Monday, June 30, 2008

Youth Ministry Social Events

Summer is half over. As a children’s ministry leader, you are well into summer programming and starting to think about what you’ll do with your students in the fall. Let’s think about one more activity that you can plan for your group before they trek back to school. This activity is outside the classroom.

What can you do this summer that’s something fun for you and your kids? Swimming party? Backyard BBQ with volleyball or badminton? A night at a movie that has a redemptive message?

“Whoa, wait a minute, “ you may be thinking. “What does this have to do with God? I’m already so busy. So are my students. If we’re going to do something outside the classroom, perhaps we’d better plan a service project . At least we need to have a devotion during this fun stuff time.’

Maybe. Maybe not. Casual social events give you as the teacher a chance to intermingle with your kids. As you power hit that volleyball, let the kids think they are dunking you in the pool or let a high school football player go in front of you when there’s only three hamburgers left, you have the chance to do some one-to-one discipling that you don’t have the time to do in the classroom. This is the chance for your students to see you model your Christianity, not just teach it. Besides, social events give your kids a chance to invite those kids who won’t darken the door of the church otherwise. What a great way to show them that while some of you may be weird, you aren’t totally unapproachable.

When I served on the kitchen staff at the bible institute in Austria, it was the custom for the professors to work with a rotation of bible students to dry the dishes each evening. These students from eastern European countries were shocked that their respected teachers would lower themselves to stand beside the students and dry dishes. Yet it give the professors a chance to have one-on-one conversations, to show the students they were normal people and to model Jesus’ commission to serve each other. Plus, they had a lot of fun! I have pictures to prove the nightly dishtowel pitch games into the washing machine from ten feet away. Or was that four meters?

So what am I doing? Three students in my high school Sunday School class are leaving for college in August. We’ll have a backyard BBQ at my house and I’ll demonstrate to my students what great potato salad I can make and just how bad I am at badminton. And we’ll have a great time.

What are you doing? Share with me your ideas. I’ll make a list and post it in a later blog. Let’s be creative about things we can do with our students outside the classroom.

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