A Youth Explosion is basically a one-night Youth Rally, but with church groups that are farther out than
your own region of fellowship. This event is open to churches from anywhere within several hours.
2-3 Months before the Youth Explosion:
1. Arrange The Stage.
Find a speaker. More than anything, seek your Pastor’s counsel. Ask who the Lord would lay on his heart, or what direction he would like for you to go. It is beyond your position to find a speaker yourself (unless your pastor has given you direct permission. Even if he has, you need to have them approved by your pastor.) Your pastor has veto power when it comes to who will be preaching to the teenagers of the church that he pastors. The most important thing that is going to be at your Youth Explosion is the preaching. Find a speaker that you can afford, and that you know is walking with God. If you just pick anyone, there’s a risk of it being a flop. YP’s don’t want to drive their teens 2 hours away to hear someone who is not ready to preach. Call him early (several months before the event) and keep him up to date on things. Let him know what the schedule will be. There’s nothing wrong with having another local YP preach, or yourself – if that is what God is leading you to do. Find a piano player. Tell them what songs you have talked about with the song leader, and maybe some extra playing if possible. (Pre-service music, music to play during games, handshaking, invitational, etc.) Be sure to connect them with the song leader for song choices. Find someone to lead music. Tell them what kind of music to plan for the event (how many fast-paced songs, slower songs, etc). How many hymns, spiritual songs, invitational, etc., and be sure to connect them with the piano player for what songs they choose. Find skit people. Almost every youth event I go to has a skit. Whether it’s funny and entertaining, or with a spiritual purpose, you need people to do it. It’s hard to arrange a skit last minute, so get it prepared early. Decide what kind of skit you want and pick the right people for it. Some churches have their teens, school drama class, or young adults in the church perform the skit. Find music specials. Find music specials that God will use to speak to hearts throughout the service. I love having our teens from our church do our special music. This could be a choir consisting of your youth group, all teen girls, all teen boys, specific teens that sing regularly, mixed groups, solos, or something like that. Be sure to get with them ahead of time, so they can practice and be ready. It’s also good to check in with them periodically before the event, to make sure they are preparing, If I know who is going to sing when, then I’ll request of them a specific song. Meaning if Johnny is singing a solo before the preaching, I’ll ask him to sing something slower and that can speak to hearts. If a special is earlier in the service, I’ll usually leave it to them. Whether their song is fast-paced and a joyful song, or slow, it doesn’t really matter to me. Whatever your preference is. Decide early what games will be done. You want to choose games that are funny and entertaining to the audience. There’s nothing wrong with picking games that have been seen before. Whether your games cause people to touch or step into unknown things, make a complete fool of themselves, or eating something, the choice is yours. I stay away from games that will totally discourage someone from ever volunteering to do a game again. I don’t make people eat things that I wouldn’t eat (Unless my theme is Fear Factor). I stay away from games that are overused. Do something fun, epic, and entertaining. Some churches do Bible Quiz teams by churches, sword drills, etc. It doesn’t matter what game you do, just make it fun for everyone! Just recently, our teens and I attended a Youth Rally that did a unique, yet very simple game. Everyone stood, and they had to choose a color that was represented on the screen. Whatever color was drawn out of the box, those that had picked that color remained standing. Everyone else sat down. They kept going till they had 1 winner, and they got the prize. That’s just a simple, easy, affordable game that everyone can play. Good stuff! Make a Schedule of Service. Once you know who is doing what, what games you have in mind, who your speaker is, etc., arrange your schedule of service. Know who is doing what, when and make guesses of how long each will take. Plan your work, then simply work your plan. You don’t want to keep everyone there all night, so plan wisely. Plan by priority! Preaching is the main event, so inform your speaker of how long they will be preaching and prepare that in your schedule. Then you can go from there. Don’t have 7 games, 8 specials and leave no time for your speaker and expect to hand out prizes all in one night. Again, plan wisely. If you give away all your prizes first, you will not have your teens’ attention. Save it for last. Find workers for your registration table. In order to give away prizes, the teens will need to fill out registration cards. These cards will include their name, age, grade, address, phone number, church they attend, etc. Please be sure to coach your registration workers on making sure every teen fills out the card completely. Some will just write their name and turn it in. What good is that registration card if you don’t know where they live? You will not be able to follow up on them. They will need plenty of pens, registration cards, and your workers need to be some of the first people there at the start of the night. Have some teen helpers on standby. There will always be something flare up last minute. Get with a couple of your reliable teens ahead of time and ask if they can be on standby. Meaning if something arises that you may need help with, you can go to them to handle it. For example, you will need someone to clean up after the activity is over during the service…have a select few take care of that by informing them ahead of time. I promise, something will come up.
2. Get A Flyer Put Together.
Yes, in color would be wonderful, but that can be VERY expensive. Any colored flyers you get should be for something special. Maybe for if you have a teen that can post it IN the school for others to see, or where the public eye will regularly see it (gas stations, local library, small business entrances.) But for just passing out, get black and white. They are more affordable. You will need lots of them! With visiting schools, teen soulwinning, handing out at church and any other place they could be handed out, you’ll go thru a bunch! But the earlier you get them out, the better chance you have of teens knowing about it sooner. It also helps build excitement when your regular teens see them around town. It assures them that this is something they don’t want to miss! Be sure to include all important details on the flyer. Where it will be held, what time it starts, what will be given away, who the speaker will be, and your contact information as well as the church’s. Believe me, it’s easy to forget one. I had it happen 2 years in a row. My initial flyer to other youth pastors did not have the time on it. Lol, so be sure you include all the details.
3. Find prizes (hopefully for free).
What I have found helpful to get teens to attend is great prize giveaways. This will work well for any teen in the area. If they hear you are giving away something like a new TV, a kayak, a PS4, or whatever, they will want to come so they can win something like that. Obviously, do what you can afford without overspending. The reason to go for the prizes so early in advance is because some businesses will be willing to help donate more towards your event than just 1 small prize, and possibly for free. If you go to them the week of, or 2 weeks before, it will be hard to get anything for free. You could easily get gift cards, but grand prizes are hard to get last minute unless you have money available. You’ll have to spend something. Sometimes, they can still give you a discount, but not always. But I wouldn’t count on it. The easiest prizes to get are gift cards from restaurants. Managers can easily do that, but again, if you get to them sooner in advance, they may be willing to do more than just a gift card. I’ve been told that bigger retail stores that sell in bulk, some restaurants, and Walmart have a budget set aside monthly for things like this. In most cases, it’s first come, first-serve. So don’t wait! When I host our Youth Explosions, I tell the businesses that we are doing our part as a church to prevent what’s happening to teens today: drug abuse, alcohol, suicide, bullying, etc. And it’s true! A new life in Christ can change anyone, and can fix any problem! That’s why we want teens to come, so they can know Christ as Savior. You as the Youth Pastor should want to do whatever it takes to get every teen you can think of to come. Who knows how God can deal with their heart at the event! This is a chance of revival in your community! One last way to gather prizes is by getting church members involved. At every Youth Explosion I’ve hosted, I will have our teens write down 1 thing they would like to seen given away at the Youth Explosion on 5 separate index cards. I’ll do this at Sunday School and any teen class I hold prior to the event. They can put anything they like. A car, a gaming console, a go-kart, an electric scooter, a new Bible, a keyboard, anything. I’ll then take all of those cards, go thru them, then display them in the church or the foyer for all the church members to see. As they pass by the table, they’ll see a paper with instructions saying, “If you can donate one or more of the following to our Youth Explosion, please take that card and take all donations to Bro. Pitts. Please turn in all prizes as soon as possible.” Church members will read them, take one or a few, and go purchase the prizes and turn them in as a donation.
What good is an event if no one comes? Ask church members to help with promoting your event! Maybe there are some church members that live some distance away from the church; ask them to post flyers at businesses in their area. Maybe your church lies within reach of several communities. More than likely, there are different people that attend your church that live in each of them. Go to them personally and seek their help. In Explosions I have hosted, none of them would have been possible without the help of church members that helped promote the event. We have one family that lives in a city 30 minutes away F rom our church. They live there and know where everything is. They knew most of the employees and managers personally because of their regular business that they did at different retailers, and they were the doorway to many prizes that were donated as well as promotion helpers. Promote it online! Use your church/teen department social media profiles to promote your event! Sometimes, it will go around online so much that others will share it and tell their teens. Great thing is, you don’t know any of them! But the internet can work for you in reaching teens. Don’t overpost, but build the excitement with pictures of your theme, videos displaying your prizes, and short videos and GIF’s that promote your event. Encourage your teens to share posts also. Promote the event on the buses! You want your regular teens to attend as well as your bus teens. Hopefully you have been pushing it in Sunday School, Teen Church and classes, etc. Encourage the bus captains to pickup their teens and bring them in! You can also have mutual bus pickup spots and include that on your flyer.
What good is an event if no one prays? Without God, no matter how awesome your event was, it doesn’t matter. Have your event placed on the church prayer list. Pray for it personally. Pray for your speaker, specials, song leader, piano player, skit people, people helping with food, everyone! Pray that God will use them and what they are doing to be an encouragement and a blessing to someone. Pray for the teens in attendance. Pray for those that are lost. Pray that God will call young people to the ministry. Pray. Pray. Pray. You can never pray too much. Work as if it all depends on you and pray is if it all depends on God! 2-4 Weeks before your Youth Explosion: Prepare Registration Cards. One of the best ways to disciple teens that visited your Youth Explosion, (and is necessary for names to be drawn for the prizes), is by registration cards. If you are not computer savvy, have someone put together some small cards for you. This needs to include their name, address, age, grade, church they attend, phone number, and whatever other information you need to know to follow up on them. Again, these are necessary for drawing names for prizes. Go to your schools! I’m the kind of guy that would rather ask for forgiveness instead of permission, so I just go to the schools in the area until I’m asked to leave. When I go to the schools, I ALWAYS take my teens. They do the work. I am 6’4’’ with a beard and am usually in a shirt and tie, so I would stick out like a sore thumb in the middle of a public school parking lot. Have your teens go with you to invite other teens to a teen event. It’s practical and easy. Don’t take a bus unless you want no success. School officials will see you before you even enter the parking lot with your bus. Take unmarked vans or other smaller vehicles, and only let the teens get out and pass out flyers. Go to every public school close by that you can. Invite as many as you can. I’m sure there is something I am forgetting. This article took some time to put together, but if I am forgetting something, I’m sure it will come to your mind as you assemble everything together. Just remember, failure of preparation is preparation for failure. Most importantly pray the Lord will do a great work!
Nathan Pitts | Youth Pastor
Riverland Baptist Church