For Youth Workers Post


Darren Wright

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for August 4–10, 2014.


“I’m sick of hearing people say, ‘I don’t want to over-intellectualize the Bible,’ as a way of saying they don’t want to read about the Bible, to dig deeper into its story, or to find out what people who have studied the text have to say. Wouldn’t it be great if people felt the need to dig deeper, to think about scripture, to enter into it, to hear what other people have learned so that they can make up their own minds about its meaning?

“This session uses an adaption of the Ignatian Method of Imaginative Contemplation to enter into scripture and to dig a little deeper into our own response to scripture. Perhaps your group will want to use it as a regular way of reading scripture.

“To find out more about using spiritual practices in your youth ministry, chase down a copy of the book Tune In, Chill Out: Using Contemplative Prayer in Youth Work by Jenny Baker and Moya Ratnayake or Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus and Downtime: Helping Teenagers to Pray, both by Mark Yaconelli.”  —Darren


darrenDarren 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 salesperson. 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, The Avengers), 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.See Darren’s blog at


  • snacks and drinks
  • crayons, pens, colored pencils, paint
  • Playdough®
  • paper
  • a description of the Ignatian Method from The Upper Room Living Prayer Center
  • a candle and matches or a lighter
  • Bibles (or copies of Luke 15:11–32)
  • copies of these questions from the introduction to the Ignatian Method from The Upper Room Living Prayer Center:
         > What do I see and hear? What do I smell, taste, or touch?
         > Who are the characters, and what’s going on with them?
         > If I were in this movie, what role would I play?
         > If I were Jesus in this story, what would I be thinking, feeling, saying?
  • 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 assistance.



  • Echo the Story, curriculum by We Are Sparkhouse, is a way to “experience the biblical narrative through storytelling, creative reflection, and dialogue.” Read a review, or find more information and buy Echo the Story.
  • Godly Play is a great contemplative and creative way to explore scripture in community. Look for it at one of these two sites.
  • Animate: Bible is an exploration of the Bible by We Are Sparkhouse. Watch the promotional video, or find out more and buy the curriculum.


Make your meeting space a welcoming place. Provide food and drinks. Have available art materials. Welcome group members as they arrive, and invite them to sit.

Invite discussion:
       What experience do you have with the Bible?
       Has your experience been with your family, school, church, Sunday school?
       When have you felt that you needed to know more about the Bible?
       What inspires you to dig deeper into scripture on your own?


Scripture: Luke 15:11–32

Invite the group to enter into a guided reading of scripture. The method is a form of imaginative prayer that will help them enter into the text and dig a little deeper.

Explain that group members will read the scripture a couple of times. The first time they will listen to what it says. The second time you will give them a series of questions to help them reflect on the scripture. After the second reading, you will invite them to meditate on the questions, using the art materials to help them ponder the questions. Perhaps they’d like to rewrite the story, paint a scene, list questions, or respond to part of the story that struck them as it was being read.

Light a candle in the center of the space, signaling that the group is entering into a time of prayer.

Invite someone to read the text aloud. Allow for a short period of silent reflection.

Distribute copies of this list of questions. Read them together.
       What do I see and hear? What do I smell, taste, or touch?
       Who are the characters, and what’s going on with them?
       If I were in this movie, what role would I play?
       If I were Jesus in this story, what would I be thinking, feeling, saying?

Invite the group to listen to the story once more and to respond to the questions. The questions will help them imagine the scene and enter into the story. Let them know that you will allow a period of silence after the reading and that you will let them know when they may respond to the scripture using the art materials.

Read slowly through the text again, allowing the story to take form.

After a few minutes of silence, invite group members to respond to the scripture using the art materials around them. [NOTE: Depending on your group, you may wish to ask each person to respond verbally to the scripture reading before they begin to respond creatively.] Allow time for group members to work with the art materials.

When you think the time is right, bring the group together to discuss their experiences.
       What thoughts or questions did the experience or the scripture raise for you?


Invite each person in the group to name five things for which he or she is thankful.

Then invite the group to pray this prayer from the Iona Abbey Worship Book (page 189):
       “God to enfold us, God to surround us;
       God in our speaking, God in our thinking;
       God in our life, God on our lips;
       God in our souls, God in our hearts.”


  • If group members would like to enter into a regular contemplative reading of the scriptures, explore the use of contemplative prayer in youth ministry, using the books mentioned in “Plugged In.”
  • If they would like to pick a gospel, a letter, or a book of the Bible to read through, consider using a Bible study by someone like N. T. Wright.
  • If they would like to delve into the Bible a different way, consider a study of Banned: Questions About the Bible.


—from devozine In the Habit (July/August 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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