Today's guest blogger is Jim Sparks, a leader within Salvation Army youth ministries and the SAYNetwork website/blog.
Inspired by the Sticky Faith movement, a couple of months ago I set out to find out how I could connect generations in a unique way. So I gave myself the following criteria to chart my course:
- Must be fun
- Must include laughter
- Must connect generations
- Must be in an environment where people can be themselves
- Must provide an experience for all to talk about
With this in mind, I scribbled a bunch of ideas on a whiteboard ranging from a flash mob to a service project. But one activity stood out like a sore thumb and was screaming “OOOH, PICK ME, PICK ME!!”; and so I obliged. What was the idea? Dodgeball. Yep, you heard me.
A friend of mine turned me on to the favorite childhood playground game a couple years ago at a camp, and I can’t tell you how much fun it was. So I decided to bring it to our church gymnasium.
I advertised it through our church bulletin and recruited some influencers to help push the concept. We were intentional in inviting everyone, no matter the age, and gave plenty of warning to the parents of young children that a ball—yes, a ball—would most likely hit their children. We, of course, gave the same advice to the elders. However the balls we use are self-inflating, gator skin, family-friendly dodgeballs that don’t hurt, even if they hit your face. Trust me; I know personally.
So the night came, and I expected about twenty male young adults to be the only ones to show up. Well, I was wrong. We had 43 men, women, and children. The age range was 10 – 51 years of age! We spent several hours that night in the gym pummeling each other, and having a great laugh while doing so.
What a scene. Dads laughing with their sons. College students engaging in friendly banter with forty-something’s. Children trading dodgeball war stories with thirty-something’s. And everyone had a smile on their face while doing so.
It worked. It was fun. No one got hurt. There was plenty of laughter. No cliques and no barriers. Generations were actively engaged in genuine conversations, and it is now the buzz at our church.
We just completed our second dodgeball night, and our number grew to 63 while the age group expanded to 8 – 51. We plan on playing once a month through June and are looking into ways to make the evening even more intentional.