For Youth Workers Post


Craig Mitchell

“In the Habit” session for devozine meditations for October 7–13, 2013.


“Music has always been part of my life and my faith. As a young person, learning to play the guitar gave me a voice in worship. Playing in a band and starting to write songs was a stepping stone into music ministry. Music styles change across cultures and decades, but songs are always at the heart of Christian worship, prayer, and proclamation. My hope is that young people will be not only spectators but also active participants, creating, playing, and singing music.”—Craig



Craig and Sean2
Craig Mitchell
plays electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin, harmonica, tin whistle, ukulele, and a bit of keyboard in “Summer Rain.” He is learning to be a songwriter and to create electronic music. Craig lives with a musical family in Adelaide, South Australia. Check out the Multimedia in Ministry group that Craig moderates on Facebook to find and to share more creative ideas. Here Craig (right) is making music with his friend Sean.



  • During the previous session (or in a text or email before this session), explain to your group members that they will be taking a music quiz in this session. Ask each person to email you ten seconds of a popular song for the group to guess (or choose your own clips). Put these together into one sound file, or ask a young person to do this for you!
  • Invite a local Christian songwriter-musician to be part of the session. Ask him or her to play one or two songs and to talk about what the songs mean. The songs, if possible, should be of a prayerful nature and the group should be able to learn or to sing along with one of them.
  • paper
  • pens
  • CD/mp3 player
  • Bibles
  • index cards with the following words written on them: “awe,” “praise,” “sorry,” “forgiven,” “searching,” “doubting,” “fearful,” “trusting,” “thankful,” “comfort,” “lazy,” “hurting,” “strong,” “bold,” “despairing,” “searching.”
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session



  • You’ll need some beats for rap or hip-hop music for the activities below. Use a free or cheap phone or tablet app, such as these:

       > For an iPhone

            “GrooveMaker FREE
           • “Looptastic FREE
           • “technoBox

       > For an Android

           • Instrumental Hip Hop Rap Beats (MoPlays)”
           • Rap Beats (8D8 Apps)”

     There are also nice ambient music apps that require no musical ability, such as these:

       > For an iPhone

           • Bloom
           • Aura
           • SoundPrism Lite

       > For an Android

           • Ambient Sound Lab
           • Or go to “Sound Click” to download mp3 files.

  • “Like a Candle” is one of my songs. Go to “Quiet Space.” Click on “Enter Quiet Space,” and then click on “In the Country” and “Enter the Quiet Space.” Download the sheet music with lyrics if you want to sing this song with your group.
  • Ambient music—music with no lyrics, sometimes chill, sometimes edgy and even disturbing, like a movie soundtrack—creates a mood for prayer or worship (a Bible reading, a prayer station, a reflective space, a drama). On my blog is a page of wonderful and weird music to get you started.
  • Songs That Unite” is a new Australian website for Christian music (and other media).



Start with a music quiz. Distribute pens and paper. Play the sound file made from music the group members have contributed. Ask people to write down the names of the songs and artists they hear. Then play it again, and ask people to name aloud the artists and songs.

Discuss these questions:
       What music did you listen to this week?
       Who are your favorite artists at the moment?
       How do you feel when you listen to their music?
       Where and when do you usually listen to music?
       What would your life be like without music?



Scripture: The Psalms

The Psalms are worship songs. They express almost every human emotion and sentiment: adoration, awe, praise, thanks, lament, confession, despair, anger, exasperation, fear, doubt—the list goes on. The Psalms are human expressions of our relationship with our creator.

Ask group members to sit in a circle. Place the prepared index cards in a pile, facedown, in the center of the group. Invite each person, one at a time, to turn over a card, to read the word written on it, and to answer this question:
       What music helps you feel this way or helps you move on when you’re feeling this way?
If a person is unable to think of an answer, invite others to offer a response. Keep the conversation moving. (Ask people to keep the index cards they have turned over.)

Ask people to indicate whether, when it comes to making music, they would choose to work on lyrics/words, melody/tune, or beat/rhythm. Ask people to form groups of three so that each group includes someone who prefers to work on each of the three aspects of music. (Or ask people to pair up with someone who made a different choice—words, tune, or rhythm.)

Distribute Bibles. Ask people, working in pairs or small groups, to find a psalm that expresses one of the words written on the index cards they are holding from the earlier exercise.

Then invite each pair or small group to choose one of the following activities:

  • Rewrite the psalm as a rap or hip hop song. Provide them with mp3 beats (play them looped) or a phone with apps (see “Plugged In”).
  • Rewrite the psalm as new words to a well-known tune.
  • Create a melody or sounds to express the mood of the psalm and to accompany a reading of it. (See “Plugged In” for ambient music apps or improvise with instruments and percussion.)
  • Write a new song in a form that you choose or another musical expression of the psalm.

Allow as much time as possible for pairs or small groups to work on their songs. Then bring them back together to present what they have created. (NOTE: If people feel pressured for time, you may decide to invite them to present their finished product at your next session.)

Discuss these questions:
       How did you find the experience of turning a psalm into a song?
       What songs are like contemporary psalms?
       In what recent experience was music important for your faith?



Read aloud Romans 8:22–27.

Say: “Music is often like the sighing of the soul. What music expresses often seems impossible to express in other ways. God seems to know what music means for our spiritual lives, for God gives people the ability to create lyrics, tunes, and beats that move our souls.”

Invite discussion:
       What kind of music would create friendship instead of division?
       What kind of music would bring generosity instead of selfishness and greed?
       What kind of music would bring self-control rather than recklessness?
       What kind of music would bring hope rather than self-harm?
       What kind of music would give life rather than taking away life?
       What kind of music would be honest about the struggles of life rather than denying them?

Invite your guest to present one or two songs and to speak about what they mean for his or her faith.

Ask group members to place the index cards face up in the center of the group. Invite each person to choose a word or words that connect with the need for music in his or her spiritual life.

Encourage people to offer silent prayers of thanks to God for the gift of music. Then invite people to offer a blessing to one another by saying aloud a line from a favorite song.

To close the session, invite the group to sing one of the songs your guest has presented or to sing together a song of benediction or blessing that they know well.



For some people, songwriting can be an important expression of their faith and creativity. How are you fostering musical gifts among your young people? Are there some who are good at one aspect (writing lyrics), but need help or encouragement in another area (writing a melody)? What opportunities are available for young people to share their musical gifts with the congregation?

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