For Youth Workers Post


Darren Wright

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for July 18–24, 2016.


“I’m a hopeless gardener, but my wife and I have tried a number of times to grow our own vegetables with a variety of successes and failures. Growing our own food reminded me how much water, space, and attention is needed to plant, grow, and pick the food at the right times. We no longer grow our own food. We felt that we were using more water than we should for such a small crop, but it was a great experiment and made us think more about where our food comes from.

“Today we buy most of our vegetables, fruit, and meat from the local produce market. As we live in a regional rural area, we can do that fairly easily. Knowing where our food comes from and knowing that much of what we eat is local are important, but I’m aware that many people are unable to eat local because of where they live or because they have never considered the possibility.

“Have you considered where your food comes from? Have you grown your own food? What do you know about the way in which your food is produced?” —Darren


darrenDarren Wright is a Uniting Church Youth Worker serving in the Riverina Presbytery in New South Wales, Australia, as the Presbytery Education and Discipleship Worker. Darren has previously worked in congregational ministry, high school chaplaincy, and local government as a youth worker. His interests include music (Radiohead, Ben Harper, The National, Of Monsters and Men, Ryan Adams, Laura Marling, U2, All India Radio, Florence and The Machine) , film (Inside Out, Captain America, Civil War, MegaMind, Harry Potter, How to Train your Dragon, Scott Pilgrim, Big Hero 6), TV (Jessica Jones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Agent Carter, Dark Matter, Doctor Who, Big Bang Theory, Community, Agents of SHIELD), theology, pop-culture, working with young people in at-risk areas, and the connection of the church and theology with pop culture.


You’ll need to do some preparation. Depending on which activity you choose, you may need:

  • transportation
  • Bibles or copies of Matthew 13:1–9 and Matthew 13:24–30
  • pens
  • paper
  • food to cook
  • cooking equipment
  • two videos from The Work of the People (see “Plugged In”)
  • a computer or TV to screen the videos
  • copies of the closing prayer
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session



  • “Food,” Way To Live: Christian Practices For Teens, by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C.Richter; pages 65–78.
    > Book
    Leader’s Guide (downloadable PDF)
  • Rose’s Garden, by Peter H. Reynolds, is a fable celebrating nature, beauty, community, and imagination.
    Activity Kit
  • Empty Fridge, by Gaëtan Dorémus, tells the tale of busy people who get the chance to slow down and share their lives or at least their food with one another.
  • The Greatest Table: A Banquet to Fight Against Hunger, by Michael J. Rosen
    The illustrations reflect Rosen’s verbal image of “The Greatest Table” as the world’s dining room, “where all of us can help ourselves, / and all of us are fed, / and no one has been turned away / with just a crust of bread.”


  • Joined to the Living,” The Work of the People
    God is the first gardener. Why don’t Christians and faith communities have a better relationship with the land?
  • Food and Salvation,” The Work of the People
    What does food and land have to do with salvation? Is Taco Bell a gift from God? Norman Wirzba invites us into healing and restoration through the reconciliation of the land, our food, and our neighbors.



Choose one or more of the following activities:


Find out about community gardens in your area. Explain that your group is learning about food and about being healthy and that you’d like to introduce the group to people who grow food locally. Ask if you can bring your group for a tour. Ask also if the people who do the tour can talk with the group about these questions:
       How is food grown?
       How are you involved in the community garden?
       What are the challenges and the joys of growing food?
       What are ways that youth can be involved?

If you’re in a rural area, perhaps you’d like to contact a farmer and ask similar questions.Or if someone in your community has a vegetable garden, you may also be able to connect with them.

If you’re able to visit a garden, invite the group to read one of the Bible readings in “Exploring the Word” while you are there and to reflect on how reading the scriptures in a garden or field changes the way they experience the parables.


If you’d like to focus on health and wholeness, invite a personal trainer and/or a dietitian to meet with the group.

Ask them to talk about why they chose their career and how they understand health and wholeness. Ask the trainer to speak about food, diet, and exercise and to take the group through a training session. Ask a dietitian to speak about a healthy diet and to teach the youth to make a couple simple healthy meals for their families.

Invite the group to watch the “Joined to the Living” and/or “Food and Salvation” video and to reflect on these questions:
       What does the video mean for your faith? community?
       What does it mean for the ways we buy food and eat?


Take the youth to the local shopping center, where a couple of shops sell food. Ask them to find out as much as possible about the food they regularly eat and to write down their findings. Suggest they spend some time in the fruit and vegetable section to find out where the fresh produce comes from. (Where was it grown? Where was it packed?) They may want to ask the staff to help.

Bring the youth together after thirty minutes to talk about what they’ve learned about the food they’re eating.
       What was news to you?
       Was anything produced locally?
       Where did the food come from?
       Can you find each of the places on a map?

Invite the group to watch the “Joined to the Living” and/or “Food and Salvation” video and to reflect on these questions:
       What does the video mean for your faith? community?
       What does it mean for the ways we buy food and eat?


Invite a couple of people from your community to teach the young people how to cook two simple, healthy, locally-sourced (if possible) meals. Then ask them to talk about cooking:
       How did you learn to cook?
       How important is eating healthy?
       Do you know where your food comes from?
       What have you learned about the connection between your faith and food?
       What is your favorite meal to cook?

Invite the group to watch the “Joined to the Living” and/or “Food and Salvation” video and to reflect on these questions:
       What does the video mean for your faith? community?
       What does it mean for the ways we buy food and eat?


Invite the group to go outdoors or plan to read the scripture on a farm, in a community garden, or in someone’s vegetable patch. Distribute Bibles or copies of the scripture. Read aloud and invite group members to follow along.

Matthew 13:1–9 (NRSV)
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

Matthew 13:24–30 (NRSV)
He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

Questions to discuss in an urban setting:
       How difficult is it to reflect on parables and other stories set in agricultural settings when we live in a city?
       How do you connect with the parables?
       Does reading these parables in a garden or in a room change the way you hear them?
       Why did Jesus tell agricultural parables?

Questions to discuss in a rural setting:
       Does living in the country make hearing and reflecting on the parables easier? How does living in a rural setting affect the way you hear and understand parables with agricultural settings?
       How do you connect with the parables?
       Does reading thee parables in a garden or in a room change the way you hear them?
       Why did Jesus tell agricultural parables?


Invite group members to say together this prayer from the Way To Live Leaders Guide (page 37):

We thank you, O God,
for the food you provide and for our companions.
We long for the day when no one is hungry
and everyone is welcomed to the table.
Teach us to break bread with grateful hearts
and to practice the generosity you share with us
at your Feast of Life.


  • Invite group members to work in a community garden for a few months. It’s a great way to get to know people in the local community as well as to learn a lot about food and gardening.
  • Read “Food” in the Way To Live Leaders Guide (page 34–39). It includes lots of ideas for reflecting on the spirituality of food.

—from devozine In the Habit (July/August 2016). Copyright © 2016 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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