Every year, the Super Bowl is a big deal for many Americans, and part of the significance is the halftime show. Some of the nation's biggest artists perform their greatest hits to entertain viewers while the teams prepare for the second half. If you checked social media during the halftime show this year though, you probably noticed people commenting on how all of the artists are more for the older generations. Eminem, 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, and Kendrick Lamar are not in many of Gen Z's playlists. That's not to say that they are past their prime, but they are the kind of artists that Millenials grew up listening to, not today's teenagers. Keep in mind that while leaders may get older, our youth groups are always the same age. The music of our past is not the music of their present.
Jonathan and Melissa Helser released a new EP titled The Land I'm Living In. The Bethel Worship couple's new album consists of their live worship sessions with some of the graduates of Bethel's worship school. A couple of the new songs include We Make Space and I Can't Get Away. This was a chance for them to lead hundreds of worship pastors in worship, and there aren't many better ways to make a joyful noise to the Lord. The title comes from the fact that it took place at Bethel's church, and for the couple, it felt like a reward for the years of work they've invested into the people's lives and into Bethel's program. Now, they're in a place where they can reap the rewards of their work and stand in awe of what God has done through them.
Balloon-Noodle-Basket is an easy game that gets students moving and working together without breaking the youth budget. While the link is for kid's games, this game can easily be adapted for a youth group by adding competitive elements. For this game, all you need are pool noodles for each student, a pack of balloons, and two baskets of some kind. Split your teens into two teams, starting on either side of a room or open space. In the middle with some room between them, place the two teams' designated baskets. Around the room, scatter your blown-up balloons. In order to play, students must use their pool noodles to hit, bounce, or carry balloons into their team's basket. You can set a timer between rounds or until all the balloons are taken, whichever works best for your youth group. You can track points by having each balloon as a set amount or, for more competitive groups, have certain balloon colors be worth a higher amount. All in all, this is an easy game that can last a few rounds with minimal setup (and it won't break the youth budget either).
Have you ever gone apple picking or any kind of fruit picking for that matter? It can be super fun to go out to an orchard, grab a basket, and go hunting for the ripest apples that you can find. You search up and down, looking at the highest branches for the perfect fruit that people might have missed. Often, we end up looking at the biggest trees we can find, or the ones we think will have the most fruit. However, we get disappointed when despite how big the tree is and how many leaves there are, there is very little fruit.
There are times when Christians end up feeling this way. We want to look our best so that people come and admire how good we are or how nice our lives are. We can become so focused on looking nice and having pretty leaves, that we forget that we are supposed to be growing fruit.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener, He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
Continue persevering in your ministry. It's probably exhausting or even fruitless; ministry is hard. The Bible says that you will be rewarded, though. Maybe not while you're here on earth, but you will be rewarded for what you've invested into others' lives. Maybe there's a long season of waiting until you reap the reward. Jonathan and Melissa Helser helped train worship pastors for 14 years before they were able to see the scale of the fruit of their ministry, hence their new album. Keep reaching out to others and praying; One prayer to God can be more fruitful than a lifetime of ministry that you try and do on your own.
Galatians 6:9 - "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."