask each person to draw one card. [NOTE: If you do not have FaithTalk® cards, write on separate index cards these questions:
- When in your life did God seem far away?
- What is one thing you wish your parents had taught you?
- What are you most passionate about?
- If you met Jesus today, what would you talk about?
- How does your family make birthdays special?
- When you gather with the people closest to you, what do you do that is meaningful?
- What is one of the most unjust things happening in the world today?
- Who is one person that you consider beautiful?
- Where do you like to go when you are talking to a good friend?
- When do you most clearly sense God’s presence?
- What do you believe about God?
- What is one of the best pieces of advice you have received?]
When everyone has a card, ask each person in turn to read the question on his or her card and to invite the group to respond.
EXPLORING THE WORD
Distribute markers and paper. Invite each person to create his or her own creed, divided into these three sections:
- stuff I believe
- stuff I do not believe
- stuff I have trouble believing (stuff I doubt)
Allow ten minutes. Then invite group members to talk about their creeds, answering questions such as these:
What are some of the similarities? differences?
What do you doubt? Why?
What do you believe? Why?
Invite people to engage one another’s questions and statements, comparing their beliefs and doubts.
Encourage group members to continue their conversation. When it’s time to close the discussion, invite them to answer these questions:
How can we, as a community, continue to have healthy conversations about our faith and life together?
What is one thing we can do this week to spark a conversation about our faith?
SHARING IN PRAYER
Invite the group to say together a prayer from this week’s meditations in devozine and to repeat the prayer together four times, allowing its words to sink in and to fill the space.
“Lord, let all our words be spoken in love.
Let us pray before we open our mouth.
Let us seek your guidance before we try to guide.
TAKING IT FURTHER
- Consider buying each group member a FaithTalk® iPhone app or a set of FaithTalk® cards. Invite group members to enter into conversations with their family or their friends each day.
- As an alternative, create a list of faith-talk questions. Make coasters or placemats with the questions written on them. Invite group members to take them home and to use the questions to guide discussion with their families and friends.
- Use faith talk questions on Facebook or via email or SMS text to continue to engage your group members in serious and deliberate conversation.