It's not always easy to capture the interest of teens when it comes to church involvement and spiritual growth. While at a critical stage in developing their beliefs and spirituality, teens often have little interest in typical Sunday school lessons and activities of their childhood. However, you can still whet their appetites for a deeper understanding of the Word. Draw them into discussion with group activities while teaching them a foundation of truth on which they can build for decades. Ice-breaker games can also further strengthen their friendships and teamwork skills.
Involve the teens in a discussion of Bible topics and their real-life applications. Bring the Scriptures into the present with honest conversations about how it applies in daily situations. As an alternative to a traditional meeting, ask a few of the older teens to come prepared to share something with the group for 5 to 10 minutes. They could each read a favorite Bible passage and explain why it is meaningful to them and how it applies to their lives. The peer-led discussion will encourage new leadership skills among the older teens as they prepare for adulthood.
Quiz the teens on their knowledge of Bible trivia with a game of Twenty Questions. You can lead the group for the first round or until the teens understand the point of the game. In this version of the classic game, the leader thinks of a Biblical character, and the crowd can only ask "yes" and "no" questions to try to guess who that character is. For another trivia game, create a Scripture spider web. Have the teens form a circle -- and hand a full ball of twine to one of them. The teen who has the twine ball recites a Scripture from memory as he throws the ball across the circle for someone else to catch. The teen who catches the ball must do the same, reciting a different Scripture, until the ball of twine becomes a spider web.
Take the teens camping to create memories, strengthen friendships and learn good sportsmanship. Have the teens play a team game like volleyball, where they must work together. To further encourage teamwork and creativity, organize a Bible scavenger hunt. Divide the group into two teams and give each a list of Bible verses with a missing word in each verse. The team will have to look up the verse if they don't know it to learn what the missing word is -- as this is the object they must locate. For example, you might list Matthew 26:23, which states, "Jesus replied, 'The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me." Leave out the word, "bowl," which is the object the team has to find. Tell them that they can use their cellphones to take pictures of the objects instead of collecting them all. The first team that finds all the objects on their list wins. As the group later sings traditional songs around a campfire and roasts marshmallows, they’ll be forming bonds.
Give the teens a cause for which they can work, taking their minds outside their own concerns. Begin by researching a charity and plotting out a plan of attack for the teen involvement. Whether your youth group fundraiser involves individual efforts like selling candy bars, a massive event like an ice cream social or a combination of the two like a fundraiser marathon, the teens will learn the value of making a difference. Use the opportunity to teach them about the compassion, patience and perseverance that are necessary to accomplish a goal of generosity.
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