Involving youth in Ash Wednesday services, and looking ahead

In our outline of the CnC program, we list attending the Ash Wednesday service as a requirement for participants in the program. We strongly suggest that youth have a leadership role in the service as well as one or more of the Holy Week services (you can find these suggestions in the Getting Started Guide).

If Ash Wednesday was not in your plans, it might not be too late to try to wrangle youth together for the service. You might consider using this as an impromptu field trip, going to a church different from your own. If you have a group of students attend Ash Wednesday services at your own church, consider having the class sit together. Keep the temperament and personalities of your group in mind, however, since this is a somber sort of service and some participants might not appreciate the things that many teens will find amusing.

Take some time afterward to have the youth process their experience of the service. Especially for teenagers who feel invincible and think they are going to live forever, ask what was it like to be told, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return”? What has their experience of Lent been in the past? Is there anything they would like to do, either as individuals or as a class, to observe a holy Lent?

We realize you may not be able to pull this together. No worries. But we do want to encourage you to look ahead to Holy Week. Consult with the clergy of your church about how to involve the CnC students in any of the Holy Week services. Can they be readers? Take part in the Passion narrative? Even be part of the planning or preaching? Remember that this is an opportunity both for youth to take on their leadership role in the church and for the entire congregation to understand the youth have a place there. Let them go beyond what they have done before. Lent is a great time to bring your class out from the confines of the youth group room. Well, actually any time is! But here are some formal opportunities to do so.

Please share your ideas for involving your CnC class in your church’s liturgical leadership and Holy Week services!

[Image is from St. Philip's, Durham, NC]