And so today, Ash Wednesday, we begin Lent. It means different things to different people. Many of us think of our humanity, need for repentance, and use it as a time of self-denial. It means something to us. The question is, how can we help our young people find meaning for themselves in Lent?
I was struck while reading Born Digital of John Palfrey's and Urs Gasser's outline of the way in which many of our young people, digital natives, get information. Palfrey and Gasser describe a three-step process: "Grazing, a 'deep dive,' and a feedback loop" (Palrey and Gasser 2008, 241-244). Grazing is pretty much browsing through multiple sources online; Deep dive entails seeking significance by focusing on a particular subject that has captured their attention and/or imagination; at the feedback loop (not embraced by all) the learner shares an opinion publicly regarding a subject through retelling, commenting, etc. It seems to me that we can employ this process with our high school and other students to enable them to "discover" Lent for themselves.
Encourage them to go online and find out what they can about Lent. There can be a general sharing about what they discovered. Have them then identify an area they want to learn more about. Here leaders can work with them to help them consult authentic and reliable sources. Students can then decide if and how they will meaningfully retell their story. If you are blessed enough to have enough computers in your ministry space for this to be done right there, it could probably be done over two weeks. If however, you need to send them out to do this exercise, I would suggest three weeks, building in enough time for sharing throughout.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor