Category Archives: Youth Group Ideas
I love to teach! I love preparing lessons and extrapolating the text in a way that my students can relate to. However, sometimes I wonder if what I am teaching each week is being effective. Maybe the way I’m going about teaching isn’t the best way to teach our students. Maybe most of us youth pastors out there are missing the most effective means of teaching our students.
Something about our current culture is that our students are “cause driven.” What I mean is, students want something to rally around and get behind. However, many of us in ministry talk about ministry week in a week out but never give our students the opportunity to use what they are learning. At the end of last year, I became pretty convicted that I was teach my students what to do but not allowing my students the opportunity to use what they had learned. It’s like watching film but never stepping on the field. While watching film in beneficial, if you never get to play, you become frustrated, apathetic, and you give up more easily.
So we decided to do what we called a “practice and play” series. What that means is that we taught our students how to do something and then allowed them to do it for themselves. After we talked about prayer, we had a prayer night for our students; on the night that we talked about journaling, we passed out journals; and after talking about fasting we asked our students to fast, and the results have been incredible. While all the knowledge about how to do these things, it was that much better to see our students growing from their experiences.
This past week at an event I just asked our students how their fasting had been going, and it was amazing how our students had pinpointed the things that enslaved them and had seen what their lives looked like without them. One student said that his family noticed a “marked difference” just from his one week of fasting from an i-pod.
The fact of the matter is that we need to stop hogging all of ministry for ourselves. I know that a lot of us are paid full-time to do ministry and delegation is not the easiest thing in the world, but we need to empower our students to do ministry in their day-to-day lives. So here are three tips for empower your students to use what you put all of your time researching and teaching.
- Give Them Homework
- Biblical knowledge is great but the Bible is not just about gaining knowledge but seeing life change. With that said, always leave you large and small group meetings with something that your students can do. Students get homework in school because teachers want them to retain what they’ve learned so take a tip from the teachers out there and give your students something they can do to put their learning into action.
- Don’t Challenge Your Students to Something You’re Not Willing to Do
- This past weekend we had a man weekend and part of that weekend was gross food challenges. Guess who has two thumbs and ate nasty food with his students…this guy! When you challenge your students to fast, pray, or whatever else, you need to come along side your students and do it with them. Your students need to know that you are growing with them and that you are willing to push and challenge yourself to grow along with them.
- This Isn’t a One and Done
- Your goal is not one level of growth but continuing to push your students to grow toward maturity. When a student grows in one area of their life, then you must pinpoint the next area of change and help them grow in that. The fact of the matter is, none of us are ever finished in our spiritual growth. That means that you need to constantly be challenging yourself and your students. Don’t simply challenge your students once and if it doesn’t succeed give up, but rather continue to push your students to grow in every aspect of their lives.
I am done simply preaching knowledge for my students to put in their head and never use. I want to see life change and I want to partner with my students in ministry that changes both them and those around them.
* For some reason this post didn’t go up or stay up from last week, so here’s a repost of Alicia’s post on the great outdoors.
I am by no means an outdoorsy person, though I love being outdoors! Oxymoron says you, no says I. I can do just fine camping, but it is not what I would necessarily choose to do for fun. I love the idea of going on hikes, but hate how exhausted and sweaty I get half way up the mountain. I love to shoot guns, but not at wildlife. While I may not love to do adventurous things outdoors most of the time, I still love to be outdoors and enjoy the nature that God has created. Especially in weeks like these!
This week has been absolutely gorgeous weather here in Central PA. It’s quite chilly at night still, but perfect weather during the day – reaching right around 70. It’s the kind of weather that you could wear shorts and a t-shirt if you wanted, or (as long as you’re not hot-natured) even wear a light jacket or hoodie. I love it! It’s weeks like these I long 1) for a window in my office and 2) for the chance to spend time outside. Who wants to join me for a picnic?
Today I want to give you some ideas to do with your students outdoors. It’s so easy in today’s culture to spend all our time inside and in front of a screen – whether phone, ipod, computer, xbox/wii, or you name it. Let’s be intentional about getting your students outdoors to enjoy God’s creation. Who knows, maybe you can even through a lesson in there about worshiping God!
1. Have a giant picnic. Cooking and eating are two of my top favorite things to do in life. In fact, a lot of my down time is spent finding amazing recipes online to try with Jason and I. Some of them are complete disasters (we made sesame chicken once, but it tasted like you were eating straight vinegar – gross!), while some of them are absolutely exquisite must-haves. That aside, take some or all of your students to the park or your back yard and enjoy some home cooked food together. Fire up the grill. Prep some picnic staples. And bring along a frisbee or football. These are the kinds of times your students will remember forever and make the biggest impact on them. I’m getting excited already!
2. Go to a playground. Quite honestly, I think I enjoy playgrounds now more than I did when I was a child. There’s not much more fun and relaxing than getting on a swing and pumping your legs to fly high to your hearts desire! Your students will either think you’re the best or a little out of your mind (which they may already be thinking anyways), but I can guarantee you’ll have a blast acting like giant 5 year olds!
3. Take kickball outside. We’re fortunate enough to have a large gym where we can play kickball inside. But as soon as the weather makes the slightest shift towards the warm side, we’re right back outside! Everyone may get a little sweaty, but there’s something special about playing group games outdoors. This doesn’t just have to be kickball. Play SPUD, Kan Jam, Kajabe Can Can, Steal the Bacon, or another one of your favorite games outside as well. Are you breathing that fresh air yet?
4. Become outdoors-men. Remember what I said earlier: it’s not my favorite thing in the world to go hiking and camping. Regardless, the times that I went with my youth group growing up are some of the times I remember most vividly. Not to mention it would probably be pretty funny watching some of the more “prim and proper” students in your ministry trying to rough it. Jokes aside, this is the perfect time to grab a sleeping bag, set up camp, and grill some hot dogs and s’mores (or mountain pies if you’re from PA). It’s amazing how God can use time around a camp fire or a hike in the woods to grow relationships and create conversations about Christ. Of course, I’m sure you all know how powerful an acoustic worship time at a campground can be also.
I hope you and your ministry have a great time getting reacquainted with the wonderful outdoors this season. These are just a few of the countless ideas to have fun outside. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait! What are some of your outdoors ideas? (Leave a comment below).