Health and Growth

14 Last-Minute, Super Fun Youth Group Activities

Rushing to put together a meaningful meeting for your church's students? Look no further than this quick guide to fun and meaningful activities.

14 Last-Minute, Super Fun Youth Group Activities
by

Paul Maxwell

Youth pastors are overworked.

The church usually dumps a bunch of random tasks on youth pastors, because they’re young and full of energy.

At the same time, they expect you to write powerful sermons every single week while organizing engaging games and events to rival the entertainment industry’s multi-billion dollar budgets.

… Yeah.

Youth Pastor can be an impossible role.

Have you felt this way?

Have you felt so overburdened by random church work that you actually don’t have time to do your one job: minister to the youth?

This is extremely common.

Youth pastors very often show up to youth group exhausted, coming up with some half-baked youth group activity that they googled 5 minutes before the meeting.

If that’s you, here are 14 ideas that you can scrape together in minutes that kids will actually like.

Get-to-know-you activities

A big part of student ministry is building relationships with your students.

One easy way you can get to know students is to organize some get-to-know-you games.

Here are a few youth group ideas many churches have used:

1. M&M Roulette (Prep time: 15 Minutes)

  • Write prompts next to every color M&M (Yellow: Your favorite kind of food, Red: Something you’re good at; Blue: Your favorite vacation)
  • Have students sit in a circle.
  • Open a pack of M&Ms.
  • Pass around the pack.
  • Ask students to  pick out an M&M
  • Whatever color they get, they have to answer the prompt
  • Go until the pack is empty

2. Dice and Dare (Prep time: 15 Minutes)

  • Write 12 get-to-know-you questions on a board.
  • Have students  sit in a circle.
  • Have each student  roll the dice once and answer the number question shown on the dice.

3. This or That (Prep time: 15 Minutes)

  • Write a list of 10 this-or-that questions (for example: “Would you rather be a bee or a horse?” “Would you rather eat a beetle or get stung by a bee?” “Would you rather have five brothers or five sisters?” You can draw from this list of 200 examples.)
  • Have students  sit in a circle.
  • Ask the first student a “This or That” question.
  • Take turns going around the circle.
  • Added element: Use “This or That” questions for M&M Roulette or Dice & Dare

Physical Activities

Do you know what students have?

A lot of energy.

As a Youth Pastor, you’ll want to plan on running students around or face their wrath.

4. Life-Size Tic Tac Toe (Prep time: 5 minutes)

  • Arrange three rows of three chairs (so that there is a square of nine chairs total).
  • Arrange the student into two teams.
  • Each team takes turns sending a member to sit in a chair.
  • The first team with three in a row wins!

5. Bank Robbery (Prep time: 30 minutes)

  • Buy several boxes of streamers.
  • Tape them horizontally along the hallway as if they were lasers in a bank.
  • Have students try to get through the “lasers” one at a time as fast as possible without knocking any streamers down.
  • The fastest student wins a prize.

6. The Worm Olympics (Prep time: 5 minutes)

  • Prepare two sleeping bags.
  • Pair up students in pairs of two.
  • Each person in a pair gets in a sleeping bag on the ground (one pair at a time).
  • Have each member of the team race each other from a starting line to the finishing line.
  • Added element: Create a “Playoff Bracket” and hold a championship game for a prize.

Creative Activities

Have time to buy a few things and organize youth group activities?

You’re going to love these games (and so will your students).

7. Yarn-Wrapped Cardboard Letters (Prep time: 60 minutes)

  • Decide a word that you want to spell with letters that correspond to the number of kids.
  • Pre-cut letters from cardboard.
  • Pre-cut 1-yard pieces of yarn.
  • Pre-cut 10 pieces of masking tape per letter.
  • Give each student one letter, 10 pieces of tape half-taped to a paper plate so that they are easy to grab, and 10 pieces of 1-yard yarn.
  • Show students how to wrap one piece of yarn over the letter at a time until the entire cardboard letter is covered in this way.
  • Tape the beginning of a piece of yarn to the bottom of the letter.
  • Wrap the yarn around the letter without any gaps until the yarn runs out, and then tuck the end of that piece of yarn under the original piece of tape.
  • Begin a new piece of yarn.
  • Repeat until the entire letter is covered.


8. Woolen Heart (Prep time: 60 minutes)

  • Pre-cut hearts from cardboard with a printed stencil (click here to download an easy one).
  • Buy red yarn.
  • Give students a long piece of yarn (about ¼ of a spool, depending on the size of the heart your cut — make sure it is enough to cover the cardboard heart without any gaps).
  • Give each student a cardboard heart.
  • Show them how to wrap the heart with yarn.
  • Have each student wrap the heart with yarn.
  • Help younger students tie off the yarn end.
  • Use the heart to teach them about a message of God’s love and display them in the youth room.


Spiritual Activities

Don’t leave your students hanging after your Bible study.

Reinforce your message with these youth group ideas:

9. One-Verse Bible Study  (Prep time: 15 minutes)

  • Pick a Bible verse.
  • Write three one-sentence applications.
  • Print five different translations (NIV, ESV, KJV, NASB, The Message).
  • Hand out a different translation to five different students.
  • Have each student read a different translation out loud.
  • Share one application.
  • Ask students what applications the passage could have to real life.

10. Quick Prayer Meeting (Prep time: 0 minutes)

  • Ask students for prayer requests.
  • Write requests on a board.
  • Ask students to pray for each request, after which you will close with a summary.

11. “Last Week’s Sermon” Discussion (Prep time: 15 minutes)

Summarize sermon in 1–2 minutes. Then, ask the following questions:

  • What is your favorite thing to do when bored during a sermon?
  • What illustrations did the pastor use last week?
  • How did the sermon apply to your life?
  • Close in prayer.

Passive Activities

Your students are bombarded with a slew of messages every day.

From Instagram, movies, and YouTube, your students are swimming in a sea of information. To help them think about the messages they hear and the images they see, try one of these youth group activities.

12. Movie Night (Prep time: 15 minutes)

  • Pick an age-appropriate movie.
  • Buy snacks.
  • Ensure you have appropriate audio/video elements in place before the youth meeting.
  • Instruct students to turn their phones off.
  • Distribute snacks in shareable bowls while the movie is playing,

13. YouTube Clip Discussion (Prep time: 15 minutes)

  • Find a YouTube clip from a speaker like Andy Stanley, Ravi Zacharias, or Rick Warren.
  • Play the YouTube clip for students.
  • Ask them what they liked or disliked about the clip.
  • Use the students responses as prompts for discussion.

14. Latest News Discussion (Prep time: 15 minutes)

  • Select a recent national or local news clip that won’t instigate debate between students.
  • Identify two issues or questions the news piece highlights and how the church could play a positive role in the issue.
  • Share the piece with students.
  • Begin by sharing one of the issues or questions you identified, and ask your youth what they think about the issue or question.
  • Share the second issue or question and do the same.
  • Ask the youth what other issues or questions the news clip raises.
  • Share your thoughts about how the church could play a role in the issues.
  • Ask the youth how else the church could play a positive role in the issues.

Over to You

You might be in a busy season where you don’t have time to come up with insanely original church youth group activities and deep ideas.

You might randomly be in a situation where you have to lead the youth group.

Whatever the circumstance, don’t dwell too long on these simple youth group activities.

Pick one and run with it.

Author: Paul Maxwell, Ph.D., is the Content Strategist at Tithe.ly. He lives in Fishers, IN with his beautiful wife and rowdy wheaten terrier.

Why Write Church Donation Letters?

In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.

Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.

Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:

  • Acknowledging that you received a donation
  • Thanking the giver for being generous with their finances
  • Sharing other ways the person can support your church
  • Allowing the donor to write the gift off on their taxes
  • Encouraging supporters to make recurring donations
  • Requesting future donations from church members

A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.

Church Donation Letter Samples

Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.

With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.  

To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.

1. Donation Acknowledgment Letter

The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.

Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Sincerely,
[your name]

2. Donation Request Letter

Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving.  So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.

Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Sincerely,
[your name]

3. Monthly Giving Letter

Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.

Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.  

Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
Sincerely,
[your name]

4. Year-End Giving Letter

At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.

Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sincerely,
[your name]  

5. Church Fundraising Letter

Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.

Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
Sincerely,
[your name]

Tips when writing church donation letters

It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:

  • Examples: Add specific examples of how your church will use the donation. Tell a story about the work your church is doing in the community and connect that with giving.
  • Personalization: For regular donors, don’t be afraid to add a short, handwritten personal note. This shows that you’ve singled them out with praise.
  • Timeliness: Sending donation letters quickly reminds people you’re thankful for them. But this also takes organization and efficiency. All the more reason to use pre-written templates.
  • Storytelling: Everything is better with stories—including donation letters. Weave in a specific narrative of how your church is making a difference and how the money will be used.

There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.

What’s next?

Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?

  • Customize these letters: Take the samples above and make them work for your church. Personalize the content. Remove the stuff that doesn’t sound genuine and add in stuff that does. Remember that these are just a starting point.
  • Create some systems: Develop processes that make it easy for you to replicate sending donation letters. Use a letter template that allows you to drop in names and details. Then develop guidelines for when these letters will be sent out.
  • Empower a champion: Find out who is going to be responsible for making these letters happen. Rather than thinking of this as adding more work to their plate, think about how you can elevate their work. This could be a staff member, or a volunteer.
  • Start sending: All of this will be for nothing if you don’t actually send out the letters. Take the time to get it right and get them into the hands of your church donors.

And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.

We provide several different ways your church members can support your church financially—from online giving, text to give solutions, and giving kiosks.

Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.

How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.

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14 Last-Minute, Super Fun Youth Group Activities