This weekend, at the Refuge, our Sunday night youth group time, we’re doing what we call an “Immersive Scripture Experience” – a unique, interactive way of engaging with the stories of scripture, or tenets of our faith. We do this a couple of times a semester, and they’re always different; we’ve done stations of the cross, a live reenactment of the story of Rahab (with hiding in the attic included), the creation story, building a tabernacle, etc.
This weekend, we’re going to have kids follow the footsteps of Jesus, meeting people that he met along his journey and hearing how their lives were changed. Each station will have an adult telling a story from the perspective of someone Jesus met, and some kind of response activity, like a discussion, or creative exercise.
The idea is that teenagers can really place themselves in the story, and see those characters in scripture as real people who lived and walked on the same earth as us, and whose lives were turned upside down by an encounter with Jesus. I wanted to share one of the scripts that one of our leaders will read – it’s based on Jesus’s encounter with the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22):
I regret going to meet Jesus.
I’ve always followed all the rules, kept all the commandments, honored my parents, done everything that was expected. I’m a good person, I give my servants their days off, I donate to the church, I do everything that’s expected.
When Jesus came through town, I, of course, wanted to meet the guy, everyone was talking about him, but I wasn’t one of those beggars or anything who really needed him. I came up with a question, “What did I need to do to gain eternal life” – that I was pretty sure I already knew the answer to, but it seemed like a good thing to ask.
I went into the conversation pretty comfortable. I asked him the question, and he asked me if I followed the law. I said yes, so then he asked me if I honored my elders. I said yes, and then…
Jesus told me to sell everything I had. To give it all to the poor. And to follow him.
Where was that in the scripture? Where was that in the rulebook? I thought I had done enough. He didn’t ask anyone else to give up their fortune! I worked hard, my family worked hard, and we always gave our part to the church! Why did I have to give it up?
I was so shocked I walked away.
I went back to my house, my servants, my farms, and my inheritance. I watched Jesus continue on, performing healings, calling out Pharisees.
Did I make a mistake?
Did I miss out?
I followed all the rules. I did all the things right…Why do I feel like I’ve missed the mark when it mattered most?
The kids will get a chance to really spend some time in this story and talk about some of the questions this story begs:
- If Jesus came to you now and asked you to give up everything in your pockets, would you?
- What about your spot on the team, or in the show? What about your dream school?
- If you were the young ruler, what do you think you would have done?
- What do you imagine changed for him? How might you change?
They’ll also do stations around the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), a blind man who was healed (John 9:1-12), the woman at the well (John 4:1-42), and Peter.
We’ll end it by giving them individual envelopes. They’ll open them to find the last station, the last person who has met Jesus and has a story to tell: themselves.
We hope that the night helps our teenagers take some time to really understand their place in the larger Christian story. We hope they discover this space to see Jesus as someone who is living and active in their lives today – who transformed the lives of people when he walked on earth, and who is still transforming our lives today.
So take some time this week, consider the rich ruler, the woman at the well, and Peter — and how their lives were transformed by meeting Jesus. Then consider your own life – what is your story of meeting Jesus — and how do you still meet him today?
Director of Youth Ministries