Try this instead of, or in addition to, ashes for Ash Wednesday. Our high school group tattooed ourselves with henna for Lent. You can get henna for tatoos in many places–mainly stores with “funky” stuff, but also at beauty shops. Each person had to be able to express aloud how their design reflected their relationship with God. I put crosses on my palms and feet to symbolize Jesus’ nails. One young man put a superman symbol on his stomach because Jesus is his superhero. And on it went. After we were all decorated, we formed a circle and laid hands on each person, praying that Jesus will use the tattoos to speak to the person during Lent.
Henna is a natural dye that is absorbed in the skin. It produces a rusty brown stain on the skin that last approximately 3 weeks, or until that layer of skin is worn off. I think this will become an Ash Wednesday tradition for our high school program. It is just crazy enough to be attractive to the kids, but not so crazy that parents object. And I know that Jesus has used the crosses on my palms to teach me a thing or two!
Get a group of youth together that don’t get easily embarressed and have the ability to think of something at the spur of the moment…Thus an improv team.
Choose some games and skits to do. Similar to that of TV’s, “Who’s Line is it Anyway?” This takes a lot of practice, but not to hard to do if you at least have a drama team. Pick a theme,(such as 1980’s characters, a Luau, comic heroes, etc.). Have everybody, including the ones serving coffee and dessert, dress up as the theme characters.
Charge a small price for tickets to the coffehouse, plus for whatever food and drink is served. The last one we did was a huge hit and our biggest fundraiser of the year! Real fun and good memories if you have the patience and creativity to pull it off.
This is a game we made up one night and we have been playing it ever since. Our church basement has no windows which makes this the perfect area for this game but almost any area can be modified with a little ingenuity. What you want is a large area that can be made pitch dark. Our basement has several small rooms and one large common area. Pick a room for home base that everyone will start in. Once the group is inside the room with the light on the leaders need to add some “safe” obstacles in all the other areas. Before beginning the game you must confiscate all items which may have lights on them like watches or light up key rings, etc. We even tape the refridgerator door closed in the kitchen. One person is chosen to be the seeker. They are told to count to 100 but not too fast. The lights are then turned off and everyone files out of the home room and hides anywhere in the designated area. (Some areas may need to be off limits for saftey. IE. washrooms) The last person out of the home room closes the door. When the seeker is finished counting they open the door, announce that they are beginning to seach and then close the door behind them. The hiders are no longer allowed to move and must try to remain as quiet as possible. The is hard to do while listening to the seeker running into objects, etc. When the seeker finds someone that person must make their way back to the home room as quietly as possible and close the door behind them again. Play continues until everyone has been found or the pre-determined time runs out. Everyone returns to the home room and the lights are turned back on. Blinded – everyone will groan for a few seconds. Choose the next person to be the seeker and play begins again. The lights being on make the sudden plunge into darkness seem a little more overwhelming. This is one game our group has never gotten bored of yet. Not sure why.
Best done on all day or weekend event. This is an idea used to promote the thought that while we are all individiuals – we are all one in God.
Using multi-colored paper, have the kids sign their names in the corner (whatever corner they like) with a marker – and tell them to make sure they either use their signature or do something a little artistic…no straight printing allowed.
Then handprint them (we were able to have real handprinting ink – but fingerpaitns will work just as well). Cover the whole hand – from the fingertips to bottom of the palm.
Then lay all of them out to dry. Then go on with your events.
Then, while setting up for a moment of reflection, evening meditation, whatever, lay the handprints out in a cross. With the appropriate Bible verses (that either reflect on this specifically or your topic for the event). This is a very powerful illustration of how much a part of us God really is – especially for kids who are trying to find their “individual selves”.
Illustration (Fish) – Lets say that this bowl represents God’s will for our lives. God’s will has boundaries. There are things we can do within God’s will and things we cannot do. Lets say that the water represents God’s living word because whatever we do in life has to be done within God’s will according to His word, right? The fish then inside the bowl represents us. (Hit the glass and turn the bowl) Satan cannot touch us within God’s will so he wants to get us out of the bowl; he wants us out in the open with no protection. So Satan plays with our desires and uses our own desires to entice us and drag us away from God’s Will.(Sprinkle fish food on the outside of the bowl. If the bowl is a little wet the food will stick and the fish will try to eat it but can’t) and soon we want what’s out in the world and if we continue chasing after the things in this world sooner or later we will make the decision to venture out on our own.
(Take the fish out of the bowl and put it on a wet wash cloth)
then read James 1:13-15
Return fish to Bowl
then read (V. 16-18)
Joshua had a similar problem with the Israelite people. They wanted what was on the outside instead of what God had for them. They wanted idols and a way of life without consequences. They were enticed. Finally Joshua had enough and he spoke before the people.
Read Joshua 24:14-15
Do you think the people changed their mind and began to serve God after Joshua made his bold stand of faith?
Joshua was a leader by example and we too are leaders. What does your example say at school, at home or at work. Are you living a bold faith or are you following the example of the coolest trends? Are you being enticed by popularity, money, boyfriends (girlfriends)or maybe in your life your harboring jealousy, hatred or envy. Are you more concerned about your own agenda than you are God’s will?
We must choose daily to follow God and to refuse to be enticed by our own desires. I am trying to lose weight and it isn’t easy when my wife bakes chocolate brownies with caramel. Every day I am faced with a menu and I must make a choice. So it is with us in the spiritual realm, everyday we are faced with choices between right and wrong and our choices are the tale tell signs of who we truly serve and it is a daily decision. Who will you serve this day? Are you Inside or Out?
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.
For this game, set up one less chair than the amount of people playing. Set them up in a circle. Everyone except one person sits down in a chair. That person stands in the middle with a set of keys. Then he grabs someone’s hand. If it is a guy, he grabs a girl, if it’s a girl, she grabs a guy. Everyone walks around a they twist themselves up. Then whoever has the keys drops them and everyone scrambles for a seat. Whoever doesn’t get a seat starts the next round.
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!
Our senior high youth went off for a weeklong mission in another state during the summer vacation. Many of our junior high youth felt left out as we could only take a certain number of people and the decision was made to take only the older kids. So while the older ones were away we set up a mission week in our own backyard for the younger ones. They spent one afternoon in a nursing home, they worked in orphanage fixing up old buildings, and they helped out at a community fair to benefit a homeless shelter. When the senior high group returned the juniors and seniors spent time sharing with each other on their mission work.
If you are a youth pastor, you understand how frustrating it is to see your youth talking, passing notes, etc. during worship, and/or sermons. I began to pray about how I could address this issue without pointing anyone out, but still get the message across crystal clear. God heard my prayer and the Holy Spirit led me to do the following:
You will need seven youth (four boys three girls), and two assistants to help you. Line seven chairs in a row in the front of your class (these will serve as “pews”) and either ask for seven volunteers or choose them yourself (you can choose a couple of your “chatters” if you’d like). Scatter the girls out between the boys, don’t let the girls sit next to each other, and make sure one of the girls sits on the very end of one side of the row. Have one assistant stand about 10 feet in front of them and say “this is the preacher, it is Sunday morning (or whenever you have the most problems) and he his delivering the message.” Have your second assistant pose as the Holy Spirit, and introduce him/her as such. You are the devil.
Stand behind one of your male students sitting on the furthermost end from where you sat the girl in the very last chair on the opposite side. Tell your assistant who is posing as the Holy Spirit to go from one student to another whispering in their ear “you need Jesus” continually. But he/she is to skip the boy that you are standing behind. As the “Holy Spirit” continually goes from one to another in this manner, you get down in the boys ear and say, where everyone can hear, “Boy! Look at that girl down there on the end of the row, man is she something or what!” The class will get a laugh out of that. Keep at the boy to look down at the girl (who is trying to hear the sermon that your preacher assistant is preaching, have him/her act like they are preaching, just in a mute mode). Then say, “I wonder if she’d go out with you!” From out of nowhere hand him a piece of paper and a pen and say, “let’s write her a note and see what she says.” By this time the class is loving it. Make it funny by telling the boy what to write such as, “Do you like me, yes or no.” Have him past the note down the row to the girl on the end. Just as the girl begins to read the note have your “preacher” blurt out and say, “If you need Jesus in your life he’s here today to set you free, come forward now to receive him as your Lord and Savior”. By this time you’re hovering over the girl saying “Check one, check one! Yes or no!” When she checks one have her send it back down the row to the boy, and end the skit. Now on a serious note, tell the kids the rest of the story. Tell them that the young lady on the end didn’t hear the call to salvation because she was distracted. So she leaves the meeting, and two or three miles down the road is involved in a serious car accident, and is killed.
She experienced a lost opportunity because someone was goofing around. This will illustrate to the youth the seriousness of “God’s time” and how if we neglect to listen (and cause others not to listen), then someone will have a lost opportunity to receive a blessing.