The joy of books (one of many joys) is that even browsing their spines helps my brain wander & imagine & reconsider. New ideas come to mind, or I find a word that I’ve been missing.
So it’s no surprise that I was browsing my bookshelves and started to imagine what an intergenerational book study might look like in a congregation this Lent. I pulled five books in particular that have refreshed & inspired my perspective at different times, imagining what might be possible if these books are used separately or together for a creative, interactive, all-ages Lenten experience:
- Dancing with Jesus: Featuring a Host of Miraculous Moves takes inspiration from Gospel stories to teach simple dance moves like the Lazarus Lurch and the Cheek Turn.
- Wordplay: The Philosophy, Art, and Science of Ambigrams explores words as symbols and offers surprising tidbits of wisdom along the way.
- Children of God: Storybook Bible retells Bible stories for a young audience and features beautiful, diverse illustrations.
- Sacred Pause: A Creative Retreat for the Word-weary Christian engages faith through art and the senses, playing with words so that our spirits might be renewed.
- Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God invites us to put our hearts’ intentions in lines and scribbles and colors and pictures.
What to do with such an array of books this Lent? I suspect you have a few creative souls in your midst who can develop ideas from these books to engage many ages around the same table, but here are some brainstorms to get you started:
BIBLE STUDY with Children of God + Praying in Color: For a Lenten small group that will include participants of many ages, begin with a coloring prompt for prayer (or a praying prompt to color?) with young and old alike putting pens & crayons & markers to paper. Ask each one to say something about the prayer they’ve colored, and then read a Bible story together. The younger ones can create & color their own pictures to tell more about the story, while the older ones can talk about how they hear this story anew in Desmond Tutu’s retelling; you might find that the appropriate groups for this activity are not younger/older but extroverts/introverts or creators/thinkers. The two activities of praying and storytelling will not likely take more than an hour, so I recommend pairing these activities with a shared meal.
MOVEMENT with Sacred Pause + Dancing with Jesus: Get your small group moving this Lent! Pay attention to God by paying attention to the body, God’s temple & vessel. Use the voice & body exercises in chapter one of Sacred Pause as a warm-up, and then learn one of Jesus’ hip dances. All ages can do these body movements, and some of the younger ones can also be the dance leaders for the group! Then get your small group outside: take a walk together, sit in the grass and breathe, visit a playground or park. Increase the warm-up exercises with each meeting, and then walk a little farther or play a little harder or explore a little further when the group is outdoors.
HEAD GAMES with Wordplay + Sacred Pause: For the thinkers and inquisitive types in your congregation — or perhaps a confirmands/adults combo — a Lenten small group that dives into faith language could be a hit! Use the chapters of Sacred Pause for the content of the small group’s meetings, and then assign a Wordplay article for participants’ reflection between meetings. For example, use Chapter 8, “Tipping Sacred Cows” from Sacred Pause to discuss the ways we value Scripture, and then spend the week individually meditating on Wordplay‘s article about “magnetic” to dig deeper into our attraction to (and idolization of?) particular words in faith. The art in Wordplay can also provide a Lenten challenge for your small group of thinkers to express themselves artistically.
There’s simply no shortage of resources and ideas to use for Lenten small groups in your ministry or congregation. Find a book that resonates with you, think outside the box about making your group inclusive of many ages and learning styles, and expect to witness your small group’s growth of creativity & relationship & faith!