5 Ways We’re Having More Fun At Church by Elle Campbell
A GREETER TEAM. AND COOL GREETER T-SHIRTS.
When our students first walk in the door, we want them to get an awesome first impression. So we have a team of super fun and friendly greeters, wearing super fun and friendly t-shirts, who welcome them. We think it sets a great tone for the day, especially for new kids who maybe aren’t accustomed to church being a place where they can laugh and smile. Each Greeter gets a few t-shirts customized with their favorite phrases and colors. We use Spreadshirt for our tees, but CafePress and RedBubble are also good options.
WEIRD CONTESTS AND GIVEAWAYS AT THE DOOR.
As often as possible, we ask our Greeter Team to get the fun started by doing a little contest or game at the door as students arrive. To celebrate the first Sunday of the school year, we handed out cheap little noisemakers to every student (I think I still have ear damage, but it was worth it). A few weeks ago, students tried to guess the weight of a watermelon and, of course, the winner got to take it home. Once, we even let students vote on our worship leader’s new style of beard… and then we shaved his face. Live. At church. It was gross.
We give away candy. Like… a lot of candy. We throw it from stage by the handful. We keep a stash that our Small Group Leaders can tap into when they want to reward (or bribe) their students. And every new kid or visitor get a full-sized candy bar of their choice from the New Kid Candy Cupboard. That might sound a little juvenile but, really, it works. I can’t tell you how many terrified little 5th graders or way-too-cool-to-be-at-church 8th graders crack their first smile when they get a look at our candy stash. It’s pretty awesome.
LIVE INSTAGRAM SLIDESHOWS AND CONTESTS.
Our middle schoolers love Instagram, so we try to take those social media habits of theirs and use them to make church a little more exciting. Before and after our services, we throw a live Instagram slideshow on the screen, using Instafeed LIVE, that’s populated by our students’ very own Instagram photos. They simply tag their photos with our custom hashtag (#shinedotms), and Instafeed LIVE takes care of the rest. Our students get pretty pumped about it, and it’s a great way to expose their Instagram pals to all the crazy stuff they do at church every week. We’re also experimenting with some weekly Instagram challenges and an Instagram Pic of the Week – the winners get a free treat from our Cafe.
GROUP GAMES THAT ARE FUN TO WATCH AND PLAY.
▪ The 2-Minute Countdown Video. Every week, 2 minutes before our service starts, we harness the power of YouTube by playing two minutes of our favorite funny YouTube video of the week. It’s funny, and it helps us get students in their chairs.
▪ Joe’s Top 5. A really stupid segment where students try to guess 5 of Sound Guy Joe’s favorite things. Joe’s Top 5 favorite cereals, favorite Thanksgiving dishes, favorite green things… So dumb. We know. But middle schoolers think it’s funny.
▪ On The Spot Showdowns (Stand-Up, Dance Crew, and Poetry Slam Editions). The basic premise of this little segment: choose a few students who want to showcase their skills in a particular field. Like stand-up comedy, dance, poetry, or whatever else we feel like watching middle schoolers do. We give them 15 minutes to prepare, then make them battle it out live on stage. It’s pretty entertaining.
▪ May the Odds SHINE! Ever in Your Favor. In a little ode to The Hunger Games, we give a few kids a Nerf bow and arrow. If they can make it through a hoop on the opposite side of the room, they get a sweet prize. Like… a gigantic container of Lucky Charms marshmallows.
▪ Interactive Group Games. We experiment with a lot of different crazy group games – games celebrating absurd holidays… games that celebrate completely normal holidays in absurd ways… games that involve eating disgusting things… and games that are just funny to watch (like that pantyhose-over-the-face game over on the right – so stinkin’ funny). And every week, the winners of our games receive their very own SHINE! Game Champion Wristbands. Those wristbands have become a pretty big deal. Kids wear them as badges of honor and they love competing to see who can accumulate the most wristbands. If you want some more specifics on the games we play, you can grab a bunch of our favorites in the Stuff You Can Use shop, or just follow us on Instagram for photos of our latest game-related creations.