Discipling Youth by reaching children.
The idea seems too simplistic but it is a powerful transferable concept. As part of my Master’s Program of studies, I had to design an urban ministry. My concept was to run programs in a local park during the summer to reach disciple teens by reaching and discipling children, and then move the program to a school gym in the colder months.
I began with a few youth who helped put up posters in the neighbourhood on telephone poles. Kids were invited to a neighbourhood water fight. The first day 60 kids showed up. We had them all register to participate. The girl doing the registration was only 10 years old!!
All the kids were told to stick around after the fight to receive a prize. At the end I spoke for five minutes about Jesus, announced next Wednesday’s event and then gave out prizes. (on the first day a ten year old boy named John stuck around to pray the sinners prayer with me and volunteered to be a helper!)
In a few months we had twenty teens who wanted to volunteer and a dozen kids who wanted to be part of our discipleship program called DC (direct current)
The really 1derful thing about the Program was the way teens boldly took leadership and shared their faith. Over 6 years 2000 kids in that Toronto neighbourhood accepted Christ. Over 600 of these kids also graduated from our discipleship program that met on the same day half an hour before the event.
Today some of the teens who ran those programs are pastoring, leading Christian organizations, and being effective leaders in their churches.
Originally I asked teens in my youth group to devote one summer to Christ. Over time they came to devote their whole lives. If you want to hear more about this or would like some tips on getting started please email me at email@example.com -Ron.
This is an add-on to any event, but works great with a “Banana” Themed event, and works best in the summer months. What you need, is a whole ton of ice cream (depends on the size of your group), a ton of plastic spoons, bananas (pre sliced), all the toppings, and an eavestrough.
An eavestrough can be found in any large hardware store, and the size will depend on the size of your group.
Our group used a 10′ trough for 20 people, but I’ve also seen a 50′ length trough for close to 100 people (approx 6″ per person). The youth have a blast seeing that large a banana split, but also the fact that they’re eating out of a gutter.
*note* I suggest cleaning out the gutter prior to filling it with ice cream!
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.
Each spring I have a special fellowship/informational dinner for 6th graders who are about to become 7th graders. I invited the 6th graders and their parents to come to a dinner where I share with them what to expect from our Youth Ministry.
I give them the following items:
– “Who Am I?” handout (for the kids to fill out)
– A Super Summer Calendar “Light Reading” (announcement sheets that we give youth on Sundays)which has the latest on the cool things we do
– an index card with a key taped to it that reads, “Our house is always open to you”
– Medical Release forms (for the parents to fill out)
– a calling card with my phone numbers and email address
– a handout of “Youth Ministry Terminology” (many parents wouldn’t know what Prime Time is or T.N.T. for example)
I also have 4-5 youth to share what the Youth Ministry has meant to them. I answer any questions they might have at this time as well. I also decorate the tables with items that have 7UP on them as well as appropriate colors (green, white, red)!
At least once per month, if not more often, go somewhere after your latest Sunday church service. Vary the location among restaurants, outdoor activities, home fellowships, etc. Encourage youth to bring their friends to the service beforehand.
I still have the sheet in my warm fuzzy file. All it says on the top is AFFIRM ME. It sounds like a pretty blunt cry for affection, but it came from an activity run on a retreat with Bible College students years ago.
This is much like the affirmation activity where students write affirming statements on each others backs but in this instants students are to list the Fruit of the Spirit that they see exhibited in the lives of that student. You can either put the sheets up with the students name on a wall during a retreat and at any time the students can go by and indicate the fruit they see exhibited. It is always more fun to tape it to each others backs. As the leader you should join in as well and some time when you feel like throwing in the towell put out your affirmation sheet and you may want to wait a few more weeks.
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.
This is a great way for a couple of your youth to get to know each other on a more personal basis, as well as their parents, youth leaders, and other willing members of the congregation. The idea is to get together a relatively small group of youth for one evening of the week. The idea works best with 8 or less youth because of carpooling and available space. This activity usually should not take more than 3 hours. What is needed: Willing chaperones that can drive the youth to the designated areas. Willing adult participants, parents or other, that can cook at their home and then invite the youth to join them.
Have the youth meet at the church around dinner time. Including family or friends would work but the idea is to get to know someone new, so keep that in mind when selecting the groups. Once the group is assembled proceed to your first house. Here the host should have dessert prepared for the group. Enjoy eating dessert first and getting to know the hosts and their family as well as each other. Repeat this at seperate houses for each course. The evening can include as many courses as desired, but keep in mind travel time when planning. At each home you can also play board games or use the handy book of questions, whatever works for getting the youth to learn about their new friends in the church.
A nice touch after the fact is to have the youth write thank-you cards to their hosts from the evening. In the past some youth have invited the hosts to their homes to return the favor and introduce their families. By switching the groups and hosts it is a good way to make connections in a large congregation.
This is an idea of a devotional that we used for our group in addition to the backwards dinner post on egadideas.com.
For our backwards dinner, we developed a menu to use as a devotional. each course represents something in the Christian walk. The courses are listed as follows and for each course there are several Scripture verses. At each house we assigned different verses to different kids and they looked them up and read them aloud. As each one was read, the youth tried to guess what each course represented. (on the menu, it was left blank and they could fill it it. ex: 1st course: dessert = ___________ )
1st course: Dessert = Heaven
1 Thessalonians 4:17
2nd course: Side Dish = side blessings from God
1 John 2:15
3rd course: Main Dish = personal walk with God
1 Peter 4:16
2 Tim 4:1-2
4th course: Soup = missions; Salad = growth
Soup: Revelation 14:6-7, Philippians 2:5-11, Acts 14:21-23
Salad: Acts 17:11, Ephesians 6:10-20, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
5th course: Appetizers = salvation
1 Tim 2:5
The point of this devotional was, 1) to offer them salvation at the end, once they had eaten and were filled, they could learn that they could “never hunger” by giving their lives to the “bread of life” (John 6:35). 2) to share with them that as much as you would probably like, you can’t go from salvation (appetizers) straight to heaven (dessert). You need to run the race as God has planned for you. Many times we fill up on side dishes (side blessings) and forget about our personal relationship with the KING.
We hope that this devotional will bless you and serve you.
To God be the Glory.
In the middle of winter, up here in Canada, we heat up our gym to 85 degrees and bring in a full size pool to set up in the gym. We also use tractors and wheelbarrows to bring in sand to put around the pool and to make a full beach volleyball court. The sand is about 1 foot deep. It is a blast to clean up :). We also rent two hot tubs and have a climbing wall that is inflated and a bunch of games like pool and ping pong. Also video games are available on the big screen for those who want. It goes on for the whole night. We have many groups that use it throughout the night to bring down the cost. It is a lot of fun for our student leadership team to do!! We have a group of between 200 and 300 and it works excellent.