Salt & Light

Great ideas for youth groups like yours
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Is your youth group looking for some new ideas? Well, we've heard about some great stuff going on in church youth groups and Christian clubs all over the world. Check out these awesome ideas for challenging your faith, reaching out to your community, and just having a good time with your Christian friends.

The Battle of the "Bands"

Come on, be honest. Who hasn't spent a few minutes standing in front a mirror, singing into a hairbrush? Well, the youth group at Wheaton Bible Church in Wheaton, Illinois, decided to take those musical dreams and make them reality for a night.

Twice a year the group holds a lip-synch contest. Not only is the contest a blast, but it gives youth group members an opportunity to invite their non-Christian friends to the church for a low-key night of fun. The contest is limited to 10 "bands," so the competition is pretty tight. Each band pays $25 to enter the contest, with the hope of winning the $250 prize at the end of the evening.

A few weeks before the contest, each band submits its song to youth leader Rob Rienow, who makes sure the song is appropriate for a Christian event. The youth group spreads the word at school and gets the youth room ready for the huge crowd.

When the night of the contest arrives, students gather in the youth room for food, video clips of sports bloopers, movie shorts, music videos and cartoons. Then, the fun really begins. Each "band" takes the stage and gives it their best shot.

Between acts, volunteers from the crowd participate in goofy games, like bobbing for candy in a kiddie pool full of Jell-O, an improvised interpretive dance competition where contestants act out a surprise song for 60 seconds, and a goldfish drinking contest. (Yes, it's as disgusting as it sounds—the first person to swallow the contents of a goldfish bowl wins.) And there are some great prizes, like movie passes and fast food coupons, for the winners.

When all the bands have finished their acts, the esteemed judges (eight adult volunteers) rate the acts on creativity, entertainment value, appropriateness and "synchness." First, second and third places are awarded, with the winning act sharing the $250 grand prize.

The lip-synch contests have brought tons of high school students to the church, with more than 275 people attending last November's event. "It's a great way for people in the youth group to reach out to our non-Christian friends," says group member Joel Dillon. "Everybody has a great time. One of my friends had so much fun, he wanted to start coming to our regular youth group meetings and our Sunday morning class."

The Prayer Plan

When some of the students at Hamlet Union Church in Hamlet, Nebraska, decided they wanted to get serious about praying for the people and the world around them, they started using a notebook called a Prayer Organizer, put out by Creative Encouragers.

The Prayer Organizer helps members of the youth group keep track of prayer requests, reminds them to pray for different people in their lives on a regular basis, and helps make their prayer time focused and more meaningful. The Organizer is divided by the days of the week, with each day divided into topics, like church, social life, witnessing to friends, school and family. The Organizer also gives helpful tips on how to pray for each topic. There's plenty of room to write down prayer requests, as well as places to record spiritual growth. And because the Organizer is a three-ring notebook, students can add their own notes and pages too.

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