My friend Andrea recently was a "safe house" in a cool youth group activity at her local church, called "Underground Church". From her blog: "Basically, kids are divided into groups, find people who give them maps and instructions, and then go out into different neighborhoods. Certain houses are safe houses, and their job is to get to a safe house without getting caught by the "secret police", teams of people armed with Super Soakers. Anyone the secret police manage to get wet gets taken to "jail". Anyone who makes it to the safe house would give a password, and if admitted to the house, could call the leaders to come pick them up. The point of the activity, in addition to having fun, is to raise awareness of persecuted Christians around the world." So Andrea would be waiting for 12 kids to make it to her house (three did). They would give the password ("Are you with the YMCA?") and she would respond with the proper response ("Yes; are you?"); they would give their team color, and she'd invite them in. Add to all this excitement the interesting fact that while her house number is in the 700s, all of the other houses around hers are in the 500s. Makes the game a little more interesting.
This was meaningful for Andrea because her husband is Chinese, and, while his home country is becoming more open to Christianity, there is certainly a history of underground church activity being necessary.
This made me think about the deeply meaningful youth group activities that we did "back in the day" as part of the group at the church where we grew up. Naturally there were the retreats and lessons and activities led by our most capable leader, but once we got into high school, she couldn't teach us anymore, as only a man would be appropriate to lead youth of that age. (Pardon me while I choke on that one.)
I was going to list the most meaningful youth activites here, except I came up a little short. Aside from anything led (or heavily participated in) by that leader who shall remain nameless (but whose code name is "MOM"), I'm coming up with nothing that was organized by our youth leaders. There were some youth rallies at other churches (perfect for meeting new guys or running into old ones), ICYC (the last of which was horrible enough to darken the memory of all the rest), and of course all of the activities at the OTHER church that HAD a youth group. And there were the activities that were fairly self-led (boys who shall remain nameless having hymnal wars in the back row, painting our very own high school room "whatever color we wanted"), and the puppet and drama activities led by that famous person-of-a-gender-that-can't-lead.
There were some dark times, chair-throwing incidents, devotions with other youth groups, youth ministers whose er, extra-curricular activities led to serious legal implications, leaving youth rallies early so we could get home to watch our favorite TV shows. This is what we get when "only" men can lead youth groups? Get serious.
Best fun, one-time activity I can think of? PHOTO SCAVENGER HUNT: Our group was divided into two teams, each of which was given a list of things to find and a Poloroid camera. We were assigned a van and a driver, and we were given a certain length of time and assigned to go around town and try to get as many of the assigned pictures as possible.
It wasn't a bad activity. It was a lot of fun. Both groups had a lot of stories to tell later. (And I think that unnamed youth leader had a lot to do with putting it together.) Not everything has to be meaningful, of course. She had enough things with content that were. If only some other people had learned from her.
Take note, youth leaders. You can have fun and meaning too.
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