Anyone a talker? I can control my talking, but if you give me the time and space I can talk for a long time (just ask my wife). If you combine the fact that I like to talk with the fact that I am in charge of our youth group’s schedule, that makes for a bad combination. I can give myself the time and space to talk. Our middle school coordinator often jokes with me about talking too long to his middle schoolers. He’s nice about it, but he is essentially saying, “Shut up!”
I’ve learned that my talking gets in the way of what God has for our students. God has given me an order to be quiet (His words might have been harsher than that ☺). We’re all probably familiar with the fact that Jesus got away to be silent and alone with God in prayer. If we want our students to connect with God and invite the supernatural into our ministry then we need to do the same. We need to get out of the way and let God do the work. After all, we are natural beings, and God is the only one who can do supernatural things in our students’ lives. We need to allow for silence during our youth groups to allow God an opportunity to speak to our students.
In the past we have done “silence and solitude” nights in our youth ministry. They would essentially move around the church and find a spot where they could be silent with God. These nights have had an impact on some of our students, but as I would walk around and monitor things I would see many students disengaged, on their phones, or even sleeping. Part of the reason they were disengaged was because there was no real structure to their silence. I essentially said, go and be quiet, alone with God. For some of our students they had no idea what that meant. God could not speak supernaturally to them because there was no connection taking place.
I needed to change things. I needed help, so I found a couple books that helped me put a structure to our quiet time. One book is called “Eyes that See & Ears that Hear” by Jennifer Toledo. We have used parts of this book to help teach students how to hear from God. The book is geared toward a younger audience, but the concepts can be carried all the way to adulthood. This book has been a great resource to help our students understand God’s voice vs. their own voice.
The second book that we recently used was “Imaginative Prayer for Youth Ministry” by Jeannie Oestreicher and Larry Warner. There is one particular activity called “Slow Down” that we have recently used. This is a breathing and quieting technique that places a structure to a student’s silence. Not only does it quiet their hearts and minds, but it also invites the Holy Spirit to enter and speak to them. (This book also has a TON of great prayer activities. I highly recommend this book if you don’t already use it).
These two resources are just things that I have used to help me create a silent atmosphere that invites God to speak supernaturally to our students. Recently we used these silence and solitude techniques and one of our adult leaders commented that it was the best youth group we had in a long time. I’ve still not mastered silence and solitude, but these resources have helped me create a time for God to speak supernaturally to our students.