For Youth Workers Post

No Way Out

Steven Lefebvre

“In the Habit” session for devozine meditations for August 5–11, 2013.



     (Watch video)



devozine StevenL video shotMy name is Steven Lefebvre. I work with the youth and young adults at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Before my life of working at a church, I was the lead vocalist in a hardcore band. These days I spend my free time being an armchair film critic, reading comic books, and playing much quieter music (well, sort of). I’m also an amateur champion of darts and dodge ball. I’m a huge fan of going to baseball games in the summer and to college basketball games in the winter. Professionally, I have an interest in monasticism, biblical studies, and pastoral care.







Bring group members together and point out the confession booth. Tell them that confession is a sacred action in the Christian church, and explain how it will work during your session: The youth minister (or youth leader) will go in one side of the booth. One by one, group members will enter the other side and confess their sins. Then the minister will forgive their sins. (If your tradition has a liturgy for confession, be sure to use it.) Explain that before Jesus left his disciples, he gave them the power to forgive sins, which is to say that we Christians represent Jesus in the flesh. When the youth minister/leader forgives, he or she represents the Jesus.

Be sure that people know they don’t have to confess. (This is important.) People may enter the confession booth, sit quietly for a minute, and go back out. If anyone takes you up on your offer, great! As a youth minister make sure you don’t give advice, tell them how bad their sin is, or try to fix the problem; simply tell them that because they have repented, their sins are forgiven in the name of Jesus.

Chances are, however, that a cold call to confess sins will make teenagers (and adults) very nervous. The point of this exercise is to open up a conversation about why confession is so hard or why we are resistant.

After everyone has had a chance to enter the confession booth (or not), discuss these questions:
       What about confession weirds you out?
       What are you afraid that people will find out about you?
       How could confession make something that is scary less scary?
       How could confession be something that helps heal wounds?



Scripture: 1 John 1:5–9

I think this scripture is saying that we have a space, a relationship in which we can talk about anything. Part of my experience of being a teenager was that for the first time in my life, I didn’t tell my parents everything. Teenagers are also extremely self-conscious, which means they wouldn’t trust a soul with some aspects of their lives. The sacrament of confession is a way to begin the process of healing, but it is also a way to test God’s grace. A teenager is convinced that “my youth group would never let me in if they knew.” Confession is the way to say, “Oh yeah? Try me!”

Furthermore, suicide seems to be an answer for people who live in darkness. I believe that we must create space where people can talk about their dark thoughts and feelings without shame or judgment. If there is no space for confession, there is no hope. In a community, a pastor, or a friend, we can find the hope of Jesus, the light that can shine in our darkness. By stepping into the light, John promises, we find joy.

       How does talking about suicide make you feel?
       What could make this subject easier to talk about?
       Do you have safe space to talk about the darkness in your life?
       How would you go about acquiring a safe place?



Close the session with the “Prayer for Young Persons” from the Book of Common Prayer:

“God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”



One reason I am afraid of shame and judgment is that I can be quite judgmental. This week, go out of your way not to judge anyone. When you see a situation in which you might think poorly of other people, try to imagine what they’re feeling and thinking and what’s going on in their lives. When you start to feel superior to someone, say to yourself, This person is a child of God. When we take a softer view of the world, the world becomes a softer place in which to live.

—from devozine In the Habit (July/August 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.
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