Recently, a colleague shared the following Youth Night Outline with me and asked if it could be used at his parish. I told him, yes.... just line up objectives from the The Diocese of Youngstown Curriculum for Catechesis.
Using Scripture with Lectio Divina processing and praying the Apostle's Creed area always good things to do with youth!
With just a quick glance, I thought that the following objectives that could be covered within the session with a few tweaks:
After watching the video, you could also include
Look it over and tell me which other objectives you might include?
What would you do differently to make this session work better for the teens in your ministry setting? (Please use the COMMENT button to add your thoughts and ideas.)
Youth Night Acts of the Apostles
Purpose of the Night
This youth night is designed to give the teens a better knowledge and understanding of the Acts of the Apostles. Our Church is built upon the witness of these very first apostles and we can learn a lot from them. We can obviously learn about the development of church teaching, but more importantly, we can learn how to apply their witness into the witness of our lives.
Bible for each small group
Paper and pencils for each small group
Random items (see below in Preparation)
The environment for this night should depict the importance of witnessing, both by the apostles and saints, but also modern day witnesses. Display pictures around the room of apostles and saints. Also, include some signs with Scripture verses and quotes pertaining to witnessing. Also put up some pictures of witnesses today. These can be well known people, or simply just individuals in our everyday lives. At the front of the room, place an open Bible on a table and large cross with red cloth draped over it symbolizing the blood of the martyrs.
Snacks/fellowship time (20 minutes)
Before diving into the topic, have snacks or even a meal available for the youth as they arrive. Play fun music while youth are coming in. Allow them time to socialize with their friends as well as to meet any new people. Be sure to have yourself as well as any core team mingle among the kids and reach out especially to anyone who may be new. This time would also be a good time for any announcements as well as announcing any birthdays.
Small Group Skits (20 minutes)
Divide the youth into small groups. Gather a bunch of really random items and place the items at the front of the room. Examples of items can include stuffed animals, a role of tape, a golf club, or a coffee filter. Have a representative from each group select three items. Each group will act out the story of Pentecost found in Acts 2:1-4. They will have to incorporate their three items in some way in the skit. Also, each group will act out their skit in a different genre. Genres can include documentary, western, sci-fi, silent film, sitcom, talk show, news broadcast, musical, etc. Write the genres down on separate pieces of paper and have the groups each select one at random. Give the groups about 10 minutes to create their skits and then gather them back to present them.
Introduction of the Topic (5 minutes)
Transition the youth into the main space to begin the night. The youth minister will begin by introducing the topic of the Acts of the Apostles. Explain briefly the importance of the early apostles and their witness in the early church.
Proclamation verse: “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
Opening Prayer (5 minutes)
Reading (Acts 1:6-9)
A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
Heavenly Father, We come before you this day in thanksgiving for the witness of the early Apostles. Lord, come into our hearts during this time that we might be inspired by their witness to live for you in our everyday lives. We ask this in your name. Amen.
(Optional) If you have a musician who can begin the night with a praise and worship song, that could be used as the opening prayer
Explanation Video: “Evidence” (5 minutes)
(This video can be found on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPHe51B7Z00)
Teaching (10-15 minutes)
Choose a speaker to talk to your group about this topic and its importance in our lives. The speaker can be the youth minister, a core member, a parish priest or deacon, a guest speaker, or anyone who you feel may be qualified to speak on the topic. You can use the outline below to provide some thoughts for this talk.
Processing the video:
The importance of being a witness
- When watching this video, how did it make you feel? What was going through your head as this girl was on trial and what were your thoughts on the verdict? Can you relate to the video at all?
- Now obviously, it is not illegal to be Catholic in our country today. However, there are a number of obstacles that we face in our everyday lives that make it difficult to witness to our faith.
The witness of the Apostles
- In Acts 1:8, just before Jesus ascends to heaven, He stood before His apostles and said “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus makes a promise to His Apostles that they will receive the Holy Spirit and will become witnesses to the faith.
- In Acts 2:1-4, we read of the event of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit comes upon the Apostles and inspires them to fearlessly go out and proclaim Christ to the world. The Acts of the Apostles gives us a glimpse into the mission of the apostles following in the footsteps of Christ.
- We hear a number of miraculous occurrences such as the conversion of 3000 people by the apostles right after Pentecost (Acts 2), Peter healing to crippled man (Acts 3), Philip converting the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8), Paul restoring a dead man to life (Acts 20), as well as so many more things. On top of this, we also hear of so many stories of heroic virtue as the apostles stopped at no cost to follow the will of Christ which eventually lead to martyrdom for most.
Our own witness in our lives
- In our own lives, we can learn a lot from the apostles and can apply much of what they said and did in our very own life. It’s hard to be a witness. It’s hard to publicly stand up and follow Christ fully in the midst of everything that goes on. Often times, we can feel like we are on trial, just like in the video.
- However, Christ has commissioned us just as He commissioned His disciples. He speaks those same words to us that we find in Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The Lord is with us and He freely gives us His Holy Spirit to inspire us to carry out His will. Let us not be afraid to listen to Him and witness to Him in our lives.
Small Groups (15-20 minutes)
Lectio Divina Each person in the group will receive a slip of paper with the Scripture passage below on it and a pencil. The group leader or one of the youths should read the passage aloud. Take about 30 seconds to silently think about it. Have it read again. Take about a minute to silently meditate upon it and encourage the group take notes or underline key words that might stick out. Have it read one final time and then begin to discuss.
Acts 1:6-8 – “When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Small Group Questions
o Was there a word or phrase from this passage that really stood out or jumped out to anyone?
o What is the meaning of this passage?
o What does Jesus mean when He says “you will be my witnesses”?
o How do His followers ultimately respond to that call of being a witness?
o In our lives, we all have the same call to go out and be witnesses in our everyday lives. What does it mean to witness to the faith?
o Jesus calls us to witness to our faith by leaving behind everything we have and spreading the gospel around the world. Some have taken this call quite literally and have become missionaries to foreign countries or other extreme callings. For those of us (the majority of Christians) who do not have this calling, how can we witness to the faith in everyday life?
o How can we be a witness in our school, on our sports teams, within our groups of friends, or within our families?
o Why is witnessing to the faith so important? What benefit is there for us?
o What are some practical ways in which we can witness to our faith today?
Teen Witness (5 minutes)
Gather the whole group back together and invite one of your youth, preferable an older one who is maybe a junior or a senior to share a brief personal witness on how their life has been impacted by the Lord and how they have been called to live out their faith. Meet with them ahead of time to go over their witness. While writing their witness, have them pray with Acts 1:8 to see how their own life can relate to that of the apostles.
Closing prayer (5 minutes)
If possible, transition the group into a separate space to close out the night. The ideal location would be in the church if available. Invite the youth to quietly make their way in and have a seat. The youth minister should take a minute to prayerfully recap the whole night. After the recap, take some time to enter into some silence and allow the youth to voice any intentions they have. Close with reciting the Apostles Creed:.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God,
the Father almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.
By the way, did you know that the Curriculum can be found online
(you do not only have to view it in the office of your pastor of Director/Coordinator of Religious Education! You can download a copy or just view it online whenever you wish.)
During the last workshop round at the 2015 National Catholic Youth Conference, I participated in a "What Now" session with teens and adults from the Archdiocese of Dubuque.
A pastor, youth minister and 4 youth shared their experience of the previous NCYC and how they took the energy and learnings back to their parish.
They then invited all participants to consider what they may do after leaving NCYC.... and invited them to select one of the following areas in which to focus:
What do I want to work on after NCYC?
- Improve prayer life
- Improve charitable actions
- Grow YM at parish
- Teach others about the faith
- Liturgical ministries
- Be more active in parish in general
- Overcome challenges in life
- Improve relationships
Teens gathered in small groups around each of these areas and brainstormed ways they can take action back home.
I thought this was a GREAT way to start bridging the experience with some practical ideas, and that while this was NCYC specific at the time, how it can easily be adapted for any large event. Consider it when you are busing back from the March for Life, or before leaving your retreat, or after attending the next Diocesan Youth Convention (DYC) or mission trip.
(It is also not too late to gather your NCYC participants, if you went, to do this activity... after spending a little time reminiscing about the General Sessions, Camp Techakwitha, Prayer rooms, and break-outs, then ask them how they would like to build upon the experience in the New Year!)
I have often seen that a "mountaintop experience" can have a tremendous impact on a young person. We may want to be like Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration who wanted to build a tent and stay there (Matthew 17).... but we must go back home and rejoin our 'regular' lives at school, work and with family and friends.
However, pulling from another chapter of Matthew's Gospel (13), the large events are opportunities to sow seeds. If the seeds of the experience are not nurtured and fed, they quickly die... we must help our young people tend to the seeds so that they can bear great fruit for the individual, but even for our faith communities!
"But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a
hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13: 23)
This article seemed hidden on another page, so is copied here to be more easily accessed. Also be sure to pull up the Diocesan Child Protection Policy page to assure you have all your adults ready to serve with the youth!
"Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 4: 9 - 11)
CONSIDERATIONS in planning
Mission trips or service trips:
All projects, whether local or distant, should involve the following elements:
These program elements are widely adaptable to service opportunities that are suited to different regions, cultures, age groups, education levels, and issues. They are essential to ensuring that all young people who participate, whether they serve through their place of worship, school, or community group, benefit from the experience.
(Much of this article was taken and revised from "Summer of Service: A New American Rite of Passage" by Shirley Sagawa. It was published by Innovations in Civic Participation, Washington D.C., www.icicp.org)
Check out the additional items posted on the Service and Justice page of this site:
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.