This game involves lots of running, some hide and seeking, and a lot of fun. Listed here are our rules that have developed over the past 10 years. Modify to create your own fun in your context.
Goal: To find the “lost sheep” before the wolves catch all the sheep and shepherds.
Pick an object to be the lost sheep. We have used ping pong paddles, pot holders, kitchen towels, whatever you want. Pick one student to be the wolf (if you have an exceptionally large group or large space, you can have 2 wolves). The wolf will go somewhere in the building and hide the lost sheep.
Determine what your boundaries are for playing the game (are any rooms that are off limits, can they go outside etc).
Our general rules for hiding the sheep
The sheep has to be visibile
Nobody should need to climb to get the sheep
no hiding in bathrooms
How to play: Once the wolf is gone, pick two students to be the shepherds. When you say go, all of the sheep and shepherds are going to run (in your defined area) to find the lost sheep and bring it back to your designated starting point. If a wolf catches someone, they have to stand against the wall until a shepherd can come and save them (tagging them back in). If both of the shepherds get caught, the group is in trouble! If the lost sheep is found, the sheep and shepherds win! If your time runs out and the sheep is not found, the wolf wins!
This is a really simple game that can get complicated quickly, kids will run full speed, doors will fly open, someone will get knocked down. So think about the rules that you need to make the game safe, and have fun seeking that lost sheep!
I need to write or I’m going to explode. I stepped away from writing for a while because I had a deadline, or I had CPE and I was driving back and forth to Birmingham and Jasper. Then it was quarantine and managing my depression. Any way you look at it I stepped away from a spiritual practice that I need, that my soul needs, and that the Holy Spirit is no longer allowing me to push aside.
I have a lot of things to say, many of which you don’t need to hear from me, so those things will wait. One thing I can speak to, no matter the social goings-on in the world, is Youth Ministry. I love youth and children, and I love working with them in the church. Its gives me life. I even love seeing their faces on Zoom, even when I have to mute them just to get a sentence out (also, my science-y people, let’s get to work on an IRL mute button for groups of children, teachers will thank you).
The Sticky Faith movement through Fuller youth institute uses Chap Clark’s recommendation to flip the youth to adult ratio in ministry. They assert that every youth needs 5 adults active in their lives to have a greater chance of staying with the church as an adult. You can read more about this here.
I’ve been nostalgic as of late for my home church, Good Shepherd Lutheran in Frederick Maryland. They are active on Facebook and I get to watch the really cool things they are doing, and keeping up with people from church that I grew up with has just caused me to think a lot about my 5 people. I had so many more than 5, for sure. People who did things before I ever got there laying the ground work for the community that would raise me in the faith.
People like Nancy Zeim, who changed names from mankind to human kind, and gender neutral language referring to God creating a space where we could recognize that perhaps male-centric language can be harmful, in the mid- 1980s, quietly blazing a trail for my feminist theologian self years later.
People like Rev. LaVern Rasmussen, who preached uncomfortable sermons about social justice while I was a tiny kiddo on the front pew. Who hugged me after service even though the man was not a hugger (who could refuse such a cute kiddo!)
People like Danny Tregoning who was the face (and voice, in the church bulletin) of church softball, the lifeblood of our fellowship every softball season. I watched little kids at those games, strengthened friendships, and felt loved by church family outside the walls of the building.
Or People like Ron Castle, who would see me, sometimes 3 times a week, at the Frederick Coffee Company while I was studying for college, and would say “Is that you?” When his health was failing years later, and I came home for a visit, he saw me at church and smiled and said “Is that you?” I treasure that.
I list those people because they aren’t even my 5, which goes to show how important adults are in the lives of young people.
My 5 (ish)
Jill and Mike Schaeffer
When I was baptized, my sponsors had to be members of the church, and I’m so glad they were. Jill and Mike were awesome God parents. I assumed that if my parents died I would go live with Jill and Mike (didn’t find out that was way off till I was a teenager!) I went to daycare with Jill, I went on vacation with them, and I learned a lot about being part of the life of the church from them. I learned that if you want council meetings to move along, you create a dynamic duo of motions and seconds with your God mother. I learned that music and worship were two sides of the same coin, singing in the choir with them, learning liturgical dance with their daughter, and listening to Mike sing solos and play guitar. They made sure I knew I was loved and that church was home.
Pat and Gene Schoonover
Sometimes Pat scared me. I was worried if I forgot and wore tennis shoes as an acolyte she might say something about it, same goes for me messing up the order of something on altar guild. And maybe she did, but I don’t remember that. I know she liked things in good order, like any good Lutheran. I also know that she fought to resettle southeast Asian refugees, because God’s work isn’t just in the Sanctuary. She and Gene supported my efforts to host Compassion Sunday yearly as a teenager, encouraging families to sponsor children across the globe. And when I was a senior in high school and locked my keys in the car, I called the church, so I could get Gene’s number. While he couldn’t help me out for free, there was mysteriously a graduation card with the same amount of money as my locksmith fee waiting for me a few weeks later.
Phyllis was my Sunday School teacher for… forever. I know we had some different ones when I was little, and then there was this long time span where I’m fairly certain no one else would teach us. There were 13 in my confirmation class, that was a lot for our small-ish church. Afterwards the number dropped, as it does many places, but Phyllis never gave up on our Sunday school class, even when it might just be me and her daughters. She was also my altar guild partner, who taught me why we do what we do, and that you can drink the wine after communion, but its 9 am, so maybe pouring it down the special drain that ran outside was a better call.
Marilyn used to run the Christian education stuff that other people might prefer she forgot. Like VBS, or Summer Sunday School, and the Christmas Pageant. She had some awesome red hair and if you saw her coming, you looked for a quick exit before she could ask you to do something. But she was patient, and she’d find you eventually, which is how I ended up teaching 3 and 4 year old VBS, or singing a song in the children’s Christmas Pageant at 16 (don’t get me wrong, I stole the show, but I was the oldest by like… a lot). Sometimes I channel my inner Marilyn now as a Children’s and Youth minister when I’m recruiting volunteers. I haven’t made the jump to awesome red hair yet, my purple bangs will have to suffice.
Rev. Ron Reaves
I would be missing out on possibly the biggest influence on my life at Good Shepherd if Pastor Ron wasn’t in my 5. Pastor Ron was called to Good Shepherd when I was 11. I loved Church as a kid, and as a teenager. I loved being an acolyte, assisting minister, lector, all of it. I even liked being on council. I loved confirmation. My time with Pastor Ron in confirmation was some of my favorite time spent at GS. But it didn’t stop there. Trips to Germany, Lancaster PA Sight and Sound theater, church picnics and puppet shows with Fozzie Pastor Bear and Kermit the Lutheran Frog, halloween parties and his red plaid pants you could count on him wearing for Pentecost, all of that was part of the life of the church with Pastor Ron. I didn’t know other churches had a staff, because in my little church Pastor Ron and Pastor Gary were it for what we would call a programming staff.
He was my children’s, tween, and youth, and young adult minister. He encouraged my call to ministry, taking me to his old stomping grounds of Gettysburg college and seminary (now United Lutheran Seminary). He let me see that grown ups sometimes changed their minds on things they believed all their lives, and was there for me in times of “crisis” like when I was in a hit and run at community college and I didn’t know what to do so I drove to church to have Pastor Ron tell me what to do.
Not all Pastors can be in someone’s 5 adults. Most have too many kids in their congregation to reasonably do that. I’m glad my pastor was in my 5.
I know there are people in my congregation I didn’t list, and I could tell stories for days, and that’s what I encourage you to do. Tell stories. Who were your 5 people? What were they like? What did you do? What did they teach you?
And who’s 5 are you a part of? Make memories, take a chance, be 1 of 5, or 500, there are never too many loving grownups in the life of a kid!
Starting over is hard. Moving to a new city, finding a new job, starting kids at a new school, learning to find a new favorite grocery store… its a lot of new, and a lot of tough stuff. This past year has been a year of starting over for us. We finally moved from outside Memphis TN to Decatur Alabama, where my husband had been living nine months prior to our move. We’ve spent the last year with lots of new in front of us, and its been quite the journey.
A few weeks ago our youth small groups did a lesson on the Holy Spirit from Francis Chan’s Basic series (great series by the way, you should check it out). The video went well, the intro to small groups was great, and then I talked to my leader’s afterwards and they said that it was crickets. Nobody seemed to have much to say about the Holy Spirit.
If you have the ability to play volley ball in your space, then I hope you play it frequently. Its a great game and is awesome for team building. However, unless you have some seriously competitive volleyball players in your group, then they may struggle to just get it over the net, in which case, maybe crazy volleyball is for you! Continue reading “Crazy Volleyball: Youth Group game with lesson ideas”→
Mission trips, church camp, national conferences, and retreats. Water gun fights, trips to Sonic, Monday afternoon Mexican food, and laser tag outings. All of these add up to summertime in youth ministry, for some the favorite time of the year, and for others the most exhausting. So far this summer I have done the following.
When you work with youth, you receive the privilege of experiencing a full range of emotions. You get the giggles and hushed whispers for hopes of a new relationship, and the utter heartbreak when the relationship dies off. You rejoice over touchdowns scored, awards won, and valedictorian honors received. You counsel and mend broken friendships, crises of faith, and doubts about calling and vocation. All of these life events are part of the day to day of youth ministry, and it makes us feel pretty wanted and a vital adult in the life of an adolescent.
So my driving foot is in a boot right now, for reasons that don’t pertain to this post but the short version is I didn’t listen to my fiance when he said “you should really have that checked out” and now three months later here I am. I say that so you’ll know that my driving is limited because its a pain to take the boot off. So yesterday my lovely partner in ministry Lauren from the church down the road came and rescued me for a quick trip down to Starbucks.
For reference purposes, we live in the boonies, so the closest Starbucks is 25 minutes away, and we spend a lot of our meeting times to discuss ministry and tend souls in the car to and from our chosen provider of all things caffeinated. So yesterday we made our trip down and back like any other day, and it was glorious.
So this morning I’m sitting in my chair with my giant boot, my own coffee, and beginning my Monday morning emails and I get a phone call from Lauren. She informs me that she was heading down to Starbucks (not even going to focus on the without me part) to finish her seminary work and the Starbucks was…
So she calls me, in an obvious panic, to tell me of this development. Apparently there were construction vans and the inside appears to be in the process of renovation. So this lead to an insane round of questioning on both sides of the phone call. “Why didn’t they tell us yesterday?” “Is it closed closed, like forever?” “Is it just renovation, and why it was fine inside?” “Seriously what are we going to do?” “The next closest Starbucks is like an hour away from town.”
At the end of our freakishly long conversation about the possible loss of our favorite latte location she decided to drive to the next closest Starbucks to finish her work and I went back to my work and at home coffee, life as usual.
But then I started thinking about the whole situation. In our churches, do we feel this way when someone doesn’t come to church? Or when a youth stops coming to youth group? Do we worry about what has happened or what we will do without them, or do we simply move on and figure they are probably fine? After all is it really our problem if they don’t come, its a free country, they don’t have to come if they don’t want to… right?
Or what about that kid that drives us nuts? The one who won’t stop interrupting, or getting in fights, or being generally defiant and argumentative, do we we silently rejoice when they don’t come on a Sunday night? Do we worry when we can’t find out why, or do we decide the break was great and surely he/she’ll be back next week?
People are messy. They don’t always make us feel warm and wonderfully perky like our morning (afternoon, evening) coffee. We can’t send them back when they aren’t made to our liking. But the wonderful thing is, we are all made to God’s liking, even when we are too bitter, sickeningly sweet, or even after we’ve gone bad. We aren’t perfect, but we keep working on it, and that kid, the one you just cringe at the thought of, he’s working on it it too. So maybe we start to care about each other as much as our macchiatos, and we can worry more about the ride, and less about the Starbucks at the end of the drive.
I have been working in youth ministry for about 5 years now (where that time has gone I’ll never know) and this year was my fourth 30 Hour Famine. If you are unfamiliar with World Vision or the 30 Hour Famine process I highly suggest you visit their website.
For my first two 30HF’s I did a traditional lock in style event with a service project. We would stop eating around 1pm Friday and then break the fast with communion and then a meal together. For the past two years I’ve been blessed to live in the Memphis Conference of the United Methodist Church where we have an amazing camp called Lakeshore where we hold a famine retreat every year. This experience is an unforgettable one every year, and every year we inevitably get the same question “Why would you not eat for 30 hours?”
I’ve given lots of answers, some really in depth and some really superficial. I have decided to give it some real thought and offer some of the top reasons why we continue to do the 30 Hour Famine year after year.
1. Fundraising for a Cause I Believe In
Part of the effort behind 30 Hour Famine is fundraising for the work World Vision does. One in eight people in the world are hungry and World Vision works to combat hunger and poverty related issues around the world. $35 feeds and cares for a child for a month, we are able to make a tremendous impact in a child’s life through fundraising for World Vision. Over the past 5 years and 4 famines my small groups of students (anywhere from 4 to 20 per year) have raised around $7,000 to combat world hunger. Its just a piece of the greater puzzle, but its our piece, and I’m proud of my students for making it a priority.
2. Fasting is Becoming Uncommon
Fasting, as a spiritual practice, has become less and less common. Fasting at its root is about self denial for the purpose of bringing us closer to God. Much of our life is all consuming, even the food and drink of which we partake. I for one am a wee bit obsessed with coffee and Diet Coke. And by a wee bit, I mean of course a lot. My friends are constantly posting pictures on my Facebook wall like this one.
And while this is all in good fun, its kind of true too. I can be a really hard person to deal with if I don’t have my coffee. So some self denial of what I consider to be a “necessity” for my life, is always a good thing. It reminds me of what I take for granted, not just caffeine, but food as well. When we participate in the famine we have to face the fact that we take our readily available abundance of food for granted, and that our neighbors, not just people in some far away country, experience real hunger every day. This may be the only form of self denial my students experience, but for once a year they get to practice fasting, and its well worth it.
#3 Developing Empathy
Lets be real, not all of our students are incredibly empathetic, and I’m not here to say that every child will end up with this overwhelming understanding of what it means to go hungry by participating in the famine, but it does open the eyes (or stomachs ) of some. Here are some quotes from students over the past five years.
“I never really thought about the fact that if you were on free lunch, and your family was struggling, you might go from Friday afternoon until Monday morning without eating. I can’t imagine doing that every week, I’m having trouble doing it for 30 Hours” – Girl, 8th Grade
“I have a headache, I’m sleepy and I don’t want to do anything. I wouldn’t be able to even get up and go to school like this, I sure wouldn’t learn anything” Boy 9th Grade
“Did you know Ethiopians live on like a $1.50 a day? Who can live on that? How is anyone supposed to live like that” Girl 11th grade.
Now, will every student go on a crusade to change the world after experiencing the famine? Probably not, but in the middle of being forced to realize what other people go through, maybe an activist will be born.
#4 Youth Group is more than silly games and pizza
One of the main reasons I love the 30 hour famine experience is it takes students out of the fellowship mode youth group can turn into. There is a time for fellowship, and as I’ve said before games teach great lessons, and pizza is an easy food to fill the masses, but at times it can seem like we get in a rut of pizza games and fellowship. But the famine forces us out of our normal routine, both physically and spiritually. We have to gather together without the focal point of food, forcing us to focus on each other. We also are forced to take a look at the justice issue around hunger, which can be an uncomfortable task for middle to upper class churches. But Jesus did not call us to be comfortable, and at least once a year the famine gives us the chance to step way out of our comfort zones and participate in the living work of the gospel.
I hope if you’ve never done the 30 Hour Famine that you will seriously consider participating, either this year or in the future. This can be a life changing event for you and your students, or at least an eye opener to the world of hunger. I pray you have an experience like this with your students, and that you allow yourself to be changed.
Peace be with you.