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Other Resources: Outreach
Below is a variety of suggested outreach activities.
Super Bowl Party
This event is designed to bring in new students. Friendship evangelism is the key outreach tool for this event, as well as advertising via posters and “game tickets.”
Each of our students and student leaders is given a certain number of tickets (3–5) to pray over and then target friends to bring to this outreach event. The ticket is needed to get in (obviously if a student does not have one, we’ll let him or her in). The ticket is also needed to win prizes (provide good prizes—DVD player, DVDs, CD’s, cool lights for their rooms, and so forth). The catch: Students can’t win anything if they don’t bring friends, and with each friend they bring, they can submit their name to win (3 friends means 3 chances to win). Everyone who comes will also win something (such as gift cards from local restaurants). Provide food such as hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn, nachos, pop, and candy. Set up a large video screens to watch the game. During halftime, hold a time of worship, share a short message, and have prayer. Everyone has to stay until after halftime; then they can either go home or stay till the end of the game. Space out the timing of when you give out the prizes. Don’t give out your biggest prizes until after halftime.
Have your student leadership team do the work of planning the food and games and leading the halftime worship, message, and prayer.
3 x 3 Basketball Tournament
My youth group was reaching very few of the students who lived in the neighborhood around the church. We put up basketball goals in the parking lot and encouraged students to play (I developed quite a few relationships on my way out of the building by stopping to shoot some hoops on the way home). We hosted a 3 x 3 tournament with a nominal fee and canvassed the neighborhood with flyers. We gave some sharp prizes and made some connections to our community.
The ideal time for this event is about two weeks after school begins so students can begin to talk it up and get maximum exposure. It requires a pretty large field that you can till up about two to three inches deep and then flood two to three days prior to the event. (Caution: Don’t till to deep or it makes it difficult to run and increases the risk for injury.) Mark the field off well and set up a couple of volleyball nets in the mud for those not wanting to play football. Use your youth ministry volunteers to referee, oversee the volleyball, serve refreshments, and pass out flyers to parents and grandparents as they pick up their teens. Start by running some relay races, then have a junior high boys flag football game, junior high girls, senior high guys, senior high girls, and so on. Do a tailgate party to start the event, with a local band, an invitation to your weekly program, and sharing the gospel very simply. (Do this on the front end, as it will be impossible after you turn everyone loose!) Invite the fire department to come out and open up the hose over the field; this is also great to help everyone wash off after the event. Invite the media for maximum exposure and free advertising. Make sure you have plenty of garbage bags to offer parents to mud-proof their vehicles when they pick up their students. This event will build momentum from year to year, so learn from each year how to do it better the next time.
The Great Pumpkin Hunt
For the past five years I have done this citywide scavenger hunt known as The Great Pumpkin Hunt. It works like this:
4:15–4:45 Registration/food/live music
4:45–5:00 Groups meet with their drivers and are given their packets and first clue.
5:00–8:00 The Hunt is on.
8:00–8:15 If no groups have reached the final destination, they may call a phone number that will tell them the destination of the pumpkin. Upon arrival they must then wait an additional five minutes for each clue they did not solve before searching for the pumpkin.
8:15–8:30 Pumpkin is found; head back to church.
8:30–9:00 More food, music, awards, stories, and a short challenge.
- There are 12 different sites in the community where there is an adult waiting with a clue box.
- The last clue directs teams to the site of the great pumpkin.
- Students are in groups of 4 or 5 with an adult driver.
- They are given their first clue and clue card at the church.
- Cell phones are prohibited until 8 pm.
- The pumpkin is also hidden at the final site; this makes for several groups tripping over each other as they search.
- If adults observe any of the rules being broken they can penalize a group by holding their clue for an additional five minutes for each infraction.
This is a great bridge event. Certain school groups will promote this for you in the school if you have the right partnership.
New Year’s All Nighter
This event shows unchurched students that Christians are fun and it provides a great opportunity to invest a significant portion of time ministering to new students.
We start the evening off by meeting at the church and chartering buses (important to hire drivers if you can so they carry the responsibility and liability). If you don’t have enough people to charter buses, join in with another group or two and do the event together.
Begin by meeting at the church and then going to your first activity (something such as bowling, laser tag, indoor rock climbing, ice skating, ice broom hockey, mini golf, go carts, or an arcade). Afterwards, come back to the church for food, group games, and to ring in the New Year.
Next, head to another option. Go to a place in the community that students know about and love. Do this for a few hours, then travel to a third place and spend a couple more hours there before returning to the church for breakfast and cartoons and the completion of the event.
You will need to arrange the three venue options well in advance (many places are willing to stay open late or to open specially to accommodate a group). You will also need to make reservations for transportation. It’s also a good idea to have parents or caring adults lined up to handle the late night food and the breakfast.
The beauty of this event is that once it begins, you can have as much fun as the students; all the event details are prearranged and the entertainment is provided by the venues.
In conjunction with our local Young Life ministry, our youth group participated in a Kidnap Club. We secured plenty of adult drivers and met with student leaders in a local park at a designated time. Each driver took two students and was given an hour to drive around town and “kidnap” the students’ unchurched friends. When we all met back at the park, there was a program prepared which included food, games, skits, testimonies, and a presentation of the gospel. The friends were then safely escorted back to their homes. We found that students who normally wouldn’t darken a church door were willing and even eager to be “kidnapped” to come and hear about Jesus Christ!
Be sure to only kidnap those who are willing!
Students are in groups of 4 to 6 in cars and vans and must supply their own drivers (over 21) and food for the day (they usually bring it because it takes too much time to stop). Students arrive in the morning and are gone all day completing tasks such as detour, roadblock, or travel info.
In a detour, two members of the team perform a task; they must choose between two tasks, and just like the show, each task has its own sets of pros and cons. They might choose between eating a whole can of sardines or completing an obstacle course, or between finding a clue buried in a hay pile or shoveling a load of cow manure. Be creative!
In a roadblock, the entire team must perform the task that is outlined for them. Such tasks might include going to a lake and completing a swimming challenge, or going to a mall and finding a rare object in one of the stores. You can be as creative as you want to be.
In travel info, teams get a clue that simply gives them instructions on where they are going next.
This event has grown in popularity over the years and continues to be a feeder for our student ministry program. You may want to watch the television show to get an idea of how this game works.
We target three months each year as “outreach months,” where our major focus is to reach those who are not connected to Christ and not connected to another local church.
Our student ministry team comes up with a creative theme for the month, often based on something students can identify with (take off on a movie title, an old board game, a current phrase that teens use, and so forth). From that theme, professionally-created postcards are made up that describe the weekly topics based on the theme, meeting times, directions, and contact information.
We tell our students that a little contest will take place in those months, where the student who brings the most friends each week will receive, along with the friends, nice gifts such as CDs or gift cards.
Never launch an outreach activity until your group is prepared to support the spiritual growth and development of new students.
Got an idea for an outreach activity that you would like to share? Drop us an e-mail.