Thursday, May 31, 2012

a creation story

I have great memories of Sunday evening UMY time, so when my niece Brooke asked me to help her as she revived the program at Mt. Olivet, I had to agree. We kicked off the program on Superbowl Sunday a few years ago. It was both exciting and nerve racking to make this commitment. We both work with kids at our jobs, but neither of us have been trained in ministry. It was definitely a God led decision and journey. For quite sometime we used lessons from purchased curriculum. And it worked. The lessons were pre-planned, the games were suggested, and we felt comforted knowing that someone, somewhere, thought that this was good stuff. There were suggested questions for discussion, and sometimes even printed answers for those questions. Our kids participated in the readings and discussions. They brought in prayer requests. But more and more we noticed that we seemed hungry for more. Brooke and I were always looking for better curriculum. We knew that our kids were ready to dig a little deeper. Many of them had been coming to UMY for several years, and not only had they grown up, but their relationships with God had grown. We had to find a curriculum that gave us a more intense study of God's word - we wanted to get past "object" lesson and focus more on Bible lessons.

The kids were ready. But Brooke and I were a bit intimidated. We knew that we wanted more reading of the Bible and more student led discussion. While at Veritas, we visited a "share" room for leaders. We found a few books that we thought might be a beginning. When we returned, we decided to make the leap. But where to begin? Duh! At the beginning. One Sunday evening we gave the kids assigned verses to read for the next week's lessons. The kids didn't complain at all. They returned the next Sunday with verses read and eager to discuss what they had read. We took it slow, spending several weeks reading and discussing the first few chapters of Genesis.Some nights we were all searching indexes, search engines, and other chapters to find answers or even more questions. We might only discuss a few verses each Sunday, but we were gaining a depth of knowledge that just wasn't possible with our old way of presenting lessons.

Last night we had our end to the year party. We swam, grilled burgers and hotdogs, and returned to the church for a lock in. We have had a lock in  each year. The kids love it, so Brooke and I suck it up and let them have fun. I was trying to come up with an activity that we hadn't done at a lock in - just to liven things up a bit, when I got what I thought was an original idea. First I thought the kids could paint a canvas with their favorite Bible verse or a cross or something else. Then I thought why not tie it in to our year a little more and have them paint the creation story. I gathered canvases and paints. At about 10:30 I started dragging out the materials. We discussed what I had in mind. The kids were nervous to start, so Brooke searched Google images for some ideas. We had canvases of various sizes. The kids chose days,and some worked in groups. And the painting started. It was a great review of some of the things we had studied during the year. The kids searched verses to be certain of just what could be in their day's painting. Some were uncomfortable with the actual painting, but they were comfortable in discussing what should be represented in the picture. We crawled in bed around 4 a.m. And then Caleb put a few finishing details on his painting after breakfast this morning. I also had to make some adjustments to my canvas this morning. I had day three - the creation of sea creatures and birds. Mine had birds flying in the distance, a seagullresting on coral covered rock, a dolphin, and octupus, and I painted the cutest little sun setting on the horizon. Then Caleb pointed out that God didn't create the sun and moon until day four.

As always there is a lesson here. Brooke and I knew our kids were ready for more. But just as some were uncomfortable to put paint on that white canvas, we were worried about making a mistake. Through studying Genesis, we've had a genesis of our own. It's amazing to see God work in our little group. Just like our art project, some are more comfortable with lots of little details while some need a much more broad stroke. This new way works for us. Some are very independent and self-directed while some need the comfort of a partner or even the help of someone a little more experienced. But everyone has something to contribute.

After Lulu very quickly finished her in the beginning canvas, she worked for a while on another canvas. She instragrammed a picture of her finished project with the tag best youth group ever - and I have to agree.

When we come back in the fall, these paintings will have verses added and will be hanging for the kids to enjoy. 

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