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!!
In the middle of winter, up here in Canada, we heat up our gym to 85 degrees and bring in a full size pool to set up in the gym. We also use tractors and wheelbarrows to bring in sand to put around the pool and to make a full beach volleyball court. The sand is about 1 foot deep. It is a blast to clean up :). We also rent two hot tubs and have a climbing wall that is inflated and a bunch of games like pool and ping pong. Also video games are available on the big screen for those who want. It goes on for the whole night. We have many groups that use it throughout the night to bring down the cost. It is a lot of fun for our student leadership team to do!! We have a group of between 200 and 300 and it works excellent.
A Christmas idea – Give each youth a Christmas Stocking or have them make one. Then, have them find items that total 3-5 dollars to put in the stocking. Have them staple the stocking shut and bring it to the Christmas party. Place the stockings in a pile; give each person a number. Starting with the number 1 have that person pick out a stocking. They open their stocking, and then the person with the number 2 goes to the pile and chooses a stocking or they can take the one from number one. Continue on through until everyone has a stocking.
This idea works well with both middle and high school youth groups. It works especially well with smaller groups. Pick a Saturday in November before Thanksgiving to have dinner with your youth. Each member signs up to bring one part of the Thanksgiving dinner (vegetables, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, etc). The catch is that they are supposed to bring someone they look up to (parent, older sibling, mentor). Before dinner, have each member tell who they brought and why they are thankful to God for them. A lot of supermarkets donate turkeys to church groups as well. This activity is always a favorite and it creates an atmosphere of not just a youth group, but a family united by God.
Plan a night just for the elders of your church (You can even send invitations made by the youth to the elders). You can have the youth serve them a nice meal dressed in nice clothing (banquet attire). You have the youth share with the elders about how they appreciate them. They can read poems, perform a song for them and read scriptures showing the worth and importance of the role of an elder. The youth can hand out letters of appreciation to each elder. You can also do it as a total surprise. Just announce in church that there will be a dinner and give date. Everyone else in the church will have already been in formed of the real event. Then when the elders arrive seat them first and then start the dinner! There can be lots of ways to do this one!
The New Year is typically characterized by the exit of Father Time and the entrance of Baby New Year. This event is based on babies. Everyone should come dressed like a baby. The following games can be played. 1.) Best Dressed Baby 2.) Baby Picture Guess: pictures are brought and put on a wall and people are a piece of paper with the corresponding numbers and must match them up for points. 3.) Baby Buggy Race: get an old buggy or stroller for each team and have a race, relay style with each person pushing the carriage around a goal and back with a teammate riding on it. 4.) Bottle Drinking Race: fill a bottle with juice and have races.
This is a great idea that our student leadership team came up with for the Friday after Thanksgiving, when most of our students are off school and are bored stiff.
Meet at the church around noon for a second Thanksgiving feast. Have the students bring leftovers to share from their Thanksgiving dinners the evening before. It becomes sort of a youth group potluck.
Then split up into two groups. Have one group go to a local field to play flag football (US football). Send the other group to a local shopping mall or outlet center for “Black Friday” shopping. It’s the biggest shopping day of the year.
So many times we program toward the guys. This activity is fun for everyone.
Our youth group put on a mingle party with a Veggie Tales theme for the children fellowship. We played icebreaker games that got the kids to partner up with our older youths, sang Veggie Tales karoake songs, had popcorn and juice as we watched Veggie Tales tapes. This is a fun way for your fellowships to interact with and get to know the children in your church.