- Religion and Philosophy
Having Fun With The Church Youth: God Can Be Exciting!
It really Matters!
Make Jesus Fun
Jesus is a fun guy!
I for one am honored to spend my Thursdays at my church involved with a special group of kids called the Pioneer Club. Imagine boy and girl scouts for Christians. These kids have a great time but underlining all of the fun we have is a simple yet effective message about the importance of Jesus Christ in their lives. The kids walk away knowing they had a great night of fun, crafts and humor but also a stronger understanding of the love of Jesus Christ.
It may sound crazy to mix Jesus' word with exciting games and arts and crafts projects but in the end it works so well that I often shudder thinking how other churches and groups fail to utilize these methods. I will show you several ways to really captivate the younger audience but still get the word in there. Always remember that the word is the primary function of the church youth group.
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- Art and Craft Project Ideas for Kids
By doing simple projects, a kid can understand the subjects more easily. Instead of teaching them by words, we can teach them using simple project ideas as follows.Here is 5 simple art and craft ideas
A stick figure Jesus?
Arts and crafts are always a great way to encourage a child to explore their creative side but if you think them out a little you can really put some emphasis on the Bible in your craft project. Think simple. Maybe you want to get the point across of sharing. This can be as simple as having each child draw a picture to give to another child at the group or as complex as having them work on beaded bracelets, one for themselves and one for a friend.
Finding a craft that helps make the lesson for the night stick out more can sometimes be a very tedious task to undertake but if you really get in there and focus you can come up with some stellar ideas. I once wanted to cover a lesson in how we must give to others before we know what it is like to recieve a gift. I wanted to really get that giving is better than getting mentality across to a rather young but expressive group of very interesting children. I decided that what we would do is design a treasure from various buttons and craft items and then put them in a little wooden box.
Now the children decorated their boxes and had to give the box to someone outside the church without letting the person know the box came from them. It was a wonderful experience to see how many of the kids felt great about giving the gift without getting recognition for the act itself.
You just have to get a craft project that functions well with any lesson you are working on. Be creative and explore avenues that may not seem all to realistic to you but will work with the kids. Maybe you are doing the story of Noah and you happen to have access to small plastic animals. Grab some cardboard boxes and have the kids design an ark using the boxes and the small plastic animals. Have fun with it!
Turn songs into skits.
Skit It Out
I can not express how powerful a good funny skit can be for getting a good Bible story over for a bunch of kids. I am always glad to participate in the skits my group uses to tell kids about the Bible and some of the amazing things that have happened in it's pages. Take a story like Daniel in the lion's den. It is a pretty serious story with an amazing message that can be a pivitol part of reflecting christian faith. The only issue is the serious over tones often make it difficult for kids to fully grasp the key points of the story.
Now skit it out! Use volunteers to not only act out the role of Daniel but have them be the lions as well and they should act starved to death ready for a nice meal. Add humor in there because a child will remember something that makes them laugh so much more than something that just appeals to their serious nature. Trust me they will get older and have plenty of time for serious issues.
Other stories such as Samson and his hair and even the story of the girl at the well can make for some memorable skits if you just use your imagination. All it takes is the willingness to keep from getting embarrassed and really be open to the experience. I swear to you the children at my club walk away with a fun and entertaining experience but that lesson stays fresh ion their minds and they will always be able to return to that funny episode in their heads and recollect the lesson you just taught them through a funny skit.
Discussion Breeds Understanding
While sometimes a bunch of kids speaking out can get a bit intense and sometimes the focus might be difficult to keep it is always a great idea to let kids express their opinion on the lesson you are trying to teach them. I love to get a discussion before hand and then one after. For instance the lesson is why we should respect and honor our parents. The initial discussion may include things like so we don't get grounded or so we get to play X-Box.
I find after a good lesson with a lot of fun activities to make the lesson memorable I get answers like because they love us, or so they know we love them. Allowing each kid to express their feelings on the subject allows all involved to feel as if they are part of the plan and it also makes each child have their own experience and part to play so that they take more away from the night then just some fun activities and a boring old Bible lesson.
I love to just read a story from the Bible and than ask that the children tell me what I just read and what it means to them. It really puts you at their level and really in many cases the faith of a child can be very humbling to us adults. I have always said I learn more from the kids who attend my group than they do me. It is such a blessing to be able to get right down and speak with these children.
Never assume they can't enter a valuable discussion on religious topics. Children tend to be much more open and observant of Christ's ways than you may think. Remember that you need to pick a discussion topic they love or can relate to.
A prime example would be relating Biblical stories to their real life. We recently covered Joseph being sold by his brothers into slavery. To start it off we asked how the kids would feel if their siblings broke their favorite toy, or lied on them to avoid getting into trouble. From there we started to share the story of Joseph and how he forgave his brothers despite the great evil they did to him.
The kids started to see that even when a sibling or a friend, as well as even a stranger wrongs you it is the right thing to forgive that person so you yourself may be forgiven. By allowing them to discuss the issue on terms they understood we were able to not only get a good bible story across but they learned how important forgiveness was in the christian walk.
Sum It Up
I find that at the end of the night right before we load the buses to take the kids home it is beneficial to re-examine the lesson for the night. It is good to make sure that what was meant to be learned stays with each child. Remember while you are there to have fun as christian adults we are responsible for helping these young people grow in their walk and we need to encourage that growth.
Always ask children who you feel may not have gotten the most out of the lesson and the night's events if they learned anything and what they took away from the night. It shows that you really care for them and are not just doing this as a means to look better in the church. Each kid will learn and reflect that learning differently and we need to be able to find ways to help each one get the most out of our work. Summing up at the end let's you see where your lesson went well and where you may have fallen a little short on the topic.