I put together the Spirit Room at a youth event attended by about 200 youth this weekend. The Spirit Room was never a scheduled part of the programming, but simply a Free Time option for the kids. (I also served as the chaplain for the event).
Overall, I think the Spirit Room was a success. We had a good number of youth and adults visit the Spirit Room, and several people spent upwards of 20 minutes in prayer and reflection in the room (some as long as an hour).
I may have offered too many reflection stations in the Spirit Room (which wasn’t a huge space), and I’m not sure if my instructions were always very clear. Here’s a brief summary of each station and how it worked:
Baptism Station: Take a seat on a comfy pillow, grab a dry erase board and hold it on your lap. Write your sins on a dry erase board, offer a prayer of confession to God, dip fingers in water and make sign of the cross to recall forgiveness of sins we receive in baptism, wipe away sins. Baptism Station Grade: B. (The idea is an A or A-, but my execution wasn’t as clear as could be).
Small Catechism Stations: These each involved reading the respective sections of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism followed by a reflection activity. The activities were great, but I think that many people skipped these stations because they involved a modest level of reading. Here are the activities:
10 Commandments: Since the 10 Commandments serve to reflect our sinful nature, youth were invited to write or draw a picture depicting one or more sins on a 20′ by 10" sheet of aluminum flashing (approx. $9 at Lowes). It was really neat to see the variety of sins the kids named and placed on the metal sheet. These sins became part of our prayers of confession at Sunday worship. 10 Commandments Station Grade: A-
The Apostles’ Creed: In the creed we confess our connectedness to God and to each other (yes, there’s much more in the creed than that, but I had to pick something!). Youth were invited to tie a 2-3 foot piece of yarn to the arms of a 5′ cross, symbolizing their connectedness to God. After a while, these pieces of yarn were braided together, symbolizing our connectedness to each other. This was my favorite station. Apostles’ Creed Station Grade: A
Lord’s Prayer: The Lord’s Prayer contains all that we could ever need. Youth were invited to write one or more things for which they are thankful to God. This station’s activity lacked the creativity of the other stations, but kids wrote prayers on several dozen post-it notes which they stuck to the wall at this station. Lord’s Prayer Station Grade: B
Overall Small Catechism Grade: B+ In retrospect, I would have offered summaries of the Small Catechism teaching and reduced the level of reading (providing catechisms for those who would want to read it, however). I really think that many of the kids sped through the reading so that they could get to the activity.
Daily Life Meditation Station: A PowerPoint slide show of about 70 pictures from ordinary, daily life interspersed with about 10-15 scripture, Luther and other quotes highlighting the presence of God in our daily life. People were invited to reflect on God’s presence in their daily life. Enigma, Moby, One Dove, and The Mission soundtrack variously provided the musical tone for this station and the whole room. Daily Life Station Grade: A-
Bible Station: Free Bibles and a list of 60 essential Bible stories (borrowed from The Lutheran Handbook). Youth were invited to simply spend some time reading the Bible. No real "activity" here, and many youth did sit and read. Some took a Bible home with them. (Reading was the activity at this station. In the Small Catechism stations, I think that kids wanted to speed through the reading to get to the activity. In this station, kids were more content to simply sit and look up some passages of scripture). Bible Station Grade: A-
Liturgical Prayer Station: Several copies of The Lutheran Book of Worship with one post-it note marking a rite of Responsive Prayer and another marking a section prayers for various needs, occassions and situations. This station was designed to get kids into their worship book and get in touch with some wonderfully rich – and often very old – prayers. Liturgical Prayer Station: B+
Overall, this was a good experience and a nice environment for young people to reflect and pray. I especially liked the idea of using the structure of the Small Catechism to shape part of the Spirit Room. I had some problems with execution, but the concept is solid and I would use this again with only a few modifications. I would love to hear from anyone who borrows these ideas and uses them in another setting!