Youth group gatherings around Christmas can be a little frustrating at times. You put in the time and energy to prepare a talk, write out small group discussion questions, prepare your team, planning the game that requires at least a certain number of people, etc. then have less than a third of your students show up for youth group. I don't know about how things work where you live but around here people get really busy around Christmas with all the celebrations, performances, shopping, traveling and on and on.
I gave up. I gave up the frustration and it was a great feeling. What could we do differently? Our Christmas party always had a great turn out of students and then the rest of December and the first Sunday in January went downhill. Bowling was the answer. No preparation other than publicity. The years before we would have 12 to 15 students show up. The first time we put bowling on the calendar we had 40 show up and several were guests.
Why was bowling a success? I think students (and leaders) needed a break to do something that was just fun. Some might say that bowling isn't spiritual enough to replace the weekly scheduled youth group gathering. It is also good to break away from the "usual" from time to time.
The purpose is fellowship. Students building relationships with other students. Adult leaders investing in students. You get to know your kids better when you do the fun stuff like bowling and just hang out together. Your students get to know you and your leadership team better as well.
Our Parent Pod has jumped on board with the bowling as well. They usually meet during youth group so it made sense for them to just hang out together also. Parents building relationships with other parents of teens is a marvelous thing.
Will there be 40 this year? I don't know. I do know that myself and the YM team will get to spend some quality time with students. I also know this will connect us with our SBC roots as we gather to eat at Taco Bell following the bowling.