We do this every week. I’m “Mental” over my kids and they go “Mental” over this game! This is especially great if you have an outreach-based youth group where most of the kids haven’t had the luxury of growing up in Sunday school, playing games, winning prizes and overall experiencing Christian generousity.
Take an old suitcase and decorate it as crazy as possible. Ours has Christian symbols, stickers from bands and scriptures like “Let no one despise you for your youth” and catch phrases from our group like “Eric has pointy ears!” (Eric doesn’t mind) Somewhere in the middle of the suitcase it should say “Mental Case”, just so there’s no question as to exactly WHAT it is…..
Fill it with fabulous prizes, like chattering teeth, rubber snakes, gag gifts, stickers, WWJD pencils, Jesus Loves You yo-yo’s, and occasionally and without notice a CD, T-shirt or video.
During youth group, give out raffle tickets. This is the point system we use:
Bring your bible = 5 points
Bring someone new who’s never been there = 10 points
Best listener/most respectful & well behaved = 3 points
Valid question about the teaching = 2 points
Good comment about the teaching = 2 points
Hand out points arbitrarily as you feel led. Be very generous. One point equals one ticket. When all is said and done, have a drawing. You can draw first, second and third place or maybe have everyone win something.
The trick is that whoever draws first gets first pick, and if there’s a CD or something big you threw in there, that person gets it. So the point is to get the most tickets so you’ll have the most chance of being drawn first.
Some people feel like this is bribing kids to come to youth group, but I don’t feel that way, especially since our church has a bookstore and our kids love to read. We put books in our Mental Case by authors such as Josh McDowell, C.S. Lewis, Frank Peretti, Miles McPherson, etc. They absolutely love it. Some of our kids have a low reading level and some read at a college level so I try to put books of different reading levels in there. The bookstore donates a lot of stuff for the Mental Case, but maybe your local Christian bookstore or Christian businesses would donate.
Also, cheap prizes can be bought from Christian wholesale distributors and also from costume/party stores! Enjoy!
And be sure to give out free bibles to new people. I highly recommend the Extreme Teen Bible, CEV version.