CREATIVE YOUTH MEETINGS
By: Ron Cline
What turns the average young person off about his church youth group?
What happens to the high school youth who quits coming to the youth meetings?
How come a good brush fire draws more teens than our youth group?
Why don’t visitors return and get involved?
Why don’t we attract the sharper teens?
Have you ever “found yourself asking these questions? If you have, keep on asking until you get an answer, and then you’ll begin to sell your group.
Now let’s take a tour of the average Sunday youth program and try to see it as teens do.
Notice, is it alive and creative? Most teens could tell you all about your group even if they have never been to your church. Groups are pretty much the same! you begin by singing songs out of shabby hymnals or coverless chorus books or no books at all. Sometimes you have a pianist, sometimes not. Most of the time you start late. After the songs, you pray, and then welcome the visitors by asking them to stand, and then no one remembers their names. Now come the announcements followed by all kinds of confusion and questions because the program activity has not been well planned or the sponsor is the only person who knows what’s going on. Then comes a short sermon by the sponsor and you go home.
But why not use a little creativity? Let’s redo that program.
Ask several greeters to meet the teens and bring them into the meeting room so that you may start on time. Arrange to have a guest book, a button, a badge, a hat, or something for the visitor. Introduce him to one of the group members who will tell the whole group something about the visitor.
How about some songs? distribute song sheets each week. Or put the songs on large boards or use an overhead projector; write Christian words to pop tunes; for a change speak the words rather than sing
them; sing songs on given themes; sing songs on given themes; sing words to different tunes, e.g., Jesus Loves Me to Christ the Lord Is Risen Today; sometimes don’t sing at all; tape record background music
and use it to sing by, sing along with records; or use musical instruments. Let teens think of ways to improve the song service and don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s possible that anything will be better than what you’re having now.
How about the announcements? That can be a real gas. For some of the teens this will be the best time to catch up on the latest news. How can we make the announcements different? Hang them on a clothesline;
use flash cards; act them out like “charades”; do them with slides; take magazine pictures and put funny captions under them; use of mystery voice; distribute them in printed form as teens enter and ask
different teens to read them; or give only hints and let teens guess in twenty questions; but do use your creativity.
How about attendance? Use name tags; drop tags in a box; sign up by schools on large posters; sign a sheet at the entrance; hand a clipboard around with students listed by school or class.
Next, consider the program–something alive and moving, with relevancy uppermost in mind.
Other things we need to notice: Are we dependable? Do we keep our word? Can our teens believe us? Have we fostered a climate of trust and mutual respect? Is our group organized or is it sloppy? If we make a rule do we keep it? If we make a deal do we hold to it? Do we leave for field trips or other we hold to it? Do we leave for field trips or other activities when we say we will? Do we return home when we promised to? Are we consistent? Are we regular?
Do we have an optimistic attitude? How many times have such statements as these escaped from your mouth? “I don’t know where everybody is”; “I wish the group would be more faithful”; “You’ll never have a group till you support it.”
Why be negative? How about, “Hey, it’s great to see you here tonight. We’re going to have a good time together.” What a difference! Don’t dwell on the small number, the lack of enthusiasm, or the poor
facilities. The group is just what you allow it to become. There is no need to apologize for the group, but build it up, instill some pride, and rejoice in the Lord together. Do something constructive about your
problems, your facilities, or the group itself. Try some thankfulness, pride, enthusiasm, and optimism.
Are we united? The presence of cliques in a youth group is a problem and is difficult to discourage. Try to motivate your teens to pray for each other. Suggest a concerted prayer program for one member of the
group for a whole week. Let teens share a prayer request with a prayer partner. Then the next week allow time for reporting on prayers answered, and exchange partners. Sponsors should join the teens in
this program. Young people who are praying for each other find it hard to dislike each other.
Draw straws or numbers for seats in cars or buses used for transportation to socials or outings. Teens must follow through and sit in the seat drawn. Arrange to have big brothers and big sisters for the new graduates in the group.
At socials divide the teens into teams by such categories as color of eyes, birthdays, initials of names, number of letters in last names, numbers in addresses, and others.
Is what we are doing purposeful? What are the goals of our group? How are we going to realize them? What do we hope to do for the member or the visitor?
When a teenager commits himself to participating in a youth group, he expects it to be just that–not a social cub or a party time but an opportunity for learning about Christian purpose, Christian objectives, and Christian philosophies. Let your youth help in formulating your purpose. Let it be their group.
FIVE THINGS TO AIM FOR:
Be alive and creative
Have an optimistic attitude
(The original source of the above material is unknown.)
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