Outreach Hands On Help
group magazine: January-February, 2000
Make it easy for older church members to ask for help from the young people in your youth group by dedicating a hotline exclusively to seniors.
Publicize a phone number where people can either speak to someone or leave a message when they need assistance. Kids who volunteer to serve can establish guidelines for the types of requests they can best fulfill, such as yardwork, snow shoveling, rides to church, or grocery shopping. The range of service could be far-reaching or limited: for example, kids might only provide snow-shoveling. You’ll likely find, though, that kids will enjoy this so much that they’ll want to do more.
The parable of the talents came to life at First United Methodist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas, when more than 30 members of the Methodist Youth Fellowship responded to a challenge from youth director Roger McKnight.
After completing a Bible study on the parable, McKnight gave group members $20 each, telling them the money was theirs to do whatever they wanted, but it was due back in two months. If they put the money to good use, they could donate their profits to a church-affiliated activity.
The kids enthusiastically brainstormed ideas. They formed small groups and pooled their money for a variety of projects, including a car wash, a raffle, and a dinner and movie night. One group opened a Christian coffee house for two weeks, and another group conducted a citywide fellowship for 5th- and 6th-graders.
At the end of two months, not only had the young people raised almost $6,000 but they also had a vested interest in the areas of the church where they’d made donations.
The youth group at New Vision Baptist Church in Kenner, Louisiana, may be small in size, but that didn’t stop these young people from responding in a bighearted way to the plight of a 12-year-old girl who was dying of AIDS. Cocoa’s parents had died of the disease, and she was only expected to live for another six to eight months.
Youth group members wanted to treat Cocoa to a special day of shopping. They sold red beans and rice plates door to door, and collected donations at local stores to raise more than $900. "I gained so much respect for these kids," says youth pastor Julie Troyer. "Through much hard work, persistence, and a lot of prayers, Cocoa had a wonderful day." And Troyer is happy to report that Cocoa is still alive—more than 1 1/2 years later.
On a chilly San Francisco morning this past October, 1,500 teenagers crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to demonstrate support for sexual abstinence until marriage.
Crossing Bridges With Purity began at the north end of the mile-long bridge. From 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., young people walked across the bridge carrying pledge cards signed by teenagers from all over the country. Altogether kids carried across 100,000 pledges.
Afterward teenagers from almost 100 youth groups stood shoulder to shoulder on the marina green near the bridge and held up large posters with the pledge cards attached. Other youth groups ministered to the needy in various parts of San Francisco.
We want to know what phenomenal things your young people are doing. And if we use your story, we’ll give you a free Group resource. Send your reports to "Good News," group Magazine, P.O. Box 481, Loveland, CO 80539-0481.
Want to advertise your youth group’s Web page to curious teenagers who’d otherwise never see it?
Grab some inkjet business cards at any office supply store, and make up hundreds of cards with only your Web address printed on them. Then have your kids leave them all over town: school classrooms, desks, and bulletin boards; phone booths; fast food restaurants; movie theaters; and favorite hangouts.
Inspiration, that’s what. Have kids contribute to others’ inspiration by donating seed packets to a community garden.
Do some investigating to locate garden projects in your area, such as local parks or shelters; then make arrangements to donate seeds.
Toward the end of winter, have young people create signs asking church members for donations of seed packets. Some kids might also present a skit about the project during a worship service. Ask other youth group members to approach local greenhouses and nurseries about donations. Finally, collect a "seed offering" during a worship service.
Before delivering the seeds, have kids create a card stating the purpose of the gift. For example, the card could say, "God’s creation teaches us about God and inspires us to worship God. We’d like others to feel that inspiration too, so here are ‘seeds of inspiration’ for you!"