The Value of Some Mess

There is something special about a youth group when it becomes less like a group, and more like a community. We’re in the business of introducing people to Jesus, and Jesus calls us to be part of His people – part of something bigger than us. The goal is to bring teenagers into the wider church community (and even more importantly, the universal church), but there’s one way I’ve found that brings people together like no other. If a group of people are thrown together and you want them to bond, one solution is simple.

Messy games.

Now, it’s known that I love mess – I love mud, and I love slime, so maybe I’m biased, but I’m convinced that there is value in mess, and that we should take the time to embrace it occasionally. Here are three reasons why I will always keep messy games in yearly youth programs:

1: there are no cool kids in a slime fight.
Social structures disappear when you’re all throwing slime around at each other. The kids who are too cool for school, and the bookworms, are all on the same level. They play together, laugh together, and the social norms that are part of their day to day lives fall away. That’s a joyful moment to be part of.

2: shared experience is priceless.
The materials needed for messy games come up to about 30-50 dollars. The shared experience is priceless. You cannot underestimate the power of a moment that youth will look back to with a smile and say, “remember when…?” The shared experience brings everyone together and the youth suddenly have something in common, even if they didn’t before.

3: it helps the youth to see leaders as normal people.
When I was in youth group, I thought leaders were another level of human. They were spotless, sinless and without silliness. Messy games allow the leaders to have fun with the youth, and join in on the shared experience. Now, you don’t need to earn the right to preach the gospel to teenagers, but when they know you’re a real person who can laugh like they do, they listen just that little better because they don’t see you as so different to them.

I really love messy games. They take a lot of preparation, and they take investment from the leaders getting involved in the games. They probably make church wardens cringe. But they’re worth it to me.

How to Make Slime:
Materials:
Lux Soap Flakes (found in laundry aisle of Woolworths or Coles) 1 box will make about 40 – 60 litres of slime
Food colouring
Water
Big tubs

How to:
Dissolve 1 cup soap flakes in 2 cups hot water in a jug
Tip into tub
Repeat 1 and 2 until whole box is used. Your tub should be about 1/4 full.
Add cold water until tub is full
Add food colouring and mix in well
Leave to sit for at least two hours, preferably overnight

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