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!!
Have everyone sit in a circle and hand one person the end of a piece of string. Tell them to say something (nice) they appreciate about another member of the group and throw the other end of the string to someone else. Continue the process until you have a huge web representing unity in your group. Encourage the group members to say something specific.
Good as a Bible Study. On a predetermined evening ask kids to come to the church for a fruit feast. Have kids each bring a different kind of fruit (the more variety the better). Purchase a watermelon and cut it in half using a jagged line. Use a small scoop to make melon balls as you empty out the inside of the watermelon. This will be your fruit bowl for the feast. As kids arrive have them each cut up their fruit and place it in the feast bowl. Mix in each new fruit with the others to create a giant fruit salad. If possible, provide drinks, yogurt, or ice cream to go along with the feast. While they’re eating read Romans 12:4-8 or 1 Cor 12:12-27. Ask: How is the Body of Christ like this fruit salad? How do we each add a different and unique flavour to Christ’s body? What kind of fruit are you most like? Explain. What role do you often play in Christ’s body? Why is that role important?
This was a favorite among our youth this summer. We rented a silly (age appropriate) movie and the youth were given a list of silly things they had to do during certain portions of the movie. (i.e. They watched Stuart Little, everytime they saw a mouse – other than Stuart – in the movie they had to stand up and hollar in a high sqeeky female voice, “Eeeek! A mouse! Henry get my broom!”) After the movie they met outside where we had lined 3 tables up end to end and covered with a plastic table cloth. We then had all the adults help us build a Mega-Banana Split while the youth watched. Once the split was done and everyone had a spoon we said grace and dug in! We’ve had many requests to do this activity again!
NOTE: To build the banana split we split the bananas and set them down the center of the table (lengthwise) then scooped LOTS of ice cream, laced with gobs of carmel, strawberry and chocolate sauce, then smoothered in whipped cream. Sprinkles, cherries and a few chopped nuts completed the 24 Foot Mega-Banana Split!
You have to have a brave group to try this but it is a blast if it is done right!
As fun affirmation activity, students substitute one of the parts of the song the 12 Days of Christmas. They are to make the gift in the song to be something that they would love to give the group or one member in the group. For example they could sing “on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me “a pizza topped with pepperoni” – This may get tricky so you could assign numbers to the first 12 people brave enough to participate. Leaders could help younger youth who may struggle with this.
When the group members know each other if can be a fun way to recognize the interests of the students in the group.
Have each person bring a plain T-shirt or sweatshirt to the meeting. Have kids put their names on the shirts with a piece of tape. Distribute several colours of permanent markers. Lay out the shirts and have kids go around and write positive qualities about each person on his or her shirt. Make sure that each person goes to several shirts and that all of the shirts are written on by several people. When everyone is finished, return the shirts to their owners and read aloud 2 Cor 4:16-18 and ask: Do you believe the saying, “The clothes make the man”? Why or why not? How do our outward actions – our dress and attitudes – reflect what we think of ourselves on the inside? How does it feel to wear these shirts that reflect the positive inner qualities others see in you? What can you do to make your inner qualities more evident than your outward ones?
Give teams of equal size several Oreo cookies (or have the kids bring their own). Also give each team two serrated knives, two spoons, a box of toothpicks, and a 4-foot-square piece of posterboard. They have 20 minutes to create a sculpture using the cookies the tools they’ve been given. The sculpture is to be built on the posterboard to control the mess. The filling in the Oreo’s makes great “”glue”” or “mortar.” The sculptures are judged and the winning team receives a couple of litres of milk.
To welcome the younger youth to our group, we stage a youth-napping. We try it in slightly varied ways so that the older youth are still suprised!
We contact the parents ahead of time with the date and approx. time. Then we go around to everyone’s homes and kidnap them. If they are barefoot, too bad. If they are wearing a bathing suit, too bad. Teeth need brushing, too bad.If they are in the P.J.’s, too bad. Hair not combed, too bad.
They are they are scooped up and placed in someone’s car. They all really enjoy seeing the others get ‘napped, too. After everyone has been “picked up” we take them to a particular location for a meal. Perhaps a pizza parlor, someone’s home for a bar-b-que, or the church for breakfast. After the chatting, giggling and food we play a couple “get to know you” games and officially welcome the new youth to our group!(Then we return them to their parents!)