For Youth Workers Post


Steve Matthews

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for July 20–26, 2015.


“Two days ago, my 91-year-old uncle moved back home from a nursing care facility. He returned home to his 84-year-old wife because his insurance had run out; he had no other options. My aunt is weary and wonders how she will care for him, but she is upbeat and positive nonetheless. Their situation reminds me that change is inevitable and relentless. Even when we prepare, plan, save money, and take care of ourselves with good nutrition and exercise, we cannot avoid life’s change and the possibility of hardship.

“Conversely, sometimes we seem to be in the flow of good times. We work hard, and good things happen to us and create new opportunities for us. We are accepted into our first-choice college. We get the lead in a school play. We fall in love. We sense a vocation that is irresistible. Sometimes, by God’s grace, we find ourselves in the wake of new opportunities.

“Change invites us to break away into new ways of being and new ways of seeing ourselves and the world. Whether the change is good or comes to us through challenging circumstances, God meets us in each changing moment and offers us the chance to discover new depths in our ability to grow, to cope, and to create new opportunities in light of the new reality. We can choose to say ‘no’ to the change, or we can break away into the possibilities of a new life.” —Steve


devozine Steve Matthews IMG_0433Steve Matthews was a youth minister for more than 15 years. He lives in the South Coast of Massachusetts and is the Executive Director of the South Coast Mission Hub, a collaboration of churches sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Steve is also a spiritual director and a consultant working to systematically redevelop parish ministries struggling with decline. He was a writer for The Way of Pilgrimage: An Adventure in Spiritual Formation for the Next Generation.




  • Whale Rider is a great movie about a young adolescent girl looking to break away into her true identity. This clip shows Paikea finally claiming her vocation and identity as a tribal leader. Watch this follow-up clip to see the culmination her story.
  • Kelly Clarkson’s song “Breakaway” is also a powerful resource.


Begin this time with an opening ritual: a moment of silence, a short prayer group members say together, or a candle-lighting ritual to symbolize Christ’s presence. Take a moment to claim this space and time as holy.

Then invite group members to answer the questions below, encouraging group members to listen prayerfully without comment. You may want to write their responses on newsprint.
       When recently have you felt called to wake up and to be yourself? (For example: a situation in which you stood up against an injustice, a time when you needed to risk failure to try something new, or an unfortunate situation that called for strength you didn’t know you had.)
       What was it like to break away from the norm and to try on new behaviors?


Scripture: Acts 9:1–19

Invite the group to play the games “Cross Your Arms” and “Change Your Seat.” You may choose to use some of the questions listed on the website, but be sure to ask group members to talk about their experiences of change.
       Is breaking away to something new a positive or a negative experience?

Ask group members to read Acts 9:1–19 aloud two times. Then ask:
       What do you notice about the passage?
       What stands out?
       Who in the passage is called to break away to a new way of being?
       Were they forced to break away, or was breaking away a choice?
       How would the world be different if they had made different choices?
       What role does a community of like-minded Christian friends play as we begin thinking about choosing new ways of being?


Invite group members to read in unison this prayer attributed to St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Theresa of Avila:

     “May today there be peace within.
     May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
     May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
     May you use those gifts that you have received,”
                 and pass on the love that has been given to you
     May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.
     Let this presence settle into your bones,
                 and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
     It is there for each and every one of us. Amen.”


Invite group members to spend a few minutes with pen and paper or with art supplies. Ask them to reflect on how they feel about the probability of being called to break away to a new opportunity or to a new attitude toward their life. Suggest that they write or draw their reflections. After a few minutes, offer a time for volunteers to talk about their reflections on breaking away.

—from devozine In the Habit (July/August 2015). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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