This may sound odd, but it was a very powerful activity. If your church has access to a graveyard, take senior high kids, I wouldn’t suggest any younger, and explore death. Have the kids just walk through the cemetery and look at the headstones. If any kids have people of special meaning to them buried there, encourage them to look for that person’s grave. See if they can find the oldest, newest, and a person close to their age that is buried there. Remind them that this is holy ground and to be very respectful. Gather in a large group and listen to some relaxing music. (we used Titanic) Before you start the music, ask the kids to think about the graves they saw, how it made them feel, and encourage them to share their thoughts about death. Explain to them that although it’s a scary topic, it’s something that affects all of us, and those around us. Then go around the group for sharing. When everyone is done talking, sum up the feeling of the group and feel free to add any scripture verses you feel are applicable. As I said in the beginning, it sounds very morbid, but many in our youth group were seen with tears rolling down their faces, and it was a great group strengthener. We did this 5 days before Halloween, and went in the dark, so we had flashlights. I think that doing it in the dark was a powerful thing, and even though we were in a group, helped make it a more personal event because you couldn’t really see other people’s faces.
This was so much fun, and it’s a great way to witness, make new friends, and grow your youth group (and your church!)
You’ll need enough responsible adults with mid-to-decent sized vehicles. All vehicles will need to be able to hold the same amount of people at a time, or you could make a rule where you can only have so many in a car at a time.
Split the group up into equal teams, with one adult chaperone each. Give each team a list of possible descriptions of people (see list below). What they have to do in order to score points is actually get the person to come to youth group that night! Dispatch the teams out into the city or town, and have them bring the people they find back with them. They have maybe an hour or so to find as many of the people who fit the descriptions as possible – no speeding allowed! Here are some examples of descriptions:
1. A warm bodied member of Pickerington High School – 10 points
2. A guy with curlers in his hair – 20 points
3. Somebody in their bathrobe – 20 points
4. A member of the Pickerington marching band – 10 points
5. Captain of the cheerleading squad – 50 points
6. A high school quarterback – 50 points
7. A guy with long hair – 20 points
8. A girl in a facial mask – 20 points
9. Somebody who can whistle Dixie – 10 points
10. Someone from Kentucky – 10 points
You get the idea. Be creative and make up your own descriptions!
When time’s up, the winning team gets to play a messy game or something equally humiliating in front of their friends they brought! Then everyone has pizza and maybe a short Bible study and/or worship or whatever.
If they have fun, you’ll watch your youth group go KABOOM and grow like crazy!
This is a lengthy variant, but if you enjoyed the original, trust me it is worth the time to read.
You could add more variants to the game depending on how capable the group is.
The Sheriff Variant
Choose a certain card to represent the town sheriff. Each time that the Town “sleeps,” the facilitator of the game can ask the Sheriff only to raise his/her head. The Sheriff then can ask the facilitator, secretly and silently, if a certain one person is in the mob. The Facilitator answers the sheriff acordingly. (The facilitator knows who the mob members and towns people are because at the begining of the game he asks the mob members to eliminate someone) The facilitator tells the sheriff to put his/her head down, then tells the mob to raise their heads and eliminate someone. The next day, the sheriff tries to tell the towns people his/her findings without being to obvious as to let the mob know that he/she is the sheriff so that the mob won’t eliminate the sheriff next round.
A Campus Life Club event and now Youth Group event I have run here in Gisborne, New Zealand, about 3 times now over the past 15 years, is “The Wedding”.
We run a full mock Wedding with the ceremony, photos, a simplified wedding supper and a dance to finish. Students play all the roles of Bride, Groom, Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, the Parents etc. We interview the participants in their role as we progress and they may throw out some of their secret thoughts of what they think of this marriage, which will later make for some interesting discussion points later. eg Mother of the Bride says “I cant wait for the little grandchildren to come along”. Or the groom might say “If it doen’t work out there is always divorce, isn’t there?”.
The young people love it and during the informal Wedding Breakfast we run a discussion on marriage and what the young people think of it. I follow it up with a programme that will look further at issues of relationships and seeking to stay pure before marriage, issues involved in living together and what God has to say about it all.
It’s an event that will get the kids parents interested and involved in the programme in little ways too, eg. driving the bridal party to the church, supper preparations, etc.
Trust this may spark some further creative thoughts on this theme.
Our senior high youth group came up with this meal idea as a way to minister to the seniors of our church.
We themed it around Valentines Day and decorated our fellowship room accordingly. A few adults in the church agreed to prepare the meal, while the teens took care of the rest of the preparations. We had small tables that seated four seniors each, and each teen was the responsible for serving a designated table for the evening. The mood was romantic with soft music from the 40’s and 50’s playing in the background. The teens and leaders were dressed semi-formal.
Our senior youth leader was the MC for the evening, and kept continuity between courses. We sang some old love songs for a nostalgic feel. (Even some of the seniors sang a solo for their partner!) A few question and answer games were played, such as- married the longest, most kids/grandkids etc.
It was a great evening of Christian service for the teens, and the positive comments we received from the seniors who attended made it a very worthwhile and rewarding experience.
Good for some fellowship outside of the church. Find guys who are interested in keeping in shape (particularly jogging) and start out by running to one boy’s house, and having him run with you. Then run together to other houses till you have reached all of the participants’ homes. 5-8 guys should be enough. While running together, great conversations can develop. Then you gradually run each other home (you can stop for refreshments as you go if you like). The first who is dropped off, is the one who was picked up first, The last one to go home is the one who joined the group last.
Gather several video cameras from people in your church & make sure you have at least one adult per team to drive and to make sure the video camera is in good hands. Give the kids plenty of time to go out and get several things on video tape. E.g. have each team do a parody of their pastor or youth pastor; have them go to the pastor’s house & see what they can get him to do on video; find a stranger who will pick their nose for the camera, etc. Gather back at a certain time to watch all the videos and have snacks.
Get a collection of various lengths of PVC piping and connectors, a bucket of water, a cup to scoop and pour the water, and a 2 liter soda bottle. One team member will lay on the ground with the soda bottle on his forehead. The rest of the team will then build a piping system out of the PVC parts.
The team must use every piece of tubing and each connector. The constructed pipe must have only two openings, one where the water enters and one where it leaves. Once the pipe is fully constructed, team members must pour water through the pipe in an effort to get as much water as possible into the soda bottle. T’s and X’s are a lot of fun in addition to standard “elbow connectors”.
It will usually take several minutes for the team to construct their “water works”. The camp I counseled gave each team a total of 10 minutes to complete the WW challenge.
For this game you consult with each of your leaders and discover the most embarassing, crazy, or weird thing that they have done or can do. For example “When I was 12yrs old I jumped off of a swing and my shirt got caught on the side, this caused all the buttons to pop off leaving me with no buttons on my shirt and no shirt underneath” you would write this embarassing moment on a piece of large poster board along with everyone elses moments. Then each leader stands in the front of the room and is handed a piece of the poster board with a story written on it. It may or may not be their own. They read each moment to the students then you split the room into sections and pick 2 students from each section to come down and try to figure out with leader did what. Their section is trying to help them. Give each section 2 min. and then tell them how many they got right. Move onto the next section until each section has gone. Then have each leader tell the story of their experience. The kids will have fun trying to figure out who did what and hearing stories of crazy and embarassing things that their leaders have done!
I listed the age group as mid-late adol. simply because there is an element of maturity needed to understand the full power of this activity. You can use your own judgement, though.
This activity also requires using fire, so please do not do this activity indoors, and have a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher ready, just in case.
I’ve used this at camp several times and it has been a life changing activity for several people I’ve known. Here’s how it works.
1. Make sure that everyone knows that this is a serious activity and that we should shift our hearts and minds into a place of worship.
2. Distribute pencils and pieces of paper (5.5 X 8.5, or roughly a piece of notebook paper cut in half) and ask the kids to write a personal letter of confession to Jesus. Tell them that no one will ever see what they are writing and that they will be burned immediately after (This helps them be more honest in what they write.) Encourage them to open up completely and honestly, since Jesus knows us so well anyway, he’d know if we were bluffing.
2. Have them find a private place to write these letters (under a tree, at a picnic table, etc). Make sure they are well seperated. Give them about 10 – 15 minutes.
3. After time is up ask them to come back to the group in silence. Have a metal bucket with you and ask them to come up one at a time. Take and light the first letter on fire and drop it in the bucket. Each of them puts their letters in the fire one by one.
4. When the last letter is put in the fire, have them make a circle around the bucket, and say a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus for taking the sins. Allow them to watch the fire burn. This can be very powerful, to watch your sins burning away in front of your eyes.
5.After the fire has gone out, stir the ashes around in the bucket until they are completely out and have cooled. While singing “Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord” or some other song, have each kid come up and use the ashes to form a cross on their cheeck (I personally use cheek, because the forehead seems a bit too sacramental to me — pastors or other ordained folk can make a judgement call on that one).
End in Prayer. You might be surprised how long they leave the cross on their cheeck. I initially thought that they’d wipe it off as soon as we were done, but they kept it on for the rest of the night! It served as a tangible reminder of the love of Christ.