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WHAT? It’s Lent Already?

I just took down my Christmas tree in my office (yes I put up a Christmas tree in my office) and Ash Wednesday is next week! WHAT? The Girl Scouts haven’t delivered my cookies yet, and I have to start thinking about Stations of the Cross and the CRS Rice Bowls already?

In all seriousness, I went to the Diocese of Orange Youth Minister In-Service today, and we were brainstorming Lent ideas. My heart skipped an irregular beat when I realized that next Wednesday my forehead would bring confusion to every non-Catholic I meet. Fantastic potential to find the man of my dream next Wednesday (I mean X marks the spot), but this realization made me ask the question most every youth minister asks this time of year. How do I turn up the notch for Lent this year? Thanks to some creative youth ministers in the OC, I have some ideas for you.

PARISH

Stations of the Cross

We have all done Stations of the Cross as a live reenactment, with shadows and screens, or even a guided meditation. But have you thought about creating a free website through Weebly.com? Check out what one youth minister did with his free site based on Creighton.edu Stations of the Cross http://c3ymevent.weebly.com/

Spud-Tacular or Soup and Sacrifice Dinners instead of Fish Fry

Instead of the typical Fish Fry at your parish, host a bake potato bar for families or a Soup Supper where they sacrifice the money they would’ve spent on dinner out as a family.

Lenten Parent Retreat

Host a one-day or four-hour retreat for parents to stop, pray, and renew themselves during Lent.

Lent XLT

Host a Lent XLT with praise and worship, a Lenten speaker, Adoration and Benediction, and fellowship time afterward for teens and their families. Themes can include Mercy, Prodigal, Inheritance, or something else that you and your team think up.

TEENS

Life Teen Lent Companion or Lent Companion App

Let’s face it; today’s “pocket books” are pocket phones. So either give the Lent Companion out to your teens or encourage them to download the book on their phone.

Pictionary with Un-blessed Ashes (or dirt)

Each teen will have a chance to draw a picture on the forehead of another teen using unblessed ashes (or dirt). Go around till everyone has been the “poster forehead” and everyone has guessed the pictures. Great, hilarious gather for a Life or Edge Night!

40-Day Lent Challenge

Split teens into groups to come up with daily challenges during lent based on the themes of almsgiving, fasting and prayer. Have them create colorful posters or papers and then photograph them to post on Instagram and Twitter each morning for your 40-Day Lent Challenge.

Ash Service At School

Many parishes take blessed ashes on Ash Wednesday and offer a morning Ash Service at the church or in the High School parking lot before school. The suggestion was made to have cards printed out to give to your teens so when someone asks, “Why do you have dirt on your forehead?” they can hand them a card explaining why and invite them to youth group. Ash Wednesday can be a powerful day to evangelize!

Desert Days

Take teens on a Desert Day Hike or a one-day silent retreat. A Bike and Bible adventure can be an excellent departure as spring arrives to reflect on the Word of God and enjoy God’s beauty in nature.

Lenten Bible Study

During Lent add a weekly Bible Study in small Discipleship Groups at a local coffee shop or the library. Challenge teens to explore scripture during Lent and encourage your Core Team to help guide them with resources like Summit.

Lenten Journal

Provide each teen with a blank Lent Journal and encourage them each day to journal on different themes like the beatitudes, daily acts of mercy they witnessed, or the daily readings.

24-Hour Food Fasts by CRS

If you have never done a 24-Hour Food Fast with the CRS resources, you are missing out. This is an excellent way to combine fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. You can even include a service element in the 24-hours like a window wash during the Sunday Masses or helping at a food bank when the teens themselves are hungry.

Triduum Stations

This is actually a great Life Night entitled UUM? that you can with Confirmation teens, Edge middle schoolers or High School teens. Set up rooms that represent each night of the Triduum (one for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday tomb) and help the teens enter into Holy Week fully aware of how much Christ loves them and what He did for our salvation.

Reconciliation Service

Host a prayer service for your teens and their families and start by having everyone take a paper bag and pen as they enter the church. Invite everyone to write their baggage on the bag and take it up to Father and crumple it up as they confess their sins. By the end of the Sacrament of Confession, they have “given up their baggage” to God and are absolved of their sins. This helps teens and parents examine their conscious in a tangible and new way.

Whatever you do, be creative and make it new for you as a youth minister versus settling for the same Lent. The more alive you make it for your teens and the families you serve, the more alive Christ will be on Easter morning.

About the Author

Tricia Tembreull

Tricia Tembreull is a California girl with a Texas-size heart for hospitality. She said yes over twenty years ago to God’s call to youth ministry and never could’ve imagined the adventures and people He had planned for her to encounter along the way. She serves as a Parish Coach for Life Teen and joyfully travels around the globe training, empowering, and praying with youth ministers. When not on a plane, you can find Tricia in a church, spending time with family and friends, in the kitchen cooking up something delightful, or on the beach for an evening walk.