Ingredients for a Winning Activity
BY: ABB THOMAS
While activities are a vital part of your youth program, they are not the basis on which the program is based. Often, activities are held just to give teens something to do. Sometimes the entire youth program centers around activities. At the other extreme are churches where activities are rarely or never provided for the teens. A good activity is one with a purpose.
A. ULTIMATE PURPOSE – SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE.
Every activity should be structured to challenge teens spiritually. The lost should be challenged by the gospel; Christian teens should be challenged to more consecrated living. This challenge must come not only through the devotion/message, but also through the personal example and testimony of the leadership.
B. IMMEDIATE PURPOSES
Activities fulfill a number of other purposes in the youth program. These include:
2. Fellowship 3. Drawing Card
4. Dating opportunity 5. Evangelism
6. Promote Teen Leadership 7. Build Social Skills 8. Build Character
9. Improve teen-leader relations
10. Produce youth group unity
C. TWO BASIC CATEGORIES OF ACTIVITIES (YOU NEED BOTH!)
1. Youth Group Activities – These are designed primarily for the teens of your church. Lost teens attend only as invited by your teens (small percentage of lost teens).
2. Evangelistic Activities – These are designed to attract lost teens. A great activity is coupled with a strong presentation of the gospel. (Large percentage of lost teens.) Examples: Basketball Tournament,
Night of Shock.
This is a key factor in a successful activity. It relates to two areas:
A. Leader’s Attitude
Activities are won or lost before
the activity beins. What is you attitude as a leader? A relaxed,
excited, and positive approach, stands a much greater chance of succeeding than a cautious, unsure attitude. Tell the teens they will
have a good time! Be excited and ” have a good time yourself. “Let
your hair down,” and get enthusiastically involved. Chances are,
your teens will follow your example. Enthusiasm is contageous! Failure in this area is usually due to one thing – the leader is afraid to
get out there and get involved himself. This is I generally due to one basic factor – pride! Forget yourself. Get excited! Have fun! Your teens will, too!
B. Activity Itself
Teens want activities marked by excitement, action, adventure, and competition. Plan your activity to excite them. Do the unusual. Do the usual in a new way.
PLANNING & PREPARATION
Never expect a winning activity to “just happen”. It must be thoroughly thought out and planned in advance. Here are some factors to consider!
A. Rules – know them! Be sure your leaders know them. Explain them to
B. Idle time – start with a bang and keep things going. Don’t let teens
get bored waiting for the activity to start, or waiting for the next
part of the activity.
C. Time – when is the best time? How much time will the activity take?
D. Transportation – Are there enough responsible drivers? What about
the church van or bus?
E. Facilities – Where is the activity to be held? Do you have-all the
arrangements made? Will this place meet your need?
F. Equipment – What do you need? Who will get it? Can we borrow it?
G. Little Extras – prizes, trophies, special refreshments, etc. All add
to an activity.
H. An alternate plan – if your activity depends on good
weather or some other uncontrollable variable, have an
alternate activity ready to go.
I. Chaperones – Have adequate adult supervision!
J. Follow-up materials (counselors, materials).
VARIETY & ORIGINALITY
The very worst activity is simply the on that is used all the time! Have variety in the types of activities you use. Banquets, gym nights, parties, trips, sports events, and games are a few ideas. Do something crazy, wierd, or silly occasionally. Also, be original and creative in whatever activity you choose. Give it an unusual name. Have a theme. By putting a new “kink” in an old activity, you can come up with something new and unusual. Examples: Frisbee golf, frisbee football, volleyball using a balloon. Use your mind. Be creative. Brainstorm with your leaders – you can create a winner!
Activities must have an appeal to the entire group you’re trying to reach. Have something for everyone. (This is another reason for having variety in your activities – trying to reach all interest groups.) Some factors to consider!
A. Sex – Do you have something that both guys and girls can enjoy?
B. Age – Are you reaching the age span of your group? C. Abilities – Do
you do things for those that are not as adept in athletics?
D. Interests – Are you touching on the interests of everyone in your
SIMPLICITY & CLARITY
Make sure the activity is not too involved. Too many rules can stifle excitement. Also, make sure everyone knows what is happening. Make the rules or plans clear to all involved.
Have top-notch, first-class activites. Don’t settle for second best. This involves what activity you have, as well as how you carry it out. Planning is of the essence. Find ways, to make your activity better,
more professional. Little things count!
FEASIBILITY (CAN WE DO IT?)
Some “fantastic” activities don’t get off the ground because they are too impractical. Think about these things:
A. Cost – Can the teens afford it? It’s good to alternate paying
activities with “freebies”.
B. Time – Do you have enough time?
C. Facilities/Location – Do you have adequate facilities
within a reasonable distance?
D. Parental Desires – Make sure you consider your parents! What do they
think about the activity? The night it will be
held? The Cost? The safety? The time you will
PROMOTION (Promotion convinces people to come.) One of our leaders told me recently, “An activity is no fun if no one is there, and they won’t be there if you can’t convince them that they are going to enjoy it.” He was right! Proper publicity is a must! Start early.
A. Determine your target – Whom do you want to attend?
1. Youth Group Teens
2. Lost Teens
B. Estimate your crowd – how many teens can you handle?
C. Choose your method –
2. Church bulletin
4. Teen newspaper
5. Word of mouth
6. Special mailing/newsletter
8. School public address
9. Handbills system
One of the most important ingredients is the testimony of the event. This is important in two areas:
A. Leader’s Testimony. Leaders must set the example for the teens. Rules must be fairly enforced. A leader should never lose his temper in a game. (If he does, apologies are in order!) The teens are watching you. Show them Christ!
B. Teens Testimony – The standards of the church must be upheld (dress, conduct, etc.). There must be an adequate number of chaperones. Remember – teens do what you expect and enforce.