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!!
Ask the kids to be on the lookout at school for any friends of theirs who may be going through a rough time. Ask kids to quietly compile a list of people who need encouragement and give it to you along with the student’s addresses. Then, after a youth group meeting, send the kids in groups on “pizza raids” to the homes of the various people kids selected. Have kids raid a house (make sure they’re home) by dropping a couple of slices of pizza at the door, ringing the doorbell and running away. Have all the groups leave a printed message that reads, “You are loved.” or something similar along with the group members’ names.
At your youth group’s New Year’s Eve Party, collect all of your pictures from the past year. Provide materials for making a scrapbook and/or a collage frame to hang in your meeting room and let the teens create the youth group scrapbook. Also, you can take a video camera and make a video collage with favorite youth group memories from the past year. Complete the evening by viewing the scrapbook and/or the video collage.
It is a new spin on 2 tried and true classics- Potlucks and Bowling.
Have everyone bring their favorite cereal to share. You provide the milk, juice, pop-tarts, etc… Then have a cereal pot-luck dinner and before going bowling for the evening. You can do it at the church or if the bowling alley has a meeting room.
This is an add-on to any event, but works great with a “Banana” Themed event, and works best in the summer months. What you need, is a whole ton of ice cream (depends on the size of your group), a ton of plastic spoons, bananas (pre sliced), all the toppings, and an eavestrough.
An eavestrough can be found in any large hardware store, and the size will depend on the size of your group.
Our group used a 10′ trough for 20 people, but I’ve also seen a 50′ length trough for close to 100 people (approx 6″ per person). The youth have a blast seeing that large a banana split, but also the fact that they’re eating out of a gutter.
*note* I suggest cleaning out the gutter prior to filling it with ice cream!
Have your youth group throw a special party for all your graduating seniors. Have kids each write encouraging notes on super-sized cards for each senior. As a part of your evening, take the seniors aside one at a time and videotape them offering words of encouragement to future youth group members. Keep these recordings on file and play them for new youth group members when they join. *** My twist: Go to their parents and ask for early school photos and video, etc and put them on display on bristol board or as a slide presentation. Good for a laugh!
1.) Molded ice-cream for season: especially Christmas, Valentine’s Day
2.) S’mores: sandwich of toasted marshmallow, and chocolate between two graham crackers
3.) Watermelon and cantaloupe a la mode
4.) Make your own: cupcakes, pizza, Mexican foods, cake.
5.) Make your own sundaes with all the fixings: ice-cream, syrups, nuts, sprinkles, M&M’s, hot pudding makes a cheap “hot fudge”, whipped cream, etc
How about a “Girls Night Out”? Have the young married women host a make-over/girl talk party to mentor the younger generation! Have different rooms set up for different activities…makeup, hair, nails, etc…be creative! At the end gather all the girls together and have the 20something girls give their testimonies. Have a time of worship and praise. This is a great way to encourage the older ladies to invest in the lives of the younger girls!!