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When I started out in youth ministry I was a little bit of a one man show. I did have volunteers; however, I didn’t utilize them in the way one should. In result I was responsible for small group questions, a message and planning an activity for the group. More times than not the activity was a fun, silly game that I would look up on some youth ministry website. On top of each game I gave out prizes. There were gift cards, candy, and some CD’s. It was exhausting. It was also addictive because it appeared that the teens loved them; however, it wasn’t really bringing them into a deeper relationship with Christ.
- The Relationships – If a teen connects with another teen, or an adult in your ministry the chances of them opening up are higher than if they just sit in a chair. How you conduct and cultivate relationships in your ministry are important. That means creating opportunities like small groups, and having people greet teens at the door. To engage in a relationship with Christ, a teen needs to engage in a relationship with someone who knows him.
- The Message – Whether you are giving a talk or running an activity the message has to be clear. The reason why so many teens feel bored at church is because they aren’t drawn in by what you are saying. Doesn’t matter how much scripture you use, if you don’t practice your delivery they’ll cut you off. While content is so important, the context in which you speak or deliver the Gospel is essential.
- The Invite – Most times the reason a teen won’t come back is because no one invited them back. They might have seen your ministry as a one night event. They might have enjoyed themselves; however, feel like they need to be invited back to belong. Don’t be afraid to invite your teens back each week by following up with an email, contacting them on Facebook or announcing it at the end of your ministry.
There is nothing wrong with having games in your ministry as long as they aren’t the foundation to your engagement. Games can break the ice; however, if you want teens to go deeper it’s all about relationships, your message and inviting them to follow you. When your ministry relies on pure entertainment one day you will lose out and lose out big. To really build an engaging; yet, Christ centered ministry you need to focus on content, context, and relationships. Not only will teens come back, but they will bring their friends as well.
Do you think games play a role in your ministry? Why or why not?