Youth Group Ideas Archives

It’s an argument as old as church itself — when is the best time to hold youth service? After all, you want to leverage your time to be appealing to both parents and teens, but you may not want to interfere with family time or other events. There are very good arguments for many different times to have youth services. Though it is impossible for everyone to agree, we here at M2Y have compiled some information that may help you in making your decision. But remember, ultimately you will need to make a decision that works best according to your personal and church schedule.

Single Youth Services vs. Multiple Weekly Services

In planning the time of week for youth services, few youth pastors are lucky enough to pick a time without encountering concerns, complaints or downright opposition from staff members, parents, and the worst — senior staff members who are also parents. If your plotted time doesn’t bode well with everyone, the people-pleaser in you may decide it’s best to hold multiple weekly services. And that’s okay…if, and only if you have the time, energy, support and dedication to pour into your teens and services whole-heartedly more than once every seven days. Coasting by isn’t going to cut it, and your teens will notice if you are showing up with poorly prepared messages or sloppy planning. In our opinion, do one thing and do it right. If you are doing your job well and not ‘running on fumes’, others will adapt their schedules to fit yours.  On the other hand, if you are overflowing with helpful adult leadership and have more than enough time to hold multiple weekly services (we call you the one percent around here), then go for it!

Breaking it Down – Day by Day

Sunday Morning

Many churches adopt Sunday morning youth services, though we here at M2Y only recommend them for Sunday School purposes and in addition to another main youth service. The truth is that teens don’t like getting up early and are less likely to attend Sunday morning – especially if they do not attend church with their families. Also, teenagers are old enough and fully capable of worshipping with adults in the main Sunday morning service.

Sunday Night

Sunday night is a popular night for youth services and is also one of our favorites. The reason? Kids have had time to unwind after a week of school and are less likely to have homework than they are on Wednesday nights or prior plans than they are on Saturday nights. Plus, youth service is fresh on their minds after being reminded at Sunday morning church service. The downside? They have school the next day and parents may want to reserve Sundays for family night.

Wednesday Night

Wednesdays are perhaps the most popular night of all for youth services, but why? More and more churches are getting away from mid-week services due to scheduling conflicts. Instead, they are opting for a small group format that seems to work well and also foster relationship among church members. Kids often have after-school commitments, sporting events, and homework that gets in the way of regular Wednesday attendance. If you are itching for a mid-week gathering, try a small group format, fellowship or Bible study.

Saturday Night

Like Sunday nights, Saturdays are popular nights for youth service – especially among larger churches. Our advice? Go with a Saturday service if you have a youth ministry that your teens are itching to come to week after week. There’s no school the next day, and you’ll benefit when teens are at church rather than hanging out late into the night without adult supervision. Keep in mind, however, that Saturday nights are sacred to most teenagers. If your youth services aren’t up to par – they probably won’t show up. It’s nothing personal, except that their social lives are a high priority (right up there with breathing and sleep).

 

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Nothing will make a teenager yawn faster than hearing you ask them to turn to Leviticus. While it’s no secret that some of the oldest books of the Bible seem less exciting and make less sense to young people than Acts or Romans, those books hold a treasure of scriptures that set the foundation of our faith. So how does a youth pastor making teaching the old testament to teenagers more exciting? Even more, how do you get teenagers to start researching the scriptures themselves?

Fascinate Them

Teenagers like to be wowed. Actually, adults like to be wowed too. As humans, we love the extraordinary – especially when it unfolds right in front of our eyes. Try giving you students a handful of scientific scriptures. Ask them to determine why those scriptures are so significant to us today. For example, in Job 26, scripture says that God hung the Earth on nothing – which proves scientifically correct. But how did Job know this fact? Again, Isaiah states that the Earth is round. Students know the story of Columbus and the general belief that the Earth was flat for thousands of years after Isaiah made his statements.

Answer Their Questions

Because the Old Testament is made up of ancient scripture, many students wonder why certain scrolls made it into the Bible and others did not. What was the process for determining which scriptures were the inspired Word of God, and which ones were not? If Elijah was a man of God, why did he cause 52 boys to be mauled by bears just for calling him “baldy.” Try promoting a series on the Old Testament by encouraging students to write down their questions and put them in a box in the weeks leading up to the series. They will be more likely to show up to services if they are already interested in what you are talking about.

When in Doubt, Get Help

If you need to teach the Old Testament to your youth group, but don’t have the first clue as to where to start, consider using the Rooted youth series. It is a six-week study designed to help teenagers understand the importance of the Old Testament and what it means for us today. It answers all the tough questions for you, including why the Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs, why the Bible isn’t just another religious book and how the Old Covenant affects our New Covenant. Even more, Rooted explains the difference between the books and divides the Old Testament in to the poetic books, the prophetic books, the Torah and the historical books. The best part? Rooted is about $29, which is less than $5 per lesson – and it’s both downloadable and available by mail. Get it here: Rooted – Old Testament – Download

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The New Year is upon us, and you may be re-evaluating youth ministry in the new year. Perhaps you’re looking for ways to freshen up your ministry, or maybe you need a complete overhaul. Either way, we’ve got some tips for making this year the best year ever for your youth group.

Start the Year with a Bang

As your students come back after Christmas break, don’t wait until school starts to get your youth ministry hopping again. Start the year with a bang by scheduling a New Year’s party. We suggest a new year lock-in. If your church isn’t a good location, do a lock-in at a local gym or a willing volunteer’s home. Schedule a lot of fun lock-in activities. Our picks include a scavenger hunt and a lot of fun Xbox Kinect games. There are a lot of party games for lock-ins, so take a look on Amazon for some deals, as well as a variety of Kinect games.

Get Your Resources in Check

Make sure you’re ready to tackle the new year with your group by getting your resources in check. This means finding a couple of good websites to follow for great ideas, as well as scheduling a couple of youth pastor conferences during the year for refreshers. We also recommend subscribing to a Group Magazine Subscription (1 Year) – 6 Physical Issues. They are full of ideas relevant to today’s youth ministry. You’ll find youth camps, retreat ideas, sermon ideas, volunteer resources and more freebies in their magazine. And at $2.49 an issue, we consider it a bargain.

Try Something New

This year, instead of sticking with the same old tired way of doing ministry, why not beef it up by adding some variety to your services. For example, if in the past you just showed up with a sermon on Wednesday night, why not plan out your entire year by themes. We recommend something different each month. Do a four-week series each month on a particular topic. February is a good time to discuss all things love and dating with teenagers. Other theme ideas include missions, tough issues (depression, divorce, etc), the cross, prayer, honor, and just about any other topic you can think of. Be sure to promote each series with posters, post cards, information on your website, funny skits, media and games. If you have the resources, end each series with a fun event night that kids can bring friends to and you can promote the next series at.

Find Some Filler

Free up your time and reduce stress by anticipating the moments during the year when business can prevent you from having a well-prepared service. Instead of throwing something together or having a game night with no spiritual substance, go ahead and create five or six filler services that are ready when you need them. That way, if you have a family emergency or a busy week at the church, you’ll seem very well prepared despite your lack of time and energy.

Our suggestions for great filler include the Nooma – Nooma Pick 6 from Rob Bell, or one of the Simply Youth Ministry complete sermons from Doug Fields. They add a lot of new sermons throughout the year and are available for immediate download, complete with a message, media and youth outlines. Want some ideas that really make an impact? Try the One Month to Live – Download, which teaches teens about living as though you only had one month left on this Earth.

Renew Your Relationship with Your fVolunteers

Volunteers are the oft-too-forgotten part of our ministries. The simple truth is, they want to be a lot more involved than you think, but they also want to be thanked. Instead of only scheduling volunteer meetings with instructional information, have monthly appreciation gatherings at your home. Try a pot-luck and game night to bond with your team. Pray together, and toss around ideas. They’ll appreciate feeling more a part of the direction of the ministry, rather than a herd of cattle being pushed in a single direction.

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So it’s already time to throw your teenagers a group Christmas party and you don’t know how you’re going to top last year’s gathering. You’ve already exhausted the white elephant game and you can only handle watching Elf so many times. What’s a person to do? Well, there’s always Holiday Charades and the traditional Christmas trivia, but how can you spice it up…as in, keep your teenagers awake and participating? Well, we’d like to think we’ve assembled a pretty great list of Christmas party game ideas here…feel free to read through them and add your own ideas at the bottom. Also, don’t forget to take a look at our first post about planning a Christmas party from last year.

Christmas Carol Karaoke

Grab a karaoke machine and start playing your favorite holiday tunes. Whether it’s a solo competition, group style or lip synching, judge each performance on a scale of  one to five, with one being a “lump of cole,” two being a  “fruit cake,” three being an “ugly Christmas sweater,” four being a “cup of hot chocolate” and five being a “new iPad under your Christmas tree.” Well, you get the point. Just make it fun.

Holiday Costume Party

Remember that candy-induced holiday just a few weeks back? What was the name of that again? Oh yeah, Halloween. Here’s a thought…why only dress up for Halloween? Why don’t you host a holiday costume party and tell everyone to come dressed as their favorite holiday character. The possibilities are endless. From Santa and the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, to the Grinch and Scrooge, the possibilities are endless. And it’s just one more way to spice up your Christmas party.

Human Christmas Tree

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but if you need further elaboration, here it goes. Pick a few teens to “decorate” as human Christmas trees. Divide a group of kids into teams of five and hand them a strand of Christmas lights, tinsel, garland, ornaments and popcorn strands to decorate their “trees.” Put two minutes on the clock and have them light up their trees at the end. Take a vote on the best trees and hand out awards.

Did you like this post? Let others know about it. Share us on Facebook. And while you’re at it, subscribe to our blog’s rss feed for regular updates. And feel free to share more of your own ideas for Christmas party games for teenagers in the comments section below.

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Youth Group Facebook Page Optimization

We just finished discussing in Part One of this two-part post series about how Facebook is one of the biggest tools in your youth ministry arsenal. It is a powerhouse for reaching out to students and parents – whether or not they attend your youth group. You absolutely, 100 percent need a youth group Facebook page. It gives your students a sense of community and a place online to share their experiences, youth group photos and get support from each other. But enough of why you need the page – if you’re reading part two of this series, you already have one and now you just want to know how to get your students active on the page. If you don’t have a page, visit Part One for the set-up tutorial before continuing on this page.

The first step to getting more people active on your youth group’s Facebook page is to get more people to actually like the page. You also need to retain those people and keep them active on the site. If you took our advice in section one, you were able to Create a custom Facebook page in minutes with North Social apps. This is a breeze, because it’s as simple as creating a quick landing page and incentives that gets users to like your page. However, there are more ways:

  • run a Facebook “like” competition (give away a free t-shirt randomly for every 100 likes you receive)
  • create a YouTube channel with recent messages and announcement videos. Link to your Facebook page.
  • Offer special discounts on youth group products and trips for Facebook fans only.
  • Regularly post to your youth group page’s wall about upcoming services – leave cliff hangers that they can only find out the answer to if they attend service
  • Post open questions about how the youth group is affecting your students’ lives
  • Post pictures and videos to the page frequently – tagging students and parents to get them to comment. Not only will they remain active on the page, but their friends will gain exposure to the page as well.
  • Consider running a Facebook ad for your group. Though you may not have the funds to run regular targeted ads to the youth in your community, you may be able to afford an ad for your major events, such as concerts, retreats and guest speakers.

The biggest key is consistency. As you know, consistency with your students breeds trust. The same principle applies to social media. Keep your students and parents interacting with each other regularly. Whether that means posting a daily devotional post or polling your kids about what topic they would like to discuss next in your group, just do something…and do it often.

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If you have a youth ministry, Facebook is probably one of your biggest tools for staying connected to the students you minister to. There are more than 400 million people using Facebook, and for many, it may be their first impression of your youth group. Because the world of social media is constantly evolving, it can be difficult to stay up to speed on Facebook pages, youth group fan pages and how to incorporate your ministry into the middle of it. We’re going to give you some tips for making a custom youth group Facebook page and using it to reach out to your students.

We’re breaking our youth ministry Facebook page tutorial into two parts. This first part will discuss the look of your page. After you finish reading, head over to Make a Custom Youth Group Facebook Page – Part Two, where you’ll learn how to market your page to your students, parents and the students in and around your community that you want to attract to your ministry.

If you haven’t already done so, create a Facebook page for your youth ministry at facebook.com/pages. Update your youth group’s information and add a picture to your page. At this point, you should have a basic youth group Facebook page, and your wall should be the first thing visitors see when they come to your page.

Look to the top of the page for the “edit page” feature. Click it to customize the layout of your page. It is here you can customize

  • Who is allowed to view the page
  • Who can post to it
  • Who may post pictures to your youth group page
  • Who may tag your youth group in other photos
  • And you can also determine how strong of a profanity censorship you would like on your page.

If you have a youth group Twitter account (which we highly recommend), you can link your youth group Facebook page to your Twitter under the Resources tab in the “edit page” feature.

Edit your About section to reflect the thing you want your visitors to see most. Next to your page picture, this is the most visible section of your Facebook page unless you customize it. You about section could include information about service times, an upcoming youth ministry retreat or a link to your youth group website. Make it short and sweet, and also easy read.

If you want to take your page to the next level, with impressive graphics, giant pictures announcing upcoming competitions or events, or by making an professional-looking Facebook landing page with video, polls and tons of other features, you have three options. The first – and most unlikely – is to custom code all of the effects yourself. This is extremely complicated, and the coding changes constantly, as it seems like Facebook updates itself every five minutes. The second option – and most expensive – is to hire a professional to do all the dirty work. But again, this is a large investment and will require ongoing funding to keep the site up to date.

The third option – and most economical- is to use apps to customize your youth group’s Facebook page. This is the secret of major companies and small businesses alike, and now you can harness that power in your youth group’s page. For example, you can Launch a professional Facebook page with North Social apps. It uses a whole slew of apps to customize your group’s page. Examples include apps that can customize your first impression, display a showcase of photos or videos from your last big event, take donations for your ministry, create a map to your next event, and even an app to accept volunteers for your ministry. You can also display a rotating Twitter feed right on your Facebook page.

 

Once you’ve got your Facebook page looking the way you want it to, head over to Part Two, where we’ll teach you how to optimize your Likes and expand your reach to more students in your community using social media. Again, if you are a youth minister of any size group from 2 to 2,000, and you aren’t utilizing Facebook for your ministry, you are grossly underexposing your ministry.

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Teens love games that seem cutting edge and professional. If you have a computer or laptop in your youth room, you can play these games and have a blast. We’ve put together a list of (we’d say impressive) youth group Power Point games and screen games that don’t require Power Point for you to use at your next youth service.

Summer Themed Youth Group Game – Race This

Available as part of the Race This Volume 2 from Simply Youth Ministry, SYM is offering one game free of charge for download from their website. These games are just like the ones you see at sporting events on the jumbo screens, where one color, drink or other item races another and the crowd yells out which one will win. Each race is randomly selected and the winner changes each time. These are great for use during down time or before service and are compatible with both Mac and PC. To get your free download, click here. Or, if you can get the  full set of Race This Vol. 2 – Download.

Downloadable Game Show Games for Groups

You can download free game show games for your group, such as “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader” and “The Family Feud.” The games are fun and interactive and available at Download-Free-Games.com. However, unless you are just really set on using your big screen to play a game show game with your group, we suggest mimicking the games on the popular show, “Minute to Win It.” They are absolutely hilarious and performed with things you already have around the house.

Customizable Wheel Spin Game for Groups – Spin that Wheel

This one is a new one and very professional looking. In fact, you could play this over and over, customizing it however you wish and using it either as the sole game or to enhance a game you are already playing. It works by imputing your prizes onto the wheel and letting your kids spin for prizes such as t-shirts, gift cards, or a bag of chips. The possibilities are limitless. Alternatively, you could use the wheel to determine something the players have to do in the game. For example, lose a turn, get a free spin, lose all your points, or you could imput actions, such as eat 15 marshmallows in 45 seconds or some other ridiculous task. Your a youth pastor – you can come up with something, we just know it. To check out the game and view a demonstration, click Spin That Wheel – Download.
Spin That Wheel - Download

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New Product - Live Curriculum - Doug Fields' 4-Yea

The Live Curriculum available from Simply Youth Ministry is rapidly growing in popularity. At first glance, it looks like another youth curriculum program with a few bells and whistles. However, we’ve recently taken an in-depth look at the program to bring you a Live Curriculum review that will answer your questions and help you make a decision as to whether or not the program is right for your youth ministry.

About Live

First and foremost, we have to note that the Live Curriculum is not something you want to use for your regular group youth service. Instead, the program is designed to streamline either your small group or Sunday school lessons that are usually taught by your youth leaders. That being said, most successful youth ministries have some sort of small group gatherings on a regular basis, and we at Minister to Youth believe that those gatherings are vital to creating solid relationships and foundations in ministry.

Live works off of a 36-week year, assuming that many youth groups postpone small groups during the 12 weeks of summer and during the holidays. However, pastors can organize and edit the lessons as they see fit. The lessons are age-appropriate and are designed to build upon each other over time. Essentially, you can plan your lessons for up to 4 years, or 144 weeks in advance from anywhere, anytime. For an example, SYM’s chart below provides an example of the lessons and the order you can teach them in:

New Product! Live Curriculum – Doug Fields’ 4-Year Small Group Curriculum!

Easy Features

A purchase of Live comes with one to two years of access to the online tool where you set up what your leaders see. Each leader can log-in with permissions to view your customizable master calendar, view the lesson plan for the week, and view any notes you place in the leader’s news feed. From the dashboard, you can also send out pre-written parent emails about the week’s topic, and if you are a Simply TXT user, that program is fully integrated with the Live Curriculum as well, allowing you to effectively send out reminders to your leaders and students.

Portability

We have to say, this is our favorite feature about the Live Curriculum. Simply Youth Ministry recently released an incredibly cool iPhone and iPad app that finally brings youth ministry into today’s technology. You can view entire lessons on your screen without carrying around your bulky laptop. Oh, and did we mention that this app is FREE? We’ve provided screen shots below. Oh, and if you aren’t an iPhone or iPad owner, the Live Curriculum is soon to launch an Android app as well.

iPhone iTouch Log-In Screen

Time

The fine people over at Simply Youth Ministry do more than help youth pastors minister to students – they also minister to youth pastors. They have research that suggests that the connectivity and fluidity of the Live Curriculum will improve a youth pastor’s effectiveness by more than 73 percent. And it makes sense too; having a 6-year road map of lessons gives pastors more time for what’s important – connecting with students.

Customization

There is nothing worse than feeling tied down to a curriculum or series that you don’t really want to teach or you don’t feel is a good fit for your youth ministry. We like that the Live Curriculum offers both junior high and high school options to choose from, and that the lessons are editable to your discretion. For an example of how to edit a lesson, you can watch the following demonstration:

YouTube Preview Image

Conclusion

Our final conclusion of the Live Curriculum is very positive. Though we can think of a few things to improve upon (for example, we think leaders should have access to the online tool for the length of their Live Curriculum usage), we found few things to deter us from recommending the program to youth pastors. We even consider the $249 and $499 prices to be quite modest considering what’s included…all of the organization and full lesson plans come out to less than $3.50 per lesson. To us, $3.50 is worth about 7 minutes of our time on a good day, so unless you find it easy to write a quality lesson plan and organize it for your leaders in 7 minutes or less, chances are it’s a good value for you too. And better yet, you don’t have to put together a small group lesson for 2 to 4 years.

To purchase Live Curriculum, or try it for FREE, choose which version you want to learn more about below:

High School Live Curriculum

Jr High Live Curriculum

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Ah, Valentine’s Day. It’s the one day every 365 days that we lavish our love and affection on another person with cheesy gifts and expensive dinners. Teens buy into the hype as well, and this time of year is perfect for talking to youth about sex. We know what you’re thinking – why me? Why put you in a room full of giggly students to talk about the most uncomfortable and least talked about subject in church? Well, because it’s just that – the least talked about subject in church. And teenagers need a Godly perspective on the topic.

Teens face sexualized media, music, movies and are surrounded by hundreds of hormone-driven students everyday at school. The problem isn’t teaching them about sex, rather, it’s teaching them about God’s plan for sex in their lives. Many youth pastors choose to take the entire month of February to focus on dating, sex and purity.

Valentine’s Day Backgrounds – Download

Just this month, Youth Ministry 360 released an incredible resource for youth pastors doing just that. Instead of fumbling through a hand made series for your group, they have put together the Live Different series pack, complete with 4 weeks of lessons on sex and holiness. It comes with two media videos, parent resources to involve families in the series, male/female small group discussions, digital banners for your website or Facebook page, student handouts, PowerPoint guides and promotional art to put up in your youth room or church. Below is an excerpt from the overview of the first lesson in Live Different:

Today’s teenager lives in a hyper-sexualized society. And while sexual immorality has plagued humankind
virtually forever, we seem to be in the midst of an age where the glamorization of sex is unprecedented. Teenagers are
bombarded by messages about sex and sexual behavior. What does our culture say to teenagers about sex? Culture says
sex is part of who you are, and that a teenager’s sexuality is simply one facet of his or her identity. Culture says sexual
expression is an important aspect of being young. But most importantly, culture says that sex between two consenting
teenagers is OK, if not normal. As long as sex is not coercive, marriage, and maybe even love, doesn’t really matter. The
problem is that this flies in the face of how the Bible talks about sex and sexual expression. It’s imperative that teenagers
learn God’s intention for how they are to make choices about sex and sexuality. This first lesson in Live Different helps
students understand the biblical context for sex and its expression.


Live Different by Youth Ministry 360 Now Available

If you want to take the traditional route and create your own message or youth sermon series, check out our previous post on teaching kids about Love, Dating and Sex. In it, we tell you how to put together a series that teens will never forget.

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Planning a youth group Christmas party is a tedious process, and doing so during the holiday season is even more difficult. Take some tips from the pros for planning your next youth group Christmas celebration soiree.

Looking for a detailed list of youth group Christmas games, printable party-planning worksheets, ideas and activities? Check out our favorite collection of Christmas youth ideas to the left. It’s available for immediate download to your computer, and includes over 360 pages of ideas, as well as a search index. Many games and ideas are also appropriate for children and adults.

In it, you’ll get immediate access to:

  • 112 Christmas games
  • 24 Christmas icebreakers
  • Many devotions, teaching illustrations, jokes, funny stories and more.

Plan your Christmas party for twice the number of teens you normally have at a given youth group service. Depending on when you hold your party, it is likely to become one of your most popular youth nights. Form a budget and a party committee, and get to planning.

Food

Anyone who’s been in youth ministry for more than 2 seconds knows that the way to a teen’s attention is through pizza. If you feel pizza is too tired for your group, opt for a dessert night or a church-sponsored pot luck. Better yet, contact a local restaurant to donate food trays for the party as a tax write-off, but be sure to supply them with a receipt for the food’s total value. Some youth groups get by with serving holiday drinks like hot cocoa, apple cider and egg nog, along with homemade cookies and other baked goods.

Activities

Try organizing several mini-games or Christmas-related competitions to keep students busy throughout the course of your Christmas party. This may mean creating a group gingerbread house making contest or organizing a gift exchange. Whatever your choose, keep in mind that not all students will want to participate in activities. Try to have a movie playing in the background for those students. We usually prefer Elf or A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Give-Aways

Teens love free stuff almost as much as they love pizza. Try to contact some local business for small donation giveaways. Chick Fil A is known to give away free chicken sandwiches when asked, and bigger corporations such as Walmart have also been known to offer product donations. You could also use the giveaways as a slick way to promote your upcoming year. Offer gift certificates toward youth camp or your next retreat. Other ideas include youth group t-shirts, CD’s and gift cards.

Do you have a Christmas party idea you want to share? Leave a comment below to help other youth pastors out.

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Regardless of the size of your youth ministry or church, you absolutely need a website. People of all ages are online now, and in order to remain relevant, you need a presence in the digital age. To top it off, a lot of things have changed over the past decade. A plain information page doesn’t quite cut it anymore. Don’t believe us? Try googling the biggest and most culturally relevant youth groups or churches in your area. I almost guarantee that they have an awesome, eye popping website. So how do you get one without spending a bunch of time or money? We’ve done the hard part for you.

We scoured the Internet for the best website options for church groups. We only picked the absolute cheapest options for the quality. We’ll provide the comparison, and let you decide.

Lunarpages.com

Lunar pages offers an option called “Quicksite.” This option gets your full website up and running start to finish in less than 2 hours. Prices start at only $12.95 per month, and domain registration is completely free. And forget building a website. There are literally hundreds of pre-built templates that you can choose from. Pick your design and customize it. If you want, you can upload church pictures, videos, parent release forms, calendars and more.

What put us over the top on Lunar Pages is its freebie section. All new sign ups get $50 in free ads on Google and $35 on MySpace. Additionally, you get space for up to five email addresses for staff members. There are no set up fees, just a flat monthly rate with a 12 month minimum. Check out the demo at Lunarpages.com.

Web.com – Low Priced Websites

It’s a tough call to make, but Web.com edges out our other selections for our favorite pick. Even though they are designed for business websites, they have a lot of cool features for churches too. Like Lunar Pages, they offer free domain registration and quick website set up with step by step instructions. But instead of just a few hundred templates to choose from, you get your choice from over 9,500 templates!  They offer both professional web design or DIY web design – your choice. You also get UNLIMITED email accounts and access to a whole library of free royalty-free pictures and images to use on your site. And what’s better is that you still get the $50 Google Adwords credit in addition to $50 from Yahoo! and Facebook Advertising as well. As for the price? Absolutely NO contracts and No set up fees. Just $11.95 per month, cancel anytime. Use this link to Save 20% on Web.com web creation/web hosting products using code TWC287.

Bluehost

Lastly, some of you may want to build your own website from scratch. We picked our favorite web host based on price, value, simplicity and believe it or not, morale (one host in particular we know of uses sexually explicit material to promote their hosting services.)

Bluehost has it all, and we actually chose it to host this very website. It offers unlimited websites registrations per hosting account, unlimited e-mail accounts, unlimited file transfer, unlimited hosting space and $50 each in Google and Yahoo! Ad credits. It is professional grade web hosting at a mere $6.95 per month, and we can honestly say (from experience) that there are no hidden monthly fees. They even offer a money back guarantee.

Our favorite part though is the one click site builder integration. You can literally install any of the major site builders such as wordpress, drupal, joomla, concrete5, zen cart or round cube in a few seconds. Everything is controlled from one basic control panel. Take Bluehost for a test drive here.

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It’s that time of year again. Summer is winding down and kids are slowly trickling back into a regular schedule. Youth groups often see a sharp decrease in attendance during the summer months, but teens come back to youth during the fall. This is also a time when you might see new faces from kids who graduate out of kid’s church and into youth group. What’s a youth pastor to do?


Host a Back to School Bash

This is the perfect way to get kids excited about the new semester. A friend of mine once hosted a burger eating contest for back to school. A local fast food joint donated all the hamburgers for the event and the youth group plastered the local schools with fliers about the competition. Grand prize was a brand new Xbox 360 or a $300 shopping spree. You want to talk about a turn out? That youth group of 35 regular students turned into 350 for the night. It was gross, messy and disgusting – exactly what teenagers love to see.

But what happened after the event was over? Well, if we had just hosted the event and done nothing else, there probably would have only been a few stragglers come back for service the next week. But we didn’t do that…and you shouldn’t either. Give all the kids at the event an incentive to come back. Get creative here. They need a reason to come check out a regular service. You could maybe tell them that any guest who attends the next four youth services will get a free t-shirt or that you’ll buy them dinner one night.  The catch here is that not many kids can come to youth for four weeks straight and NOT get plugged in. If you have a big retreat coming up in the fall, promote that at the event. Whatever it takes, get them interested.

Tip: try to obtain contact information for students. You may need parental consent to do this, so use discretion. Ideally, you should get them to sign up for your texting list. (See the Resource Page for information on this AMAZING service from SimplyTXT). Otherwise, get them to like your youth group’s facebook page  (If you don’t have a youth group facebook page…GET ONE).

Start Small Groups

I won’t go into much detail about small group ministry because I covered it pretty in depth in a 2 part series. (To read Small Groups Part One and Part Two.) However small groups are like blood. They are a life source that keeps your youth ministry going. This is where teens feel most comfortable opening up and making relationships.

Plan a Parent’s Meeting

I will be covering parent meetings in a future post, but for the time being, know that as a parent myself, I want to be involved in my kids’ lives. If you want to unlock the doors to favor with parents, host parent meetings. Have three per year: one at the beginning of each semester and again at the beginning of summer. Give parents a heads up on what series topics you will be covering, any new groups you are forming (worship team, drama team, outreach, etc.). Give them a packet explaining upcoming trips and prices, along with fundraising information (Fundraising Ideas here) Cover everything as best as you can until your Christmas party…and make sure you put it all on a calendar.

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