For a number of years I mentored a group of Christian students who met weekly during lunchtime in a school classroom. I hope what I share here encourages you to believe that you can make a difference.
What the group aimed to achieve each school term
Basically, the goals every term were
- to reconnect with a group and pray
- to learn a few things that might help the members in their own conversations with others about spiritual things
- to discuss a couple of topics that might intrigue other students to come and join a discussion (or relaxed debate) about a spiritually related topic
- and to run a big fun programme that would give youth some entertainment in their lunch hour, while building bridges to an understanding of the Christian hope at the same time.
What came about as a result
In short, we ended up with an average of about 25 students from a range of youth groups coming along each week. We got permission to include a reminder about the group in the classroom announcements (which form teachers read to their classes at the beginning of each morning). Through these we were able to highlight topics being discussed — or fun programmes being run.
When it came to the programmes, we tried to do things that were really fun. Doing one or two of these per term means you need maybe six to eight ideas — but a good programme idea can be repeated many times!
- For example, one of the programme ideas we ran was called ‘Man o Man’. This was a take-off of a 1990s TV game show.
- Another was ‘Who dares wins’ – with crazy things that youth were dared to do (though nothing illegal of course).
These kinds of programmes could be run time and again, because the entertainment wasn’t just in the idea of each game within the programme. It was watching the people playing the game (just like on a TV game show that repeats the same programme idea every week — but with different people).
This is worth noting — because, if you find a really good game idea, you could have a way to attract a crowd multiple times!
Where and how big?
Sometimes we ran programmes in the drama room – which could fit maybe up to 50 people. Other times we ran them in the school hall. Our largest programmes had the hall entirely full (and maybe one-day I’ll find the notes and will blog you the game ideas). The size depended on a combination of how good the programme idea was, and how good the promotion was.
For example, one time we married two students in the hall. I’ll tell you about that one in another blog. It was fun (and they were sooooo bold! Can you imagine?).
The point of a programme
The important question is, why go to all that effort? The point was to communicate something that would bring hope — and with awareness that the greatest ever message of hope is that of God’s love through Christ. [I mean — suicide and mental health issues are on the rise HUGELY in our nation. Why? The fact is homes are broken, and youth are being consistently told the lie that their existence is accidental (through evolution — with no God allowed in that picture, which means existence is ultimately meaningless / for no purpose or reason). Youth aren’t dumb — that’s why! We have a message of hope, and even just our attitudes and values toward life can impact hope]
So, in respectful yet clear ways, testimonies would be told, short prayers/karakia would be said, and short thoughts (or messages) would be shared. Invitations would be extended to other youth group or combined-youth events happening in weekends, Christian literature that was interesting and engaging would be given to any interested — and the whole programme and through would be all over within about 20 minutes (or 30 at the most).
With creativity — and also relationship and trust with teachers and Principals, and a respectful manner, large group programmes are possible, and can be great fun too!
What could you do?