Think about a time when you felt worried and compare that to a time when you felt anxious. Consider what role faith and spiritual practices play in your own experience of anxiety and worry. Has your image of God changed through encounters with worry and anxiety.
To distinguish anxiety from worry, exploring its spiritual meaning. To normalize anxiety and express it to God.
In this session, youth will examine what makes them worried and anxious, distinguish anxiety from worry, and learn about the best way to respond to anxiety in light of faith.
1 Peter 5:7
Robert H. Albers, William H. Meller, and Steven D. Thurber (eds.), Ministry with Persons with Mental Illness and their Families, Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2012.
Allan Hugh Cole, Jr. Be Not Anxious: Pastoral Care of Disquieted Souls, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2008.
Cynthia Franklin and Rowena Fong (eds.), The Church Leader’s Counseling Resource Book: A Guide to Mental Health and Social Problems. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger, Pray without Ceasing: Revitalizing Pastoral Care. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006.
Lloyd I. Sederer, The Family Guide to Mental Health Care: Advice on Helping Your Loved Ones…NY: W.W. Norton, 2013.
Jean Twenge, Igen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—And Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—And What That Means for the Rest of Us. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2017.
Gather (5 minutes)
Begin the class by having students raise their hands and offer prayer requests for things that they are concerned about. Make a list of each of these and pray for them.
Mention that there are studies that notice that we are more likely to remember our headwinds, the things that seem to be against us, than we are our tailwinds, or what is pushing us along. Have the class turn to a neighbor and mention one tailwind, a thing they are grateful for or that was special to them in the last week.
Mention that this class is about anxiety and the ways that it relates to our life of faith. Discuss how no one will have to share personally if they do not want to do so.
Pass around small notecards and list the following stressors on the board: 1. Move 2. Divorce 3. Starting a new school 4. Questioning sexuality 5. Being bullied. 6. Standardized tests 7. College entrance essays 8. Worry about family’s health 9. Racism 10. Environmental damage
Have students make a list from one to ten, rating whether each number is a ‘big’ or ‘small’ source of anxiety.
Emphasize that there are no right answers to these questions, but that different stressors cause different kinds of anxiety based on temperament, life events, and other aspects of life. Emphasize that God is with us in these worries, wanting us to trust God.
Pracitioner’s Note: If students in your group are not primarily college bound, change Number 7 above to “Preparing for life after graduation.”
Engage (30 minutes)
Activity 1: Hear from a Peer
Activity 2: Engage in a Silent Witness Activity
Reflect (20 minutes)
Activity 3: Reflect on God’s Care in Anxious Times
Activity 4: Casting Cares Upon God
Send Forth (5 minutes)
Practitioner’s Note: If your structure allows, follow this session in next meeting with a dedicated time for an art project that expresses what emerged in Anxiety lesson.
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