Bridging the Generation Gap at Church

My church has sponsored a very successful program for the past several years. This program has multiple purposes.

1) To help our elderly members (70 and older) feel valued and remembered during the holidays.

2) To teach our younger children (as young as 3 and 4 years old all the way to the teenage years) the priceless value of ‘giving’ during the holidays

3) To develop life-long relationships between our younger and older generations within our church family.

Beginning just after Thanksgiving of each year, our younger group become SECRET PALS to the older group. (Each child/youth is given the name and information of a senior member. Many of them know who their senior is beforehand, but they really don’t ‘know’ them personally.) The young secret pal sneaks small gifts to their assigned senior once per week (usually through Sunday School Classes and Worship Services and through other people). These gifts are simple, inexpensive gifts such as gloves, scented candles, homemade goodies, a flash light, small decorative picture frames, a planning calendar, coffee mug, and miscellaneous trinkets, etc. Cards are sometimes sent as well through the mail. The seniors are beside themselves trying to figure out who their secret pal is. The kids are having fun sneaking the gifts to the seniors. It is fun for everyone!

At our church, the weekly gift giving continues until just before Valentine’s Day when the finale happens! A church wide banquet (We call the Secret Pal/Seniors Banquet) is held where the seniors are honored with a special place to sit and be waited on and served their food by the younger ages. We involve the entire church in elaborate Valentine decorations, place settings, entertainment, and of course the big revealing of the secret pals. The secret pals bring one final gift to their senior when the secret is revealed. At the banquet, individual pictures are taken of each senior with their pal. Soon thereafter, the photos are then posted on a bulletin board and copies are given to the seniors to keep and remember their pal.

This is a great way to bring the generations together and build unity within the church body.

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Cabin Fever Camp-In

In your church’s main fellowship hall or gymnasium. Have all the young people bring dome tents (the kind that stand without having to be staked into the ground, most new tents are of this sort). They’ll also need all their camping things like sleeping bags, pillows etc. Set it all up in the gym, with a fake campfire in the center, those fake fire logs that plug in, or red cellophane placed amongst a stack of firewood, with a light bulb under it shining through the cellophane.
Have all the usual camping type fun, in a simulated way, we got all the campers to bring flashlights and turned out all the lights and got them to use their flashlights to see if they could find all the little plastic insects that we had scattered around the gym. Having songs and devotionals around the campfire. We cooked on barbecues just outside the doors. We did pearl diving using a kids swimming pool and marbles, that they had to see how many they could grab with their toes.

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Cheese Puff Challenge

Get several bags of Cheese Puffs any brand. Can be done in teams or individually.

Take one cheese Puff and nibble a little bit of one end away. Then,take another Cheese Puff and do the same. Now,moisten the nibbled end of one of the Cheese Puffs and stick it to the nibbled end of the other cheese puff. They will stick like glue and remain that way. Now keep adding to the fused Cheese Puffs to see how long you can make a bunch of Cheese Puffs. This is a riot and a very tasty game.

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Chicken Wing Punishment

Our group had a fund-raiser in which we collected pennies. We made it into a contest the guys versus the girls. The loser’s punishment was a blast. We took all of the youth out to a local restaurant for an “All you can eat wing night” we didn’t tell them what was going to happen there, only that this was going to be the night the guys received their punishment for losing. When each guy arrived at the church they were given a fresh white t-shirt which they had to wear as they served as the girls napkins for the evening. Anything was game from the waist up. It was a blast and the guys kept their shirts which will be a memory they will never forget.

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Clothespin Opinion Poll

A unique way to get your kids to share their opinion s. Hang a clothesline across the meeting room. On one end have a sign that says, “Strongly Agree” and the other end says “Strongly Disagree.” Mark the centre of the clothesline for reference. Get wooden clothespins and allow the youth to decorate them as they wish so they’ll know which are theirs. Each week at the close of your youth meeting, read a strong statement to the group. Ask your youth members to think about, talk about and research the statement during the week. At the beginning of the next meeting, have each member clip a clothespin on the line where it best reflects his or her opinion. Spend the first few minutes of the meeting discussing the results. The topic can be independent of the meeting’s main lesson or it may be used as a great intro to a relaxed subject.

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Core Youth

This idea is to stimulate youth to youth outreach, witnessing, and a youth groups core leaders. At as many youth events as possible, ie: Camps, concerts, bible studies, mission trips, allow the core leaders, the group of youth that you rely on most, to lead as much as possible. Let them plan the events, schedule the concerts, and lead the bible studies. As leaders we should provide steering and mentoring in addition to our Biblical teaching. If we allow the youth to be seen as the Church of today we will spread Christ’s love all the more.

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Cymbal Shock

Whenever I show a video and there is a sudden scary part, I get in the back to the room behind the kids with a pair of cymbals and crash the cymbals as hard as I can for added impact. The kids jump through the ceiling, fall on the floor, food goes flying everywhere, etc, and they laugh about it for hours (and so do I).

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Death Drum

This idea works well in a worship service stressing hunger and starvation in the world. According to statistics (need to be updated) someone dies of starvation every eight seconds. During the worship service, have someone beat a drum every eight seconds to symbolize another death taking place. The drum interrupting the normal course of the service dramatically illustrates how often we try to ignore the problem of hunger in the world but it just won’t go away unless we do something about it.

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Deformed or Conformed???

What gives us the right to consider someone else “deformed”? Everyday there is probably more than one supposedly “deformed” child born into this world. “Deformed” because maybe he is missing a body part, like an arm or leg. You know whom I’m talking about. Everyone will meet at least one “deformed” person, right? Wrong!!!!!! The reason I say this is because we are all the same in God’s eyes. In God’s eyes, no one is “deformed” or any synonym of the word deformed. Everyone is perfectly formed, because they are exactly the way God wanted and the way God made them.
I have this cousin named Geoffrey. According to doctors, his is “physically handicapped”. I don’t look at him that way though. What I see is a tangible blessing! The reason I say that is because if he falls, for instance, everyone comes running to assist him. His supposable disorder makes it seem as though everyone cares. It makes it seem like we actually use the loving ability God gave us.
Doctors and technology have misdirected anyone who considers someone else “deformed”. These doctors use technology to set the standards of human beings. These are the standards state that, “A human should have two legs, should have two arms, and those who don’t are physically deformed.”
My opinion is different though! I believe that everyone was created to be “perfectly, imperfect”! I think everyone was created “perfectly” according to God’s wishes and will, yet everyone is “imperfect” because no one is the same! They were not created to correspond with any medical standards. So the next time you see that friend of yours that is supposedly “deformed”, stop and try to think of it in this “new perspective”. You might agree with me after you do.

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Destiny Draw

The “Destiny Draw” has really worked well for me in ministry. It’s a great way to get the kids in your group to pay attention to you and to be cooperative.

What I do is have the youth write out a small punishment or generally gross thing to do, on a piece of paper. I don’t tell them why. What you’ll find is that the more troublesome/wild youth will tend to make up some rather creative suggestions. Then I crumple the papers up (after approving them) and keep them in a bowl or hat. (*** We’ve had draws such as eat a slice of bread soaked in ketchup, keep your nose pressed to the leader’s sock for 30 seconds, water punishements, etc.) That’s when I drop the bomb on them and let them know that if they are uncooperative, they will be forced to take a Destiny Draw and do what is on the paper they draw.

It’s proven to be a great deterrent in my group and all the kids keep an eye on each other… hoping someone will get the dreaded… the feared… Destiny Draw.

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