Monday, January 30, 2017

Free Youth Group Game: BUCKET!

This game is so simple and incredibly fun! Its a take on the popular card game "Spoons".  Gather plastic buckets together (or use paper cups, then those tend to get crushed) and have youth partner up. Each youth leans over the bucket while a leader calls out different body parts (head, neck, knees, feet, etc). At the leader's discretion, they call out "Bucket!". Once youth hear that, the first one to grab the bucket wins the round. Winners can then take on other winners in a tournament format. 

Very easy game and very fun! 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Ultimate Gift at Christmas

Jesus’ life, from the cradle to the tomb was a life enshrouded and bookended with miracles: born of a virgin and defying death from a determined King Herod, Jesus at a young age astounding everyone at the Temple, eventually healing the sick and raising the dead, saying profound things that no one else could utter nor could the most eloquent author ever construct, he preached what he practiced and he practiced what he preached. The Word of God came in the flesh.

Only God could do such things. Jesus was who he said he was.

We cannot merely say Jesus was a good moral person or teacher, or that his teachings are a good idea to consider, one of many choices of the spiritual buffet line of America. The miracle of the Christ-child at Christmas, the miracle of Jesus, doesn’t allow such a thing. The utter finality, the complete authority, the total originality of Jesus’ life and arrival, cuts like a knife through the grey morality of our world.

 Jesus is not just an option to consider: he hasn’t afforded us this option. 

 Either you believe he was the incarnate son of God or you do not, but the truth of who Jesus is stands resolute. Only God could be able to come into our world as a baby. Only God would be wise enough to see that this was the proper means for the Son of God to arrive.

Jesus didn’t just love, he was and is love. He didn’t and doesn’t just offer blessings; he is the blessing. He doesn’t only give us gifts; his very presence is the gift. The power and healing authority of Jesus is all sufficient to meet every need in your life. Do you believe this? Jesus raised the dead; do you believe he can raise the dead in you?

Jesus isn’t just an option, he is the incarnate gift of God, and you cannot escape the influence of Jesus Christ at Christmas.

And the influence of Jesus is bigger than just all the Christmas “stuff” we see.

We can call it happy holidays, outlaw manger scenes, create a Festivus pole as they did on Seinfeld, and take down all the Christmas trees. Regardless, the Spirit of Christ will always be here, and always will be. Because God is love, and God’s love can live in a place that no one can touch: in the human heart.

Love doesn’t give up; love doesn’t back down; love always seeks, rebukes, chastens, restores, and patiently endures. Love is not dependent on gifts, trees, or titles. Love is not a thing you can grab or quantify, but you know it exists. 

 You cannot see love, but you know you need it. Such is the same with God.

This whole idea that to experience the Spirit of Christ at Christmas regardless of trees, title or gifts, is eloquently packaged in that classic, theologically correct mainstay television special: "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. “


He lived on a snowy mountain with his sad little dog Max. The Grinch, hating the happy spirit of Christmas, their roast beast, their songs, their decorations, and he sought to destroy Christmas by stealing all of the fluff and stuff, all of the exteriors that the Grinch thought comprised Christmas. He even stole their roast beast! He slid across the floor like a snake and used a magnet to steal their stockings! He folded up their Christmas trees like umbrellas. Their ploo plinkas!

Confident in his success, he sat back and waited for the ensuing wails of upset Who children and their destroyed lives to come up the mountain range. Soon, he heard their songs despite their loss, and the Grinch was perplexed. And as they sang, the Grinch’s heart expanded, and his life was changed. He realized that there was something to Christmas much more special than just stuff.

Maybe he realized that the internal and spiritual was more important than just the external and material.

Greed was replaced by generosity, shame was replaced by honor. The Grinch was even allowed to carve the roast beast; what a beautiful story of grace, of second chances that in many ways God also shows us, for their is a grinch in us all.

As we know, the Grinch failed at his task to destroy Christmas. Why? Because the Spirit of Christmas lived within the people of Whoville, and nothing could ever take that away. What did Jesus say about the Kingdom of God? Ah yes, that it lives within us as Christians.

The Grinch looked at all the externals, but the Lord looks upon the heart.

Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, or at least, they were designed to be so. Christmas is about two things: God and people. God coming close to people as the Christ child, and about people letting their guard down long enough maybe to let Christ in and have their heart grow three sizes.

Theologians may call it “incarnational omnipresent sovereignty”, but let’s just use plain terms: God wants to live in us all and make us new, and no grinch will ever take that away.

The existence of the grace of God implies that we are in need of grace, salvation implies that we are in bondage and in a spiritual prison. And the good news of the Christmas season, and every season, is that Christ is here to set us free.

Take a moment and picture a prison cell in your mind.

"A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes - and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, this is not a bad picture of Advent." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Revelation 3:20 - Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

One of the great gifts of God to us is repentance. 

I know, you'd rather have a new Lamborghini (or maybe a Snuggie?) but let me explain. Repentance is a gift of God, for we cannot open the door from the inside. Repentance is the gateway to the things of God. Repentance is saying, yes Lord, open the door of my heart from the outside in.

Repentance means to change your mind, to turn around. It is not just feeling shame or to temporarily modify your behavior. The prophet Joel would say it is to rend our hearts, not our garments - To change the affairs of our heart, not just change the externals or shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

Repentance is opening up the door of our heart to let God in, and to admit that we have wronged... admitting that we know what we ought to do, but we do not always do it.

Its God that leads us to Christ. Our choice matters, but its God pursuing us. Its God that came down at Christmas. Its God that’s calling you today.

The signs of God’s mercy are absolutely everywhere, and to experience it, you have to admit to yourself that you are a sinner, that you need to receive God’s gift of repentance, that you need the love and forgiveness of God. What better time to start anew that at Christmas?

You are a beautiful, fought for, died for, pursued, wept over, sought after Temple of the Holy spirit. Do you feel defiled? Tired? Ready for a change? Ready for a fresh start? Receive the gift of repentance from God. Give back to God what he already gave you: the gift of your life. We didn’t create our lives, but we can give them back to our Creator to be remade and reshaped into the mold of what they were meant to be: a life lived in holy communion with God. Once you experience it, you are never the same. Once you receive it, you can't help but give it to others. 

This is the ultimate gift at Christmas.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Free Youth Group Game: How to Play Human Hungry Hungry Hippos

Watch the above video to see Human Hungry Hungry Hippos in action! This is an unforgettable, totally awesome youth group game and activity. I've done it many times and kids always LOVE it. 

Supply List - Here is a list of what you'll need for this Human Hungry Hungry Hippos: (product links included)

  • 2-4 Wooden Dollys with casters (depending on the size of your space and how many players you want to have) - link to product
  • (optional) Bungee cord (product link) - as you see in the video, you can opt to use people as the "mover" of the human hippo(s), or you can tie cord securely around the handles of each dolly and have players pull their "hippos" back (but with adult supervision and maybe gloves). They also used large squares to keep the balls in play due to the size of their space and it also got more students involved. 
  • 2-4 Laundry Baskets - to collect the balls (product link) You can purchase them or borrow some from your students. 
  • Plastic Balls (optional: balloons) - product link

HUMAN HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPO RULES

  • You'll need a flat surface, either tile or a gym floor. We tried it on indoor/outdoor carpet. Does NOT work that well.
  • At go, teams attempt to collect as many balls/balloons as they can either within 30 seconds (or any time you designate) or when all the balls/balloons are gone. Which ever team collects the most at each round either wins, or moves on to play another team (if you're doing a tournament). Make sure students take turns allowing other students be the "hippo".
  • Create safe lines with tape on the floor that teams have have all their balls behind in order for their score to count. Any stray balloons/balls that don't make it behind the line before time is expired do not count. Also, if balloons pop (which they will and its hilarious) those do not count toward their teams point total. 
  • OPTIONAL - Have two teams, and each team takes turns (one hippo at a time) collecting as many as they can until all the balls/balloons are gone. Creates more tension, especially if you use balloons. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Free Youth Group Game idea: Crack Attack (chubby bunny but with crackers)

If you've been in youth ministry long enough, you've heard of the classic game "Chubby Bunny". After each round of stuffing marshmallows in the player's mouths, the players attempt to say the words "chubby bunny". It was slobbery, it was funny, and its actually really dangerous.

A safer spin on Chubby Bunny is to use crackers. Have the students place two crackers at a time (without biting them) in their mouths. After each turn, they have to say "Crack Attack". Whomever can keep all the crackers in their mouth (without biting them) and keep saying the phrase wins! Crackers tend to spray when trying to talk so this game is super hilarious.

TIPS

have trashcans and bottles of water handy


You could do a variation where students CAN chew them up as best they can and instead of saying Crack Attack they could say 'Cracker Stack". Using "S" sounds can get a good spray of crackers, which will be hilarious.