This resource is part of a series of interactive, intergenerational ideas for engaging people in faith practices through worship and/or midweek gatherings, brought to you by Worship Ministries and Faith Formation Ministries as part of the Faith Practices Project.
Sabbath, God's gift to us, is a time set apart to rest from work, to worship God, to tend to our soul, and to bless others.
Below you’ll find a variety of intergenerational ideas on this faith practice. Choose from and then use the ideas to shape a summer series, plan a midweek gathering, weave into an all-ages small group study or house church gathering, and more.
There are so many ideas here that you probably won’t need them all. To help make choosing easier, we’ve organized them into three categories:
- Gather activities provide an introduction to the practice through reflection and connection.
- Grow experiences offer an opportunity to explore the practice in community in a way that can be repeated at home.
- Go resources encourage and equip participants to live out the practice.
For a list of other Scripture passages and songs you might also include during your gathering, see the Build-Your-Own Worship Service (or Series) on Sabbath.
Micro-sabbath. Explore the idea that there’s no set time for a sabbath; in fact, pausing in your day to “be still and know” that the Lord is God (Psalm 46:10) is one of many ways to practice sabbath. Experience a three-minute micro-sabbath together: invite everyone to get comfortable where they are seated and to take slow, deep breaths as a way to calm their heads, hands, and hearts. During this micro-sabbath you could play soft music in the background, read an invitation from Scripture to rest, such as Matthew 11:28; breathe in “be still and know” and breathe out “that I am God”; or simply sit in silence together. You might end this moment of rest with prayer or the sound of a chime. Follow up: How do you feel? Think about times in your daily life when you might pause for a micro-sabbath. What might be the benefits of doing so?
Wave a wand. Invite participants to imagine that with the wave of your wand, each of them gets a full free day to do a life-giving activity that they love, the kind of day that leaves them feeling refreshed and restored. What will you do with your day? Share your dream day with each other. How would you feel at the end of your day? That’s what Sabbath rest feels like!
Explore the gift of Sabbath. Provide each person with writing/drawing tools and an 8 ½” square sheet of paper that you’ve made to look like a wrapped gift by using a marker to denote four equal sections and by attaching (or drawing) a mini gift bow at the center of the page. Share with the group this definition: Sabbath, God's gift to us, is a time set apart to rest from work, to worship God, to tend to our soul, and to bless others. Explain that Sabbath isn’t a one-size-fits-all gift—our Sabbath practices will fit with our unique personalities; they may also change over time as our life circumstances change. Use the four sections on your “gift” to list or to draw personalized descriptions for each of the following:
- My work (home, school, job)
- My favorite ways to worship God
- My life-giving activities
- Ways my sabbath could be life-giving for others
Share your ideas with each other. Pray for God’s help in making space for sabbath keeping in the coming week.
Experience Sabbath practices. Explain that for the next [predetermined amount of time] you are invited to choose an activity to spend time with God and/or connect with others in a way that is life-giving for you. Some ideas for some of the options you might provide to the group:
- Blow bubbles outdoors.
- Listen to music being played in the sanctuary.
- Gather around a table to color a jumbo-sized poster from Illustrated Ministry.
- Find a quiet place to color and pray using coloring pencils and printouts of pages from the site Praying in Color.
- Walk a labyrinth that has been set up inside a room or outdoors.
- Go for a walk in creation.
- Make snow globes as a reminder of how sabbaths can be like snow days. For inspiration, check out this Creating Prayer Bottles idea from buildfaith.org.
Send people home with faith practice resources they can use to continue the practices they’ve experienced during your time together. Some ideas:
- A printed copy of these words from Psalm 46:10: “Be Still and Know That I Am God.” (For examples, see this webpage.)
- The link to Traci Smith’s post Practicing Sabbath for One, Three, or Five Minutes—30 Ideas
- 5 Ways to Practice Sabbath with Your Family—a free, printable resource for households with children
- Faith Practices: Holy Habits That Help Us Love God and Our Neighbor, Listen to the Spirit, and Become More Like Jesus—one booklet per person or household