Fun Times

Sitting in court this morning (my job, not personal), I had ample time to find constructive things to do…like check Facebook, write a blog post, clean out my inbox… What did people do with their waiting time before all this technology?!?!  I vaguely remember those ancient days.

Anyway, in my inbox I found an email from a laser tag place to which I used to take my former church youth group…back when I was young and innocent… No, really I was just extremely naive. Here’s part of the email:

Here is an activity that is sure to unleash the fun at your next Youth Group gathering!

The name of the game is “Never Have I Ever”

Follow these simple instructions and have a blast!
1.       Everyone holds up one hand.
2.       Go around the circle and one at a time, each person announces something that they have never done, beginning the sentence with the phrase “Never have I ever…” For example, a person could say, “Never have I ever been to Europe.”
3.       For each statement that is said, all the other players drop a finger if they have done that statement.
4.       The goal is to stay in the game the longest.
5.       To win, it’s a good strategy to say statements that most people have done, but you haven’t.

Doesn’t that sound like a fun game to play with a group of teenagers? If you can’t imagine it, let me assure you, it is. Although we did the game differently, I have played it many times with my regular, church kids…the kind that have grown up in their family home and have, at least on occasion, attended church. They somehow knew what was and was not appropriate to say they had never done, which others may have. “Never have I ever: sang a solo, ridden a horse, drove a truck, climbed Stone Mountain, etc…” You get the idea. Perhaps these precious babies played the game differently at non-church parties. But they followed protocol at church.

And then one day I started working at a group home for troubled teenagers. Some of these kids LOVE to go to church and participate in youth group. So I take them. And one evening at youth group, we played “Never have I ever.” I probably will never do that again…lol! That’s when I found out how naive I was in my experience and expectations of “unchurched” kids; you know, the ones we say we want to reach? Turns out these kids are competitive…and adept at surviving… and some were not afraid or ashamed to use what they knew about the other contestants to win the game. Because I have been desensitized to what these kids say and do, I was not as shocked as I should have been… I think I even laughed. It was funny. I also stopped the game really quickly.

Here’s the rub and the question for you to ponder today: how do we reach out to hurting, disadvantaged children and include them in our “good, wholesome” activities, exposing them to love and grace and positive influences while protecting the children we currently have from negative influences brought in by the new kids? I’m open to suggestions. Please comment.

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4 Responses to Fun Times

  1. Clayton Goodwin says:

    You have done more than the rest of us. I usually don’t try to speak to what everyone else does, but I am pretty sure that most of us don’t have the courage it takes to sit in a room with a bunch of kids who may be more savvy about surviving than we are. I heard a pastor (Johnathan Borden) say that we “…just need to be real.” The implication being that if your not real, you will be sniffed out and disregarded. You are real. Just keep your feet on the ground and love them – one at a time.

    • tlhumphries says:

      Thanks, Clayton. Being real is very necessary. The Bible says to “love one another with geniune affection and take delight n honoring each other,” Rom, 12:10. You do that, also, my friend. And I am thankful for it. (And there are a lot of others who do way more than me. I’m just tryi to keep up 🙂 )

  2. Connie P. says:

    Tammy, what a challenging question. As our culture has been falling apart all around us, I believe for the most part, the church has tried to create a Christian sub-culture without really considering what the great commission is all about. We have our families and our little group of Christian friends and, for many, our main objective has been to teach our children well and to keep out the bad influences. In this day and time with all of the access to “evil” being thrown at everyone, this has become a full time job. Perhaps we have been deceived by the busy-ness offered and have not taken the time to get still and listen to what the Holy Spirit really wants us to do with our time. We have such a full agenda (sports, music lessons,fun activities) that we have shut the Holy Spirit out by our ideals of what being a good Christian parent is supposed to be. We really must learn to be more Spirit led!

    I believe that the protected, “churched” kids first need to be trained in how to minister to the lost and in how to be a leader to the hurting disadvantaged kids. They must have an understanding of the manipulation, and the extreme disfunction of what is going on with these kids, or they can become prey to these strongholds. Even in healthy situations, teenagers are vulnerable and they really need a watchful eye to help them avoid the many pitfalls that are just waiting to lure them in. Some of these “disadvantaged” kids have serious issues that can be harmful to the more innocent, protected kids. To combine them just for “fun” calls for a watchful, discerning leader along with a ministry team dedicated to salvation and deliverance. I think a great way to get kids like this together would be to have a number of young adult mentors-maybe college kids who are strong, Spirit-filled leaders to disciple and help everyone along.

    With all that said, I think that Christian young people also need time just to have fun just being together for times of fellowship that are not a missions assignment. They still need time to be encouraged and built up in their faith just because they are Christian young people in a culture that has become less Christian friendly. They still need time to grow and explore in a place of protection and safety. They will become adults all too soon. Perhaps there could be a team building meeting for established Christians to fellowship and be taught “reaching in” along with a ministry meeting to “reach out” and love?

    Whatever the strategy, Jesus is still the answer for ALL. The only way REAL change will come is when the church REALLY believes what He said and begins to walk in the authority and power that God has called us to. God wants to heal these kids! They need more than just another activity. They need deliverance but they don’t know how to get it. If the church won’t show them how to be healed and free, who will?

    The Holy Spirit is the helper, not the doer! We must learn to be better at hearing and OBEYING Him!! I believe that a strong, ministry minded youth group can walk in power and deliverance. However, the main agenda must not be for another busy activity. We as parents and leaders really need to get serious and fully equip our young people for the local mission field. Maybe we need to roll up our sleeves and start leading by EXAMPLE and train the next generation to DO the work of ministry instead of just hearing about it. There is nothing more fun than watching the Lord work through you and seeing God’s power demonstrated in daily life. This is the most fun, rewarding activity we can share with our young people. Until then, The question is do we really believe what God says enough to live it or will we remain comfy and asleep on our watch?

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