We have all been there – those deadly moments where good ideas escape us and we are 30 minutes away from a meeting. Or those moments where the individual in charge of devotions doesn’t show up and texts you 5 minutes before said devotions to tell you that. Or when you have meticulously planned teen involvement in the morning worship service, but you didn’t take into account Homecoming the night before where none of your kids did that thing called sleeping and so don’t show because of that thing called not sleeping.
Here are just a few ideas to kickstart your meetings and hopefully help you out when a bit stuck.
1. Q & A always goes over big with my students to the point that we dedicate a whole meeting to it and they are asking when it is.
You cut up some paper and pass it around. They can write down any question they have for you and your leaders and hand them in anonymously. They can keep adding to the stack of questions all night.
I have created a rule of “no fluff.” This helps weed out questions like, “Why are clouds white?” and “Is there really chicken in McDonalds Mc-Nuggets?” and leaves room for “Why is God so distant?” and “Why did my best friend have to get cancer?” When done anonymously, kids are more willing to open up and it gives you a wonderful picture as to what is rolling around in those heads of theirs. I have used this in both my Jr. and Sr. high groups. Both groups love this night.
2. Hand out evaluations at the end of the year or sheets at the beginning of the season asking kids for ideas on what they want to talk about.
They WILL give you deep and serious topics they desire to focus on.
3. Have a general theme that guides the year in general.
It helps keep discussions and ideas focused overall.
4. Make sure your leaders feel free to contribute ideas throughout the year and use some of them.
They feel more ownership that way and it gives you the freedom to not always be the one coming up with new ideas.
5. Have two or three devotional books handy for when needed.
That way you aren’t scrambling…too much…
6. Don’t feel like you must make it all up yourself.
Use resources like Francis Chan, The Skit Guys or numerous other resources to kick off a lesson.
7. In the same way – don’t always feel like you must give a lecture to the kids.
Kids learn a lot through debate/discussion and hearing other points of views and having to defend or argue their own.
8. We have what we call “Defend your Faith” night.
On a PowerPoint, we give kids questions. They break into groups and discuss the question given. Here is a sample question: Christians are supposed to be holy but they are anything but that. When it comes to divorce, living together before marriage, cheating on income taxes, downloading videos and songs – you seem to be the same as the rest of the world. The church seems to be full of hypocrites. What makes you so special? We try to give questions they could face from non-believers in their lives now or someday when in the workplace.
After the discussion kids must defend their Christian viewpoint against those playing the devil’s advocate. This can be done by leaders or other kids. We have done it where the group splits into two groups and they trade off roles after each question. They always like playing the non-Christian role better for some reason….
Hopefully, some of these ideas can help when you are struggling to pull a lesson together or when your students are more interested following Twitter than following what is going on at youth group.
Sarah Vanderaa is currently serving as a full-time youth director in a church located in the south suburbs of Chicago. She is currently in her 11th season and is excited to see what the year will bring. On her rest days, she can often be found behind a computer writing and updating her blog, while drinking lots and lots of coffee. In between naps, she still finds time to read novels. You can connect with Sarah through her blog at WWW.UNLOCKANDRELEASE.TUMBLR.COM or her Facebook page @UNLOCKANDRELEASE