Salt & Light Retreat Resource Manual
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Bible Basketball
Age Group: Early and Mid Adolescents           
Get all the teens in your meeting to put the chairs into a square with an equal number of chairs on all four sides. Place a large garbage can in the center of the room with the chairs around the can and facing the can. Ask them a Bible related question, the first one to raise their hand gets to answer the question. If they are right they get to shoot at the can with a basketball. If they miss, the ball can roll until another person gets it. While the ball is rolling no one can leave their seat.
This is a good way to review the previous week's lesson. Hint: give the four teams NBA names to add to the fun.
Bible Scavenger Hunt
Teams of 3-6 try to find items in the church with a list of Bible clues. Each item needs two verses for the clue - one that hints at the room, another that names (generally) the item. For instance, for the pulpit we had a verse with the word "sanctuary" and one with the word "altar." For a phone in the 3rd grade classroom, we had a verse with the word "three" in it and a verse with the word "bell." (Or something to that effect) Then we had a post-it note hidden in or under the item so the kids knew when they found it. I don't know if this is original, but I made up our version of it.
Clothespin Opinion Poll
* Source: Youth Ministry Cargo, page 152
A unique way to get your kids to share their opinions. Hang a clothesline across the meeting room. On one end have a sign that says, "Strongly Agree" and the other end says "Strongly Disagree." Mark the center of the clothesline for reference. Get wooden clothespins and allow the youth to decorate them as they wish so they'll know which are theirs. Each week at the close of your youth meeting, read a strong statement to the group. Ask your youth members to think about, talk about and research the statement during the week. At the beginning of the next meeting, have each member clip a clothespin on the line where it best reflects his or her opinion. Spend the first few minutes of the meeting discussing the results. The topic can be independent of the meeting's main lesson or it may be used as a great intro. to a relaxed subject.
 Commercial Craziness
I made this activity for last night's youth meeting and it went very well. I thought I'd share it with all of you:
Theme: Effect the media has on us / What shapes our thinking / Where is our foundation
Begin with having the youth fill out the following survey. Then, while they're working on the next activity, you can get the results together.
What Shapes Your Thinking?
Please rank the following from 1 to 10 in how much they influence the way you think:
(1 is most influence and 10 is least)
__ Parents
__ Television
__ Bible
__ Teachers
__ Youth Pastor
__ Movies
__ Friends
__ Video Games
__ Music
__ Books
When they have finished this, hand out the next activity, which is to be done in a competitive manner. Have them get into groups of two or three and work on this. Award prizes to the top two or three teams. Do not have it be a race, but give them 15 minutes
(this gives you time to tabulate the results of the survey).
1. Double the pleasure, double the fun Doublemint Gum.
2. The scent opens your eyes Coast
3. Oh what a feeling Toyota
4. Just for the taste of it Diet Coke
5. The choice of a new generation Pepsi
6. The way to really fly Metra
7. Something special in the air. American Airlines
8. Softens your hands while you do dishes Palmolive
9. Just do it. Nike
10. Life is short. Play hard Reebok
11. You got the right one baby, uh huh DIET Pepsi
12. Just what the doctor ordered Dr. Pepper
13. Make a run for the border Taco Bell
14. Have it your way. Burger King
15. Obey your thirst. Sprite
16. Good to the last drop. Maxwell House
17. The quicker picker upper Bounty
18. Don't squeeze the ________ Charmin
19. It does a body good Milk
20. Take me away. Calgon
21. The Uncola 7-Up
22. Finger Lickin' Good Kentucky Fried Chicken
23. I love this game! NBA
24. You can't outlast the ________. Energizer
25. What three temptations did Jesus face in the wilderness?
Go through the answers with them and announce the top three teams. Then go through the results of the survey. Write them on an overhead projector or dry-erase board. It has happened twice for me (Jr. High and Sr. High) that parents, Bible, and friends were number 1-3. Television came in 6th or 7th. And yet in the commercial game, most groups got 20-24 of the commercial slogans right and only one group got all three temptations right! And yet the young people place the Bible higher than TV as far as what shapes they’re thinking. It was a real eye-opener for a lot of my young people. I then followed it up with a teaching on Matt. 7:24-27 "The Wise and Foolish Builder." Where is our foundation? How are we building it? Some important scriptures: Php. 4:8, 2 Pet. 3:1, Prov. 1:8, Isa. 26:4. I hope this helps some of you
Commercial Selling Jesus
This works well with middle school and high school students and takes about 30 - 45 minutes.  Have the small groups think of an advertisement to sell Jesus to the world.  Like “Jesus the Peacemaker” off the Mentos commercial.  After they come up with an idea, then have them act it out and get it ready to show in front of the large group.  When everyone is finished practicing have everyone get back together in a large group and each small group come up front and put on their advertisement.
Find the Books of the Bible  
Age Group: All Youth
In the following story, there are sixteen books of the Bible hidden. Can you find them all?
I once made a remark about the hidden books of the Bible. It was a lulu, kept people looking so hard for facts and for others it was a revelation. Some were in a jam, especially since the names of the books were not capitalized, but the truth finally struck home to numbers of readers. To others it was real job. We want it to be a most fascinating few moments for you. Yes, there will be some really easy ones to spot. Others may require judges to help them. I will quickly admit it usually takes a minister to find one of them and there will be loud lamentations when it is found. A little lady says she brews a cup of tea, so she can concentrate better. See how well you can compete. Relax now, for there really are sixteen names of books in the bible in this story. (One preacher found 15 books in 20 minutes but it took him three weeks to find the 16th.) (I think I found all the solutions, but I am not sure, so you might want to try this yourself.
Focusing on Intangible Things With Tangible Objects
An icebreaker I find effective is to gather a number of different items that have to do with:
the particular group - BC Sophomores
BC stuff - hat, key chain, banner, sweatshirt
social life - beer mug. concert ticket stub, etc.
academic - book, diploma, etc.
spiritual - candle, bible, chaplain's brochure, etc. 
generic things - live flower, broken dish, seashell.   
 
Ask participants to consider any of the following:  
- a symbol of where I am in my life right now
- a symbol of where I was at some past time
- a symbol of where I hope to be at some distant time. 
We used this as a large group interaction after small group discussions for the ENCORE retreat day and it worked well.  It could also be used as an icebreaker or a small group discussion.
Free-to-Fall
1. Break the class into groups of 6 or 7 individuals. Have them stand in a circle around one member of the group. The should close the circle in until their shoulders are touching.
2. The person in the middle will cross his arms across his chest and close his eyes. When he's ready he will make his body as stiff as a board and fall backwards. The other students will catch him and push him to another side of the circle.
3. After a couple minutes, another person will be in the middle. Each person should have a turn.
Human Machine 
Age Group: All Youth
Break your group up into groups of no smaller than five and no bigger than ten.  Each person in each group now must become one of the following body parts -- eye(s), ear(s), mouth, brain, leg(s), arm(s), hand(s), etc. You can add or take away body parts, depending on the size of your group. Just keep the most important ones in place. Instruct each group to do their best to perform a simple task, with each body part performing only its function. Here is a sample task.  Place a Bible across the room and have each human machine attempt to "walk" over to the Bible, find Romans 12:4 - 6 and read it out loud. Remind your machines that each body part can only perform its function. For example, the legs cannot go to the Bible until the eye tells the brain where they are and the brain tells the legs how many steps to take and in which direction. This works great to illustrate how each member of a church or youth group is important and that we must all work together as part of Christ's body. A suggested Scripture passage is Romans 12:4-6.
Jesus Ads
This is a great small group meaningful activity for all ages.  Each small group is assigned to sell Jesus or Christianity through a commercial.  The idea is to spin off a TV commercial that the kids are used to seeing.  For example, “You’re not fully clean, unless you’re Christ fully clean.” or “Air Jesus - the shoes Jesus wore to ascend into heaven.”  Then put these ads on in front of the large group.
Paper Planes - Salvation Object Lesson
Give each one in the congregation a piece of paper. Tell them all to make a paper airplane. Then have each of them come up one at a time and attempt to fly their plane out of the building or something impossible like that. Find the one who came the closest and have them come up and say that they were the best, but even the best we have failed. Then go into how the word "sin" translates in the new testament as "to miss the mark" as they all will have done. Then you can go into the Rom. 3:23, about how we all have sinned. At the end, you can either pick all the planes up (have people pass them to the center) or have someone to be Jesus come and pick them up and carry them to the original goal. This is to show that even though we all fail, Christ can carry us and only through Him do we have salvation and can we reach our destination.
Parable Modernizing
This is a small group activity that makes kids for all ages to focus on the parables.  Assign a parable to each small group and tell them to modernize the parable or act it out.  This is a good way to convey the message of the parables.  Then have the small group put on the parable in front of the large group.
Poster Session
 
This is a creative way of getting all kids involved in a small group setting.  Have the group draw up a poster on the topic you are discussing on the retreat.  Have them modernize it into something they can relate to.  Some past examples include: the Lazurus raised from the dead story in a south park theme or movie billboard to sell a story of the Bible starring current actors and actresses.  Then have the small group explain their poster in front of the large group.
Straw Towers
 
Divide your people into groups of about six-ish. Any number of groups (that can fit in the room) can play.
Tons of drinking straws (about the diameter of McDonald's straws, BUT the soft kind AND simple and straight) about 50-100 straws to each group. 2 small rolls of tape per group. One small 'corner' of the room per group. Give about 10 minutes to see which group can make the tallest self-supporting structure. Say that they then have to bring their masterpieces to the front, and see whose structure remains standing the longest.
When the construction time is up, have each group move their structure to the front of the room. Then you proceed to give a short (not too short) talk about what your life is based on.
* note - I don't have the slightest idea of what the speaker was saying at this point (when I was participating in this game) so don't put too much important points in your talk here. (everyone will be watching the structures, not the speaker). As time progresses, these straw structures will topple over/collapse/get blown down by the fan/etc one by one. Acknowledge each one as it drops, and at the end you can discuss with the group what makes the good ones stay up, and why those on the ground have fallen. Pay particular attention to the base/foundations of these structures. Conclude that one needs a strong
(good/solid/big/firm/etc) foundation (Jesus/Christian values) for ones life, or something to that effect. (The best structures seem to be those constructed like the Eiffel Tower or oilrigs.
** during the 10-15 minutes allotted to build the straw towers, you can move around and watch to see who are the leaders and who are the followers (if you wish).