Holy Week for TEENS

Four years ago, we created an outline for a family friendly Holy Week. We were thrilled to see so many of you implementing this Christ centered tradition into your Easter celebrations. However, several years after we first began this tradition, our now-teens have outgrown some of the activities.  We decided it was time to give our Holy Week a “teen” makeover. (Bonus: it won’t roll its eyes, eat everything in sight, OR back into your new car.)

Traditionally celebrated by many Christians throughout the world, Holy Week is eight days of celebration and worship that focuses on the last week of Christ's life, beginning the Sunday before Easter. Similar to our original version, every day includes events that happened in Christ's life on that specific day, ideas for short activities, scriptures, and coordinating video links. NOTE: One resource I have LOVED over the years is Eric Hunstman’s book, “God So Loved the World.” Your kids will love to flip through it, too.

One notable addition to Holy Week 2.0 is our Christian music suggestions. There is a WIDE world of catchy, uplifting music that centers around Christian principles. Any time I can get my kids to groove on one of these songs, it’s a victory. We seek after music that is praiseworthy and virtuous instead of the garbage in their earbuds. (And all music listed here gets the stamp of approval from my older kids.)

Be aware, it is not our intention that you use EVERY resource listed here. No teen would ever sit through that ;) Pick and choose what will resonate with your family. When creating this, we asked, “Why would these events would matter to a teenager? How does the Triumphal Entry apply to a 15 year old struggling with stress or anxiety? How can the cleansing of the temple give a 17 year old courage around his peers?” When we looked closely, we found principles and invitations that would matter VERY much to a young person.

We hope you find some things that work for you. And we’d love to hear how it goes in the comments below or on social media! (Scroll to the bottom for a printable!)

{DAY ONE} PALM SUNDAY
Invitation: SEEK AND SPREAD HOPE

Message: He can deliver you from anything.

Backstory: Traditionally called "Palm Sunday," this day commemorates the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. He was welcomed by a joyful crowd waving palm leaves and shouting. Rome was currently occupying Israel and the Israelites thought that was *no bueno.* When Jesus arrived, they rejoiced, assuming He was their political savior. His presence brought much hope. Because of this, Palm Sunday is essentially about hope. The Jews were oppressed, discouraged, and afraid. Jesus brought a renewed sense of hope to their hearts, one which they couldn’t help but shout out as He passed by.

Song: Hope in Front of Me, Danny Gokey
Scriptures: Mark 11:1-11 ; Matthew 21:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19
Bible Video: The Lord's Triumphal Entry
Youth Videos: The Power of Hope, Alek’s Story
Hymn: All Glory, Laud, and Honor (a traditional Palm Sunday hymn throughout Christendom)
Letter: Dear Teenager, there is Hope

Questions for Discussion: What brings you hope? How does Jesus help you feel hopeful? What things do you hope for? Which of His promises give you hope? What do you think is the opposite of hope? Many kids your age are suffering from anxiety and depression. Why do you think that is? What do you think can help? How can you help others who are suffering from a lack of hope?

Activity Idea: Send a Text
Think of someone in your life who is discouraged, frustrated, or afraid. Send them an encouraging, hopeful text message.

Activity Idea: “Picture” Christ
Ask each child to search online through different art work of Christ. Ask them to pick their favorite- the one that really captures the hope Christ brings to them personally. Later, obtain a copy of the print each child chose. Hang it in their bedroom. (Would make great gifts for their Jesus Baskets!)

{{Day Two} MIGHTY MONDAY
Invitation: STAND UP, STAND OUT!

Message:  “Set a standard for the rest of the world.” —President Nelson

Backstory: We call this day "Mighty Monday" because (according to Mark) it's the day Jesus cleansed the temple by chasing out the money changers and over turning the tables. (Note: Matthew and Luke place this event on Sunday, but for my purposes I went with Mark's timetable.) In this account, Jesus sets the example by standing up for what was right, even when it was unpopular. He knew what was right, and He did it, with might (rap that for cool points). Sometimes we know what is right, but we may feel afraid or embarrassed to stand up for it, especially if it will cause a scene or draw attention to ourselves.

Questions for Discussion: Have you ever had to stand up for what’s right? How can we find the courage to stand? Where are places today that we see "money changers" or disrespect of sacred things? Can you think of an example in the scriptures, throughout history, or from someone who know who mightily stood up for what was right?

Song: Unusual, Francesca Batistelli
Scriptures: Mark 11:15-19; Matthew 21:12-13; Luke 19: 45-48, 1 Peter 2:9
Bible Video: Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Youth Videos: Leave the Party, Dare to Stand Alone
Hymn: Come, O Thou King of Kings
Letter: Dear Teenager, Stand Out

Activity Idea: Make a Meme
Find an inspirational quote from general conference or a scripture that means something to you. Using a free online meme designer (Rhonna Designs, Word Swag, Canva), make an uplifting meme to share on social media. (Tag us so we can see them!)

Activity Idea: Role Play
Your teens will resist this, but trust me, this is one of the MOST EFFECTIVE ways to learn. Kids usually feel uncomfortable “standing up” because they don’t know what to say. Role play a few situations with them. For example, they’re at a friend’s house and someone suggests they watch an inappropriate movie. Or, a friend begins gossiping to them. Or, someone says something untrue about the church. They will be much more prepared in these situations having rehearsed them first. (Make sure YOU take a few turns as the “mighty” teen, so they can see good examples in action.)

Activity Idea: The Prophet’s Invitations
Last June, President Nelson gave 5 challenges to the youth, one of which was to “Stand out. Be different. Be a light.” If your family is like ours, you may benefit from a refresher of these invitations. Review them again as a family and assess which invitations have been completed and which need some follow through.

{Day Three} TEACHING TUESDAY
Invitation: SEE HIM EVERYWHERE

Message: Everything testifies of Christ!

Backstory: I call this day "Teaching Tuesday" because of His teachings in the temple and the Olivet Discourse. Jesus taught in parables and symbols. “Learning to learn” in this way is an important skill to develop.

Song: Speak, Bethany Music
Scriptures: Matthew 22-25, Mark 11-13, Luke 20-21, and John 12 are full of His Tuesday teaching. Here are some examples of specific teachings you could highlight: The Parable of 10 Virgins: Matthew 25:1-13 The Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25: 14-30 Parable of the Fig Tree: Mark 13: 28-31; Matthew 24: 32-35; Luke 21: 29-33 Parable of the Faithful and Unfaithful Servant: Matthew 24: 45-51 The Widow's Mite: Mark 12:38-44, Luke 21: 1-4 Ye Have Done it Unto Me: Matthew 25: 31-46
Bible Videos: The 10 Virgins, The Parable of the Talents, Ye Have Done it Unto Me, The Greatest Commandment, Render Unto God, The Widow's Mite ,
Youth Videos: The Blessing of Scriptures
Hymn:
Jehovah, Lord of Heaven and Earth
Letter: Dear Teenager, He Has What You Need

Questions for Discussion: What is a parable? Why did Jesus often teach with parables and symbols? What is your favorite parable? How can you better prepare to teach others? What is your current study routine? Could it be improved? Why is it important to read the scriptures every single day?

Activity: Symbol Game
Parables teach us on a deeper, symbolic level. Try your own hand at it! Gather 8-10 super random items around your house. For example, a cheese grater, a hairspray bottle, a dryer sheet, etc. The stranger the better! Put the items in a bag and ask each family member to choose one without looking. Each person then has to explain how their object is symbolic of a gospel principle and/or testifies of Christ. Their ideas will surprise you. This activity is insightful and makes even my 16 year old laugh ;)

Activity: Texting Group
Invite teens to consider starting a texting group similar to this one, where they can share what they are learning from their scripture studies with their friends.

{DAY FOUR} SPY WEDNESDAY
Invitation: TRUST IN HIS LOVE

Message: God loves you, no matter what.

Backstory: Wednesday is traditionally called "Spy Wednesday"  because of Judas' agreement to betray Jesus. He “sold” Him for 30 pieces of silver, which is equal to about $17 today and was traditionally the price of a slave.

Songs: You Say, Lauren Daigle; You Love Me Anyway, Sidewalk Prophets
Scriptures: Mark 14: 10-11; Matthew 26: 14-16; Luke 22: 3-6
Youth Videos: Guilt vs. Shame, Holes in Your Boat , Am I Good Enough?
Hymn: With Humble Heart
Letter: Dear Teenager, You Are Good

Questions for Discussion: Are there ways we “betray” Jesus in our own lives? What choices do we make when no one is looking? If you make a mistake, does God’s love for you change? What is the difference between “worth” and “worthiness”? Is guilt a good thing or a bad thing? What is the difference between “guilt” and “shame”?

Activity Idea: “I Am” Affirmations
There is power is our words, especially when we describe ourselves using His name (“I AM.” See Exodus 3:14) Write 7 “I AM” statements about yourself (see examples below). These can be things you believe or things you wish were true. Hang them on your mirror where you can see them. Bonus points if you say them out loud everyday! (One fun idea is to open your Patriarchal Blessing and circle words that Heavenly Father uses to describe you. You can use these to create your affirmations if you would like.)

Examples: I am good. I am kind. I am noble, righteous, and obedient. I am able to make wise decisions. I am choosing God everyday. I am strong. I am confident. I am brave. I am safe and secure. I am happy with what I have. I am generous. I am grateful. I am allowed to be different from my friends. I am beautiful. I am calm. I am loved. I am enough.

Activity Idea: Write a Letters To and From Heavenly Father
First, write a letter TO Heavenly Father. Be completely honest about what you’re thinking and feeling. Close the letter with your name. On a separate paper (or on the back), begin a new letter. This one is to you FROM Heavenly Father. Write “Dear (your name),” and then whatever comes to your mind. Don’t think about it too hard or over analyze what to write. Just try to be still and let words come to you. This may take some time and practice to really let the words flow through the pen, especially for someone who struggles believing they have value. The words that come will be pure love. This can be difficult for some of us to accept and feel. If this is the case for you or one of your children, another option is to write any negative feelings they have about themselves and then burn or tear and throw away the pieces.

{DAY FIVE} PASSOVER THURSDAY
Invitation: DEFEAT THE DESTROYING ANGEL

Message: The blood of the Lamb helps us conquer death and sin.

Backstory: It's Passover! The day of the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane. You definitely need to be familiar with the first passover for the Last Supper to have full significance. Here’s the short cut version if you need a quick refresher: When the children of Israel were slaves in Egypt, Moses tried many times to to free them. In a final attempt, God said the destroying angel would “pass over” each home with the blood of the Lamb on the doorpost. Otherwise, the first born in each family would die. After this event, the Israelites hastily left their homes, grabbing the bread that hadn’t risen yet (unleavened bread). They escaped through the Red Sea. For centuries after the Jews would eat a ceremonial passover dinner, complete with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (to remind them of the bitterness of slavery). The night before Christ died, the apostles gathered with Him for the Passover meal, also known as the Last Supper. At that meal, Jesus announces He is the Lamb and the Law of Moses is fulfilled in Him. He takes the unleavened bread and wine and institutes the “new testament,” which is the sacrament. He then suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane.

NOTE: One really cool thing to connect here for teens is the Word of Wisdom. What does the WOW have to do with the Passover, you might ask? The answer is in the very
last verse of D&C 89 (everyone misses this!): “And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” Whaaaat?! Our modern day “blood on the doorposts” is the Word of Wisdom. Which means, in my opinion, that one form of the destroying angel is addiction. After you read this with your teens, ask them what they think the destroying angel could be and how the WOW - or any/all of the commandments - keeps us safe.

Song: God so Loved the World, City of Enoch
Scriptures: Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 13-18
Bible Videos: The Last Supper,  Gethsemane, MORE at this link (also fun to watch Prince of Egypt to get in the Passover spirit)
Youth Videos: Always Remember Him
Hymns:  The Sacrament, Reverently and Meekly Now
Letter: Dear Teenager, There’s a War For Your Soul

Questions for Discussion: What is the passover and why do Jesus and the apostles observe it? What do the different foods represent?  What is the connection between the passover and the sacrament? How is the Word of Wisdom connected to the Passover (see D&C 89:21)? What happened in the Garden of Gethsemane? Jesus asked for “this cup” to be removed from Him and it wasn’t. Why are our prayers sometimes answered with a “no”?

Activity: Passover/Last Supper Meal
For this day, we have a family friendly "passover meal." Grape juice (for wine), pita bread (for unleavened bread), horseradish (for bitter herbs), and a few other foods that may have been on the table at passover: HoneyComb cereal (for honeycomb), fish (or fish sticks or Swedish fish), hard boiled eggs, raisins (or figs), grapes, and olives. (Cooking lamb is a little out of my comfort zone, so I usually just set a stuffed lamb on the table...) My teenagers LOVE LOVE LOVE this meal.

{DAY SIX} GOOD FRIDAY
Invitation: SHARE THE GOOD NEWS!

Message: Because Christ paid for our sins, we can repent. This is the best news ever!

Backstory: Traditionally called "Good Friday," this was the day Jesus suffered and died on the cross. This is a day my kids really feel. They ask a lot of questions and we have some of our best Holy Week discussions on this day.

Songs: Best News Ever, Mercy Me, What Love is This? Kari Jobe
Scriptures: Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18, 19
Bible Videos: Jesus is Scourged and Crucified
Youth Videos: Repentance, a Joyful Choice; Good Things to Share
Talk: Sunday Will Come
Hymns: Help Us, Oh God, to Understand; Upon the Cross of Calvary

Questions for Discussion: Why did Jesus have to suffer and die for us? Why is this day called "GOOD Friday?" What “good news” comes from this day? Do you have to be perfect? How do you repent? Why and how should we share our testimonies of Christ with others?

Activity Idea: Social Media Share
Share the good news on social media! Find a talk, scripture, quote, or video about Christ to share on social media. Include your thoughts about His role in your life. Consider using one of the church’s official hashtags: #BecauseofHim, #BecauseHeLives, #Hallelujah, ##ShareGoodness, #JesusChrist, #Christian, #ChurchofJesusChrist, #BookofMormon

Activity Idea: Watch The Lamb of God
I try to make sure this happens every year. This video is powerful and always helps my kids “feel.”

Activity Idea: Bake Hot Cross Buns!
Hot Cross Buns are traditionally baked on Good Friday and given to friends. A little service on this day does our hearts good!

{DAY SEVEN} SPIRIT WORLD SATURDAY
Invitation: CONNECT TO YOUR ANCESTORS

Message: You are surrounded by loved ones on the other side, ready to help you.

Backstory: I call this day "Spirit World Saturday" because this was the day Jesus taught in the spirit world. Learn about it here. I use this day to connect my kids to an ancestor or do some temple or family history work.

Song: Undeniable, Mercy River
Scriptures: 1 Peter 3:18-4:6; D&C 138
Youth Videos: The Promised Blessings of Family History; Angels are God’s Emissaries
Video: Jesus Visits the Spirit World It’s a bit old, but the only video I’ve found that shows a representation. Take it or leave it ;)
Hymn: Families Can Be Together Forever

Questions for Discussion: Why did Jesus teach in the spirit world? Where do our loved ones go when they die? Are they near us? Are angels real? Can we ask for angels to help us? Do my ancestors know and care about me? Why is family history work and temple work important? How can our family participate more in this work? (Awesome quotes about angels here.)

Activity Ideas:
We love to visit a temple on this day. Older children can do baptisms for the dead and younger children can walk around the temple grounds and visitors center or help index names for the temple. If this is not possible,  or if you are not of our faith (The Church of Jesus Christ), you could share family history stories, write in your personal journals, or visit graves of deceased loved ones.

{DAY EIGHT} EASTER SUNDAY
Invitation: RISE!

Message: “Whatever Jesus lays His hands upon, lives.” -Howard W. Hunter

Backstory: Our favorite day! The day Jesus was resurrected and rose from the tomb.

Song: Forever, Nathan Pacheco, I Will Rise Again, Jason Gray
Scriptures: Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20
Bible Videos: Jesus is Resurrected, He is Risen
Youth Videos: He Lives, Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet
Hymn: He Is Risen, That Easter Morn, Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Questions for Discussion: What does the resurrection have to do with YOU? Why are you grateful for the resurrection? What in your life has “died” and needs reviving? Confidence? Grades? Good desires? He can breathe life into anything.  

Activity Idea: Jesus Baskets
Give your children "Jesus Baskets" instead of Easter Baskets. Our teenagers absolutely love these. Jesus Baskets look a lot like Easter baskets— they are full of color and candy and eggs. But everything in a Jesus Basket is either a symbol OF, or brings us closer TO Christ. (Think books, ties, journals, mission prep items, family games, thank you notes, etc.). My kids love these, no matter their age.

Activity Idea: Empty Tomb Rolls
These are soft, homemade rolls that have a cinnamon sugar, butter dipped marshmallow inside. After baking, the marshmallow is gone and the roll is hollow and empty. Sweet, sticky, and delicious.

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Other super cool songs to add to a teen Holy Week playlist:

Still Rolling Stones, Lauren Daigle

For All You've Done - Mercy River

How Deep the Father's Love for Us - Mercy River

Because He Lives - Matt Maher

Man of Sorrow - Shane and Shane

..and more here!

Walking with Christ through the last week of His life may be just the thing your teenagers need this Easter season. Happy Holy Week!

(PS. Want all this info in a convenient printable? Click right here and it's yogis

Mercy RiverComment