Outreach Events - How to have fun with youth and reach new students.
How to have fun with youth and reach new students.
Students coming to youth for the very first time aren’t coming because I have invited, begged or threatened them to come, and they aren’t coming to necessarily grow their relationship with Jesus either. They are coming because their friend made it sound like fun. Church has a bad reputation of being boring. It is often seen as a place where you can’t run through the halls, and you have to sit very quietly and still in your seat. It is my goal to create youth events that make my students WANT to invite their friends and that introduce students to Jesus in new and exciting ways.
If you want new students to come to your youth program, then you will need to attract them with a fun event. Throughout the year our youth ministry offers various “bring-a-friend nights” such as a Halloween Costume Contest, Game nights, and a Glow-in-the-dark Egg hunt. However, it’s important to remember that once they have arrived that you provide a healthy environment where students can feel accepted, have fun, and build relationships with each other so that they can ultimately build their relationship with Christ.
We typically host a “game night” every other month. Before the games begin, our students fellowship with one another over supper. After our meal, we gather in the youth room to watch a short video clip of our youth program about past and upcoming events. But, most importantly I share a devotion with the students. With so many new students, it would be a missed opportunity if we didn’t take the time to share a message about Jesus Christ.
Then, it's game time! Students almost always request to play “Grogg.” This is a great game for a large group of students.
Here is how it works:
Take apart a flashlight into four pieces: two batteries, the body and the top and hide each piece throughout the church, and then turn off all of the lights in the church. Establish your boundaries where students are not able to go (church offices, bathrooms, etc.). Select two students to be “Groggs” and then release them into the church. Their goal is to tag the students and freeze them before the students find the pieces of the flashlight, put it together, and shine it on the “Groggs”. Select two students to be the “unfreezers.” The “Groggs” should not know who the “unfreezers” are. The rest of the students are “townspeople.” The “unfreezers” can unfreeze the townspeople that the “Groggs” have tagged, allowing them to continue their search for the pieces of the flashlight. If the “Groggs” tag both of the “unfreezers” then the game is over and the “Groggs” win. If the townspeople shine the flashlight on both of the “Groggs” then they win. And finally, make sure you have plenty of adults throughout the church to make sure everyone is playing safely.
I love to watch our students play this game, but I particularly enjoy seeing our new students running through the halls, laughing and hiding behind a closet full of choir robes. My prayer is that these students will return the following Sunday to join a group of teenagers that want to know how to follow Jesus.
Colleen Schnitzer, Youth Minister First UMC- Hendersonville, NC