First, I am NOT a cessationist and I am NOT a crazy charismatic that abuses the gifts. Although, I am a charismatic that strongly subscribes to a healthy theology that affirms the supernatural gifts and believes they should be present in and out of youth group. I am a seat belt charismatic.
Second, when I refer to spiritual encounters I am talking about a spiritual encounter that is rooted in Jesus. Essentially Jesus is the source of the encounter. Yes these spiritual encounters do resemble New Age type of activities, which does not mean these Christian spiritual activities are bad or demonic.
Students have a spiritual curiosity. They are interested in the supernatural activity that transpires in the natural world. Student need and want to see God’s power manifested. Students’ need an experience that will determine what is true and what is not true. As Kingdom people, we should come with the goods and with power to prove we really do come with not only the truth, but with life and the light. (Mark 9.1, Acts 1.8, 4.33, and 6.8)
Why can Wicca, Buddhism, satanism, tarot cards, and fortune tellers come with power and the local church cannot come with power?
What if youth group becomes as place that is not only Spirit led and empowered, but invites the Spirit to move in and through the students? What if the students have a spiritual encounters and experiences that may greatly shaped their spiritual transformational process?
I argue (along with Dallas Willard and JP Moreland) that the point of spiritual gifts is to see the miraculous outbreak of the Kingdom take place as an “ordinary” part of our “extraordinary” Christian lives.
What does a Spirit led and empowered youth group look like?
Here are a few examples:
(1) Mike King suggests the practices of: listening prayer, imaginative prayer, prayer postures, providing signs of the cross, praying with icons, storytelling, incent prayers, sacred reading and contemplation, and lectio divina. King also refers to a website to obtain more presence centered activities: www.sacredgateway.org.
(2) Facilitate an environment that encourages the students’ psyche to engage spiritually. Basically the youth pastor needs to develop a welcoming environment that at least looks sacred. Maybe candles? low lighting? Cross symbols? Comfortable chairs? Pillows? Make sure room is enclosed.
(3) Dedicate a night of youth group as solely a night of prayer. For the entire youth group, encourage students to pray. At the end of the night ask the students: How God was speaking to them.
(4) Utilize stations. I love using stations. For instance, have 3 stations that require the students to engage in reflection. First station can be the wall of confession. The second station invites students to nail their sins to the cross. The third station encourages students to read certain Psalms.
(5) Take a prayer walk. For youth group take your kids on a prayer walk. Make it clear the students need to be silent the entire time.
(6) At the end of youth group, make sure there is a ministry time. Actually pray for kids in front of kids. Relying on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct this time. If there is a need actually pray for it in the moment. You may even want to anoint some students will oil?
My heart is that youth group become naturally supernatural. Not only are kids having “fun”, but they are experiencing FREEDOM and that students have so much faith they are praying for the unimaginable to happen.