15. SODA SOCK
Prep time: less than an hour
Supplies: enough cans or bottles of soda for each contestant to have one, garbage can
You’ll need a handful of brave students who think they can handle something gross. When they come up, have them remove a sock. Open a can or bottle of soda for each kid, and have them put their sock on top of it (the top of the can or bottle should be all the way at the bottom of their sock). Tell them they’re going to have to drink the soda through the sock, and get ready to start the game. Right when you’re about to say go, stop the game and say:
“Wait, wait, wait! This is too easy. Pass your soda to the person on your left.”
And then the game actually begins. Whoever finishes first wins. (Keep the garbage can close.)
Youth group games are fun, but a teen ministry also should go deeper. It’s an incredible opportunity to help students explore, understand, define and practice their faith. As you strive to teach kids how to live out the gospel, serving is a great way to invite them to share Christ’s sacrificial love with others. These serving opportunities may be special events you schedule for times you wouldn’t normally meet, or you may want to just keep it at your usual time to make it more convenient for everyone.
16. VISIT A NURSING HOME
Visiting a nursing home is a wonderful way for your youth group to serve together because everyone can do it, and it shows your kids that sometimes attention and conversation are profound gifts we can use to love others.
Your students will be nervous about talking to strangers, and they may struggle to find common ground. So, before you go, talk to your group about ways they might start a conversation, or encourage them to play a board game with someone. You may also want to caution them about some of the things they might see or experience. Equip them to be successful. Give them tools to show the residents and staff that they are loved and that they matter.
Pro tip: Call the nursing home you plan to visit in advance. Talk to them about the ideal times for a large group of visitors. It also helps to get a heads up about their specific guidelines and any recommendations about what to bring (games, books, small pets, etc.).
17. CLEAN UP A PARK
Public parks are for everyone in the community to enjoy. They can also be difficult to maintain and keep pristine. In just a couple of hours, your youth group can bless your community and serve your neighbors in a tangible way by cleaning up this shared space.
You may even find that it creates opportunities for conversation too. People will be curious why so many kids are picking up trash and cleaning up the area, and some may even want to join you. Help students understand the connection between acts of service and their faith in Christ, so, if anyone asks, they’ll be able to talk about why this park and this community matter to your church and why you see this as an act of love.
You could also talk to your city council or parks and recreation department to find out about projects where they could use volunteers. This could allow your students to do some more interesting jobs (like landscaping), and if your parks are already pretty clean, this is another good way to have a visible impact.
If you can, try to take before and after pictures to help kids feel a stronger sense of accomplishment. Pile your trash bags together so your students can see that they’ve made a difference.
Pro tip: Have your students and leaders wear matching shirts that communicate what church you’re from. This will help others visually connect your act of service to a church that cares about the community, regardless of whether or not neighbors talk to you.
18. NEIGHBORHOOD WORK PARTIES
Parents know it’s hard enough to get teenagers to help take care of their own yards and homes. So it really says something when they’re willing to give up their time for free to help their neighbors. And regardless of whether people are able to do their own yard and house maintenance, many people will appreciate the gift of a cleaner yard.
Depending on the season, where you live, and what equipment you or your neighbors have, students can:
- Shovel snow
- Mow lawns
- Fill in holes
- Trim hedges
- Plant flowers
- Clean gutters
The point is to find needs that people don’t have the time, energy or desire to take care of themselves.
Pro tip: Make sure your teams of students and leaders tell people you’re looking for work that people want help with for free. If you don’t make a point of saying that, most people will assume you’re doing a fundraiser, and some will say no simply because they don’t want to pay for help. And that’s not the point of this.
Choose youth group games & activities that align with your mission
All youth group games and activities should have a larger purpose. Maybe it’s to help give students opportunities to take baby steps toward building relationships with each other and with leaders. Maybe it’s to make unseen kids feel like the star of the show. Or to create an experience students will want to share with unchurched friends. Maybe it’s an opportunity for teenagers to live out your church’s mission in your community.
Even if you feel like you’re scrambling to pull together interesting youth group games and activities each week, remember: This is all about creating opportunities to point kids to Christ, loving them well, and showing them you care enough to plan adventures for them.
This article originally appeared at PushPay.com.