Youth ministry programs

Scarecrow Relay/500 Rules:

Gather a collection of scarecrow clothes. It is best to get the largest sizes of everything. We used a button down flannel shirt, a pair of blue jeans, a scarf, a pair of work boots and a straw hat. All items were placed on a chair at the end of the room. Team members line up and run, one at a time, to the chair, picking up one item each run. One member agrees to be the scarecrow. When an item is returned, the next member runs to pick up a second, then third item, one at a time. Other team members assist in dressing the scarecrow.

Dressing the scarecrow means buttoning the shirt and putting on all items of clothing such that the scarecrow can hold both hands out to the side and run from one end of the room to the other without losing any clothing. One and only one team member is allowed to run alongside to assist. If an item falls off during the run, the scarecrow must return to the start, redress and run the course again. Each team is timed doing the event and the team with the shortest time from dressing the scarecrow to the end of the run is the winner.

The larger the jeans and shirt are, the more difficult the run and the more fun and laughs for everyone. After the race it is time to settle down for the more serious discussion of the night: "The 500 Rules".

In 2011 our youth received a surprise at the annual Halloween party. They received, near the end of the night, a list of written, outrageous rules posted in the front of their meeting place. They were called the "494 Rules." Since six years have passed these have now become the

500 Rules

. O.K. too many hints.

These rules were purposely quite unfair. For example one was - if caught talking to a friend, the guilty party must recite the Ten Commandments and add an eleventh, "Thou shalt not talk during youth group announcements." Another was: if you missed church services on Sunday morning, you could not come to youth group that evening. There were about six or seven in all, some particular to the room in which we met.

After relaying the rules and listening to the protests of the youth, they should be asked what the significance of the number 500 is. During past years one youth said, "You mean there are another 493 of these rules!" The answer is, of course, "no." After some leading questions, youth will began to understand that 500 represented not a number of rules but a number of years . . . into the past ... to the Halloween eve when Martin Luther hung his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral in 1517. Point out that the Christian church was as stunned by Luther's challenge to the way they were acting out the Christian faith as the youth will probably be to the 500 Rules displayed. In fact, both were revealed in the same ways, written statements in the front of the community meeting place.

Ask youth what they know about the ways the church has changed since the days of Martin Luther. Remind them that Luther changed the Christian focus from one of the deeds we do to a focus on faith as the entrance key to eternal life. Point out that Halloween is, in this sense, the birthday of the Protestant church.

Eight pages of Halloween ideas like the above are found in chapter 16 of Not the Same Old, Done-it-before Youth Meetings. If interested , please click ... Not the Same Old, Done-it-before Youth Meeting More Halloween Activities