Youth Group Activities: Why We Do the Things We Do in Youth Ministry

Leading a youth ministry program has the potential to change lives if done well.  It’s about planting seeds that may take years to germinate.  The ministry that is accomplished can be life changing for teens. From Middle School to High School, we only have a few years to reach them for Jesus Christ.

As youth leaders we need to carefully consider why we choose to do the things we do at Youth Group.  We need to equip teens with knowledge and engage them in activities that they can use to experience Kingdom living today.

We need to explain the “why” to the youth each time we do something.  Repetition is a powerful learning tool.  After you have practiced this explaining approach for awhile, switch to asking them why we are doing it.

Hint!  Asking the youth to explain why you are doing something provides reinforcement when they respond.  For someone new to the group and for younger youth it makes it more meaningful coming from a peer.  Less adult “teaching”.

4 Types of Student Ministry Activities for Youth Groups at Church

I’ve found that the following four elements are powerful for allowing Jesus to weave God into the tapestry of their daily lives.

1. Prayer

2. Scripture

3. Outreach

4. Service

Incorporate each element each time you meet – both in Sunday School or Mid-week youth ministry times. It helps them practice seeing and living the Christian Way.  As a leader, you have to be prepared and grounded.  Think about each element when planning Youth Group.

Talk about each element before you do it.  Let them know what you’re doing.  It’s not necessary to set expectations.  Let God work in their lives. Give the Holy Spirit space to do the work.

Being a follower of Jesus is a lifelong journey.  Helping youth start the journey requires practice, patience, a tolerance for adolescent energy, and encouraging them to have lots of questions.  Answers will come for them as they gain knowledge.  The disciplines of praying, discussing scripture, reaching out to others and serving provides the foundation for God to help them experience the Way.

So Steve, you recommend using each one of the four elements each time we meet.   Can you give some examples for outreach (evangelism) and service to use at youth group?

Youth ministry outreach ideas and examples:

  • Inviting friends and recognizing them.  “Did anyone invite a friend?”
  • Following up with a card to the friend signed by everyone
  • A new youth shows up for youth group and you send a follow up card signed by everyone
  • Games as common ground for inclusion
  • A Birthday card signed by the youth to a youth in the church that doesn’t attend youth group
  • A welcoming night for the next age group eligible for the youth group
  • Sending cards to children in the children’s program
  • Send a congratulations note to a youth’s friend that doesn’t go to church signed by the youth group (for an accomplishment like sports, choir, band, scouts, 4H)

Hint!  Ask the youth for ideas on outreach.  A youth conceived outreach activity at youth group has a good chance of success.

Service activity ideas for youth group at church:

  • Clean up the space after youth group
  • Put away chairs
  • Wipe off tables
  • Pick up the trash
  • Sweep
  • Put away games
  • Remember!  As a leader, it’s not your job to serve the youth by cleaning up after them!
  • Set up for youth group
  • Read scripture
  • Help serve food
  • Small jobs/projects around the church
  • Collect elementary school supplies and package them
  • Make care kits for organizations that support the homeless, economically disadvantaged, or incarcerated youth
  • Write encouraging post it notes to residents in nursing homes with scripture (the youth’s favorite scripture)

Hint!  Like with Outreach, ask the youth for ideas for Service for youth group nights.

Activities for Youth Group Ministry

There isn’t a formula for leading youth group.  Let your faith lead.  Tell stories about faith.  Be creative in your approach to Outreach and Service.  But remember there can be simple “go to” ideas for always including outreach and service activities.  Use the free youth lesson resources that exist. 

Unless you have tons of spare time to write lessons, use the resources that are already published.  Spend your time reaching out and loving youth.  Let the youth that are hurting know that you see them.  Let them see your heart.

FAQ about Youth Group Activities

What do you do in youth groups?

The following four elements are powerful for allowing Jesus to weave God into their daily lives: 1) prayer 2) scripture 3) outreach 4) service. Fellowship and fun are a byproduct of being with friends, but Bible reading, talking to God, sharing Christ’s love, and serving others are the core activities youth pastors should plan for their groups.

What is the goal of a youth group?

As a youth ministry leader, our goal is to plant seeds that will bear spiritual fruit for years to come. Every teens life is valuable and has the potential to be changed by the love of God. We must equip teens with knowledge and tools for experiencing God in their everyday lives.

How can I make my youth group more fun?

There are a few things you can do to make your youth group more fun. First, try to mix up the activities you do each week. This will keep things fresh and help everyone stay engaged. Second, make sure everyone feels included and respected. When everyone feels like they belong, they’ll be more likely to enjoy themselves. Finally, don’t be afraid to have some goofy fun! Sometimes the best way to bond is by laughing together. If you can create an atmosphere where everybody feels comfortable having a good time, your youth group will be a lot more fun for everyone involved.

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