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.
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!
We were preparing our youth group to attend a service project to homeless children in our city. In order to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless we collected several cardboard boxes (refrigerator type). It was late October, which is fairly chilly in our city. We advertised a campout and told kids to dress warmly. The group spent the night in our wooded lot in cardboard boxes (with the luxury of a sleeping bag). We had a fire in an old barrel (with Fire Marshall approval), roasted hot dogs on the fire, snacks were served in a new garbage can. Youth group members had to dig through wadded up lunch bags to find the snack they wanted. We played kick the can and other no-cost outside games. We had great support for our homeless project!
Many of the youth groups in this area take their youth members out trick or treating. But instead of collecting candy, they ask for donations for the local food bank.
We did this with the junior highers and it seemed to keep them interested and excited:
First I passed out a blank envelope to each teen and told them to write their name and address on the front of the envelope (address it to themselves). We didn’t tell them why, so this piqued their curiosity.
Next, for the lesson part, I shared with them how I wanted to challenge them to minister to just one person this school year (this is good for a new school year, a new year, etc.). It didn’t have to be a classmate, but it could be anyone God had laid on their hearts that needed to be ministered to, preferably, one who was unsaved. I then shared several verses with them about evangelism and ministry, letting your light shine before men, etc.
Then, I passed out a notecard to each teen, and told them to write the name of the person they wanted to minister to on one side of the card. On the other side, they had to write a verse that would encourage or remind them of their person.
Then, they put the notecard inside the envelope, sealed it (I told them this is confidential) and gave their envelopes to us leaders. Once all had turned in their envelopes, we prayed over them.
I told the teens we would be sending these out to them sometime in the coming weeks or months in order to remind them of the challenge we made to them. They will not know when the envelopes will come, but we will probably wait about three to four months before we send them out to them. This will remind them to continue to minister in case they forget.