I am sure you have been there…Wednesday or Sunday night rolls around and it feels like you keep doing the same thing over and over again. What’s probably a worse thought is that by the time your mind has reached this conclusion, your students have probably had that feeling for a while. In my first year of ministry I thought that it was up to the students to bring more energy, or invite more people…but what I didn’t realize is that when things become stagnant, energy is lost, and people can become uninterested. So how do we combat this rut that is always lurking around the corner? The simple answer is change things up!! In the youth ministry I work with, we focus on 3 key areas: Worship, Biblical Teaching, and Small Groups. To stay out of the routine rut, each week we make a small change to one of these three key areas to keep things fresh and new…here are some examples!
Worship- In regards to worship, there are many things you can do to keep it fresh. You can change up the amount of songs or change up the order of songs, from slow to fast or vice versa. Playing songs with just an acoustic guitar, or taking a traditional hymn and making it more contemporary can be fun as well. One of our favorite things to do is to do Scripture reading in between songs. Another powerful thing to do in between songs is to ask students to break up into groups and have them to pray for various things. We are also blessed with a few creative students, so we have had students write spoken word poetry and recite it during our worship time.
Biblical Teaching- With teaching and preaching, keeping the attention of an 11-18 year old can be tough, especially when dealing with some complex passages of Scripture. We try and do a few things each night with teaching to keep it engaging. One of those things is simply using illustrations. Have something that is relatable to the students when it comes to explaining a portion of Scripture. Another thing we like to do is use humor. I believe one of the best ways to get teens to loosen up and start engaging in the sermon is with laughter. One of our favorite things to do if the sermon allows is to physically act out the passage of Scripture. Now this acting out is mostly humorous, but it does give a small glimpse of what was going on in the passage. Another thing that has worked for us has been rotating teachers. Our student ministry is blessed with several volunteers who rock at teaching. Rotating through teachers always keeps a different perspective in front of our teens, and some may relate better with one teacher than another. The last thing we do is have at least one student teach a lesson each 9 weeks. The students really seem receptive to hearing from their peers, and its always fun to see students grow through their preparation to teach
Small Groups- Our small groups run throughout the year. With them not taking a break, the tendency is for them to fall into a rut, and become stale. One thing we have tried to do to combat this is, every month have a fun activity for our small groups to do together. These have ranged from making s’mores around a bonfire to having a paper airplane toss contest. Another thing we have done to keep things different is having some sort of physical illustration that relates to the night’s lesson. This can be doing trust falls when the lesson focuses on trust, or lighting a candle in a dark room when talking about being light to the world. The last thing we have done to keep small groups engaging is simply adding food into the mix every now and then. Buying veggie trays, or crackers and cheese, or candy can seriously change the student’s overall perspective on the small group.
Those were some things we do to keep things new, engaging, and fresh… what do you do?
Alex Wierda is the Youth Pastor at Central Christian Church.