Ah, summer. The days are long, the evenings warm, and students have more time to linger. Plan now to make the most of the season by building memories and building God’s Kingdom with these 5 youth group activities.
For each of these events, keep in mind that while fun=good, the most important element is sharing the Gospel. The more you bring up the Gospel, the more familiar students become with it and the more opportunities their unsaved friends have to hear it. When you incorporate the Gospel, these 5 events are tools for a greater purpose—to reach lost teens with Christ’s love and equip believing students to share it.
1. A “Gospelized” Car Wash
Summer is the perfect time for this service opportunity. This idea is featured in our 5 Outreach Ideas for Summer for Youth Ministry e-book, in which real youth pastors share their top outreach-event ideas. This idea came from Virginia youth pastor Josh Weatherspoon. As he explains:
We did an outreach event called the ‘$1 Car Wash.’ As people pulled in to get their car washed, they’d try to give us money up front, to which we’d tell them that we’d get it all settled up after their car was clean. Once clean, we would then have them look their car over, and we would give them $1 (or at least try to). This would lead into a somewhat natural transition based on this simple analogy about grace and God giving us what we didn’t deserve.
To get ready, make a church-wide announcement about the car wash a few weeks beforehand so that people can start inviting their neighbors. You can also take up donations of buckets, sponges, towels, soap, and other supplies for the day of. For more tips about running this Gospelized car wash, check out this blog post.
2. Water-Fight Night
Who doesn’t love a good water fight on a hot day? This summertime favorite is a great chance for students to invite friends to come have a blast and hear the Gospel. This event will take some planning upfront, so here are some tips to prepare:
- Announce the water-fight plans a few weeks in advance so students have time to invite their friends.
- Give instructions on what to bring (appropriate clothing, water guns, etc.).
- Find a place on your church property, or in someone’s backyard, where there’s plenty of space to run around and access to a hose. Make sure it’s an area where the owner doesn’t mind having a slightly muddy mess to deal with afterward.
- If you want to incorporate games, get supplies like water balloons, pool noodles, extra water guns, etc.
3. A Bonfire and S’mores
This classic event is ideal for students to invite unsaved friends to because it’s a welcoming setting where good conversations about God can happen, especially while leaders are around to help answer questions.
Share the Gospel at some point during this event by giving a short message while everyone is gathered around the fire. Also make sure to provide enough s’mores supplies, and maybe bring some yard games for another avenue of fun.
4. Neighborhood Invites
Don’t let your students stay siloed in the youth room this summer! Instead, give them an opportunity to reach your community. If your church is hosting a VBS, a Fourth of July celebration, a church picnic, or other event, get a bunch of flyers and take students into the surrounding neighborhood. Break up your group into smaller teams and assign them a few streets to canvass. The goal is for them to knock on doors, give a friendly invitation to your church’s event, and ask for prayer requests to hopefully spark a Gospel conversation.
Here’s an easy script students can use as they engage with your neighbors:
Hey there, my name is ______ and my friends and I are from _______ Church just down the street. We wanted to come out and meet our neighbors and invite you to come to our event. We’re going to have ______, and we’d love for you to come have some food and a fun time with your family (or give others details of the event). Before we go, is there anything we can pray about for you today?
Here are some other tips for sending students out:
- Give guidelines for engaging strangers, such as: (1) Be respectful and friendly, even if a homeowner is not. (2) Knock or ring the doorbell only once. If there’s no answer, leave the flyer on the door and move to the next house.
- You can pair your event flyers with a small gift, like a bag of microwave popcorn or candy.
- Send at least one leader with every group of students—a 5-to-1 ratio works well.
- Give groups a set time to meet back at the church. Then debrief, and pray for the people your students talked with.
5. Gospelize Your Summer Trip
Camps and missions trips provide ample opportunities to make sure students both hear and share the Gospel. If your camp speaker isn’t sharing the Gospel during the talks, be sure to share it during your group discussion times and invite your students to trust in Christ.
If you’re embarking on a missions trip, be sure to plan a Gospel-sharing element, in addition to any humanitarian work you might do. After all, there’s nothing more humanitarian than helping someone come out of darkness into God’s wonderful light! (1 Peter 2:9)
Or for a fully Gospel-focused event, attend Lead THE Cause, a weeklong, transformational Gospel-training conference that helps teens personally know Jesus’s love and equips them to share it with their friends. For more information, join the Lead THE Cause insider list.
A Fun, Faith-Building Summer
We hope these youth event ideas will help you plan a summer that’s exciting and spiritually significant for your teens!
What other youth group events do you like to plan for your church in the summer? Share your best ideas with our community of youth leaders on Facebook!