Coming Back to the 30 Hour Famine

Most youth workers I know are familiar with the 30 Hour Famine. Many have even done it… at least once.

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you did the Famine years ago but then, for whatever reason, stopped.

That’s what I did.

For over a decade, the 30 Hour Famine was a staple in my ministry – one of its go-to, yearly events.

But then, the Famine lost steam – not because it was a bad event, but simply because we’d done it so many times and also because February, the month we’d traditionally participated in the Famine, became the worst month to hold an overnight event in my context. Between sports, forensics, and math team meets, virtually none of my kids could participate in the 30 Hour Famine.

So, in 2014, my leaders and I made the difficult decision to take a break from the Famine. At first we thought we’d just take a year off. But then one year became two and two became three and eventually three became four. That’s when something interesting happened.

At a brainstorming event over the summer, one of my high school seniors – who’d never participated in the 30 Hour Famine himself, but whose siblings had – suggested we do the Famine. Since many of his peers were completely unfamiliar with the Famine, he explained what it was based on what he’d heard from his siblings. After doing so, the people in the room got excited.

Really excited.

So, we scheduled a date for the Famine in October, far from the national Famine dates but on a weekend that worked for the teens in my ministry.

After four years off, when I sat down to plan the 30 Hour Famine, I realized I was excited about it in a way I hadn’t been in years. I wanted to teach teens about global hunger, poverty, and even the discipline of fasting and was thankful for the forum the Famine gave me to do so. I pulled from past years and recycled some of our greatest hits – teachings and activities that proved effective year after year. Then I supplemented those ideas with new ones, uniquely designed to minister to my specific group of teens in this specific time and place.

Our actual Famine event was everything I dreamed it would be and more.

Read the rest of this article here. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and the forthcoming A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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