One of the best parts of my calling as a speaker/trainer and senior consultant for Ministry Architects is that I get to hear/borrow/steal ideas from youth workers all over America. Last week, in a coaching call with a church that’s part of a yearlong cohort I’m teaching with smaller churches in the Dakotas, a volunteer shared an idea that sparked an even bigger conversation. The brainchild born from it is a Virtual Advent Calendar—something young people can easily create and older people will thoroughly enjoy. Best of all, it’s simple!
Here’s the idea: Each student creates a sign or poster with his or her name on it and an Advent Scripture verse. Then you take a picture of each student holding their poster. Student also each search online for one picture supporting their Scripture. All the photos—of students and Scripture supports—are saved in an easily accessible electronic file, such as Google Drive.
Then each day of Advent (or at least from December 1 on), church members all receive a daily email with a student’s picture and name, the verse-of-the-day, and the verse’s picture . So easy!
This accomplishes several things:
1. Church members get to know young people’s names. That’s an essential element in building rooted relationships with their younger counterparts.
2. It’s a fun way for teenagers to study the story of Advent and Christmas. As you prepare the project together, each young person can present his or her Scripture and photo in order. Play Christmas worship music in the background.
3. It answers a top complaint I hear when doing assessments at churches: “We never see the young people.” “We never see the old people.”
Another option is to post each day’s verse and picture on the church’s Facebook page. (Older people might be a little better at checking Facebook than email.) Remind church members to check for a message each day; they’ll really look forward to it. For members who aren’t online much, make a computer available at church so they can view the days they’ve missed.
Voila! This cool, easy project has multiple benefits that touch the heart and mind.