Care for the Widows

Guys CAN make flower arrangements!

Valentines week gave me a great opportunity to talk to my teenage boys about caring for the widows in our congregation.  For a special Guys only devotional, I purchased sets of flowers from a local flower shop and the teen boys created flower arrangements.  During the creation process, we discussed James 1:27, and the similarities between orphans and widows.


When the creations were complete, we drove around town and delivered the flowers.

During our discussion, the boys brought up that we don’t think about the widows often.  They recognized that there is less of a chance of a widow having a closer community of friends and family who spend time with them, and even if they do, there are certainly times of loneliness.  Our widows aren’t people we appreciate often so finding the time to do so was extremely beneficial.

12 Hours of Prayer / Sleepover

Goal: To encourage youth to not only talk about spirituality, but practice living it out together.

One of my good friends, who is also a parent of some of the teenagers at my church, hosted a Friday night sleepover for over 30 teenagers at their house.  The desire was to get teenagers together from different towns for spiritual encouragement with one another.  We wanted to have a mostly unstructured event but to guide them toward spiritual conversations in their every day interactions with each other.  The only structured event for the evening was 12 hours of prayer.

The event began by having a conversation with the teenagers about the power of prayer.  The students filled out prayer cards (3×5 notecards) and signed up to pray for 15 minute time slots on a sign up sheet to pray throughout the night.

One of the rooms in the house was then set up as a prayer room.  A simple desk with a basket containing the filled out prayer cards, a bible, a journal so teens could write out verses or prayers, and a song book.  It was emphasized to the students that prayer is not always the bow your head routine we think of.


It was a full evening of laughter, games, deep conversations, food, and prayer.  The teenagers did a great job of reminding one another when their time for prayer had come.  Many of the teens shared that although they thought 15 minutes was a long time to pray, once they began, they were interrupted by a knock that their time was up and it was someone else’s prayer slot.  When the 12 hours was up, we discussed James 5:13-16.



Lock-In 2017

Below is the schedule and explanations of a lock-in I put on for the youth group in 2017.  Feel free to use any/all the activities listed.  If you have any other questions that I do not cover below, feel free to contact me for help.

If you are running a lock-in for the first time, I have a few suggestions that I have learned over the years:

  • have an extra adult (besides yourself) there at all times with you
  • complete all spiritual activities by or just after midnight.  After that point, it is difficult to pull the teens into good discussion.
  • Have a craft activity.  I have had the kids make candles, hanging boards, pumpkin painting, etc.  Crafts help add time and keep positive attitudes.
  • Stay mostly structured, but allow for some down time.
  • Don’t expect them to clean up in the morning or eat a lot of breakfast.  The teens are TIRED, having another adult come in the early morning just to focus on putting the building back together is super helpful. If you expect them to help after 5:00 AM with clean up, expect snippy attitudes!


8:00PM – Show up, Chat and Hang out

8:30 – Wits and Wagers – Using the questions in my Wits and Wagers: Party Version, I created a large group version.  Each participant (we had 16 playing) had small pieces of paper and a writing utensil.  After asking a wits and wagers question, participants would have 15 seconds to write down their best guess at an answer.  They would then stand and put their answers all at the same time face up on the table.  Participants were then able to look at all answer options and they stood by the answer they thought was closest to the correct answer without going over (this did not have to be the answer they wrote). I would then tell the correct answer and points were scored accordingly:
1 point – writing down the correct answer
1 point – standing by the correct answer
Contestants could possibly receive 2 points per round.  For a more detailed explanation of the game and to purchase Wits & Wagers Family, click the link. (this is an affiliate link)

9:15 – Stage One of Paint Boards – I cut up many different sizes of boards for the teens to do an art project.  stage one was choosing their board, and painting it whichever colors they wanted to paint it.  This was the longest step.

10:00 – Culture vs. Christsee Culture vs. Christ post for details on this lesson

10:45 – Broom Hockey – 4 wooden brooms, one duct tape puck, and plastic tables put on the ground to create walls.  Teams of two, first team to score wins.  Double elimination bracket.

11:30 – Pizza and Hotdogs – At lock-ins, I have snacks set out all night, but this was a time we took for a structured break for “bigger” food items.  Other adults helped in the serving and cooking.

12:00 AM – The Pressing Question – The Culture vs. Christ spiritual lesson was a teaching lesson.  For the older kids, I find it important to be able to ask and discuss some of the harder questions of faith.  This time, we went in the teen room and I wrote the following question on the board and just asked the teens their answers.  I was more of a guide during this time, not a teacher.  This is typically a long discussion.  30-45 minutes if you have a talkative group.
Pressing Question: Where is the “good news” in the announcement that so many people will go to eternal hell?

12:30 – Paint Boards: Stage 2 – After the paint drys, students chose vinyl letters and pasted them on their board.  We then applied a clear epoxy coat to hold the letters in place.

1:00 – Zombie Tag – We play this through the entire church.  One person starts as the tagger, everyone else gets 5 minutes to hide.  Once a person is tagged, they also become a tagger, eventually you have all but one person as a tagger looking for the one hider.

2:00 – Paint Boards: Stage 3 – We pulled out the power tools and added hooks, nails, or clothes pins for hanging, and added picture hooks on the back of each board.

2:30 – Larry Ball – This game has been called many things by many different groups.  This is a dodgeball version that keeps everyone participating until the very end. The game begins with the ball in the center of the room.  When the caller yells “go” it becomes a dodgeball game of every-man-for-himself.  If a person is hit, they must sit down right where they were hit, even if it is in the middle of the floor.  At that point, they must stay seated but can still throw the ball at others who are still in the game if the ball comes their way.  Last person standing wins.  If the ball is caught by either a person standing or sitting without first hitting the ground, the person who threw it is immediately out.

3:00 – Games/Free Time – At this point in the morning, I allow some free time of games with rules of where teens are allowed to hang out.  It is fine with me if they do small groups or whole group during this time.  This year, they played a large group game of spoons, and then we played an hour and a half (3 games) of Werewolves of Millers Hollow.  This time is typically one of the lock-in favorite times. (Affiliate link)

5:00 – Split to Areas – I have a guys area and a girls area.  I let them know they can stay awake and chit chat, I just want them spending time in their designated area.  Every year, they have always fallen asleep.

7:00 – Wake Up/Breakfast and Clean Up – I used to cook food, but I just purchased donuts and muffins because they are rarely hungry by this point.

8:00 – Head home