I am having the hardest time getting youth to participate in anything outside of the Faith Formation (religious education) program. Our church is very small, the families are very busy, and I believe that church is not something they need to fulfill a social or even spiritual need.
I have come to need church the past few years in a way I never have before. It is my way of making sense of the world around me. I need a spiritual leader who can put the teachings of long ago into context and help me realize that everything is going to be okay because we do not serve anything with an ~ism attached to it, we serve our one true God. In a very real way, going to church grounds me for the upcoming week.
As the volunteer coordinator for our Faith Formation Program, I am working to offer opportunities to drop in and have some fun in church. We did not do VBS for the time commitment is great, and the planning extensive, and the attendance low. I am offering Fun Friday Faith Filled Workshops with no registration and no fee. Just come. For one of for all five. So far we have had two workshops. The first was scripture art journaling, something I am familiar with, can teach to multiple ages, and know will be enjoyable.
To begin, I found many scripture versus on google or Pinterest and printed them out on cardstock, cut them, and lined them up on the chalk board ledge. When the children arrived, I asked them to find a verse that spoke to their heart.
I took Psalm 136, copied the first line and used it as a springboard to write our own prayer.
We discussed the artist Georgia O’Keefe and used her style of painting flowers to create some flowers of our own. We added the verse the children picked out to the painting. They came out lovely. I encouraged the kids to try to incorporate prayer into their week. Creating art is a perfect time for internal reflection and prayer.
Week two was Stuff A Bear with Prayer. These teddy bears were sitting unstuffed in a box in a closet. I knew that they would be much better off loved by a child living at one of the few residential homeless shelters in our area that accepts mothers with their children. I volunteered at this shelter for a year many moons ago and saw first hand how a small gift can bring a child great joy.
Again we began in prayer. One of the participants brought her favorite prayer book and shared her favorite prayer with us. Of course, this was the natural starting point. Again, I coped the first line and using rhyme, we created the rest of the prayer.
The bear was tied with a ribbon. Our Priest came in and said a blessing over the bears and then Grace, Lilah and I delivered these beautiful bears to the shelter. We have another box of bears and we will repeat this workshop, perhaps at Christmas time.
Weeks three through five will be more faith filled fun days. We have card making for homebound parishioners, 1000 gifts journaling, and 3 minute Bible skits.