Encounters with Jesus
Be intentional about providing spaces to encounter Jesus …
In an entertainment driven, visually stimulated, “I’m bored” generation there is a tendency to fill our program lives with lots of activity, noise and busyness so as to maintain attention and hopefully communicate something of value. While we need to be cognisant of the ‘times and the seasons’ and use all we can to be effective communicators, there is a danger that we fill our spaces so full there is no time to hear the voice of God.
Many Christians can remember a time and place where they may have felt particularly close to Jesus – at an event, at a particular episode in their life, etc. These same Christians would testify how important that moment was and continues to be in their ongoing faith journey. How important it is for us to create the spaces where our we can encounter the living Jesus – not just in words from the front but in the still small voice of the Spirit of God who desperately wants to communicate with each of us.
But let’s not lose the vision as leaders in helping all ages connect intimately, personally and regularly with the Son of God.
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.
Principles and practical ideas to inspire you as you implement this formational experience into your long term plan …
Within our faith community and our household of faith we need to be intentional about providing spaces to encounter Jesus. To create spaces to hear from God. To encounter Him together and to share our stories and encounters with each other. We feel we are so “time poor” that it is about being intentional and making this a priority in our life.
Why are ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS so important in the faith formation process? Here are 3 reasons….
1 We meet a Jesus who is real
2 We meet a Jesus who wants to communicate with me
3 We meet a Jesus who transforms lives
Top 10 reasons why…
1.They are real stories, not just someone else’s word.
2.We all must know how to connect with God and hear His voice.
3.We can be argued out of faith with “smart” words but you can’t argue with an experience, if it’s a real experience it’s less likely to be stolen from you.
4.God doesn’t want to be God without us.
5.If you only have a “picture book Jesus” it’s a lot of wasted time… He’s no different than the tooth fairy?
6.”Going to church makes you a Christian as much as going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger.” (Keith Green)
7.It is the relationship that sustains, not religion.
8.Faith is not a “lifestyle” it’s a relationship with Jesus, therefore we must be giving time, space, encouragement to this. Nothing else will grow our faith like a personal experience in Jesus.
9.As we encounter Jesus and live in that strength, we can’t take credit for our own faith formation. The self-made man complex is common today.
10.Encounters with Jesus show that He is now and not just in the past.
General Teaching Strategies
1.Look for and make the most of ‘teachable moments’ in your time with young people. Deut 6: “As we go out, as we come in…”
2.Provide opportunities at the end of input for ’reflect and response’ to what we have heard. Foster the attitude that God wants to speak to us – are we listening?
3.Provide ‘quiet places’/ ‘safe spaces’ – often we step in too quickly with a response, answer or question.
4.Worship through song, silence, movement, visuals.
5.All ages sharing their encounters with Jesus – telling the stories.
6.Create the shift from ‘we have to create a program’ to allowing space. Work against the temptation to over-schedule.
1.Model different types of ‘prayer’ for all ages to develop a repertoire of prayers to use in their spiritual journey- “Thinking Prayers”; “Asking Prayers”; “Thanking Prayers”.
2.Establish a “Prayer Wall” in the areas of the faith community and encourage anyone to write on it.
3.A Prayer Tent set up in the area where you are having a program. Made of a light translucent material. One group had a grandma in the tent to pray with children when they wanted to.
4.Provide and encourage the use of Prayer Journals – words or drawing.
5.Blackboard Wall…Have people finish the sentence, ”I wish God would….”; “Why doesn’t God….”.
6.Walks in nature looking for God’s fingerprints.
7.Teaching Christian meditation.
Resources to help
1.Circle Time – encourage all ages to share a ‘good thing’ and a ‘bad thing’ from their week. Then pray about it around the circle.
2.Develop the concept of “Godly Play” with the Bible stories we are learning about. This is valuable at any age. See Link
3.Explore what it is to encounter God in the normal, mundane everyday moments. “One thousand gifts” by Ann Voskamp sets a challenge of finding 1000 things to thank God for in our daily life. See Link