Jesus calls us to be in a participatory relationship with him. As we journey with youth during this Advent season, let’s create space for youth to participate in the reading of Scripture, praying, and taking notes during our worship gatherings. This invitation reveals to youth that they matter in our communities of faith and that their participation is desired.
One practical way to engage them this year is to provide each student with a Born the King devotional book. If possible in your context, consider asking them to think about donating a small amount of money to the purchase of their book (preferably their own and not their parents’ money if they have that option). In this way they may feel more committed to engaging the book in your community and the season of Advent as a whole. Regardless of their ability to give financially, however, providing a devotional book for every single student shows that you believe they can accomplish the study and that they are worth the purchase and the relationship.
As a pastor who ministers with youth, I search every year for a youth Advent resource. I look for a resource that shows students what Advent is about, who Jesus is practical ways to participate daily in the way of Jesus. As I began to read Born the King, I found myself inspired, and I want to share with you a few practical ways I am looking forward to utilizing this resource for and with youth and their families.
During our youth gatherings on Sunday, I would like to create space for youth to engage with the discussion or reflection questions in the devotional book. We might need to reword a few of the questions to fit our context. For example, the first question on Sunday, December 1, could be worded something like: When you think about the Christmas season, what comes to mind? How does the church remember that Jesus is at the center of Advent?
Another helpful section in the book is “Gifts for the King,” which provides an activity that can be done as a group. Throughout the week there are two or three options that can easily be adapted into an activity for a Sunday youth gathering. I particularly enjoy the suggestion for Sunday, December 1, which asks us to write down our Christmas to-do list and then think of ways to honor Jesus in the way that each item on the list is completed. For a youth group, a collective list can be written and even posted visually in the space for the remainder of the Advent season.
Finally, “The Daily Blessing” section could be a brilliant prayer guide for students. What if youth workers provided a written prayer to each student that they prayed and then invited students to write their own prayer and offer it to an adult? Heres an example of an adapted prayer for December 1, based on the scripture Revelation 22:20–21: Come, Lord Jesus, into our lives. May we encounter your grace today. Amen.
More than anything else, what youth need most in their lives are adults who will invite them to follow Christ. You don’t need to know about Twitter, TikTok, or the social struggles of their lives to do this. Youth might want those things, but what they need are adults who will:
– Be interested in their lives.
– Take initiative to spend time with them.
– Pray for them.
– Be real.
– Say encouraging words.
– Laugh and have a good time.
– Share God’s love through personal experience.
– Be patient.
All of this preparation begins by making time for ourselves to grow closer to Jesus. The most authentic way to point youth to Jesus is to share with them what Jesus is teaching us this season. This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, (thanks be to God!). However, it is a call to be a growing follower of Jesus, who was born the King.