TEEN ROOM IDEA: PHOTO WALL - A MEANINGFUL DECORATION
Ever thought of a Photo Wall for your teens? Use one of your teen room blank walls and go ceiling to floor with photos of activities, outreaches, picnics, etc. Some hints:
1. Don't make them all silly photos - serious ones carry a lot of weight.
2. Avoid having too many photos of "choice" teens. This only causes jealousies.
3. Take face shots. Don't rely on long-distance shots. Take as many one, two, and three-face shots as you can.
Remember, have an ADULT maintain the wall, adding fresh photos every two weeks. You don't have to totally replace all the photos; just take down five or six and replace them with new photos.
HERE'S A HOT TIP
Practically every youth group has two or three good artists. Introduce a contest for a youth group poster that you will post on the teen room front door. Supply the poster board and let any interested teen enter. Award a $5 gift certificate book from McDonald's. Post the other entries around the wall inside of the teen room.
SECRET PRAYER MEETING
This is a good idea for a worship service to emphasize religious persecution in other countries. All Bibles are "confiscated" at the front of the teen room; the teens must enter without talking, and without a Bible, one at a time, approximately 15 seconds apart. The teens all stand against a wall during the whole service (there are no chairs) and someone will keep checking the doors and windows to make sure everyone is safe. The preaching is without a microphone and is a mere conversational level. Hymns are sung almost at a whisper. Prayer requests are taken only when a yong person can quote a verse to encourage others.
This meeting will emphasize the need to hide God's Word in our heart and to pray for those who do not have religious freedom.
AN ADDED TWIST: Authorities take the leader (you) out of the room with about five minutes to go in the meeting. As you are sent out, you call to a few leaders among the teens to carry on. They will need to close the meeting with final prayers, thoughts, and challenges.
MAKING SUNDAY MORNINGS SPECIAL
HINT#1: Assign a teen who will be Overseer. He or she will fill the role for one month. The person should arrive at least fifteen minutes early and greet everyone at the door. If a visitor comes in, they are to personally escort them to a seat and give them a Bible if they do not have one. The Overseer will make sure a regular attender is seated with the visitor. The Overseer acts like an usher, seeing that evey one has a seat, maybe a hot chocolate or a newsletter. They play the role of greeter as well.
HINT #2: One teen should read one paragraph about the DESIGNATED MISSIONARY. That's right - the teens should adopt a missionary! A glass jug should be passed around every week for offerings to be sent to the missionary that the teens have voted to support for the year. Each month, the jug is emptied. One teen should be the Missionary Leader.
HINT #3: During the first week of every month, a youth worker should stand up and tell WHY he is serving as a youth worker. Give him about two minutes to express his commitment to the teens and maybe even give his favorite Bible verse. He should project his love for service to the teens. This will help make the "family ties" within the youth group even more special.
MAKE SUNDAY MORNINGS EXTRA SPECIAL!
The teens are dragging in. It's early Sunday and you see a few of the young people yawning and stretching - must have been a late night last night. They want to be more responsive, but fatigue has put a large stumblingblock in front of their receptiveness. What do you do? let's take this morning and look at some ideas for making Sunday mornings more dyanmic.
SUNDAY MORNING HINT #1:
Be brave and let your teens participate. Yes, that's right...and more than just a singer or two. Select a teen to come to the front and read a verse that he or she has chosen, and then to open up in prayer. That's not hard, is it? Now, DO NOT choose them five minutes before class time. This should be something that is taken seriously, so call them earlier in the week and ask them, reminding them of the significance of opening up the meeting time.
SUNDAY MORNING HINT #2:
Make sure YOU are the first one in the room on Sunday morning. All the lights should be on and the place looks cheery. Run down to the local convenience store and buy about three or four Cokes or hot chocolates (depending on the weather). Make sure you have one yourself. To the first teens entering the room, hand out the drinks and have a "coffee chat" for a few minutes. Not only does this reward the teens for arriving early, it adds a friendly cheer to the room. In fact, one of the perks my wife added to our teen room was a crock pot of hot chocolate. Our teens loved it.
SUNDAY MORNING HINT #3:
Each teen chair should have a teen newsletter on it. The newsletter should give the latest news on the fun you had at the last activity (get some comments from the teens and print them)and announcements about the upcomng events. Put a puzzle in each issue and spotlight one teen. Think up some creative things to add to the newsletter, and let some teens hand in articles.
AFTER THE FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL GAMES, WHAT DO THE KIDS DO?
If their team wins, they want to brag about it and blow off steam. If their team loses, they want to moan about it and blow off steam. Where do they go? You have the answer.
Find a meeting place for the teens to congregate for a FIFTH QUARTER GATHERING. This could be your home or a restaurant or a room at the church. The place is open to ANYONE from after the game until midnight. You might be surprised at the growing response you get! Here are some things to remember:
1. You close promptly at midnight. Don't drag it out.
2. You have a 10 p.m. to 10:20 question and answer session about the Bible. The kids can ask anything. Do not preach. Give answers.
3. If the teens want food, they must bring it in or order it. I know this sounds harsh, but you not only don't want to kill your budget, you want to encourage ownership in the meeting.
4. The televsion does not go on during the FIFTH QUARTER. Encourage conversation. Move from room to room and get things going.
Can this program work? When we started, our youth group of 25 was bringing in a regular attendance of 35 or better every Friday night. The teens met in our home and we all had a blast. As our youth group grew to 85, it was necessary for us to move the location.
Focus on the Family's BREAKAWAY MAGAZINE novel: "Risking Daylight."
PART 2 OF THE FRIDAY NIGHT AFTER-FOOTBALL "FIFTH QUARTERS"
Think of it - you have no games, no special programs and you don't even prepare a Bible study! Yet this could be one of your most powerful outreaches! Why?
1. There are no games that a new visitor must humble himself to play. Most visitors like to "blend in" and get to know the surroundings. Having a totally game-free FIFTH QUARTER is an ideal way for the newcomer to "get a lay of the land" without being pulled into a limelight.
2. In our case, my wife and I had the FIFTH QUARTERS at our home. This let the teens see us in a new light outside of the church building. It also made it less intimidating for the visitors. You were going to a home, not a church.
3. The Q & A session always brought intriguing questions that a majority of the teens wanted to hear. Remember, they are allowed to ask ANY question. I've answered questions about life after death, ESP, and animals in Heaven. Yet week after week during the football season the crowds kept getting larger and, although they were free to leave at any time during the night, I never had any teen walk out before the Q & A sesion.
4. My wife and I sit around and let the KIDS do the talking. They hear me enough during the course of the week; this is the time for me to hear THEM. We ask them about the football game, schoolwork, Saturday chores...anything to learn more about them. The bonds grew amazingly close each week.
This was one of our strongest activities through the years, and each football season, the teens asked if we would be having the FIFTH QUARTERS. Commit to the entire season, asking the Lord to give you the stamina and the readiness for the response. You may be amazed at what develops.
TIPS FOR A GREAT TEEN ROOM:
How would you feel if I invited you over to my house...and then took you to my basement? Not very welcome, huh? Yet many times that's the way we treat our teens whenever they show up for a mid-week service or a Sunday morning study. Why do we expect them to get excited when we give them a sorry excuse for a room? Here are some do's and don't's for your teen room. Some have nothing to do with the way the room looks either!
1. Don't allow trash to accumulate, and don't allow the teens to think it's acceptable. Assign teens to police the area after each meeting. NOTE: I said TEENS, not adults. Teach your teens about cleaning up.
2. On the day or evening of a meeting DO NOT let any teen beat you into the room first. You should always be there early, waiting to greet the teen. Again, I ask you - how would you feel if I invited you to my house and then just told you to sit in a room and wait for me?
3. Do not accept: full trash cans that haven't been emptied, unpleasant smells, poorly lit room, chairs that are not set up.
4. Do not clutter and think that it is what the kids want. Yes, maybe a poster promotion once in a while, but an overdone room can actually distract the teens from learning.
5. This last one is a big one with me...Do not BLAST music while the teens are coming in. How can anyone have a conversation? If you having music playing bring it down to a background effect. if teens want to hear it louder, tell them that after the meeting you can let them play it.
1. Do provide a box with extra Bibles and extra pencils.
2. Do have a brightly lit room. Lots of light! It's important for morale and for easier Bible reading.
3. Do be in the room fifteen minutes before anyone arrives. YOU greet them as they come in.
4. Do have a central point in the front of the room. This means a podium, a white board or overhead and a clear space behind you with no distractions.
5. Do have the newsletters on each chair so the teens can pick one up and read it as they enter and sit.
6. Do pick out theme colors for your room ... and your youth group.
TIPS FOR A GREAT TEEN NEWSLETTER:
Of all the youth group newsletters I have seen from churches across the country, the consistently WORST ones (the kind that end up in the trash after three minutes) have these features:
1. The youth pastor has a column where he preaches. That's for your Bible class time, not in a newsletter.
2. A column written by teens that really don't know what they are saying. ("Hey, everybody, whazzup? Not much happenin'...")
3. A column that states the ridiculously obvious. ("As I look out my window and see the leaves change, I realize that fall is here...")
4. Inside jokes that don't benefit the rest of the group. ("George will remember the red pillow." "Katie and the stream - the girls on the hike know what we're talking about..")
The consistently BEST newsletters had these features:
1. The activities listed for the next two months: when, where, the transporation, the cost, who to contact.
2. A spotlight on a teen in the group.
3. Short column about what happened at the LAST activity, naming lots of teen members.
4. Making sure a majority of the teens got mentioned somewhere within the newsletter.
5. A game that, when finished, could win the reader a prize.
PLEASE REMEMBER...A NEWSLETTER SHOULD INFORM...PARENTS WILL PICK IT UP TO READ ABOUT THE ACTIVITIES AND WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON. DON'T MAKE IT A GOOFBALL PRODUCTION; YOU'LL ONLY BE WASTING YOUR TIME. ARE THERE ARTISTS IN THE CHURCH WHO COULD ADD GOOD GRAPHICS? GET SOME HELP TO MAKE THIS A GREAT TESTIMONTY TO A FINE YOUTH GROUP.
HERE ARE SOME IDEAS TO REALLY BUILD A BRIDGE OF FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN YOU AND INDIVIDUAL TEENS
1. In every meeting, give the teen a handshake or a pat on the back. Proper and friendly touch is a real boost.
2. During prayer time, pull one teen to the side and have private prayer.
3. Hand out a Coke as a goofy prize and make sure a different teen wins it each week.
4. Make sure you are the FIRST one in the teen room, ready to catch the first teens that come in..you'll have a good few minutes of chat.
5. When you do talk, ask them about THEM...their day's events, their hobbies, etc.
6. Every day, send out one postcard to one of your teens. Write a personal note just saying hello.
7. Give a different teen a short call each day. Your investment of two minutes will go a long way.
1. Purchase a referee shirt for your adult leaders.
2. Get a stopwach and have a time limit for each game. it adds to the excitement.
3. NEVER allow booing or negative talk.
HERE'S AN IDEA TO MAKE PRAYER NATURAL IN YOUR GROUP!
Many times teens - especially the guys - find open prayer difficult. One way to overcome this obstacle is to make prayer a regular habit in your teen group...without it becoming trite. Here's a way to do it:
Create a large glass jar with slips of paper and a pencil next to it. Allow teens - at anytime - to write and drop a prayer request into the glass jar. At the beginning of each Wednesday night prayer meeting, bring four teens to the front to draw out a slip and have prayer for it. This is to be a serious time, and please treat it as such. The teens should read the slip aloud and also pray for the request. Besides getting numerous prayer requests brought to the concerns of the youth group, the teens learn the blessed habit of prayer. REMEMBER: Don't use the same kids every week. Rotate the group.
At your next teen meeting:
Give each of your youth sponsors two minutes time to come to the front of the room and share their favorite Bible verse and what it means to them. Getting a short, sweet message from a collection of hearts give a solid impact on what God's Word means to different people.
HERE'S A HOT TIP!!!
END TIMES NEWSPAPER
ASSIGN ONE OF THE ARTISTS IN YOUR TEEN GROUP TO MAKE UP A MOCK NEWSPAPER HEADLINE AND STORY PAGE ABOUT THE FIRST EDITION THAT WOULD COME OUT AFTER THE RAPTURE OCCURS. GIVE THEM SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT ON THIS. WHAT WOULD THE HEADLINE SAY? WHAT WOULD LOCAL PEOPLE SAY TO EXPLAIN AWAY THE INCIDENT? HOW WOULD FUNERAL HOMES HANDLE THE ENSUING TRAGEDIES?
Have this done before the mid-week meeting. Post them up around the room. It will be an unusual thought-provoking start to the meeting.
ANOTHER HOT TIP:
One of your senior high teens should be chosen to open up your meetings in prayer. Every meeting you have - whether a Wednesday night Bible study or a Sunday evening afterglow - should be opened up with a student-led prayer. Teach your teens to pray, and give them the regular opportunity to do so!
It's important to be firm and stand by the rules you've made.
My rule has always been that if you do not attend Sunday night church, you cannot attend the teen gathering that follows it - in other words, you can't skip out on church and come join the party!
I had organized an after-church feed at a fast-food restaurant for the kids when one of my "problem children" - you know, a Christian kid with a rebellious attitude - walked in through the doors, smelling of chlorine and even carrying her beach towel. She had been swimming during church and now wanted to come in and join the festivities. I told her to leave. She knew the rules, I said, and she forfeited the right to come to the gathering.
The girl blustered and stammered and tried to talk her way into staying but I held firm, knowing that other teens were watching. She left, and I later found out that my stand went a long way in earning the respect of the teens who were present. They knew that I held to the rules to be fair to everyone. In fact, the girl I had to "throw out" had a better attitude after that!
GET MALE LEADERSHIP AMONG YOUR TEENS!
Many times we see youth group with no young men wanting to show any leadership skills whatsover - what a tragedy! perhaps they've never had a chance to get involved. Let them learn about the workings of the church with this little exercise:
Recruit some of your teen boys to be assistant ushers for a day! Ask your senior pastor for permission for your teen boys to take offering and show seats to visitors on a given Sunday. Have the boys be "mentored" by the regular ushers, including showing them the way offering is counted and the pew pockets are filled. The congregation will appreciate the younger generation learning the workings of the worship service.