This activity is intended to encourage students, primarily from the lips of their peers. Hearing affirmation spoken aloud in the presence of an audience is a powerful thing, and I think teenagers gobble this up because they are starving for it, though they rarely show it. I highly recommend setting an appropriate mood for this activity, as it is meant to have a lasting emotional impact, and cannot afford to be derailed by silliness or selfish humor. This is meant for retreats or camps where a group has been together for at least a day.
With the audience seated, place one chair, the Hot Seat, in front of the group, or on the stage. Then simply explain the concept of the Hot Seat in a similar way to this:
“This is the Hot Seat. Tonight you will all get a chance to sit in this seat. It is the Hot Seat. When one person is in this chair, I want the rest of you to take the opportunity that you have to speak words of kindness and encouragement to the person up front. You can let them know what your friendship has meant, or just affirm something amazing you have seen them do today, but use your words for good, to build them up. Please respect the person in the chair by having only one person speaking at a time. Once three people have had a chance to encourage you in the Hot Seat, please go back to the audience so that someone gets a chance to be in this chair. Remember, this is someone’s chance to hear encouragement from you, so please don’t waste their opportunity by trying to make yourself look funny or cool by what you say. This is for them, so put the person in the chair first. That said, the Hot Seat is all yours.”
After this it just takes a second for a student to go first. When I led this, I sat down and watched 23 students build up one another for about 45 minutes. I didn’t say a word the whole time. It is amazing how you will see a group come together through this, and it makes students realize how much others really think of them (especially those kids who try to remain aloof from the group–they’re loved!)
I read once that Christmas time is the loneliest time for widows, single moms or anyone who lives alone. This thought prompted a wonderful time of fellowship and a way to reach out and let the lonely know they were loved.
First, we prayed, and the youth leaders made a list of who they wanted to give to, We then put the lists together and discovered that our lists were pretty much the same. 🙂 Some were members of our church and some were some not. Some had just lost a spouse or were going through divorce. We also gave our master list to the associate pastor to look it over and see if he wanted to add anyone.
Then we put a list together of what would go in the basket. pumpkin bread and cranberry bread. cookies (decorated by the youth group) tea, hot cider and coco packets, homemade jelly , popcorn balls, (the elderly will love these its an old favorite) Let your imagination go wild. We chose a night to do all the baking and wrapping the baskets up. We purchased the baskets and decorating things at dollar tree 🙂
The following day we had our personal UPS man make us up a delivery plan and split up into 5 groups to make deliveries. The next Sunday when we all got together we talked about the experience and what a blessing it was for the people who received the baskets. Some of our students who drive made deliveries alone and appreciated the opportunity to see the faces of gratitude.
It will be something we do, God willing, every year. The widows especially appreciated this as well as those living in nursing homes.
Give each youth a wrapped sucker at the start of the game. Tell them they can’t eat them or unwrap them until the game is over, but they will have an opportunity to earn more suckers in this game. They can get another sucker by telling a story to the group. If they talk while someone else is talking (other than for encouragement) or if they repeat a story or idea that someone else had, they have to give the speaker their sucker.
This encourages group sharing and understanding. This can be used to just plain get to know each other, to review ideas (they can try to stump the leader about material covered by asking questions. No one can repeat a question asked already, so they have to listen to each other), to make up stories, to retell Bible stories…. Suckers are very motivating!!
Place a large bank in an accessible area in your church or youth room. Make up a sign that states what you are raising money for, and the instructions to drop off those unwanted pennies that everyone has too many of. This is a great inexpensive way to raise funds for an event.
Ed. Note – Maybe make a crazy “machine” (like the game “Mouse Trap”) that the coins will drop and roll through before they get into the jar/container to interest the kids and keep everyone giving.
At our church we have a monthly meeting with all of our Sunday School classes (youth & adults alike–in different places). On the first Sunday afternoon of every month the youth prepares for a time of fellowship where they can invite all of their friends to hang out…. Sometimes we go out to eat, play capture the flag, invite other churches to fellowship, have a youth choir performance, have a contemporary worship performance, and sometimes we just hang out around our youth building and get to know each other better!!!
We’ve used this supper idea with our High school youth group before they head to UNICEF during the Halloween season. Decide what your menu items will be (i.e. we had spaghetti, salad, garlic bread and pie) and then you make up names for each item of food (i.e. spaghetti, was worms, spaghetti sauce, was blood and guts, salad dressing was calf scours, you even give the silverware a name like fork, was devil’s tool, etc..even the drink is named something.) Then you make up a menu for each person and have them circle 6 items off the menu that they would like. Then you have parents or sponsors fill their plates in secrecy and deliver it to them. It was hilarious to see our youth wondering why they got 2 pieces of pie, a thing of spaghetti sauce and no silverware. Once we filled everyone’s plates and listened to their reactions, we opened up the kitchen for them to fill their plates and get silverware if they wanted. It’s a great time.
This event is a combination of a car rally, a progressive dinner and a trivia night. The idea is for the youth to find their meals.
We are doing a three course meal, so we have an entree, main meal and dessert. Each meal is held in a person’s home. To get to each home they must follow clues that the leader has designated (such as unscrable this street adress or clues as such). Also along the way they must spot certain objects (Such as what is the phone number of the local pizza shop). At the first course the youth will be asked trivia questions and given clues to find their next course.
At the end, add points for answers, include some puzzles and points for time. This event can take up to three hours. A great tool to reach out to young kids.
Each youth member takes orders for 3 varieties of sub-sandwiches 3-4 weeks prior to Super Bowl Sunday. Build subs on Sat. and include pick-up time and delivery time for the elderly or those who need delivery. Through the years we’ve learned to make ham, turkey, and the club (ham and turkey) all which automatically comes with cheese (Beef was too expensive). Additional cost for subs with the works of course. We’ve chosen lettuce, onion, pickle and black olives. So the choice is meat and cheese only, or “the works” (choice of meats and everything on it.) It took too long to custom make subs -(we make nearly 500 – 600 each yr.) Put on the music and make your assembly line and go to it. When you’re good enough you’ll be done by noon! Order sub buns through a local bakery and it would be a good idea to place plastic sheeting over a carpeted church basement. People may smell onions in church on Sunday morning but nobody minds. Just hope their mind is on the message and not the game. Ha!
Many young persons first attend a youth group with feelings of apprehension and timidity…To promote each young person’s self-confidence and to better facilitate conversation with his/her group members, a questionnaire is distributed to the class…generally at it’s initial meeting or shortly thereafter. On the questionnaire are items asking the usual, i.e. height, hair color, eye color, etc…but when favorite class in school, least favorite class, favorite movie, book, musical performer(s), activities in which the person is involved, if they had the ability to change the world, they’d___________, things tend to get interesting! All kinds of questions can be asked to provide a bridge for others to use in finding congruence among one another’s interests. The neat twist is:
After all of the forms are handed in, a person who is a cartoonist does a three-foot high caricature of the respondent, ALWAYS FLATTERING, and it is then posted on a divider in the Jr./Sr. High meeting room.
The cartoon “tells” all of the information given on the questionnaire, via a “balloon” from the cartoon figure’s mouth. (Check any strip in a newspaper to see what this means)
Many adults are in and out of the area during the week, and the drawings allow for the youngsters’profiles to become known to many. Increased self-confidence and a greater sense of belonging generally results.
This worked really well during the summer when school is not in session. We gathered one Sunday evening a month at the home of one of our youth and just had a PP Night. This simply consists of watching a movie and having only pop & popcorn. Hence the name PP Night. It’s not only a very non-threatning way to have our youth invite an un-churched friend, but they seemed to have a blast promoting it. They loved telling people they were going to PP at someone’s house Sunday night. We even promoted it in our church newsletter as PP at the (insert host persons name here).