Happy New Year! (aka. One Sleepless Night…)

15 12 2011

Ever since my very first youth ministry job back in college, I have wanted to host a sleepover on the night before Advent, and theme it as a New Year’s Eve Party (you know, to celebrate the beginning of the Christian New Year!)

This year, that dream finally became a reality!  We invited three other youth groups to join us, and the result was certainly a night to remember!

Here was our schedule:

7 p.m. – Meet at the church
7:30 p.m. – Roller Skating
9:00 p.m. – Photo Scavenger Hunt
(let me be honest…we didn’t plan this one ahead of time…but the youth were getting bored, and we had to come up with something fast! It ended up being the kids’ favorite part of the whole night!)
10:45 p.m. – Worship at our church (to ring in the New Year!)
12:30 a.m.– Bowling

Sending our prayers up to God (photo by Eric McFarland)

3:00 a.m. – Games at another church
5:00 a.m. – Movie at another church (we chose Elf)
7:00 a.m. – Breakfast and closing worship at another church (we had a cool prayer service, where the youth wrote their prayers on paper lanterns and we lit them on fire as they rose up in the sky!)
8:30 a.m. – Early church to worship with the whole congregation!
(although, fair warning…don’t sit in the front row, because your kids will be nodding off the whole service!)

The late-night worship service was my favorite…we turned out the lights in the Fellowship Hall, and gave all of the youth glow necklaces.  We focused on living a “different” life (i.e. a different calendar, a different rhythm of being).  Right as midnight struck, we served communion.  In addition to receiving bread and juice, they also received a noisemaker with which to ring in the New Year!  It was a really neat mix of solemn worship and joyful celebration…a balance we should probably try to strike a little more often.

Here’s a video from the communion portion of the service (notice the noisemakers in the background, getting louder and louder as the song goes on!)

I’m pretty partial to the worship leader in this video, as he happens to be my husband! 🙂

Holy Mischief

13 02 2011

Just a recap:

January 2nd was the first Sunday of 2011.  It was our first youth group program of the new year, but the students were not back in school yet, so I wanted to do something fun and out-of-the-box.  We ended up with a night of “Holy Mischief.”

First, we divided into three groups.  Each group received $20, a church membership directory, a Bible, and a page of instructions that said:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Bless at least 3 people tonight!  ONE must be a youth group member who is not here tonight.  ONE must be a non-youth member of our congregation.  ONE must be a complete stranger.  Anyone else is up to you!

Here are the rules:

1. Your group must stay together at all times.

2. No matter where you are in the process, you must return to the church NO LATER THAN 6:42 p.m.

3. You may not spend any of the money on yourselves.  Any change that you have left over at 6:42 must be returned.

4. You may be as creative as you wish!

5. Do not be rude or mean to anybody!  “Holy mischief” is not the same thing as pulling pranks.  Make sure your only goal is to let people know that God loves them!

6. Come back with a great story!

Our youth really had a good time with the challenge, and they came up with some wonderful, creative ideas!    Over the course of the evening, we delivered ice cream sandwiches to on-duty firemen, visited our senior pastor, pumped gas for strangers, bought toys for kids, passed out hugs to a youth group family, prayed with a church family whose cousin had died the week before, and delivered a fish to one of our seventh-grade girls.

It was a great start to the year, setting the tone for what is to come…