Do you find yourself playing the quiet game with young teens?
“Hey lets play the quiet game. Let’s see who can stay quiet the longest. Ready… GO!!!”
“Let’s see if we could stay quiet for 5 minutes. Starting… NOW!”
Why do we choose 5 minutes instead of 30 minutes? Better yet, why not 1 hour!?
Well, we all know that middle school teens are hyper when you give them sweets. We know they can’t sit still longer than 5 minutes. Their attention span is shorter now than in previous years and decades. Sometimes, adults struggle with keeping teens quiet or silent for just a moment, whether at school or home. I also find myself struggling to keep teens silent for a long period of time for prayer. It seems like teens and silence do not go together. Sometimes, they can stay quiet/silent, but majority of the time… not really.
Don’t be deceived!
I was blessed to be able to lead worship for St. Jude’s first Edge retreat (middle schools teens) this past weekend, March 9th – March 10th. The theme of the retreat was “Restore”. The youth minister and the core team did a wonderful job in leading 12 young middle school teens (12?… Apostles?) through the paschal mystery.
12 Edge Teens + 1.5 hours = Authentic Prayer
During one of the sessions, the teens beautifully embraced the sacrament of reconciliation and were silent for an hour and a half. As I sat in the corner playing instrumentally, I saw their hearts transform into new sons and daughters of Christ. I would have to say, the retreat theme was fulfilled because they had been “restored” to who they were called to be, ‘children of god’ and ‘saints’. While one of them was in confession, it was amazing to see the rest of them dive deeper into prayer through scripture, gazing at the images of Christ, and other stations that guided them to have a deeper relationship with Christ. I was amazed how each of them did not cause distraction or poke each other; they just simply continued to pray. We would assume that they would distract one another but in this case it wasn’t so. They might have wondered when it was going to be over, but they continued to persevere through it.
As a worship leader, it was awesome to hold back and hear them sing beautifully…
“Awake, awake, awake my soul. God, resurrect these bones from death to life for you alone. Awake my soul.”
And transition into another song…
“We are the saints. We are the children. We’ve been redeemed. We’ve been forgiven. We are the sons and daughters of our God.”
I would have to say, never hold back with young teens! Go deep, because they are truly hungry for the truth. We may say they are too young or they might not understand. Let us continue to go deep with them because they can handle it and the Holy Spirit will work when we allow it. They will understand and they will set the world on fire for Christ when we mold them and set them on the right path.
“But the Lord answered me, Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak.” – Jeremiah 1:7