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Everything was ready.

I had purchased all the pizza possible. The youth room was tidied up. The playlist was set. And most importantly…the games were prepped and ready to go! I looked over my plans for our student ministry New Year’s Eve party with a sense of accomplishment. There was no way tonight wasn’t going to be an absolute blast.

Students started arriving, and soon there was a buzz in the air. Middle school students running rampant, it was obvious it was time to get to the gym for our first big game of the night. It started off well enough. Dodgeballs were zipping past heads as junior high bodies were pelted repeatedly, attempting to dodge the incoming rubber balls. However, quickly into our first game I noticed how quickly students were giving up, not wanting to participate as much as I had anticipated. Quick on my toes, I decided to swiftly move to the next game in order to not lose any fun momentum for the night. I mean, we had to make it till midnight! We couldn’t run out of steam at 8:00!

Then, another strange thing happened. The next game had the same effect. Internally, I was slightly panicking. I tried to think through the back-pocket list of games I had that we could easily inject into the night, but nothing was coming to mind. Then out of the blue, a student walked up to me and said, “Hey, I’ve got a game I think we should play. It’s super fun. Can we play it?”

“Sure!” I proclaimed!

We called everyone together after finishing up the other game, and had this student explain the rules of her game (one I’d never heard of). After she explained the rules, I thought there was no way this was going to be as fun as what I had planned.

I was wrong.

It was better. Way better.

Our students spent the next hour smiling, laughing, sweating, whacking each other with pool noodles, and so on. They ate the game up!

As I reexamined my plan and contemplated what didn’t work as well as I had hoped, it struck me how important it is for us to remain flexible. Often, we can plan our ministries to death, holding too tightly to something that isn’t life-giving. Fun, in particular, isn’t always something that a planned-out night guarantees. Fun can often be discovered in the things that were never a part of what you had in store for everyone.

My encouragement to you is to always leave room for flexibility. Plans were meant to be broken. You never know what fun you’ll discover.

– Ryan Schmall

Discussion Questions:
1. How flexible are your plans?
2. When’s the last time you had a spontaneous youth group night full of fun?
3. What do you do when things don’t seem to be working as you anticipated?
4. How can you plan your nights/events with some healthy wiggle room?

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