The goal of this Edge Night is to help the youth learn and know the purpose of the parables that Jesus used throughout His public ministry.
Parables in the simplest definition are metaphors drawn from ordinary life that help the hearer or reader to learn a spiritual lesson. It is important to note, Jesus did not necessarily believe that parables were simple nor that every individual would properly understand each parable. The Greek word parabolh (parabolē) is used a total of 50 times in the New Testament (13 times in Mark, 17 in Matthew, 18 in Luke, and twice in Hebrews, but never in John). Parables, however, were used to convey a message with a spiritual significance. While some of the elements might seem strange to a 20th Century Christian, Jesus used situations and symbols of those who were in His audience to help them better understand His message.
The youth will begin the Edge Night with a chance to tell a story in small group that is supposed to teach a lesson, but may actually prove to be quite funny. This will transition into the Proclaim where the youth will hear and see a couple of parables before a Core Member shares more in depth about the purpose of parables. In small group, the youth will have a time to discuss parables, share what they know about parables, and use their creative skills to draw a parable. Conclude the Edge Night with a Lectio Divina (or meditation on Scripture). Be sure to send the youth home with a challenge to read a parable on their own and ask the Holy Spirit to help them understand the parable and what it teaches them about God.
Be sure to preview the short videos suggested in the Media section. These will be good to show the youth to help them understand one of the parables, but also to help with the small group activity. Have your projector, speakers, and computer set and ready to go before the Edge Night begins.
The goal of this Edge Night is to help the middle school youth understand the four reasons God became man: to show us the love of the Father, to give us a model of holiness, to unite our human nature with the divine nature and for redemption.
The topic of this night is the Incarnation. The Incarnation is a fundamental belief for us as Catholic Christians – that God became man to save us from our sins. In John 1:14, we are told, “the word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Since we celebrate God becoming man at Christmas, this night is going to be very Christmas centered. The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us the four reasons for the Incarnation: 1) To show us the love of the Father, 2) to give us a model of holiness, 3) to unite our human nature with the divine nature and 4) to redeem us from sin.
The night will begin with a game of “Follow the Leader.” The Proclaim will help process the “Follow the Leader” and then share with the youth about the Incarnation. During small groups, the youth will talk about these reasons for the Incarnation and discuss God’s great love and mercy in sending His Son to become man. Then they can play a “Top 10” trivia game, and make Christmas cards to show love to someone they look up to. Finally, they will be challenged to apply this to their lives and live out what they learned.
For the closing prayer, you will want either a large wreath or use pine needles that can be placed in a large circle around the room, but made to look like a wreath. You will also need one candle per youth during the closing prayer.
The goal of this Edge Night is to help the middle school youth understand how the Bible was put together and that the Word of God is as living and active today as it was in the days of the biblical writers over 2,000 years ago who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
How the Bible came to be the Bible we read today is quite a story. This night will help the middle school youth understand not only how the Bible was assemble, but also the writers themselves. Often we don’t take time to understand the people who God inspired or even recognize how God is inspiring us with His Word still alive in our world today. This Edge Night will bring all this and more to life and a fun and creative way.
The Edge Night will start with a game called “Battle for the Truth” where true and false statements about the Bible will be read and the middle school youth will need to go to either the side of the room to choose if the statement is True or False. Immediately following the Gather, the Core Team will present the Proclaim of the night in a skit interviewing three of the Bible authors; Isaiah, David and John. As the night progresses, small groups will be given an opportunity to be creative and draw a story from one of the books in the bible to enhance the environment for the night, the Books of the Bible. The send will invite them to write a letter to their community similar to St. Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus, Corinth, Thessalonica, Philippi, etc., to show how the word of God still inspires and speaks to us today.
Prior to this Edge Night you will need to select and rehearse the Proclaim of the night so it comes off as a casual interview verses a scripted talk. Core Members should be assigned a book of the Bible before the Edge Night so that there is time to prepare and know a few things about that particular book – see the Break section for more details.
The goal of this Edge Night is to introduce the middle school youth to the Word that can and should be a part of their everyday life. By the end of the session, the youth will have a better understanding of how Scripture relates to their lives and they will be equipped with tools that will help them to incorporate the Word into the issues they encounter every day.
Coming into the Edge Night, some of the middle school youth may think that Scripture is an outdated tool that only applies to early Christians or older Christians. This night will help the youth see how Scripture is not dead, but alive and applicable to their lives. The night will provide the youth with practical tools to use while at school, home, or hanging out with their friends. By being equipped with the knowledge of Scripture, the youth are putting on the Armor of God to use in their everyday lives.
The night begins by the youth entering into a room where they will be surrounded by quotes from the Bible. The different verses chosen should be posted around the room without any references as to where they came from. Choose verses that you think are applicable to their lives. Welcome the group and open with a prayer. The youth will then compete in a game to see who can text, tweet, and/or give a status update the quickest using Scripture verses that you provide. Following the game, the night will transition into the teaching. Once the teaching is complete, have the youth break into small groups for a Scripture based activity followed by a quick brainstorm of tangible ways the youth can make Scripture a part of their everyday life. Have the large group come back together and share some of the things they learned in their small groups. The night will conclude with a brief sharing from one of the Core Members on how Scripture has impacted his/her life. The leader will then say a prayer for the middle school youth asking that the Lord would enter into their lives and ignite their hearts with a passion for the Word of God. The youth will each be given a topical concordance to take home and challenged to look up at least one new Scripture verse references in their packets.
Prior to the Edge Night, each small group leader will be assigned one of the topics highlighted in the handout, “What Scripture Says About…”. Make sure each Core Member has plenty of time to prepare by reading the Scriptures in his/her assigned section. If you do not have a Bible for each youth, you will need to type out the Scripture verses for each section for the youth to be able to read.
The goal of this Edge Night is help the youth understand what life was like for the early Church – especially in the years that followed Jesus’ Ascension. The youth will also be challenged to live out their faith boldly.
This Edge Night will focus in on what life was like for the early Church and the life of the early Christians. After Jesus rose from the dead, there were 40 days before His Ascension where Jesus was with the disciples. Ten days later they experienced Pentecost, but what was next? The Acts of the Apostles and the Letters from St. Paul give us good insight. In the days following the Passion, one might think that that would be an end. However, at Pentecost, with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the world, the Church was born. This Edge Night will focus on what happened in the early Church: the believers were bold and shared their faith; the apostles preached with boldness; communities of faith were formed; people lived as Jesus taught and commanded. Because of this, extraordinary numbers were added and the Church began to grow and thrive.
Get the Edge Night started with a lot of energy – the youth should have a feeling that your parish is alive! After introductions, the youth will be challenged to answer the question: What next? The Proclaim will help the youth to understand what the early Church was like. Take some time to discuss and challenge the youth in small group to live as those early Christians. The night will conclude with a time of Adoration – be sure to keep the beginning of the Edge Night tight as to allow time for Adoration. There will a short small group activity as to allow more time for Adoration. However, if you are not able to do Adoration, see the Adaptation section of the night.
Be sure to ask a priest or deacon to be present for Adoration. Also, ask your musician to help provide worship music for the Edge Night.
The goal of this Edge Night is for the middle school youth to understand what Lectio Divina is and how it can make Scripture come to life in their lives.
One of the most common reasons people give for not reading the Bible is that they do not understand it or feel overwhelmed with where to start. Yet, as Catholics, we are called to read and pray through the Scriptures on a regular basis in order to grow in holiness. While this may seem like a tall task, we are blessed to have a style of reading the Bible that can help us to understand it and relate it to our lives. That style is called Lectio Divina meaning, “divine reading,” and is a four-step process that can be done individually or in a group setting to help us focus in on a particular word or phrase from a given scripture passage.
To help the middle school youth understand what Lectio Divina is, this night will begin with a Crossword puzzle that challenges them to find different verses in the Bible and pick out the missing word. This transitions into the Proclaim, which is a basic teaching on what Lectio Divina is and how it works. During the Break, the youth will have an opportunity to experience Lectio Divina with their small group. Once this is complete, they will discuss this experience and do several activities to further bring it to life. Finally the Send will give them an opportunity to offer up a prayer based off the word or phrase that stuck out to them in their experience of Lectio Divina.
The goal of this Edge Night to help the youth understand that Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture go together to reveal the great mystery of God.
God has always been revealing Himself to creation. While He can reveal Himself in a multitude of ways, there are two ways that God has guided the Church through the course of history. Sacred Tradition, or eyewitness accounts of who God is and how He has acted throughout history, is one. Sacred Scripture, or the Holy Bible is the better known second way. Regardless, the two are not opposed but instead go together to give the Church a complete revelation of who God is and what He is doing. In the Vatican II document on divine revelation, Dei Verbum, it is explained as such: “For sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit. To the successors of the apostles, sacred Tradition hands on in its full purity God’s word, which was entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.” For the discussion, it will be important to understand that when we speak of sacred Tradition, we do not mean a custom in a certain region or one that changes over time. Sacred Tradition consists of what has been handed down to us by the apostles through their teaching and preaching.
The night will start with a “pair up” game to enforce the point of Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture going together. The teaching will emphasize the necessity of both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. A time to process all of this will follow with an interactive game, several small group questions, and a unique activity to create a small group tradition. Finally, a time of prayer will close the night by discussing Thessalonians 2:15 and handing out prayer cards.
Make sure to incorporate an introduction video to the “Proclaim” to explain the value of a tradition. Also, make sure the supplies are set for the various activities. You will need to cut the rope into three feet pieces so they can be used during the Gather activity.
How do you explain the Incarnation to middle schoolers? Jake Etcheverra, a youth minister, shares what the Church teaches about the reasons for the Incarnation. Simple enough for a middle schooler, deep enough for a Core Member.
This loop is specifically with the edge logo. It can be used to help set an environment for an Edge Night or mid-week ministry.
Connect the middle school youth with the story of creation and the love of God. The middle school youth will also learn that man is the pinnacle of God’s creation.
Most people know the story of creation in Genesis and have either read it or heard it numerous times. However, the deeper meanings behind the creation stories are often missed. Genesis 1 & 2 reveal to us that God is the creator of all things and He ordered creation in a specific way. God does not simply throw things together and hope they work, but rather, He carefully places the universe in order. As creation flows, on the 6th day, God created man in His own image. We are the pinnacle of creation.
As the youth enter the night, they will design a paper-doll cutout that resembles who they are and place it inside the “Garden of Eden” to represent that they are a part of creation. The youth will be reminded that they are created by God and thus are, “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Each youth is a unique reflection of who God is (Genesis 1:27).
The middle school youth will become familiar with the life of Christ as it is written in the four Gospels.
Why did some people not recognize Jesus as the Messiah? The Israelites were expecting a savior in the form of another mighty king who would rescue them and unite the kingdom once again. However, as Philippians tells us, “taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (2:7-8). Jesus is the Revelation that God was pointing to throughout the Old Testament. Through reading and studying the Gospels, we come to know the intimate love of God through His one and only Son. The Gospels are the central focus of the Bible because they describe the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Gospels reveal to us a relationship that our loving Father wants to have with us. The middle school youth will have a time to hear the message of the Gospel and then reflect on how it changes our lives. We cannot hear Christ’s message and be the same; He moves us! The Cardboard Testimonies are a powerful way for the Core to share their conversions as well as a chance for the youth to examine areas that need to be given to God.
Before this night
One of the activities will be a “Cardboard Testimony” put on by the Core Team. You will need to gather pieces of cardboard or poster board for the Core to write their testimonies on. The size of the cardboard pieces can vary, but should be big enough so that the testimony can be read depending on the size of your group.
Before the night, show the Core Team the clip “Cardboard Testimonies (CrossPoint Youth)” on www.youtube.com. John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Have a time of prayer for the Core Team and ask them to write their own Cardboard Testimony. As seen in the video, the testimonies are a few words that capture the struggles and difficulties of life on one side and how the person has allowed Christ to enter into that situation. Be sure that the testimonies are appropriate for middle school youth ages.
The middle school youth will identify the covenants in the Old Testament that God made with His people (Noah, Abraham, Moses and David) and what it means to be a part of His family.
God did not simply create the world and then step back and watch. Instead, God wants to be in relationship with His people. When God established relationships in the Old Testament, He did it by making a covenant with His people. A covenant is not just a promise or a contract that can be easily broken; God’s covenants are eternal. With each covenant in the Old Testament, God promises to be our faithful and loving Father. In return we are called to be faithful and obedient to Him. The covenants of the Old Testament are God’s design to make us a part of His family.
Tonight, the youth will at first be bombarded with Core Team asking them to make promises or making promises to them as a sign of how often we might ask someone, “Do you promise?” The night will open with campaign speeches from phony candidates making promises they cannot keep. Ultimately, the youth will examine how much they trust God.
The middle school youth will understand that we can know God because He has revealed Himself to us. God’s revelation was fully given in Jesus and passed on to us through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
This night will help to set up the semester on Scripture. The youth will see that God desires for us to know Him and His infinite and unconditional love for us. The goal is to help the middle school youth become familiar and comfortable with Scripture.
This session will help introduce the middle school youth to the concept of Revelation. Creation reveals that there is a Creator, but creation alone does not fully reveal to us who God is. We come to know God in three ways: Tradition, Scripture and most fully in the Incarnation. Tradition is the faith passed on to us from those who first believed. The Scriptures are the written transmission and revelation of God’s plan of salvation. The final and complete revelation of God came through the Incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Before the Night
This semester is all about Scripture. Each week, the youth are challenged to read their Bibles and study various sections and verses through talks, small groups, and prayer services. Before the night/semester, either provide a Bible for each middle school youth or have them bring one from home. Seek out a ministry in your parish that may be willing to purchase Bibles for the youth. If each youth has the same Bible, it will make it easier for small group work.
The middle school youth will be introduced to the New Testament as a fulfillment of the Old Testament. The youth will identify the books and writings in the New Testament as well.
The Old Testament comes to fulfillment in the New Testament. The New Testament is comprised of 27 books from eight different authors. The New Testament contains the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), Acts of the Apostles, 13 letters from St. Paul, a letter to the Hebrews, seven Epistles addressed to the faithful and the book of Revelation. It is important to know that the New Testament was not written until after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. The life of Christ and the faith of the Church was passed on through Tradition. As the apostles began to die, believers began to record what they had seen and heard – giving us the written text of the Bible as we have it today.
The flow of this night is easier so as to allow more time for Adoration. Having finished the Old Testament and learned about the covenants God established with His people, the middle school youth will see that Jesus Christ is the final and lasting covenant. The youth will explore the New Testament, become familiar with its contents and then have a time of Adoration. Live music during Adoration can help the youth to enter into prayer and be less distracted. If possible, have the words to the song projected or available for the youth so they can participate.
The youth will understand that sin entered the world because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, but from the very beginning God had a plan of salvation to restore our relationship.
“Why do bad things happen to good people?” The truth is, because of Original Sin, sin and death have entered the world. As we read in Genesis 1 & 2, God created us to be in perfect union with Him. God gave Adam and Eve everything in the Garden of Eden, but told them not to partake of “the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” God is omniscient and He alone can know what is good and evil. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree, it was a sign of disobedience and desire to decide what would be good or bad, thus turning away from God.
Tonight’s session will help the middle school youth explore Genesis 3 through the temptations they struggle with. As the middle school youth enter, they will be tempted to partake of the goodies around the room. Through the Proclaim and small group activities, they will discover that God knows what is best for them and He has a plan for each one of them.
The middle school youth will learn about the 46 books of the Old Testament, the different types of writing in the Old Testament and the story of Salvation.
The Old Testament is the first half of Salvation History – God’s promise of a Savior. Throughout the Old Testament, we read of a loving God who desires to be in relationship with His people. This session helps to introduce the Old Testament to the middle school youth. They will have a chance to recognize and understand some of the stories, events and writings of the Old Testament. As Catholics, we are mindful of reading the Old Testament in light of the New Testament, where God’s promises are fulfilled.
Most people are overwhelmed by the thought of reading from the Old Testament because the names and places are hard to pronounce and the stories seem confusing. This session will help the middle school youth see an order to the Old Testament and in a fun way, present the different books of the Old Testament through a spelling bee. The youth will hear the name of the book and what kind of book it is (historical, prophetic, wisdom, etc).
The middle school youth will learn about how the Bible was written and our approach when reading Scripture. The youth will also explore how the Bible can be read in different ways: literal, allegorical, moral and anagogical.
This session tells the story of how the writers of Sacred Scripture were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write an account of how God was working. Through that same Spirit, we are called to read the Scriptures and apply them to our lives. However, since the Bible was written so long ago, we must be mindful to read the Scriptures from the perspective of the time they were written (the literal sense), while being aware of the deeper meanings: how it points to or foreshadows Christ (allegorical), how it calls us to live our lives as Christians (moral sense) and what it reveals about the eternal (anagogical sense).
The Gather activity is designed to help the youth understand that the Bible contains various types of writing: historical, poetic, prophetic, etc., and how this adds to the beauty and magnificence of the Bible. With their small groups, the youth will read a story from the Bible. Many of them may simply remember that the story exists, but not very much detail. By using the various senses of reading Scripture, the youth will come to a deeper understanding of the story of Salvation History.
This Saintly Minute is on St. Paul. He was originally named Saul and persecuted Christians. He then had a conversion and he wrote the majority of the New Testament.
This Saintly Minute is on St. Maria Goretti. She was 11 when she was stabbed to death because she refused to let her neighbor rape her. She is the patroness of purity.
Everyone’s two favorite puppets (aside from Kermit and Miss Piggy): Drag and Gary! This episode of Drag and Gary, the two decide lead a game for everyone to play… including you. This is not a game to play in the library.
Everyone’s two favorite puppets (aside from Kermit and Miss Piggy): Drag and Gary! This episode of Drag and Gary, the two decide to read some emails and talk about their fears.
This is a loop of all the books in the Bible, layered on top of a moving background.
The middle school youth will consider how they experience the love of God in their families, and how following the example of Christ can enhance their family relationships.
God has revealed the moral law to humans over a period of many years, although primarily in a place and time when the structure of society and the family was patriarchal. As a result, the traditional association of God with a loving, authoritative father – responsible for providing for, protecting and leading his family – was natural. In the 21st century, however, we find ourselves living in a society that long has challenged traditional views on the composition and structure of relationships within families. Many children grow up without the experience of a caring, protective, authoritative parent, whether male or female. As a result, many middle school youth may have trouble relating to God as a loving father.
Still, the fourth commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” is a fundamental piece of the moral law that shapes our human lives and existence. As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The fourth commandment opens the second table of the Decalogue. It shows us the order of charity. God has willed that, after him, we should honor our parents to whom we owe life and who have handed on to us the knowledge of God. We are obliged to honor and respect all those whom God, for our good, has vested with his authority. (2197)
The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it. This commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community of persons. (2199)
Although the language of the fourth commandment is specific to children and their parents, we should understand it more broadly to apply to our relationships with all persons of authority and within our families, regardless of their structure, composition and relationship dynamics.
The middle school youth will consider how they experience the love of God in their friendships, and how following the example of Christ can enhance relationships with friends.
The eighth commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” helps to define our relationships with one another by prohibiting any interactions that are untruthful. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
The eighth commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. This moral prescription flows from the vocation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is the truth and wills the truth. Offenses against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness: they are fundamental infidelities to God and, in this sense, they undermine the foundations of the covenant. (2464)
Truth in our interactions with one another, therefore, is required.
Truth as uprightness in human action and speech is called truthfulness, sincerity, or candor. Truth or truthfulness is the virtue which consists in showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and in guarding against duplicity, dissimulation, and hypocrisy. ‘Men could not live with one another if there were not mutual confidence that they were being truthful to one another.’ The virtue of truth gives another his just due. Truthfulness keeps to the just mean between what ought to be expressed and what ought to be kept secret: it entails honesty and discretion. In justice, ‘as a matter of honor, one man owes it to another to manifest the truth.’ (2468-2469)
Offenses against the truth take several forms, including false witness and perjury; damage to another’s reputation through rash judgment, detraction and calumny; flattery, adulation and complaisance; boasting, bragging and irony; and lying (2476-2482). These are to be avoided in our relationships with our friends and others in the community.
The middle school youth will learn how the Ten Commandments can guide their decisions. They also will draft their own “Ten Commandments for Middle School Youth Today.”
Through His Son, God has revealed the way to live in love and service as human beings. This collection of teachings is known as the “moral law.”
The moral law is the work of divine Wisdom. Its biblical meaning can be defined as fatherly instruction, God’s pedagogy. It prescribes for man the ways, the rule of conduct that lead to the promised beatitude; it proscribes the ways of evil which turn him away from God and his love. It is at once firm in its precepts and, in its promises, worthy of love. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1950)
The purpose of the moral law is to dictate behavior not only for maintaining and strengthening our individual relationships with God, but also with one another in community. The Catechism states:
Law is a rule of conduct enacted by competent authority for the sake of the common good. The moral law presupposes the rational order, established among creatures for their good and to serve their final end, by the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator. (1951)
While the moral law is present in Sacred Scripture, it also is embedded naturally into our hearts as children of God. Because God created us with free will, obedience to the law depends upon our participation.
Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Creator who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good. The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie: “The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin… (1954)
God has revealed the moral law to us over time, initially through His covenant with Israel and later through the life of His Son Jesus.
God, our Creator and Redeemer, chose Israel for himself to be his people and revealed his Law to them, thus preparing for the coming of Christ. The Law of Moses expresses many truths naturally accessible to reason. (1961)
As a result, the Ten Commandments, the Decalogue, are the enduring foundation of the revelation of the moral law.