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.