WNL in a Nutshell – 12/17

journey-to-bethlehem-myspaceThe Mid-Season finale of Wednesday Night Live.

Tonight we closed up shop on WNL until January (next week is our Christmas Eve Service, the week after is New Year’s Eve) with an incredibly interactive evening of teaching and discovery. I used a Prayer Station setup from Dan Kimball and Lily Lewin’s Sacred Space: A Hands-On Guide for Creating Multi-Sensory Worship Experiences for Youth Ministry. I cannot recommend this book to you enough. It is an incredible resource to you and your ministry. Tonight we used the experience “Follow the Star” (we advertised it as Journey to Bethlehem) which is a journey along with the Wise Men, as well as an opportunity for teens ton interact with things like “What are you stuck to that keeps you from following the star to Christ?” and “Where on this ladder would you be if God was at the top?” I broke the journey up into two parts, and we will complete the experience on Sunday Morning during Sunday School, so all in all tonight there were 8 stations.

I arrived home somehow totally at peace with God. We had 7 students and 2 leaders. I would be hard pressed to say that more than 4 or 5 present really got much out of the evening. It seemed that half the group just breezed through the experience (and at one point I was able to prove that virtually no one had read through the directions at one of the stations). I reminded everyone at the beginning of the evening that what they put in is what they would get out of it. And some of the stations required a lot more time, meditation and contemplation than was given.

I attribute this to a few factors:

  • Even though we have used experiences like this fairly often in our ministry this year, it is still new and the culture has not shifted completely yet.
  • Even though these experiences are designed to engage every learning style, most of our teens are not used to engaging their own learning styles.
  • Our group sits at different levels of Spiritual maturity. Even though one teen truly poured himself into the experience, there were a couple that glanced. Not all of them place the same importance or weight on their Spiritual growth.
  • Our teens have been taught (brainwashed?) to believe that they are to experience accomplishment from completing a task, not from the process of engaging it. The end result is what matters, not the journey to get there.
  • Our teens live in an Internet society where results are immediate. The idea of waiting, meditation and contemplation is completely alien to them.

Ultimately it is between the students and God. This is why I am at peace. I am not responsible for making them grow. I am merely here to present the opportunity, the teaching, the mentoring… the shepherding to allow for them to grow. I am not their Savior, merely their shepherd. And that is why, from a worldly perspective tonight was not overly successful, I can rest in God’s arms knowing I did what I was supposed to.

(And that one student who really dove into the experience? I got to spend some significant time with him afterwards, explaining why we do these types of events, and discussing what he took away from it… all at his initiation).