Tuesday, September 11, 2012

H.S. YOUTH: Open Church - Open Choice Nights

As a teacher I always have games and activities to keep my students busy.  We have to plan their time, right?  WRONG!  When I would ask them if they'd rather play a game or just talk, they'd always robustly respond, "TALK!"  It's great to have games and activities and all kinds of fun stuff for kids to do but these days teenagers are totally over scheduled.  Sometimes what they want is just hang-time.  Developmentally they need hang-time... a chance to relax, just be themselves, and ponder life together. 

I grew up in a youth group that wasn't DCE driven.  Every week we had Friday Open Church and that meant we could all come to the church and hang out.  Sometimes we planned special activities but sometimes smaller groups might play volleyball or throw a softball around, a few might shoot baskets, play cards, or just hang out.  These days I wouldn't do that every week but it's certainly something worth talking about with the kids to see if they're interested.  There could be a variety of unplanned options but they decide what they are and it has to be ok not to do any of them.

Don't get me wrong.  Special activities like a night of Minute-to-Win-It games, progressive dinners, local scavenger hunts, live Clue, Messy Olympics, organized game nights, etc. are always a good time but they make some kids uncomfortable.  Every conversation youth have doesn't have to be structured and as leaders it gives us a chance to honestly hang out with them too.  Valuable conversations!!

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