The youth rally is not the entire youth ministry, but it is a component part. Like summer camp or Vacation Bible School it serves as an emphasis on the things you are trying to teach young people every week.
Most people believe that if you have pizza, interesting props, and prizes to give away you have all this is needed for a good youth rally. There should be much more! I am in youth rallies frequently and have seen many rallies done well and a few that were not as effective as they could have been.
Here are a few suggestions…
- Determine the purpose of the youth rally.
What are you rallying them to? Determine the destination early. Is it primarily evangelistic? Is it to challenge Christian young people? Choose a Bible theme that young people can remember.
- Promote accordingly.
You must get the word out to get people in. Begin early. Target groups: schools, area youth groups, etc. Print something. Utilize social media. It is free and widely seen. Use your own young people. Promote. Promote. Promote.
- Have a planning session.
Include others in this process of gathering ideas. Use these thoughts to work from a checklist for the rally.
- Make the youth rally a friendly atmosphere.
This never happens by accident. Work at it. Train teen greeters. Enlist key young people to be part of the greeting committee. Then plan some creative way to get kids to mix with others they do not know.
- Begin with enthusiasm!
Open with a strong greeting and plenty of enthusiasm. Set the tone for the entire meeting in the first 6o seconds.
- Have an energetic song leader.
It would be better not to sing than to sing great songs with no heart. Teach young people to sing to the Lord and for the Lord with abandon.
- Teach great hymns and hymn histories.
Choruses are good. But great hymns of the faith are being largely lost on a new generation. Why? Not because they are not singable but because they do not understand them.
Tell the story behind a hymn. Make it come alive. Point out a great phrase or word and help give meaning to what they are singing.
- Emphasize prayer.
Spend much time in prayer before the rally. Enlist teens and workers to pray and help them be specific. Make prayer a key part of the rally itself. Pray much after the rally for fruit to remain.
- Have fun but avoid foolishness.
One of the truly wonderful things about youth rallies is that young people can have a great time with other young people as they worship God! They can have fun and not regret it the next day.
That being said, avoid frivolity that would take away from what you are there for. Don’t do anything that would be a reproach to Jesus. Kids will grow up and associate Jesus with juvenile things if we are not careful.
Avoid distasteful and crude things. “But kids like it!” makes as much sense as allowing them to sin because they enjoy it. Keep the auditorium set aside as a sacred place for a sacred purpose as much as possible.
- Use every part of the rally to instruct.
In the offering teach them briefly about giving. In prayer times teach them about reverence in approaching God. Through instrumental music teach them to use their talents for the Lord and to listen respectfully as others serve Him. With congregational singing teach them to offer their best in worship to Christ.
Sometimes the “mini sermons” can be most effective in a meeting like this.
- Utilize the teenagers.
Kids will be more apt not only to come but to bring their friends if it is “their meeting.” This does not mean that you turn it over to them unsupervised. Enlist them. Train them in advance. Allow them an opportunity to serve.
Teenagers can serve as greeters and ushers, prayer leaders, singers, instrumentalists, testifiers, preachers, and in a host of other roles. This will give your young people an opportunity to develop and grow. It will also stir the interest and attention of other teens.
- Encourage teens to use their Bibles.
Remember it is all about emphasis. You want them to use it when they go home! Remind them to bring it. Have them follow along and mark things in the Scripture. Give copies of the Word of God as a gift to those who may not have one. Make much of the Bible!
- Work with those who give testimonies.
Don’t just ask them! Equip them. Help them learn how to tell their story in a way that will bring attention to Christ and glory to God. Guide them through the process.
- Bring a Spirit-filled preacher to preach.
Don’t look for an entertainer or stand up comedian. Find someone who will preach the Bible with passion.
- Do nothing before the message that would disrupt or distract.
The moments before the message are most important. Introduce your speaker but do not overdo it. All eyes should be on Jesus. Have good special music before the message. Help the young people quiet their heart and expect to hear from God.
- Have Christ-honoring music.
Avoid worldly things. Let them know that Christ’s music IS different. Do it well. It is shameful to do a half-hearted job for Jesus.
- Work to help teens leave with something definite from the Word of God.
Teens need to hear a simple but pointed message with strong application.
What will you ask them to do when they leave? Don’t let the rally be the end of it! Call on them to take some next step of obedience. Enlist them to some great cause for the Lord!
- Give a specific invitation.
Be plain. Be kind. Be prepared. Have workers ready to help. Never minimize spiritual decisions.
- Be good stewards of the time you have.
Keep the meeting moving – no down time.
- Work with other like-minded churches when possible.
The principle of laboring together applies to youth ministry too!
Historically, youth rallies have been places where revivals have been sparked. They should not be demeaned or twisted into some mere teen activity. They are an opportunity to point young people to eternity!