As all too many youth pastors know, today's youth can be detached, moody, and bored during youth group. The pastors play informative and sometimes humorous videos, they have the whole worship team play their best for the teens, and they give them multiple incentives to memorize the Word of God. Yet constantly, they're met with blank stares and gaping yawns. What's wrong here?
The key to reaching students, is to focus on the youth group activities. Videos have lost their appeal thanks to the internet. Worship teams are so classically traditional, that teens feel no connection to the words in the song. Memory verses, thanks to the internet being available at all times, feel like a waste of time. So what can youth pastors do to ensure that students are getting to know Christ and having fun at church?
There are a coupe things that can be changed within the youth group. Instead of playing a video, try playing a game that gets everyone involved. Videos were cool and fun ten years ago, but today they are easily accessed and have lost their novelty. What about playing an old fashioned game? Teenagers today hardly ever have hands on interaction with the people around them. Even simple things like "musical chairs" or "duck, duck, goose!" are great ways to make everyone laugh and relax. When you're playing a game invented for toddlers, it's hard to take yourself and your peers too seriously.
Secondly, any sixteen year old would choose an obnoxiously loud pop concert over that sweet little old lady leading the choir. It's nothing personal, but when you're in the throws of adolescence, the whole worship team and their traditional hymns can be stifling and do the exact opposite of drawing youth closer to God. Instead, try having a less traditional and more acoustic or pop-like band put together. Let students run the youth group worship team, and let them play loud contemporary Christian music. This way, students quit focusing on their ego and breaking voices and lose themselves in the loud and in your face kind of love that Christ has for us.
Finally, we reach the biggest hurdle for youth pastors and their students; memory verses. Candy, gift cards, free coffee, and a pastor's dyed hair are all common incentives for students to memorize the verse given out each week. Unfortunately, this seldom works. Obviously a different approach is necessary, so why not have the students choose their memory verse instead? Everyone can go home, find a verse that they connect to, memorize it, and say it out loud to the group the following week. This not only adds a new twist to the memory verse game, it helps the youth hide the word of the Lord in their heart.
In the end, youth group activities are at the center of what's wrong with youth group. New ideas that keep teenagers engaged and excited for church are a necessity. Youth pastor's can switch things up to make church fun again.