Ice cream is by far one of my favorite desserts. There are such a wide variety of toppings and flavors, that each person can literally create their own confectionary masterpiece. Years ago when I discovered Baskin Robbins, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Here was a store that specialized in inventing dozens of new and interesting flavors. They literally have a flavor designed for every person. And the wonderful thing is that they let you sample each flavor to determine which flavor is the right one for you.
In youth ministry, we need to be like Baskin Robbins. We need to be in the business of inventing new flavors that appeal to our “customers.” Teenagers are the most demanding of consumers. They want and demand flavor. When trying to reach teenagers for Christ, it is so important that we ask ourselves, “How can we improve the flavor of our ministry so that it is meeting the needs of our students?”
Here are 31 samples that can help bring flavor to your youth ministry:
1. Put a Smile on Their Face – Put fun and friendly people at the entrances to your ministry. First impressions are everything!
2. Reach Out and Touch – Create opportunities for your students to make an impact in their neighborhoods through community service projects.
3. Mission Accomplished – Keep the mission of your youth ministry clear. Repeat it again and again until every person can say it in his or her sleep.
4. VIP – There is Value In Prayer. Put a priority on prayer and it’s ability to set the atmosphere of your services.
5. Finish Last – At the end of the year, throw a party to celebrate all the accomplishments and memories of the year past.
6. Games we Play – Throw in some fun icebreakers to open services. For example, freeze some wet t-shirts and have the students compete to try to see who can get into their thawing shirt first.
7. Pump Up the Volume – Music sets the environment. Fill your spaces with contemporary and relevant Christian music the students can enjoy.
8. Brand You – Give identity to everything you put in front of the students. Whether it is leader t-shirts, logos or simply the design of your spaces, give it an identity.
9. Freebies – Every once in a while, give away some free stuff. You will be surprised how far a $5.00 gift card can go. Or ask local businesses to donate something. People are always willing to help.
10. Girls Night Out – Pick a night and celebrate all the ladies in your program. From pink goodies to girlie music, show the ladies how much you appreciate them.
11. Guys Night Out – Pick a night and celebrate all the guys in your program. Whether it is man themed trivia or throw down challenges, show the guys you appreciate that they have chosen your youth ministry.
12. No Time to Waste – Start on time. Set a standard of excellence the students can depend on. If doors open at 7:00 pm, open those doors at 7:00 pm!
13. Get Serious about Series – One hit wonder messages are great every now and then, but they don’t have the same impact as a series that builds on a topic week to week. A message series have guaranteed impact.
14. Start a Talk Show – At the end of an especially challenging series, create a talk show environment that gives the students the opportunity to offer their feedback about what they have learned.
15. One Big Night – Every once in a while, plan an event night or launch night to keep the life in your youth ministry. That night, everything ties into the theme for your event – the message, the music, and the mission.
16. Break the Rule – Normally by rule, youth ministries struggle with creating and maintaining rules. Well, it is time to break that rule and start creating some rules our students can live by. Make your rules and consequences clear.
17. Paper Pleaser – We live in a paperless pushing society. We are pro-paperless, but there are times when paper helps put events in the hands of your students so they don’t forget.
18. Get Sticky – Use stickers! They are so cheap to make and they make a bigger statement than they cost. Besides, stickers are just fun. Make sure they are sticky… and removable.
19. Eye Opener – This generation is highly visual. That is why when you are writing your message series, you need to plan to build in some visual illustrations to make sure the information sticks.
20. House Parties – Offer programming that is special for your seniors. Get them away from everything else and pour into their lives, as they get ready to transition to what is next.
21. Name Games – Every youth ministry has programs inside of their ministry. Prayer, smalls groups, worship. But why not call them something more memorable? We call prayer VIP, Velocity in Prayer. Much more memorable.
22. Work It – Give your leaders that serve in your ministry a job description. They will always know what is expected of them, and you will know what is expected of you. Well-informed leaders are happy leaders.
23. Food Fight – At this age, teenagers love to eat. They need to eat as they continue to grow. So, plan fun event nights that involve food. You can even call local restaurants to help out with free food. Believe me, no one wants to miss out on free food.
24. Unplugged – Plan nights where you simply unplug. Turn off the lights and the flash. Close up shop on the games, and just take some real time to worship and seek the presence of God.
25. Celebrate Good Times – Plan your youth ministry calendar around holidays. Don’t ignore them. Use them as an opportunity to encourage students to bring their friends. For example, Thanksgiving is a great time for some flag football.
26. Use ‘Em or You Lose ‘Em – Get your students involved in your programming. When students take ownership of their own ministry, they encourage others to follow their example. Don’t underestimate how valuable their gifts and talents really are.
27. Speak Out – Invite in guest speakers. It will mix up the normal flow of your services and allow your students to interact with and learn from other leaders in your church.
28. Get Money – Having money to do things like events can be hard for some youth ministries. Fundraisers can help. Events like Bake Auctions, Walk-A-Thons, and sponsorships are easy to plan. You have not, because you ask not.
29. Be Worldly – Today we have access to the entire world through the World Wide Web. Use the web to connect together with students, as a way for students to find out more about your programming, and to do research for your events/series planning.
30. Parent Night Out – Call parents in for special meetings to inform them about program changes, event details, etc. Keeping your parents well informed and involved will go a long way to keeping your students plugged in.
31. Face to Face – Provide opportunities for your students to interact with God by incorporating elements such as devotionals, fasts, essays, readings, etc. into your series planning.
Hope you enjoyed these samples! Sometimes, when you sample one flavor, it gives you an idea of what you can add in to make the flavor even better. Feel free to take these 31 samples and mix them together to improve the flavor of your youth ministry.
Interested in more flavors? You can order a copy of Pastor Lee’s audio teaching, The Scoop: 100 Ideas to Bring Flavor to Your Youth Ministry. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to order The Scoop.