I think it’s time I introduce you to one of my favorite youth events I ever did (and did every year). It’s called the Dinner Scramble. The objective is to give students the opportunity to build relationships with each other, other students they don’t know, invite a friend who doesn’t know Jesus, and share the gospel in a very personal way…all over a night of fun outside of the church walls. This event has proven itself to be one of the best events for students to invite their unchurched friends to, and was so well received we would implement it annually! Read on for how to do it!
The Dinner Scramble Explained
Venue: Homes of church members (I always thought outside the box and got non-youth related folk)
Host/Facilitator: A Volunteer Youth Leader for each home you invade.
Scheduling: Pick a regular youth group night as your targeted night for your Dinner Scramble (approximately 3-5 weeks in advance). Recruit the right “venue” homes. You’ll need one house for every 5-6 or your regular students
Host Role: The leader will serve as “host” to assist the family who are providing the venue/meal. Work hard to get a separate host family (venue) and leader who can concentrate on the relational hosting (share the burden and strengthen your church partnerships).
Announcement: After you’ve lined up host homes and a leader (or two) for each house you can announce the “Dinner Scramble” to your youth group and give them a week or two to sign up.
Invite: After students have signed up (prior to doing much outreach) divide the students into their groups (I encourage you to mix it up, don’t place best friends together) and then have your hosts creatively reveal/invite their specific group to their party. Note: I never let the leaders tell the students who else was coming, the element of surprise is great and it led to more evangelism (see next answer).
Relational Evangelism: We encouraged the hosts and venue hosts to be ready for double the amount of actual invitees. Our students were encouraged to bring a friend. Because students did not know who else would be at the specific house they were assigned to, they were very open to bringing a friend so that they didn’t feel alone. The fear of being alone made this a highly evangelistic night!
Community: The host home and host leaders at the event would be in charge of the theme and entertainment outside of the meal. Some chose Italian, others did a Mexican theme and built the entire night around the theme. Besides great food the teens, leaders and venue family laughed and played together well. Games like Mafia, Pictionary, Wii Sports and Scattergories became barrier breakers as students, parents and leaders enjoyed the (2 hour) evening together.
Gospel: At some point in the evening I had the host family and/or the host share his or her testimony of trusting in Jesus. Because of the time spent together the teens were relationally drawn in!
After the first year and experiencing success it was NEVER hard to find new host families (venues) and/or leaders who wanted to participate. It was a win on every level as both churched adults and teens knew one another better and they shared a common desire for more outreach to take place!