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!!
Ask each of your young people to identify someone at school who doesn’t attend any church. For the 12 weeks have kids each commit to becoming that person’s “undercover angel.” Weekly, have kids each slip a card into their person’s locker at school, leave a gift for him or her in the office, write a note of encouragement after a poor grade, or offer some other kind of secret encouragement. Each week in the youth group meeting, have kids each report on what they did and what their person’s reaction has been. Weekly reports will help keep the motivation and interest high. After 12 weeks, kids can choose a new person to reach out to. Encourage kids not to reveal themselves to their secret person, even after they’ve moved on to a new person.
Helps get in touch with kids’ own backgrounds and to facilitate communication of this to the other members of the group to get an idea of where each is “coming from.” A potluck dinner variation. Each person brings to the event a dish that represents his/her own ancestry. The kids should also bring a “family treasure” or some relic or photo or other item of interest and be prepare to tell its story. The item need not be valuable except in terms of the story behind it.
One time we assigned certain groups of people to a classroom. Then each team had to come up with some country that they wanted to the make food (Mexican, French, etc.). And then they were assigned a course (appetizer, dessert, etc.). Then we just together one night and each classroom was decorated like a restaurant. The auditorium was full of tables with lots of stuff to eat, and we had an international supper. Everything from egg rolls to truffles.
Teach a series of lessons and then when you’re done with the series have a dinner. Plan the menu like you would normally would but give different names from the Bible study to the foods. For example, at ours four my first course I had sand, a battle axe, a skewer, and a papyrus sheet. Mmm that sounds appetizing doesn’t it. Well, the corn was sand, a knife was the battle axe, a toothpick was the skewer and the papyrus sheet was a napkin. They have to finish their plate with what they have before they get more. And the drink also comes in a course. Have 16 different items and make 4 courses with 4 different items. At the time of dinner have the servers serve the courses out of order. In the end, everyone gets the same meal, but in a different order. Have a quiz to test the kids on what they retained from the lesson and then have a prize for the top three. For example, a free lunch at McDonalds or a $25 gift card to Wal-mart or other stores.
During the Christmas season this year, have your youth group sponsor a Christmas gift list for young children in a nearby hospital, orphanage, detention centre, or disadvantaged apartment complex or neighbourhood. On a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, 5 weeks before Christmas, have the youth group canvas one of these groups of children and learn what -personal- gifts they’d appreciate. If your focus is on children in a hospital or orphanage, have the kids ask the staff for suggestions for each child. Have kids set up a Christmas tree in the entry area of the church building. Place tags on the tree that describe each gift the group needs. Church members can review the the tags, choose a gift they will bring and place it with the tag under the tree. Encourage church members to purchase the suggested gifts so members of your group can experience giving something meaningful to another person.
A Hoot’n Holler is simply a monthly afterglow. Usually held the last Sunday night of the month. After the evening service all the youth meet in the fellowship hall. The music is blasting and the food is waiting. Each month we have a different theme (i.e. Extreme Water Fight). This gives our youth an opportunity to bring their unsaved friends, who may not have ordinarily come to church. It is also a great way to celebrate the birthdays of your youth each month.
This is a great after the evening service fellowship. Have the men/boys bake their favorite dessert. Bring it to church. Select judges to judge the desserts. Then the desserts are eaten by all. We thought of all kinds of catagories so everyone got a blue as well as funny certificate.
We had special rules:
1. It had to be made by the men
2. The girls/women could explain the recipe or tell them how to mix or measure only.
3. The men had to do all their own clean up.
We gave a ribbon for the best use of melted marshmallows, best use of cherries & chocolate, best warm dessert turned cold (these are just examples).