By Kevin Alton
After years of participating in the annual 30 Hour Famine, the most often discussed Famine how-to I’ve encountered among youth workers is the conclusion. What’s the best way to honor the gravity of the subject matter at hand and the commitment of those present? It was only 30 hours, but the intention to go without for any stretch of time is pretty foreign to most teenagers, unless they happen to have a robust practice of Lent. To break the fast, I’ve seen meager meals of rice to overloaded steak dinners and everything in between. I wanted offer 3 quick tips for breaking your group’s fast if you’ve been on the bubble about how to bring things to a close.
1. Maybe you should do nothing at all.
Simply releasing your youth to their homes is sometimes the best thing you can do. They’ll be pretty tired by the end of your event. An attempt to wring one last ounce of meaning from any given event often does more to pet the ego of the youthworker than it does to instill any new insight in the mind of a youth. If you’ve followed the basic game plan of the 30 Hour Famine, you’ve already done well, good and faithful servant. Take ‘er easy. If this is you, find (or create) a non-chaotic moment for final reflection on the experience and close in prayer.
2. Do nothing to excess.
An overblown meal at the end can undermine the experience your group has just journeyed through. 30 hours without food is just barely long enough to begin to open their eyes to the suffering and hunger happening in abundance around the world. If you throw them back immediately into the familiar context of all you can eat they’ll forget what they’ve learned before they even hit the door.
Conversely, excessive simplicity can trivialize the direness of actual poverty. Eating one poor meal before hitting McDonalds on the way home won’t be a memorable life experience. The 30 Hour Famine is meant to raise awareness, not experience. Your goal isn’t to have kids coming away saying, “I know what it’s like to be hungry.” You simply want them to be motivated to find means to provide for others.
3. Consider communion.
My absolute favorite way to end a 30 Hour Famine is by sharing in communion. I love the way it brings together our physical and spiritual needs being so simply and perfectly met. If this is the direction you go, you’ll want to check within your context about appropriate ways to do so.
Best of all, there’s not a wrong way to end a 30 Hour Famine. Know your group and work with your adult leaders to decide what’s best for you.