Monday, February 27, 2012

The Truth about Youth Group...

This was too funny and true not to pass on.  There are a lot more video by Blimey Cow if you liked this one.  There are a limitless number of ways I can think of on how I could use them.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Games Ideas for Youth Ministry

Our last YPA gathering in Nashville was a lot of fun because we all brought a couple of simple games to share that we do with our ministries.  The goal was simple, cheap, and not cheesy.  Here are a few that we shared:
Materials: 6 sided dice, notecards or small pieces of paper, pen
Directions: Divide students into groups of 3-8.  Give each student an index card and have them sit in a circle (around a table or on the floor).  Place one pen and one die in the middle of the circle.  Each person takes a turn rolling the die, going clockwise.  If it lands on 6, that person picks up the pen and begins writing numbers, from 1 to 50 on the card (1,2,3,4,5…).  Meanwhile, the next person continues to roll, and so on until another 6 is rolled.  At that point, the person writing has to give the pen to the person who just rolled the 6.  Play continues until someone reaches 50 and wins ... $1,000!  (we Baptists have a big games budget)

Go to for all the info and to order.

Materials: quarter or other coin, table and chairs
Directions: 3 or 4 people on either side of a long table; the people on the same side are on the same team.  One team has the quarter and passes it between each others under the table.  When the other team calls, “Hands Up;” The team with the quarter has to hold their hands up with hands closed (the quarter in one of them), then the team with the quarter counts 3,2,1 and then at the same time, slams their hands flat on the table with the quarter under one of them.  Then the team without the quarter has to guess which hand the quarter is under.  They have two guesses and then the quarter goes to the other team and repeat.

Materials: chairs and set of keys
Directions: Circle of chairs; one person in middle without a seat holds the keys; this person begins a line by walking around the circle picking up a boy or girl and it alternates; then the person who was just pick gets up and locks hands with the person with the keys, and then they pick the next one to add to the chain. Make the line as long or short as you want; the first one who started is holding the keys, and when they are ready, they drop the keys & everyone scatters for a chair; the person left standing must start the next line.

Materials: Larger area, a gym or field is great. One Dodgeball
Directions: This is basically individual dodgeball with one ball.  Everyone starts gathered up together in the middle and the ball is thrown up, and every scatters.  Whoever get the ball has two steps, and tries to hit someone with the ball (dodgeball rules apply, head doesn’t count, if the person being thrown at catches it, the one throwing it out, etc).  When someone get out, they sit down right where they are, because you are never fully out.  They can still get the ball and hit other people from their seat.  Everyone person for themselves, and it continues until one is left.  Then start again.  It can work where people roll or bounce the ball to each other if they want to pass it without getting out.  Those who are seated normally work together to help get everyone else out.

Materials: list of clues
Directions: This game is like team charades.  The leader or ambassador with make a list of items (it might be a good thing to do with a specific topics and use words that relate) to be used.  You'll want to separate into two teams into two different areas (different rooms or even different floors work well.)  The ambassador needs to be located equally distant from both teams.  The first person from each team will go to get their first word at the same time.  They then return to their teams and act out the word, just like in charades (no talking or sounds).  Once someone in the group guesses the word, the person that guessed the word must race over to the ambassador and give them the word that was just guessed so that the ambassador knows which word to give them next.  If at any time a team gets stumped the actor can say pass and another member of the group can go to the ambassador to get that same word.  The person who passed is not allowed to guess in that round.  The team that gets through the entire list first wins the round.
Hint:  It helps to have an adult volunteer supervise each group to make sure there is no cheating. The list can be made by the youth leader, volunteers or even the youth themselves.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Time to Rethink the Youth Retreat

I don’t know about you, but I am seriously rethinking the youth retreat…maybe we all should be? After spending nearly a week being sick after a youth retreat weekend, I have had some time to reflect on the whole youth retreat idea.

The world has changed a lot on the past 20, 10, 5, and really even 1 year; and how we approach ministry for the most part has not. 

In the past, youth retreats made a lot of sense:
1. They provide a time away to focus on God.
2. They create a time of group bonding that doesn’t just happen in an hour.
3. They give youth and leaders a shared experience that they could fall back on.
4. They give youth an opportunity of fun that they would not otherwise have.
5. They were an atmosphere of exhaustion/emotion to bring a certain response.
6. They give youth the opportunity to stay up late, if not all night, for a change.

All of this sounds great on paper until you factor in youth culture. 

Youth today are more connected with the world than ever before.  Through social media and technology, they can talk to, communicate with, and access anything and anyone in the world whenever they want.  Technology is great for bringing people who are far away, together; but it is also great at taking people who are close together and pushing them far away. So to have them get away and focus on God, you have to tear them away from the technology that runs their lives.

Secondly, youth have more entertainment thrown at them in one day than they did in a month 10 years ago.  Everyone is trying to gain the attention of the youth through entertainment, and if they church thinks that we can win that battle, we are in for a very harsh awakening.  

Finally, youth today get less deep sleep than any generation ever.  This sounds like a crazy claim, but think about it.  Since youth feel that they always have to be connected, night and day; throughout the night if they receive a Facebook or text at any hour of the night or day, they feel an anxiety that they must answer it; and so they do.  All of this leads to a lack of full sleep cycles, less hours of sleep, and eventually completely exhausted teens.  And the last thing they need is another excuse not to sleep.

If the church can be anything, it needs to be “Holy” meaning set apart from the world.  So then why do we jump in on the newest whatever thinking that is what we are supposed to do?

All this brings us full circle to me typing this while being on antibiotics after a three day youth retreat.  It wasn’t just me; over half of our group and other groups as well have all crashed in one way or another, several coming down sick.

Is this the Gospel?  Is this what we are called to be as the Church?

What if the Church found its identity as a place of Sabbath?  Relationships where you connect on a deep, meaningful level gathering together to refuel, recharge, and rest; knowing God is God and we don’t have to be.

So is the youth retreat dead?
Maybe.  But more importantly, we as the church need to revision and live out Sabbath.
What if church was not another thing you had to get up and go to, but rather it was where you came when you were worn out?
What if church wasn’t a place for people to tell you what to do, but rather a place we shared life together?
What if church wasn’t a place you hid from when life was hard, but rather a place you ran to when you had nothing left?
What if Sabbath wasn’t a day a week or a place you went, but rather time spent with people of God doing the things that brings you and others life?

I don’t know about you, but I am seriously rethinking the youth retreat…maybe we all should be?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thank you…

As Youth Pastors, there are some many things that we do that are overlooked and underappreciated.  Often times, teens and their families forget to or don’t know to say “thank you.”  It is amazing to me how deeply touching a simple heartfelt thank you means.  So, as today is National Thank A Youth Worker Day (check out more about this at, we at Youth Pastors Anonymous wanted to say thank you.  So hear these “thank yous” as if they are from your youth and their families…

Thank you for answering your call from God to go back to help those who are in high school and middle school; even if those were terrible years for you, we need help and you provide.  Thank you.

Thank you for all the times you stay up praying and struggling to find a way to help me understand faith and why it matters in my life.  Thank you.

Thank you for all the boring church meetings you sit through so that you can be a voice for us. Thank you.

Thank you for showing up to my games, concerts, plays, speeches, recitals, and so many other things; it shows you care beyond the walls of the church.  Thank you.

Thank you for all the notes you write, they really do mean so much to me and always seem to come at the right time. Thank you.

Thank you for bringing me cookies, ice cream, coffee, anything while I was recovering.  It reminded me about truly being the church to each other.  Thank you.

Thank you for planning, scheduling, setting up, running, and cleaning up for retreats and events.  I cannot image how much time you spent on this just so we can experience God in a deep and real way.  Thank you.

Thank you for spend hours preparing a lesson that I can relate to so I can learn what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Thank you.

Thank you for being with me when my world fell apart and I had nothing to live for and you were there present with me reminding me how God is with me. Thank you.

Thank you for asking me hard questions and caring about my soul, it challenges me to look beyond the shallows to the depths.  Thank you.

Thank you for being one of the few people who asks “How are you?” and stays around to listen to a real answer.  Thank you.

Thank you for always being there, week after week, and consistently showing up in my life.  Even if I seem like it doesn’t matter, it does; a lot.  Thank you.

Thank you for pointing out where God is at work in my messy life, sometimes it is so hard for me to believe that God cares; but you are a constant reminder that God does. Thank you.

Most of all, thank you for the fact that you live out faith in such a way that it makes me excited to be a Christian and one of the greatest gifts that you have given me.  Thank you.

Thank you for being such an amazing youth worker!
Chris and Joanna Cummings