Last night we determined that Banquet mac n’ cheese is not food, had chips and dip, and continued to try and foster a sense of vulnerable community by asking each other some crazy questions!
I had the opportunity to spend some time with a smaller group of students this past Friday who came to help with a trunk or treat at Appletree Estates, and it was fantastic! One of the themes I sensed in the conversations we had that night was a lingering sense that our students still don’t feel like they know each other very well. After reflecting on those conversations, I think I may have put the cart before the horse a little bit in my effort to have students engage in the kind of conversations we have been having the last two weeks.
Faith is inherently an intimate thing, and expecting students who may not feel comfortable with one another (let alone me as their youth leader) to share openly was probably naive. It’s been my experience that the most valuable conversations (especially about faith) happen when people feel safe enough to be vulnerable with the other people in the room, and I desperately want to foster that kind of environment in our high school youth group.
If it’s not obvious already, I dream about youth group being a place that is free of cliques, unafraid of hard questions, and defined by the kind of community that we see Jesus foster with his disciples. I can’t imagine our students being fully formed into disciples without the trust and support of you as their parents, the volunteers at church, and their peers in youth group. So in order to start building that kind of community, we have to know and feel comfortable with one another! So after our weekly prayer requests and taking some time to pray for one another, we tried to take an intentional step toward that kind of community.
To make that process a bit less awkward and more fun, we played the first round of a game called “we’re not really strangers.” This is a game I’ve played with groups in the past, and it has always led to deeper trust, inside jokes, and more friendships. The first round is “skin deep” and just focuses on our impressions of one another. Every person draws a card and chooses two people to answer the question written on it. They are questions like “Do you think I am a cat or a dog person? Why?” or “What do my shoes tell you about me?” You can see a few more here.
They are simple icebreakers that the whole group can benefit from and giggle at, and everyone managed to get a turn before we ran out of time.
As silly as it sounds to spend time in youth group just playing a get-to-know-you game, I think that we are laying the first bricks of a foundation of trust and authenticity. I want our students to feel comfortable expressing doubts so we can address them or even comfortable respectfully disagreeing with one another to prepare them for a world that will certainly disagree with them. Those kinds of conversations would be much harder or even impossible without that foundation in place. Round two is much more intentional, and you can take a sneak peek at the kind of cards we will be answering next week below. It’s my prayer that as we get to know one another better our students and volunteers will come to love one another as Christ loves them, and as a result, be better prepared to pursue Him in earnest together.
Thank you all for checking in! I hope your students are finding our time together as meaningful and enjoyable as I do. We’ll keep pressing into relationships with each other next week, and then try to capitalize on those relationships with more great discussion!
Have a wonderful week!