The Scavenger Hunt: Fun Youth Events

I came up with a new scavenger hunt today for my youth group. After driving around for two hours, trying to find pay phones that work, I came up with 7 different areas around our town and neighboring towns that have phones. With the help of Kendall, I then made up riddles to lead our students to each of these locations, for example: (“I’m closed for the season, deserted and bare, but when summer comes my outlook is Fair.” – answer:The Sullivan Fairgrounds)

I gave each team a notebook, a roll of quarters, a digital camera, and seven sealed envelopes containing the seven riddles I had made up earlier. Here are the rules:

1. As soon as I say go the team can tear open the first envelope and read the riddle. The time starts at this point and the race is on!

2. Once a team figures out its riddle and goes to that location they must use the payphone to call back to the church. I stayed at the church and answered the phone. When the students called in I then gave them two tasks to perform before opening their next clue. (This was a digital camera scavenger hunt so each task involved getting a picture of something.) Once the two tasks were completed they could open their next envelope, figure out the next clue, go to the new location and call me for two more tasks.

3. The first team to go to all 7 locations, complete all 14 tasks, and get back to the church wins.

4. Any team who needs extra help and has to call the church for another clue is given a 2 minute penalty. This means if they need help two times they will have 4 minutes of penalty. If the team arrives first they will have to wait for 4 minutes before I will check them in. If the other team arrives before the first teams 4 minutes are up then the first team to arrive will still lose the game.

5. Any team who arrives at the wrong location and calls in will be given a 1 minute penalty and a small clue. They will still have to find the correct location before I will give them their next two tasks.

6. I also added bonuses to the tasks. If they do something designated as a bonus then they will be given a + 1:00 time bonus. This means if team 1 comes in with 4 minutes of bonus and they arrive only 2 minutes behind team 2 who has no bonus then team 1 will win even though they arrived last.

Here are the riddles and tasks I used for this scavenger hunt. You will have to personalize it to your own town and group!

7 Location Riddles:

1. I’m closed for the season, deserted and bare, but when summer comes my outlook is Fair. My phone is out of service; I’m in need of repair, just use a cell phone and get a picture there! LOCATION: Sullivan Fair Grounds.

2. You must take a trip down the road to a place with some sweet treats. Fill your stomach while you fill your car. Their “kwik” service can’t be beat! LOCATION: B&B Kwik Stop & Andy’s Ice Cream

3. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z – Look really close, letters don’t always stay, one of my letters is flying away! LOCATION: Flying J Truck Stop

4. I used to be blue, but now I am brown, I’m also the biggest store in town. – LOCATION: Wal-Mart (which was just re-painted)

5. In a nearby town named after a drink, the clue will be easy if you will just think. I’m at a place that is yellow, blue, and red. If you can’t find the phone get the van washed instead. – LOCATION: Mobil On The Run in Bourbon.

6. Tank empty? Need something to eat? Why not do both at the same time? Fill up the van, eat like a “King”, but don’t play to long or you’ll lose this thing! – LOCATION: Burger King/Gas Station

7. Flowers & trees; pavilions & cabins, Just follow the river and the next clue you’ll be grabbin! – LOCATION: The State Park

14 Different Tasks to Perform

1. Get a picture of your entire team around the nearest caboose (we have an old caboose near our church at a small park)

2. Get a picture of your entire group in front of the movie posters outside of Sullivan 6 Cinema! Extra points if Jeff Jones is in your picture. (Jeff is one of our youth who works at the theater.)

3. Get a picture of your entire group at the Harney Mansion. (The mansion is a historical site in our town.)

4. Get a picture of two of your team members playing with a dog named after unleavened dough, made of wheat flour, water, and sometimes eggs, that is molded into any of a variety of shapes and boiled. (Our music ministers dog is named Pasta.)

5. Find the Eaton Funeral Home Chapel in Bourbon and have your entire group get their picture taken there. (One of our church members owns the funeral home in Sullivan and the chapel in Bourbon. Everyone knows where the one is in Sullivan but not Bourbon.)

6. Get a picture of your group on the sidewalk at a business that is open playing “Duck, Duck, goose”

7. Get a picture of a team member shaking the hand of a stranger at Movie Gallery.

8. Two members hanging upside down on monkey bars. Extra points for eating a banana while upside down!

9. Get a picture of your team around a Diesel Truck. For a bonus, get a picture with the truck driver!

10. Get a picture of your entire team around the red cardinal statue at the city park.

11. Get a picture of your group in the play-land area of Burger King

12. Get a picture of your group walking through Kentucky Fried Chicken flapping their wings and bucking like a chicken.

13. Get a picture you your group in front of the visitor center of the state park.

14. Get back to the church as soon as possible. First team to arrive with all of their pictures taken wins!

30 Hour Famine – Community Service Projects

Today was all about community service. Our students went to two different nursing homes, to the Agape House, to Meramec Mission, to rake some yards of the elderly, and to do some odd jobs for some people in our church who can’t do them. They painted, sorted clothes, bought groceries, and did several other things for the community. The group I went to help was at Meramec Community Mission. They sent us to the store to buy food for the pantry this week. Each week they spend over $1000 in food and they give that much away on a weekly basis. It’s amazing to see how many people are helped by the mission, even in our town.

So far we have raised $5,600 for World Vision and the students still have two weeks to continue getting donations. I hope to collect even more money than we did last year. This year there are enough grants to provide World Vision with $7 per $1 we raise. That means the $5,600 that we have raised already will equal $39,000 for World Vision. That will feed 108 children, 50 more than we were able to feed last year.

Our youth made 1,208 crosses out of popsicle sticks using two hot glue guns. We then took the crosses and placed them in the front yard of the church. We made a sign that says “1,208 children die every hour from hunger.” This was a good way to help them get a visual of how many children die every day. We also attempted to make 29,000 handprints. I then cut that down to 5,800 handprints with each hand equaling 5 children. We only made it to 1,600 prints. I am planning on hanging the ones we have done up in the hall way of our youth room along with several pictures from the digital camera rally. It will serve as a good reminder of what we accomplished this weekend.

A Hard Day

Today was a hard day. Not necessarily a bad day, but definitely a hard one. I couldn’t get motivated, I didn’t prepare like I should have, I was distracted, and I felt like I was spinning out of control. I am normally someone who is extremely organized, however today I was a mess. Later in the afternoon I began to think about our Youth services tonight, the fact that I am the Spiritual leader of these students, that they deserve better, and I recognized my own weakness and wickedness. My flesh haunted me today and God dealt harshly with me. My heart was burdened and troubled for most of the day and my spirit was heavy. God wanted me to pray, he wanted me to admit my troubles, and he wanted to talk. I knew it. I knew God was drawing me to Himself and yet I pulled away. I found other things to do and in my mind I kept saying, “later, I’ll do it later.” Later never came, of course, and finally I simply forgot until, out of the blue, our intern said “we need to pray!” It was at this moment that God had me. When the intern said “we need to pray” I immediately recognized God’s authority, His sovereignty, His mercy, His patience, and His grace. God was not going to let me go upstairs to that youth room without consulting Him first. We knelt to pray and it was such a sweet and powerful time. God’s presence and peace overflowed in abundance as we begged and pleaded with Him to work in spite of our weaknesses. I fessed up to God, told Him my struggles, confessed the things that chained me and He set me free. God is rich in mercy and abundant in grace. It amazes me that He would deal with a wretched, sinful creature like me with unfailing patience and undeniable love. Later I realized why God needed to talk to me… it was not until later that I knew why God called me to such a sweet time of prayer. There were several things that I had to deal with tonight that I was not prepared for. God knew it, I didn’t. I know now why it was so important and why God wouldn’t leave me alone until I came to Him in prayer. God was strengthening me, cleansing me, and preparing me for the evening that was to come. I am glad he did! Like I said, today was hard, but it is one day that I would never trade. All the pain, suffering, and struggles that I dealt with today were all worth it to just have that one sweet moment with God, kneeling in the floor of my office, being so captivated by the presence of God that I could do nothing but weep. I long for such moments with my Lord…

Student Ministry: Building Relationships

Today I woke up at 4:45 to go bow hunting with a friend. Afterwards, I met up with one of my small groups from our Wednesday night student ministries. They were doing a service project by raking leaves to help out others. We raked leaves for a couple hours and then headed out to eat for another couple hours. It does reinforce one thing for me, the absolute best way to get to know students, get them to trust you, and lead them in ministry is to build a relationship with them. Not a superficial, say hi in passing type of relationship. I am talking about a personal one on one relationship. We had fun doing the service project and got to know each other a little better over lunch as we told stories from when we were younger, talked about things going on in the youth group, and simply enjoyed each others company. Doing something like simply taking a two or three different students out to lunch, dinner, dessert, or whatever each week makes a major difference in the relationships you have with your youth. Here are a few ideas that I have tested and approved, to help build better relationships with youth:

1. Ask a couple students to come help you set up for an event. Make sure you have plenty of time before the event starts to set up and then go out to grab some dessert. Once the student or students have finished helping you, invite them out for ice cream or a snack. Get them talking, telling stories, laughing, and having a good time.

2. Each Wednesday night we have a fellowship time where everyone just sits around and talks, plays games, or does other things before our services start. Pick a new student each week to have a conversation with. If you get to know a different student each week, before long you will have had a personal conversation and interaction with all of your students.

3. Do projects together. We have small groups that meet on Sundays and Wednesdays. Each of these small groups have an opportunity to get together with just their small group and do fun things or service projects. This is a perfect opportunity to get to hang out with a small group of students and get to know them better.

4. Find out what your students are involved in at school and go to some of their band concerts, games, and other school activities. They will feel special simply seeing that you have come to watch them during one of these events in their life. Show interest in the things they are doing and the things they like.

5. Simply hang out with students. You can go to the show with some, play games with them, and find times to hang with them, having fun in the process. Once they see that you care about them and that you are not a threat, they will open up. That is when the relationships become real.

These are just some things that I have tried to do in order to help me build relationships with our students. If you are involved in student ministry and have some ideas for building relationships, please share them in the comments.

The Youth Hayride


I just got home from our annual youth hayride and bonfire. We began this tradition last year with about 15 students. We took the teenagers on a hayride down through the woods to an open area with a big bonfire. We ate, hung out, and played games in the dark. This year we decided to do the same thing, only instead of 15 teens we had over 40 show up. Needless to say I had to do some last minute scrambling to get van drivers and some of my adult leaders who were gracious enough to let us do this on their property had to find another trailer with hay bails on it.

Here are a few Hayride tips that I have learned this round:

1. Get some idea of the number of people who might show up (although it is impossible to get an exact number). This serves you well when you have already lined up enough vans, drivers, food, and trailers.

2. The more kids on a trailer, the heavier it is. The heavier the trailer is, the more weight it puts on the tractor. This makes for a pretty wild ride going down a very steep hill. We found this out as the trailer actually pushed our tractor up in the air onto its front wheels. Let me repeat that. The tractor, trying to slow the trailer full of teenagers down, took a nose dive. The weight caused the back end of the tractor to flip up into the air as it rode on its front wheels, nearly flipping itself and the trailer behind it over. I needed a change of clothes after that little adventure.

3. Never buy and pass out 40 glow sticks to irresponsible teenagers who like to break them open and pour the glowing chemical all over their hands, clothes, and neighbors. While it looks cool as people are running all over a dark field, the end result is a huge mess. It also became a favorite pass time to place their glow stick into the fire, watching it erupt into flames.

4. Always sit in the front of the trailer. This allows for the occasional tossing of hay up into the air and getting it into the hair, clothes, and eyes of all the people behind you. The nice thing about it is they can’t get you back because the wind direction doesn’t allow them to throw hay to the front. I had fun with this.

5. Never stand around the chocolate chip cookies when you are on a diet. Enough said.


Parenting Teenagers (Part VI)

This is the conclusion of:
Parenting Teenagers Part I
Parenting Teenagers Part II.
Parenting Teenagers Part III
Parenting Teenagers Part IV
Parenting Teenagers Part V

Critique of the Literature.
It is important to first understand that the goal of these authors is essentially the same. In just about every article that I read on the subject of parenting teenagers, the ultimate goal was to give the parents ideas on how to become better parents for the sake of their teenagers. The technique’s of each piece of literature are defiantly different and are based on the cultural, spiritual, and personal convictions of the authors. What I see as an offensive and wrong way of parenting as a Christian may be a right and good way in the mind of a non-believer, which is evident as you cruise the plethora of information on the subject.

There were several common ideas on parenting that were consistent throughout each of the articles and that I also agree with. I do believe that parents need to listen to their teenagers. When the teens have something to say then their parents should be willing to drop everything else and give their kid an ear. It helps build trust and shows them that you care about them enough to give up what you were doing for them. I also agree that clear and consistent boundaries need to be set. Teenagers shouldn’t be punished for things that they didn’t know were wrong because the parent didn’t define it enough. Parents need to give their kids clear boundaries that do not contradict themselves or contradict the action and words of the parents. Parents should lead by example is another commonly agreed upon statement that I agree with as well. If a parent does not want their child to use foul language then the parent should not use foul language. Some articles suggested that teenagers do not learn from their parents behaviors, but I do not agree, I believe they learn a lot about right and wrong from their own parent’s actions, words, and beliefs. One of the major issues with teenagers is that they are in a transition stage and they are beginning to deal with independence. It is important for a parent to give their child independence and respect their space within reason and boundaries. I agree with Dr. Chan that teenagers will go through a few stages and parents need to be ready to adjust the way they deal with their teens in each stage. An important aspect that I think Dr. Dobson pointed out is that teenagers must be held accountable. When a boundary is set and a rule is made, if that rule is broke then the agreed consequence must be enforced, otherwise you build the idea that you are not really going to do what you say.

Though I agree with a few things Jean Walbridge had to say I disagree with most of her approaches and moral convictions. Jean holds the idea that a teenager’s privacy and independence is high above all other things. She thinks that parents should never violate the privacy of a teen and I disagree. We already live in a humanistic world that is teaching our children that they can do what they want, be what they want, and anything they choose is right for them bringing them into the state of mind that “it’s their life and it’s none of their parents business.” I feel that Jean’s ideas allow for the parent to have no authority over the teenager, but instead the teen is simply offered choices and insignificant consequences if they choose poorly. I do believe that parents can allow teenagers to make free decisions and choices inside the boundaries of their authority. I agree that the teenagers are transitioning into a state of independence, but the key word is transition. They are not all the way there yet and I believe that the answer is not “let the teen do what they want”, but instead slowly give them more freedoms that you feel they can handle as they get older.

I disagree with Jean’s position on teenage sexual activity. Her idea is that it is a normal thing, teens are going to do it, so parents should not try to stop it, instead they should provide their children with resources for safe sex. I think that parents need to help their children to understand that they don’t need safe sex, they need no sex at all. That is harder and harder to do in our present social era as they are exposed to it daily, but the answer once again is not in just letting them do it and minding our own business as Jean suggests.

Jean believes that parents need to allow their children to find their own way, and the only time they need to intervene is when it may be harmful to their health. I would disagree in that I think parents need to show their children the right way and let them find their own independence inside the context of knowing right from wrong. Jean’s idea allows for the teenager to experiment with everything that is both good and bad and choose which one they want to do, but I think teenagers should already know what is bad without having to try it because of the advice and truth coming from their parents. If my teenager wants to take drugs he will do so knowing full well that it is wrong and harmful and that it will produce bad consequences. If Jean’s teenager wants to take drugs it is ok for him to do so and experiment with it as long as he doesn’t bring it into the house. There is great danger in giving teenagers too much freedom. In a sense I disagree with Chan on the issue of allowing the teenagers to “express themselves” with orange hair and body piercing. I think that we can easily confuse rebellion with self-expression. Once again I do believe that the teenagers should have the freedom to express themselves, but inside the boundaries set by their parents. Orange hair and piercing may be harmless, and then again they may be a rebellion and it depends on the motives of the individual.

One thing that I didn’t think about before starting this study is the moral differences between a Christian raising a teenager and a non-Christian. As a Christian parent I would be under the conviction that it is not right for my child to have sex, drink, do drugs, and other things that I feel are morally wrong. But with those who are not Christians some of these things are acceptable to them so that it is alright for their teen to have sex, which does provide for a little bit of conflict when it comes to understanding how to parent teenagers. Our society would like for us to believe that it maybe alright for one teen to have sex and then it maybe wrong for a different teen to have sex and it simply depends upon the individual, but I disagree in that I believe that God has give us absolutes when it comes to right and wrong. I believe that these absolutes apply to all aspects of life including raising teenagers and leading our families.

I believe that it is highly important that the adults in our churches know that there is a right and wrong way to raise their children. It is easy for Christian’s to follow the social norms and unintentionally slip down the wrong path when it comes to parenting an adolescent. It is also easy for parents to think they are doing the right thing by overbearingly restricting their child and causing unneeded conflict and pain. In order to apply some of the things that I have learned in this research project I think it would be good to offer a class to the parents of teenagers that are coming up into the youth group. As a youth minister I believe that my job is not simply to instruct and lead the teenagers in spiritual growth, but their parents as well. The class would involve learning many of the techniques and ideas presented by Clark, Chen, and Dobson. It would also involve bible studies that help parents in understanding their role as the spiritual leaders of their children and families. I would offer the class to those parents whose kids are getting ready to enter into the adolescent stage so that they have a heads up and then I would continue to offer bible studies thorough the years of their child being in high school in order to remind them and help them as their child gets older.

Another way to apply these teachings would be to set the example in my own family (when I have one). As people come to me and ask for help with their teenagers I could help them to see the things that I have done and do as a parent. The spiritual leaders of the Church should always lead by example in their words, actions, and family life.

As the church teaches it’s members how to be parents of children of all ages and how to raise their children up in the way they should go and as the church continues to lead each individual adult and teenager into spiritual maturity I think that family life will grow stronger. It is to the glory of God that we would do any of this so that in the unity of a strong spiritual family we give praise to our God as we represent holiness in our lives and obedience to His word.


Parenting Teenagers (Part V)

This is a continuation of:
Parenting Teenagers Part I
Parenting Teenagers Part II.
Parenting Teenagers Part III
Parenting Teenagers Part IV

On the website, Families Online, Alan Bright writes a couple articles concerning raising teenagers and proper discipline. Bright offers several suggestions for becoming better parents. The first suggestion is to catch your children doing things right. “Bad behavior and punishment should not be a major part of your relationship with your children.” Parents should always praise the good behavior of their teens. The second thing Bright suggests is that parents should agree with each other in front of the teens. A third tip is that parents should give instructions in a normal voice, if not “you are training your children to take you seriously only when you raise your voice or when you repeat yourself.” Another thing that parents should do is to never make a threat that they won’t carry out. We want our children to trust us and if we contradict ourselves it doesn’t build that trust. The fifth suggestion that Bright gives is that whenever you tell your teenager to do something you should make sure that you tell them the reason why. “Because I say so” is not an option. Make sure they understand so that they are more likely to obey you. The last thing is that parents must keep in mind that teenagers can spot hypocrisy a mile away. Parents should treat their children how they would want to be treated and lead by example.

Another writer for this same website, Angelique Forrester, gives some suggestions for parent teen interaction. Parents should resist put-downs about other people based on their appearances and so on. Parents should always praise and encourage their teenager’s strengths to reinforce their self esteem. Watching television with your teenager is a good idea in that it opens up the door to talk about how “real” the situations and images are. Listening is important for parents to do. “…making them know that they matter to us and their opinions are valid.” Teach your children strategies for their relationships with others, including being thoughtful in the way they treat other people. And finally love your teenager unconditionally and make sure that they know it.

These are just some instances of the wealth of information that can be found about parenting teenagers. There is a wide variety of opinions about this particular subject and people’s opinions are based on their own convictions and belief. Tomorrow I will offer some of my own opinions about these articles and the this subject.