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Lead Me Lord

First Sunday of Advent Year C Psalm 25:1-10

25:5 Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.

Leadership is a funny thing. We train up our children to be leaders, but sometimes we forget that we are also called to follow. Called like the disciples were called out of their careers and families to follow a man who would turn their world upside down. But in a world focused on increasing our leadership skills, how do we learn to follow?

Listen

It may seem sort of obvious, but one way we learn to follow is we start listening. We listen to the message scripture holds for us, or the spoken word delivered on Sunday morning. We listen to the ways God has been active in the lives of those around us, so we can participate in God’s action in our world.

But this listening isn’t always the same as the way we “listen” in our every day lives. We tend to listen with the intent to respond. We need to listen and hear those around us, without injecting our own opinions and prejudices into their stories. God may be trying to lead you through the stories of others, listen.

Learn

We may think that our learning was over when we stepped out of whatever our last school was. For some of us that was somewhere in the middle of high school, for others it feels like the journey of traditional education will never end, but we are called to learn throughout our life. Don’t just listen to scripture, learn about it. Go to Bible studies, challenge things you don’t understand and do the research to back it up. Talk to people who have studied the Bible and theology and ask them for help. Always be learning so you might also follow.

Lead

Lead to follow? Ok this doesn’t make any sense, but it may be unavoidable. Everyone leads someone. Children, friends, spouses, co-workers, people in a faith community, someone may be trying to follow you or your example. So help them listen, learn and lead to also follow Jesus. Remember you lead so you can follow, not so that others can follow you.

25:9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

25:10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees

Games for Youth Ministry

I love games. Card games, sports, board games, silly messy games, love all of them. Growing up we played mother may I, red rover, freeze tag, and anything with a jump rope. As I grew older I can still remember late nights with my youth group friends playing card games, trivial pursuit, and even a crazy round of hide and go seek when we were snowed in Sophomores in college!

Games are sort of a universal language. I used to teach children who spoke languages other than English, and one of our favorite games was silent ball. There was not one kid, from those who were born in America, to those who were just of the plane from Iraq that didn’t love playing silent ball. Games transcend language and cultural barriers and create atmospheres of cooperation and joviality. I’ve watched students become best friends, with no common language, over a game of checkers.

Games are a huge part of what I do in ministry. Some people probably see my job as only games, especially the people who see the broken doors and muddy footprints that occasionally follow some of our more rowdy escapades. But games are important for ministry, not because we see our jobs as youth ministers as only ensuring our students are being entertained, but because games are a way in which we learn. Games can illustrate a theme for a lesson, set a mood for an event, or change a person’s perspective on a topic. They can also serve the purpose of creating community where we least expect it.

Recently, at an all church inter-generational event, I was asked to come up with a game for all of the attendees, which can be hard with limited space and a crowd of people all sitting at dinner tables, so I decided we would play a quick game of heads or tails. For those unfamiliar with the game it is about the easiest thing ever. Everyone in the room stands up at their seats, and one person is designated as the coin tosser. Before the coin is tossed, everyone in the room either puts their hands on their heads, or on their rear ends, signifying on which side the coin will land. All those who were correct keep standing, and the rounds continue until there is but one person still standing.

For my group of youth and their younger siblings, who don’t always interact with the adults of the church, it was great for them to see adults laugh and just enjoy playing a game. It created an atmosphere where everyone was in something together, breaking down some of that youth vs adults mentality.

I can thank my mother for my love of games as part of education. She was a public elementary school teacher for 25 years, and taught middle school math for the following five. She has always valued games, both for recreation (she was the kickball pitcher at recess my whole third grade year) and for retaining information. Her students played the games the children in early America played to learn about life in the colonies. They played around the world to practice math facts, and played set or 24 challenge to work on other math skills.

I am forever grateful to the people who taught me how to play, and I hope to be a youth minister  who allows space for play. Below are instructions to some of our favorite games we play in our youth group. I hope you find a new favorite, or if you have a different favorite, I’d love to hear about it. We are always on the lookout for new games!

 

Eye Tag

Ninja

The Question Game

Psychiatrist

King of the Lily Pad

Human Bowling

Four on a Couch

Duct Tape Hockey Mask

Scatter Ball

Family

SPUD

Crazy Kick Ball (messy game)

Paint Twister

 

 

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