For Youth Workers Post


Kara Lassen Oliver

“In the Habit” session for devozine meditations for May 1–4, 2014.


            [see video]


Kara Oliver2 ITH 287170_10150766671795305_1530530_oFirst, I should say that I, Kara Oliver, have been a youth pastor (a long time ago), my family of four served as Volunteers in Mission in Malawi, Africa, for two years (three years ago), and people actually pay me to write about youth ministry and spiritual formation. Now, skipping forward . . . Last year, I was leading a Sunday School class of young parents on the topic of “Parenting and Spirituality.” After the third week of insightful teaching and wonderful conversation, I asked my then thirteen-year-old daughter if she would like to be a guest speaker in the class and to talk about how her dad and I have taught her about God and spirituality. Without missing a beat, she said, “You haven’t taught me anything about God.” Huge sigh, falling shoulders, crestfallen expression.

As parents, youth leaders, and caring adults, we are all doing our best to plant seeds and to demonstrate the love of God to the children and youth in our communities. We trust that God blesses our efforts. At least, that’s what I’m clinging to today.


  • four sheets of paper (8½ x 11)
  • markers
  • access to the Internet or printouts of several comics from “Zits,” by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session


+ Because it’s funny and so close to home, take a look at “Zits.”

+ Hey! It’s worth a shot. “Teen Advisors and Velocity” offers 173 “Conversation Starters.”

+ Parents, which of these “Things to Say” have you said to your son or daughter? Teens, have you heard them?
       • 19 Things to Say to Your Son Before He’s Grown
       • 20 Things to Say to Your Daughter Before She’s Grown


The words that stand out in this week’s devotions are faith, hope, love. Before group members arrive for the session, spend some time praying that they may experience faith, hope, and love in the session and in the community they are forming. This week’s devotions celebrate the times when parents set good examples, make sacrifices, and pass on their Christian values to their children. Take time to give thanks for healthy and whole families; and pray for families whose members need faith in one another and in God, hope to make it through difficult times, and an experience of God’s unconditional love.

Take four sheets of paper. Write on the first sheet of paper, “faith”; on the second, “hope”; and on the third, “love.” Write on the fourth sheet of paper, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV)”

When group members arrive, have them sit in a circle. Show them the sheets of paper with the words faith, hope, and love written on them. Say, “I’m going to pass these three sheets of paper around the circle. As they come to you, pick two. For each of the two words you choose, tell us about a time in which you saw an example of faith, hope, or love in your family this week. For example, you might say, ‘This week I saw my Dad’s faith in me when he let me take the car out.’ Or ‘Our family needs hope that Mom will find a job soon.’ If you prefer, you can simply tell us which words you choose without telling the group the circumstances.”

Be sure to remind the group that these joys and concerns are confidential and that everyone has the right to pass.

After everyone has had a chance to speak, show the group the fourth sheet of paper. Read aloud the words of 1 Corinthians 13:13. Then ask the group to say aloud together, And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”


Scripture: Ephesians 6:1–4, Colossians 3:20–21

If you have access to the Internet in your meeting space, project the “Zits” comic strips on a computer screen or a larger screen. If you don’t, print out a few comics before the session. Invite the group to look at a couple different comic strips. Then ask:
       What does this comic remind you of in your house?
       Does the comic provide an accurate description of the relationship between parents and teens that you know? Why? Why not?
       Does the comic favor the parent or the teenager?

Ask two volunteers to read aloud Ephesians 6:1–3 and Colossians 3:20. Invite discussion:
       Have you heard these verses before? Where and why did you hear them?
       How does the scripture make you feel? Do you agree or disagree with what it says?
       How would you define the word honor? obey?
       Do these verses describe the best way for the members of a Christian family to relate to one another? Why? Why not?

Then ask the same two volunteers to read Ephesians 6:1–4 and Colossians 3:2122. Ask:
       Have you heard these verses before? If so, where and why did you hear them? If not, why do you think you haven’t heard them?
       If you were to rate the families you know, how well do they exemplify these verses?

Invite the group to look again at some of the “Zits” comics. Then ask:
       In which ones is the teenager disobeying or dishonoring his parents?
       In which ones are the parents the teenager?

Ask group members to offer one another helpful, respectful, productive advice for how to strengthen their relationships with their parents. Encourage them to suggest ways to avoid dishonoring their parents and ways to handle situations in which they feel provoked.

Then invite discussion:
       How do the values of faith, hope, and love effect the relationships between teenagers and their parents?


Say: “Sometimes the joys, celebration, pain, and stress of living in a family are beyond words. We have laughed, yelled, and cried; and we don’t know what else to say. In those moments, we can trust that ‘when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. All of our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit, as the Spirit prays for God’s people’ (Romans 8:26–27, CEV).”

Explain that when we have no words, using an image without words can be a powerful prayer. Encourage group members to spend five minutes in silence. Suggest that they imagine their family members as once drenched, even drowning, but now drying, healthy, fluffy chicks (see video above) and the pastors, friends, family members, and even the hand of God caring for each of their family members. [NOTE: Be sure to let people know that they do not have to imagine chicks, if they have an image that works better for them. Even holding in their mind a person’s face or name is enough.]

After five minutes, offer a prayer of thanksgiving, blessing, and healing for the families represented.



  • Some members of your group may have talked about sensitive information or situations that are of concern. Be sure to follow up appropriately with conversation, prayer, or intervention as needed.
  • Put a link to the “Zits” website on your youth group website, or periodically post one on your Facebook page as a discussion starter for parents and teens.
  • Plan a night of fellowship and Bible study for youth and their parents.
—from devozine In the Habit (May/June 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.
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