Saturday, 5 September 2015

Teenage Prayer Experiment at Greenbelt

We've been to Greenbelt! Noah and I were very chuffed to be asked to do three sessions: a talk about writing the book collaboratively in the Literature strand of the festival, and two Experiment sessions in the Youth venue.
Noah at our book signing

We were joined in the Youth venue by our friend Anne Bennett, who has tried many of these ideas out with the young offenders she works with. She also brought new ideas that she had developed.
The Den at Greenbelt: youth silently doing prayer experiments

We had a great time, especially in the sessions in the youth venue, the Den! We tried four of the experiments over the weekend.

First, we tried Bible colouring. We printed out several individual sheets from
(these are free to use).

Bible colouring table with youth concentrating hard

We also had a design from (which we bought a copyright licence for from the website) printed onto an A0 banner which everyone joined together in colouring in with sharpies. This led to an hour of almost freakish near-silence in the Den! And it was beautiful.

Second, we used an idea that Anne had developed using air-drying clay. Originally, this idea came about at Christmas: she had set up a nativity scene in the YOI chapel, and invited the lads to make a simple clay figure representing themselves, and add it to the scene. For Greenbelt, to be on-theme, she created a 'Bright Field', with Jesus teaching the Sermon on the Mount, and we invited all the young people to make a figure of themselves and add it to the crowd listening. There was a large poster with the bullet points of the Sermon on the Mount, and you were invited to imagine hearing it for the first time as you placed your figure.
Girl placing a clay figure onto green 'field' to add to the field of people listening to the Sermon on the Mount

Third, we had labyrinths - a wooden one, a felt one, and paper photocopies to colour in or follow round with a pen. And finally, prayer beads - we were literally wrestling these away from the young people when we ran out of time at the end of the allotted slot!
Hand following a labyrinth with a pen whilst wearing prayer beads

Prayer beads
Clay modelling
Highlights were a girl telling me she was going into lower sixth and would thus be leading her school Christian Union, and would it be all right if she used the book (of course!!), watching boys and girls of all ages from about 10 to about 17 concentrating in almost total silence on colouring in their bible passages, the glee with which people made their clay figures and the awe with which they placed them, and a boy of about 15 explaining to me the changes he had made to the bead bracelet design and why, so that the beads represented the things he most wanted to pray about.

 Oh, and the book sold out in G-Books!
We were asked by the staff in the Youth venue if we would go back next year. I very much hope so!


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