This activity is intended to encourage students, primarily from the lips of their peers. Hearing affirmation spoken aloud in the presence of an audience is a powerful thing, and I think teenagers gobble this up because they are starving for it, though they rarely show it. I highly recommend setting an appropriate mood for this activity, as it is meant to have a lasting emotional impact, and cannot afford to be derailed by silliness or selfish humor. This is meant for retreats or camps where a group has been together for at least a day.
With the audience seated, place one chair, the Hot Seat, in front of the group, or on the stage. Then simply explain the concept of the Hot Seat in a similar way to this:
“This is the Hot Seat. Tonight you will all get a chance to sit in this seat. It is the Hot Seat. When one person is in this chair, I want the rest of you to take the opportunity that you have to speak words of kindness and encouragement to the person up front. You can let them know what your friendship has meant, or just affirm something amazing you have seen them do today, but use your words for good, to build them up. Please respect the person in the chair by having only one person speaking at a time. Once three people have had a chance to encourage you in the Hot Seat, please go back to the audience so that someone gets a chance to be in this chair. Remember, this is someone’s chance to hear encouragement from you, so please don’t waste their opportunity by trying to make yourself look funny or cool by what you say. This is for them, so put the person in the chair first. That said, the Hot Seat is all yours.”
After this it just takes a second for a student to go first. When I led this, I sat down and watched 23 students build up one another for about 45 minutes. I didn’t say a word the whole time. It is amazing how you will see a group come together through this, and it makes students realize how much others really think of them (especially those kids who try to remain aloof from the group–they’re loved!)
I read once that Christmas time is the loneliest time for widows, single moms or anyone who lives alone. This thought prompted a wonderful time of fellowship and a way to reach out and let the lonely know they were loved.
First, we prayed, and the youth leaders made a list of who they wanted to give to, We then put the lists together and discovered that our lists were pretty much the same. 🙂 Some were members of our church and some were some not. Some had just lost a spouse or were going through divorce. We also gave our master list to the associate pastor to look it over and see if he wanted to add anyone.
Then we put a list together of what would go in the basket. pumpkin bread and cranberry bread. cookies (decorated by the youth group) tea, hot cider and coco packets, homemade jelly , popcorn balls, (the elderly will love these its an old favorite) Let your imagination go wild. We chose a night to do all the baking and wrapping the baskets up. We purchased the baskets and decorating things at dollar tree 🙂
The following day we had our personal UPS man make us up a delivery plan and split up into 5 groups to make deliveries. The next Sunday when we all got together we talked about the experience and what a blessing it was for the people who received the baskets. Some of our students who drive made deliveries alone and appreciated the opportunity to see the faces of gratitude.
It will be something we do, God willing, every year. The widows especially appreciated this as well as those living in nursing homes.
Give each youth a wrapped sucker at the start of the game. Tell them they can’t eat them or unwrap them until the game is over, but they will have an opportunity to earn more suckers in this game. They can get another sucker by telling a story to the group. If they talk while someone else is talking (other than for encouragement) or if they repeat a story or idea that someone else had, they have to give the speaker their sucker.
This encourages group sharing and understanding. This can be used to just plain get to know each other, to review ideas (they can try to stump the leader about material covered by asking questions. No one can repeat a question asked already, so they have to listen to each other), to make up stories, to retell Bible stories…. Suckers are very motivating!!
All sit in a circle and each person is handed a paper plate and a coloured pen. Let youth know week beforehand to bring stationary from school if necessary. Each person writes their name in the center of the paper plate and then it is passed to the person next to them. Every one is instructed to write something good and encouraging about that person who’s name is on the plate they have. Keep on passing plates around the circle until each person has their plate back.
Most people go out to lunch on Sunday after service. Create a great time of unity and fellowship by scheduling a monthly “youth do lunch.” Go to a variety of restaurants and learn of their country’s background. This works well as you can also teach about missions. Take 5-10 youth each time so everyone has an opportunity. Smaller groups allow for you to get to know them better.
We all know people who have gotten engaged. The gentleman usually gives his bride to be a diamond ring. The diamond is a symbol of their unending love one for another, but it is also communicates how the young man values and treasures this young lady.
We cannot give everyone a diamond, but we can give each of you a polished stone.
It takes time for this stone to become smooth just as it takes time for each of us to change and become more Christ like. Similarly, it is the friction of stones rubbing against each other that smoothes them and makes them more beautiful. Many of us have experienced friction as we have had rough edges worn smooth by friends. Nonetheless, this process makes us more precious and those around us dearer as well.
Rather than talk about building relationships, let’s put it into practice. Take a few moments to exchange your polished stone with someone in this room you value or treasure. As you do, tell them what it is that you appreciate about them or why they are precious to you. Continue this process as time allows.
Where do I get rocks that are appropriate?
I was able to purchase a 10kg. Bag of rocks at Hobby Lobby for$1.99! Three bags were plenty for our group of 85 young people.
For our 50’s fun night, we advertised it as “Hot April Nights,” and any month could be inserted. We asked the youth to dress in 1950’s clothing and had fifties music blaring. We played the following games for our group of 100. The kids, 6th through 12th grade, loved it and are still talking about it a year later!
We had teams of equal size line up along one side of the room. The first person in line put their forehead on a bat (or dowel) and had to spin around it 10 times. have the person in line behind them count for them! Then they had to run to the other end of the room and get a hula hoop to go around themselves 5 times. It’s hilarious to see the crazy dizzy walking! First team to get all of their members to complete the task wins.
We had enough bubble gum for every youth. We lined teams up facing each other across the room. In relay fashion, they had to run across the room (so individuals were running towards each other) to a piece of paper taped on the wall. There they unwrapped a piece of bubble gum and started chewing it. They had to then blow a bubble and then stick the bubble to the paper on the wall. We gave prizes for most pieces of gum that stayed (more gum!) and for the biggest bubble. The kids loved this for the gross slobber factor. We used bazooka joe gum, but it is really hard and takes A LOT of chewing to get it to be blowable.
T.V. Dinner Roulette:
Like hot potato, but with T.V. dinners! We gave each youth a spoon and heated up 5 of the most disgusting T.V. dinners we could find. The youth stood in a circle facing in and we put all 5 dinners in the circle at some point and started the music. When the music stopped, whoever was holding the dinner was out and the person to their left had to take a bite of the dinner. We kept this going until we ran out of food and had only a few kids left. Either the kids flip for the dinners or think they will die from the food. It’s great!
All prizes given for games had 50’s leanings – Barbie, Mr. Potato Head, etc. We went on some 50’s retro websites and looked at what was invented in the 50’s and gave those things out for the winners.
To end the evening, we made a 30 foot bannana split (thanks to our parents it was already assembled and ready to go at the end of the games!). We made ours in 3 pieces of plastic rain gutter with connectors. When the evening was over, we took it outside and hosed it out. We did this right after the musical dinners game so that everyone already had their spoon and could just dig in.
Ask the kids to be on the lookout at school for any friends of theirs who may be going through a rough time. Ask kids to quietly compile a list of people who need encouragement and give it to you along with the student’s addresses. Then, after a youth group meeting, send the kids in groups on “pizza raids” to the homes of the various people kids selected. Have kids raid a house (make sure they’re home) by dropping a couple of slices of pizza at the door, ringing the doorbell and running away. Have all the groups leave a printed message that reads, “You are loved.” or something similar along with the group members’ names.
At your youth group’s New Year’s Eve Party, collect all of your pictures from the past year. Provide materials for making a scrapbook and/or a collage frame to hang in your meeting room and let the teens create the youth group scrapbook. Also, you can take a video camera and make a video collage with favorite youth group memories from the past year. Complete the evening by viewing the scrapbook and/or the video collage.
It is a new spin on 2 tried and true classics- Potlucks and Bowling.
Have everyone bring their favorite cereal to share. You provide the milk, juice, pop-tarts, etc… Then have a cereal pot-luck dinner and before going bowling for the evening. You can do it at the church or if the bowling alley has a meeting room.