The planning of youth group activities can be very tricky to accomplish. This is so because you want to have the right amount of fun to keep youth interested, the right amount of learning/worship to teach about the faith, etc., and the right amount of service so that they know the importance of helping others. Also I think you have to take into account the chemistry of the group. There might be a year where you have very out–going youth and another when it is like pulling teeth to get anything out of them. It takes a special group of leaders to be able to recognize the personalities and how they will mesh and work best together. Plus, I think you need to involve the youth in this planning as well. I know in the past we would have a round-table with the youth discussing what they wanted to accomplish during the coming year in the three areas mentioned above. I believe it is extremely important that the youth have ownership in the planning. That way they feel invested and are more likely to participate.
One way to do this is to write all their suggestions in the three above-mentioned categories on a blackboard, or divide a large piece of paper into those three sections. Next, have the youth prioritize the order of each category. In the past, we would have one fun activity per month, one service activity per month, with learning/study sessions the other two weeks in the month. The learning/study sessions would always be a serious study, though sometimes they would be conducted in a fun way. Maybe they would watch a Rob Bell video and then discuss, or prepare a mock church service. Sometimes they would play a game such as standing in a box while the rest of the group pulled questions out of another box to ask about such things as the Bible, their beliefs with something very funny such as what color socks they had on thrown in.
An important thing to remember when working with youth is that you have to keep their interest piqued or they won’t show up.
by Lori Watson
Pleasant Hill UMC, Pleasant Hill, MO
Loving God, Loving Neighbor