More than ten years ago I heard a catchy phrase associated with an Evangelical college campus ministry that still reverberates in my mind, that is: “It is a sin to make the Gospel boring.” And just recently I heard a comment about the “The Bible” TV series: “wow, I didn’t know the Bible was so interesting!” Does this strike you as much as it does me? How could it be that youth today find the Bible…boring?
This has to make us mentors stop and reflect about our delivery. The Bible is not boring at all, especially since it’s true! But it does take effort to read and creativity to deliver its message to our modern youth. This is why I’d like to present you with a new method that I have tried close to a dozen times. It has been a great success, every time!
It’s called the 4D Meditation. It is an activity in which a Gospel story “comes alive” by activating the participants’ imagination and senses. By closing their eyes, adult volunteers can tap into their young, vivid imaginations and sensory perceptions, thereby giving each young person the feeling that they were actually there alongside Christ!
I needed to choose a Gospel story that was both full of existential meaning and would reach all (or most) of the senses. So I picked the Gospel passage of Peter walking on water. At first I would simply read the Gospel passage, but it proved to be too short for the experience to take effect. So I re-wrote Peter’s encounter with Christ. I described the scenery better for the sake of the imagination, and I added Peter’s stream of thought in such a way that teens would identify with Peter as the main character. You can download my story by clicking here: (Meditation on Peter walking – Click here to download my story version)
Then I had to prepare the room where this would happen. It’s actually not too hard. I used a room that could get quite dark. I arranged the seats to fit everyone comfortably. Some audiences were 10 or so kids, another was about 40, and everything in between. I made sure to have a rotating fan or two, to imitate the wind blowing on the apostles. I got a spray bottle filled with water, to imitate the rain and water splashing on the apostles. I downloaded a rain and thunderstorm soundtrack to help the audience imagine they are in the middle of the ocean in a thunderstorm. Lastly, I made sure to have a strobe light to imitate the sudden and spontaneous lightning flashes. (I didn’t do this, but I wonder if actually having raw fish around would be too much?)
At first I wondered if 20 or more teens could possibly sit still with their eyes closed for 10 to 15 minutes. But, after explaining what they were about to experience, time and time again their cooperation surprised me! And this includes teens from various walks of life…As I read the story of that Gospel passage, they all kept their heads down and eyes closed, and were focused on using their imagination and senses to place themselves in the Gospel story.
Most of the teens still remember this activity, and also this Gospel. At the end, we talked about the experience and received their feedback. They were very willing to share their comments! Some were surprised with the water being sprayed on their face, others imagined themselves in the boat, a few were actually scared… One of the 8th grade boys even said his life would never be the same! And others said it was their favorite activity of the retreat. In short, the Gospel was all but boring! Success! This particular Gospel passage was able to “come alive” right before them!
I had two other adult volunteers help me with this, especially since there are cues for when to start the wind and rain and thunderstorms.
It’s not hard to replicate, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be successful for you too. I’m also certain there are many other Gospel passages, stories or actual events that could be used. For example, we also did a 4D Meditation of the crucifixion and another of the martyrs in the middle of the Colosseum.
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