In Student Ministry, fun is part of the game.  But I believe that it’s important to give fun a purpose, so as to utilize it to the maximum potential for the Kingdom.  I think there are a couple of ways we can optimize fun events.  First of all, don’t do them all the time.  I hope and pray that there are fun elements in your weekly programming.  If students aren’t laughing weekly in your environments, that’s no bueno.  But, don’t do so many fun, themed events that they aren’t special.  Secondly, don’t make them stand alone, apart from your weekly programming.  If you are planning a fun, themed event, ask how you can fit it into your normal programming, so that students are inviting their friends to your regular environment that maybe has small groups attached to it, with caring adult leaders.  Granted, I realize the challenge, if your normal weekly programming is a Sunday morning, but otherwise, tie it in!  We try to do a fun, themed event once every 6-8 weeks, or 6-8 times a year.

Here are 3 themed events, that can generate energy and fun, and that you can easily attach to your regular weekly Wednesday or Sunday night environment (or whatever night your group meets):

1.  Halloween

Teenagers want to participate in Halloween, but many may feel like they are too old.  So, let’s give them an excuse to participate!  Each year, this is easily our biggest themed event that we do.  We call it Sugar Rush, and basically plan our regular Wednesday night programming around it.  And no matter when Halloween falls, we do it on Wednesday.  You could do a themed Halloween event, where students are encouraged to dress in a favorite decade, or zombies vs. aliens, or whatever!  Or you could just say dress up. To add to the night, have tons of candy and treats, and maybe some prizes for 1st-time guests and the friends who brought them.  You could even encourage small groups to dress up in their own theme.  Have costume contests, play extra games, and get your adult leaders into it.  Students love to dress up and have a great time, which brings me to another great themed event…

2.  Tacky Prom

Nothing is more fun than to make fun of a real teenage event.  The name of the game is the cheesier the better.  Encourage everyone to dress as tacky as possible.  Messed-up make-up, outdated suits and dresses, basically anything that you would never wear to prom.  Then go all out with the decorations!  Make a red-carpet, have a paparazzi, even a pony to pet.  Do a photo booth, and have some of the oldest, cheesiest music on all night.  Play games, do a runway, and have some snacks with waiters and waitress bringing them around to people.  Utilize Instagram to encourage students to do Tacky Promposals using your ministry’s hashtag.

3.  Parents vs. Students

Think Parent Open House, but cooler.  We all want ways to get parents interested in what we’re doing, and we all know how difficult it is to get parents to a parent meeting (probably because we call it a parent meeting…womp womp).  But here’s a way to get parents to an open house AND a parent meeting all while encouraging a little healthy competition between the generations.  Advertise hard that it’s going to be an epic battle of parents vs. students to determine generational supremacy.  To spice it up, you can even encourage parents to wear certain things (like track suits or jerseys).  Or you could have pre-made shirts for parents.  Make the night as close to normal programming as possible but allow for some extra time to do games where parents and students battle it out.  Then crown the supreme generation.  Once you dismiss students to small groups, keep parents back for a special parent’s small group (which of course, is just a parent meeting).  Then give them information about the ministry they need, answer any questions they have, pray for them, but also divide them up into the small groups their students are in, so that they can meet and talk to the parents of their student’s friends.  Close the night with allowing them to just have some talk time.

Use themed events as a front door to your normal programming environment, and simply invite guests back the following week. Sell them on the event, but win them over with your community!

-Nick Ballard

Discussion Questions:

  1. What’s the biggest hurdle you currently have with getting new faces in your doors?
  2. How often do you do fun events? Is your ministry too saturated with them, or do they rarely happen?