Top 10 Ways to Make Your Ministry Fun
It is an act of servant leadership to make our ministries more fun and welcoming for visitors. When you laugh and have fun together, new people (Christians, skeptics, and seekers) all feel connected. Below are our Top 10 Tips and Tricks from ministry leaders across the country to make your Large Events and Small Groups more fun. Enjoy!
In this resource
At the beginning of the year, it is a good idea to host a fun event that is easy to invite everyone to join. Here are five ideas:
1. Host a Picnic, BBQ, or Root Beer Kegger
Pros: Anyone can be invited to come join in a meal. If it is hosted outside near dorms or high traffic areas, it is easy to invite students passing by to spontaneously join in.
Cons: This event is best when you can recruit volunteers ahead of time so that they cook and serve the food, which frees up staff and student leaders to meet and connect with the new students. (Please avoid events where you serve a lot of food and meet no one.)
2. Play a group sport like ultimate frisbee, flag football, kickball, or consider these two fun ideas:
Picture Ultimate Frisbee played with a cantaloupe. Yeah, it’s messy, but not too extreme for the students at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. They use a large playing field and about 12-15 cantaloupes. After a few tosses (and drops), the cantaloupe breaks into pieces, but they just pick up the biggest piece and continue. Soon the juice is flying, hands are sticky and chunks of melon are spread around the field — good, clean (okay, not really) fun!
This game is as entertaining to watch as it is to play. They’ve had up to forty students playing in two games at the same time, with at least that many curious spectators cheering from the sidelines. “Our best conversations are with the people who come to watch, since the players usually head for the showers right after the game,” said staff worker Amanda Eisner. “As we sit together, we get to know them and invite them to other InterVarsity events. It’s one of the highlights of our NSO season!”
Homemade ice cream in eight different flavors isn’t the only annual NSO attraction at the University of New Mexico. They also sponsor a “snowball” fight that attracts over 100 students. The flour-in-pantyhose snowballs quickly get people actively involved with each other.
To make the snowballs, they buy cheap knee-high stockings and cut them in half. They tie a knot in one end, fill it with a cup of flour and then tie another knot in the other end. The snowballs last for about thirty minutes. They make about 50-60 with a ten-pound bag of flour. The stockings that don’t get torn are saved and reused for the snowball fight the following year.
Pros: Anyone can be invited and it is easy to include new people as they pass by. Make sure to divide up staff and core students into different teams so that you can get to know as many new students as possible.
Cons: If you achieve ultimate fun, you’re going to be dirty, sticky, and tired! Make sure to start the university approval paperwork a few weeks in advance or your event might get shut down.
3. Campus Scavenger hunt
Pros: You can send small teams of new students with an InterVarsity leader to find places all over campus and get to know each other at the same time.
Cons: This requires some preparation to think of the best locations and how to indicate you made it to each place, plus time for creating clues to make the game fun. A poorly executed scavenger hunt can be boring and people may leave part way through.
4. Field Trip
You might take a group hiking, to the beach or apple picking.
Pros: Getting away from campus together creates an opportunity for friendships to emerge. Many students without cars love the opportunity to get off campus.
Cons: Recruiting cars and drivers can become a logistical burden, especially if you have very few drivers in your chapter. Some schools offer transportation resources for club events if requested in advance.
5. Trivia night
Pros: Trivia night is an easy invitation. It is easy to spontaneously invite others to join in the fun. You can sprinkle in trivia related to your campus. The teams will bond and start forming friendships as they work together to answer obscure questions.
Cons: You have to find the right venue that will allow you to create 8-12 small teams. You have to create a lot of questions (you can find some here). (Please make the rules very clear.)
Having fun with your small group is important to create deep friendships and community. Here are five ideas.
1. Minute to win it games
Pros: These games get people up, moving, and laughing with each other. This is a fantastic way to start a small group. Check out this list of over 200 games!
Cons: You have to plan ahead and gather the required materials.
2. Ice Breakers
Simple activities that make connections and get relationships started. Try a simple ice breaker like this one: Pair people up and ask them to talk until they find something interesting that they share in common. Share with the group.
Pros: Icebreakers are quick and rarely require extra supplies. Plus, there are an endless amount of icebreaker ideas out there. (Check out this list over 100 icebreaker ideas and icebreaker questions).
Cons: it is difficult to come up with good ice breakers week after week.
3. SG Hangout
Invite your small group to come with you to dinner before small group, or to study together after small group.
Pros: These informal activities are things you would be doing anyway but they are even better when you invite others along. Doing normal life together promotes connection and friendship.
Cons: It can feel difficult to intentionally blend your InterVarsity time with time spent outside of InterVarsity.
4. Go for food or coffee
Pros: This can turn into a tradition, allowing you and your group to go sample local food or coffee after small group. This is not only fun but allows for deeper conversations to emerge.
Cons: Not everyone has a budget for extra food. You might have to seek out resources so everyone can participate.
5. Board game or Movie night
Pros: You can explore the interests of someone in your group by asking them to host. These evenings give plenty of time to talk and connect with each other outside of InterVarsity-promoting community.
Cons: They take an entire evening.
- Try to add people spontaneously to the fun as they pass by.
- Intentionally plan when you will cast vision for InterVarsity during your event. Keep it to one minute. Invite participants to the next event.
- Always pass out contact cards and get their contact info. You can do this in all kinds of creative ways, like when people line up for food, or at the beginning and end of sporting events.
- Invite everyone in your group to “buddy up.” This decreases social anxiety and increases the possibility of connection. Start out by asking them to pair up with someone they already know and then mixing up the pairs. Have questions ready to help them start conversations.
- Need help getting people to put their phones away? Give everyone a clothespin to pin to their shirt. Announce to the group, “When you see someone check their phone, they have to forfeit their clothes pin to you. The person with the most clothes pins at the end of the event wins the prize (t-shirt, water bottle, etc.)
- Help the event end well…
- Thank people for coming. Let them know you want to see them again. Assign someone to be at the exit.
- Look for people lingering alone after an event. Ask student leaders to be prepared to take the initiative and check in with folks like this.
- Create an intentional after party.