Friday, December 2, 2016

Christian Outdoor Activity Lesson: T.A.G. Time




Key Verse

“You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 WEB

Activity

T.A.G. Time or Time Alone with God.

Note: Scouting the location beforehand is advisable.
Activity Type:

Experiential

Time:

1-1.5 hours. Include 5 minutes to brief and set scene for group, then solo time of 60 minutes. Finally, 15-20 minutes of discussion/debrief at end (this is optional).

Age Group & Size:

Participants 14+ years of age are ideal a 1-1.5 hour session. For younger participants choose a 15-30 minute session instead. This activity can be done with any group size as long as there is enough staff to supervise and keep everyone in the boundaries to avoid getting lost.

Materials:

A patch of nature. For example: night-time on a hill, sunrise, sunset, or most any natural location, especially by a river, pond, ocean or other body of water. Potentially add background music to set meditative or worshipful state. You can also pass out paper and pencils and tell participants to write something or have them use a journal or Bible. See Variations below.

Goal:

We are rarely still in nature. The goal is to encourage participants to commune with God in his creation undistracted. This is Biblical style meditation.

Instructions:

Visit a natural place that is conveniently available. Spend one hour in silence. Simply observe and be. Encourage participants to relax and enjoy the silence and connect with their Creator.

Try to ensure there are no pressing activities on people's minds (cooking, cleaning, etc.). Take care of these things in advance so participants are less distracted. Explain that participants are to spend an hour alone in nature. In today's society, just being in nature is a surprisingly rare event and most people will appreciate the experience.

Avoid giving much up front information about the experience, so that it is more "raw" and "natural". Be sure to give instructions on boundaries and distance. Tell participants to be safe and avoid being on cliff edge or up in trees as no one will come looking for them for an hour. Allow each person to find a place on their own. They can be within sight of each other or farther away and more alone depending on the space available and age group.

After approximately 1 hour, walk around and indicate for the group to come back together. Doing this is preferable to shouting as it preserves the mood for a debrief. Debrief: Form a circle and facilitate the group in sharing their experiences and thoughts about spending time in nature.

Variations:

Shorten the time to 30 or 15 minutes for various age groups or for daily personal devotions on a trip.
Have participants contemplate one or two questions. These can be connected with a theme. See this list of discussion questions and have participants share their answers in the debrief.
Play calming background music. Well-chosen music can significantly deepen the experience, helping alter people's brain waves into achieving a more calm, worshipful state. This is a great place for hymns or nature sounds music.
Allow participants to write or draw.
Besides different natural locations, try other places for an hour of silence such as church or meditation room, a playground, top floor of a building or mountain, looking over a city, etc.
Try different times like nighttime, moonrise, sunrise, sunset, etc.
Provide verbal or written "meditations", e.g., quotes, verses, etc.
For a similar activity type See Solo Walk.

Questions

How comfortable are you with silence?

Can you listen to yourself? To the Holy Spirit?

Do you recognize respectful silence?

Do you experience a silent time at home? What would it be like if you asked for some silence at school or work?

Possible lessons to draw from this activity.

Silence is an unused tool that is very effective in all kinds of ways. Most people have little true silence in their lives, yet it provides considerable peacefulness. Using the key verse talk about how being alone in nature helps to remove all the distractions that keep us from seeking God with all our hearts. Briefly describe how Jesus often spent time alone in silence and prayer with the Father, see Luke 5:16.

Written by David F. Garner
Photo Credit: lecreusois



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