Since being licensed as Priest-in-Charge of St Paul’s Winchmore Hill and taking on a role in the Edmonton Area as a Youth Advocate for Capital Youth, Fr Daniel Sandham has been thinking about how to engage the small number of teenagers they have in the church, in addition to the many families with pre and primary school aged children.
There was already a group that met during the Sunday Eucharist, called “YouthTubers”, which helps young people explore their creativity by making videos, and Fr Daniel was keen to find a way of using and sharing that creativity within the liturgy.
Fr Daniel was inspired by the Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage to commission their teens to create a kind of visual intercession, where the prayers are overlayed on images that help people engage with the prayer, which can be played to music if needed.
“The young people we have aren’t very keen on doing anything up-front during a service. We use a projector for our All-Age Eucharist, so I thought we could simply use that to show something that they had created. That way, they didn’t have to stand in front of everyone but could still express themselves through what they created. I also wanted to give them freedom to create prayers based on themes important to them, not least so the adults can see what’s on their minds when it comes to prayer. It was a great thing to try and we hope to continue to find ways for young people to engage creatively with the liturgy.”
The teenagers involved were given freedom to choose a variety of themes, which they did so and left open for interpretation. Their prayers included the Grenfell and Manchester tragedies, the homeless, mental health, gay pride, world hunger, global politics and Brexit, events in the local parish, exam results, people travelling, and Andy Murray!
Why this is a good example of involving young people in church
Involving young people like this in a key aspect of a service is a fantastic example of how we can reduce artificial separation from the adults in church. Young people raised this as a barrier to feeling part of the church, covered in the Church of England’s 2016 research, Rooted in the Church.
This idea also doesn’t require much skill or training to lead, and using pre-created media to facilitate this means the pressure is off young people in the moment. Those under 18 years old are also “technology natives”, meaning they have grown up using tech, so the prospect of creating a video with PowerPoint isn’t daunting at all.
How to make your own visual intercessions
If you would like to try this idea with your young people, here’s some guidance to get them started.
Use a news website to identify headlines of the week that inspire your themes
Use a photo site like Unsplash to find free licensed images that visualise your themes
Create a new slideshow with software such as PowerPoint
Set the slides to transition automatically, for however long you prefer
Export the slideshow as a video
Play the video during a service. You could play music simultaneously to add another element.
We’ve created a template file you can use to make it easy to get started – download it below.
Levi is the Creative Lead at Capital Youth, an initiative from the Diocese of London. He volunteers in youth ministry and leads worship at Christ Church W4 in Chiswick. Levi completed a degree in Theology before working in marketing and design, bringing both worlds together in his current role at Capital Youth.
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