Love your student ministry but exhausted from coming up with fresh ideas every month? Love your students but hate being chained to the desk all the time? Love taking your students to camps and retreats but dread raising the funds to make it happen? Let the mind of Matt O. do the heavy lifting for you...
I've bundled together some of my favorite creative ideas in student ministry, ranging from events to fund-raising, from games to service projects. Each Creative Idea Pack contains 4 themed ideas that are easy to follow and proven to work in student ministry. These ideas have been field-tested and often lead to annual traditions...which means you won't have to re-invent the "event wheel" every year.
Each Pack contains not only the ideas themselves, but a complete plan for implementation.
I've even organized the Packs into a yearly subscription so that you can sign-up once, receive monthly emails full of creative stuff, and be freed up from the pressure of coming up with new ideas! The monthly subscription is only $40 a month and includes over 50 creative ideas broken down into particular themes. That's $360 for the year, less than a dollar a day for ideas sent straight to your inbox all year long that will save you countless hours of brainstorming, meetings, and sitting in an office...and get you out hanging with students, leading your team to facilitate exciting new programs, and impressing your jaded teenagers with events they want to attend.
Here are some of the themes and categories of Idea Packs to be featured the first year:
- Small Group Pack: Contains four ideas to generate more community, more sharing, and more excitement in your small groups program.
- Fund-raiser Pack: Contains creative and fun ways to generate funds, including tips on making your car washes better, and my MegaRaiser idea which maximizes your time and puts a fresh spin on old concepts.
- Happier Meal Pack: In the Scriptures, meals are repeatedly places where spiritual transforming encounters take place. This pack shares 4 ways you can foster this neglected aspect of ministry into a culture where healthy relationships grow among your students.
- Arts Pack: Do you have creative students? Are you offering space for them to grow beyond playing in the praise band? These ideas tap into the love ALL students have of the arts, from music to movies...and even books! Events and traditions that will kindle their imaginations.
- Life Skillz Pack: Too often our ministries become focused on teaching our students a few "moral" ideas and we neglect what should be our greater goal: teaching them to be mature Christian adults in the real world. This pack has some nuts and bolts ideas that are not only fun, but will also shape your students for their future.
Send me your email and I'll get you signed up for the Idea Packs subscription service...
Here's a free sample idea from the Service category:
The Idea: Undercover Do-Gooders
What it is:
"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-4
In a world where giving can be so public and we’re encouraged to make sure that people notice us, these Kingdom verses run in the opposite direction. This idea takes the words of Jesus and applies them in a literal way: a group of people giving to those in need and not letting anyone else know about it. The concept is simple: find some kind of need, could be someone struggling financially or in need of encouragement, or some kind of project that needs done, then you and your undercover do-gooders take care of the need or commit the act of kindness in a way that no one knows you’re doing it. It’s more than just sending an anonymous donation, it’s Mother Theresa meets Mission Impossible. Your team must accomplish the deed in secret…
- I’ve been a part of a team that woke up at 4 am on Christmas morning, met in a kitchen, baked dozens of cookies, delivered them stealthily to the front porches of those that had a rough year, and then been back in bed before breakfast.
- I’ve been a part of a team that purchased groceries and under the cover of darkness deposited them at the house of somebody who had recently lost his job.
- I’ve been a part of a team that delivered a box of blankets and hot chocolate mix to factory workers who were on strike and winter was coming.
The ideas for good deeds are up to you! The key is making the whole thing hush-hush…the first rule of the undercover do-good club is you don’t talk about the undercover do-good club!
How to get started:
You need to invite students to be members of the group, and that process depends on the size of your group. If you’re a larger group, this is a great thing to do with your leaders or with a specific group of students you want to bond with (7th grade boys for example). But also, the cool part about this idea is that you could have all your small group leaders leading their small groups in it, and if everyone stays quiet, no one will know the others are doing it! If you have a smaller group, you can surprise the whole group on a Sunday or Wednesday night and invite them to join you on a secret mission (or initiate them! Low-lighting and candles? Make a Matthew 6 pledge to do good in secret?).
If you’re going with the smaller sized group, I’m a big fan of printing/writing out invitations that tell them what the group (or “society”) is and that they need to meet you at a specific place and time. If you’re doing something at night, have them wear dark clothes (or bring dark clothes along). You can hand them invitations in really sneaky ways: handing them to them wordlessly in the restroom, having strangers give them to them (church strangers!), OR send them emails from a new email address you create…
Once you have the team assembled, you need to pick out a project that meets a genuine need or is a random act of kindness/beauty. Communicate the mission to them, tell them how you’re going to pull it off, then assign the various duties it will take to make the mission happen. I’m a big fan of trying to make the mission require multiple teams, that way it feels like you really are with Tom Cruise and his Mission Impossible team.
Some Additional Ideas for this Concept:
- You could have everyone come up with codenames when you’re on these missions. (Maybe go Biblical and have names like Zacchaeus, Dorcas and Obadiah OR pick another theme, like GI Joe, and have folks be Roadblock, Snake-eyes, and Lady Jaye). And name the missions, too. “Operation Wall of Jericho is a go, I repeat, Operation Wall of Jericho is a go.” Coming up with code phrases in general is great too, texting messages like “The fly is in the ointment” or “The eagle has landed” to your team mid-mission can let them know what the next step is.
- It’s definitely fun to do missions at night, but I’ve always wanted to try a mission in broad daylight in the church building! Like during the Sunday School hour, your class sneaks out in ones or twos and gathers at a place in the building to clean up the church kitchen and refrigerator or wash the pastor’s car or trims the bushes around the playground, etc.
- Taking the whole concept another level higher would be to have a “secret base.” Depending on the size of your group, you could literally meet in a playground/fort but I think it would be awesome if a deacon or some person in the church they’d never suspect let their garage or basement be your headquarters. Deacon Bob meets them at the basement doors and asks for the password, the student says “Dry Bones”, and Deacon Bob opens the door…
- After the mission, meet back together at a designated place, maybe your headquarters, and do a mission debrief. Talk and laugh about the mission but then wrap up by affirming that it is now a secret between you and the God who sees what is done in secret.
- Once you name your group, you could come up with a “calling card,” something you leave behind that lets people know that the act of kindness was prompted by the love of God. “Hope these groceries let you know that God hasn’t forgotten about you.” Love, The Left Hand of Jesus.
Things you could name the group:
- The Undercover League
- Society of the Left Hand (your emblem could be a hand/palm and you sign all the invitations that way)
- Secret Service Society (The Triple S or S Cubed)
Be creative! And feel free to send me stories of this idea in action!