For times in which you wish to involve your youth group in a ministry to the people in your community you can add this idea to your list of things to do.
On a day that is particularly hot go out and purchase a few cases of bottled water (Popsicles are another idea… make sure they’re frozen, though) and a couple bags of ice, and then place them in a some ice chests.
Choose a way to get your youth group name or church name on the ice chests for people to see. You can simply place it on a piece of paper taped to its front or let the students in your youth group find a creative way to display it.
Then, choose an area to visit in your community where large groups of people migrate to and/or participate in different sports or other physical activities. Some such places might include a skate park, or other community park/gathering place.
Once you have chosen and made it to your location have your students get into groups of three or more and give them a certain amount of time to offer and hand out the cooled water bottles to those in the park.
Make sure to give your students ideas of what to say to curious people who might offer them questions concerning their gesture of kindness.
Overall, this is great way for the teens of your group to get involved in sharing the love of Christ through their actions.
Have each youth write down the name of ten unsaved people that they have contact with on a regular basis. It can be friends, relatives, the lady at the grocery store, whoever… as long as they have contact with them. Collect the papers and make business card sized card stock with each student’s list on it. Take them to a printer and have them laminate them or jazz it up with desktop publishing. Give the cards back to the youth at Sunday School or Youth night and each week have the group pray for each person on the cards. If these people are kept in the forefront of their minds, they will be a lot more willing to witness.
Christ had a balanced ministry. At times He taught the disciples, mentoring them. Other times, he would teach to the multitudes. We seek to have that same balance between discipling and reaching out. To do this, we have a weekly outreach event called YAK (Youth Activities Knight). It is extremely low-maintenance and yet high impact.
You tell your kids up front that it is an evening designed for their unchurched friends, with only a short devotion. The teens bring snacks, drinks, and friends. All you have to do is provide the program. We usually do stupid games, $5 challenges, dumb songs, snack time, a crazy rendition of Craig Kilborn’s 5 Questions with questions like “Who is cuter? ET or Yoda?” Then at the end of the evening, a short devo and snack time takes place. It’s awesome because it gives your teens an open opportunity to bring their friends to a comfortable environment, plus it’s low maintenance for you. Your sponsors love it too, because they just get to have fun, laugh with the teens, and spend time getting to know them better. Our youth group has grown ever since we instated this program.
Have the youth search out and “adopt” a full phone booth (one that is enclosed). Have them stock it with gospel tracts and maintain it by keeping trash cleared out of it. Have surprise inspections and reward the youth who have the cleanest and best stocked booth. This is a good introductory form of evangelism.
This activity is designed for teens to reach out to pre-Christian teens. Get a “non-threatening” place to meet, we have reserved a middle school gym, and invite teens from all over your area. Offer games that anyone can enjoy, music, video games, etc… The primary goal is for your youth group teens to make loving relationships with their peers. It is a great way to reach the lost!
Every year during late January, or early February, which can be very cold in our city, our group goes to a central corner in our downtown where many homeless hang out. Once there, we hand out hot chocolate, and homebaked cookies to everyone and anyone who wants them. The people appreciate it, and often ask for prayer, or simply share a church/faith experience with us. The group learns a lot from the experience as they get an opportunity to see how truly unfortunate people live. As leaders we get to see the kids interact, and grow during the whole experience.
We do this in the fall, and have people bring donated items in October. First, we contact area homeless shelters to see what they need, and then put out the request. We were hoping to get a box or two to each one, and ended up making several trips! Second, be specific in what you are requesting. One easy way to specify for items that will help those on the street in the winter is for people to thinking of what they would take camping. We had a ton of clothes come in, but only 1 box worth of dress clothes and a few summer items that we are going to take this spring. The dress clothes went to a battered women’s shelter.
Here is what we suggested:
sleeping bags, backpacks and duffle bags, coats (not fancy – that puts the homeless at risk for being robbed), shoes for walking, new underwear/socks, sweatshirts and longsleeve knit shirts, jeans and casual pants. We also accepted toiletries and food items. It is very important to find out what each shelter wants ahead of time, how items need to be delivered, and when someone can deliver the items. No two shelters operated alike, and they each had different needs. I know that the workers were surprised to see that we were actually bringing in needed items. The week we delivered the items, the weather had just turned cold in the evenings, and I know that the sleeping bags were quickly put to use!
Many highways invite groups to adopt a stretch of road and come out to pick up litter. Make this a quarterly event at least. Give prizes away to those who collect the most trash. Recycle what you can.
A really simple yet effective way of encourage youth to get excited about serving the community is to go to a public place – e.g. the entrance to a shopping centre – and hand out free Coke cans to passers by.
A few 24-cases of coke is all you need – and this isn’t too expensive once you split the price.
In our experience, the youth were quite nervous about it at first, but after they saw the leaders do it, they chimed in! It really makes the whole idea of “serving” a practical one.
P.S. – Make sure you get permission from the shopping centre or wherever you are doing it! And it’s probably best to steer clear of busy intersections and potentially dangerous places.
On a certain day in the week (maybe Saturday afternoons) open up your youth room as a free band practice room for Christian and non-Christian bands (use your common sense here as to what you think is acceptable in a Church). We have our own PA equipment that we let the young people use and we let some of them use our amps, mics and drums etc. Have some of your Christian young people around to serve and to love the young people that have come in – set up the sound for them, give them drinks, print out songs for them. This has proved very successful in our youth group and has already built links with many non-Christian young people and served as a way to share the Gospel with them!