Sunday night meetings aren't usually as formal as Sunday morning services. Youth are often the focus of the Sunday night ministry, even when open to all ages. Sunday night draws in not through liturgy and tradition, but through fun activities or games and showing that Christianity has practical applications for everyday life.
Games with a Biblical Twist
Play games with a Biblical focus. Play charades as individuals or in teams, using Biblical characters. Play “Who Am I?” giving clues about Biblical characters, books or events until someone guesses correctly. Have groups each choose a Biblical character, book or event. Read Scripture references about your choice and make a list of ten clues. Have each group take a turn revealing clues until another group guesses correctly. If no one guesses correctly in ten clues, the group presenting the clues gets the point. The group with the most points wins.
Start or End with Food
Start the evening with a make-your-own-sandwich, offering meat, cheese, onions, relish, etc. In colder weather serve chili and offer a variety of toppings such as chips, cheese, onions and sour cream. You might save eating for after the devotional or Bible study time. Offer a make-your-own-sundae with a variety of toppings such as chocolate, cherry, caramel and butterscotch. Offer nuts, marshmallow cream and candies. The lesson can focus on feeding the five thousand from Matthew 14:14-21 or on God providing manna to the Israelites in the desert from Exodus 16:14-30.
Getting "Real" with Contemporary Issues
On a previous Sunday night, have members write on a slip of paper the contemporary issue that most concerns them. Choose an issue from the slips of paper. Ask those who attend on Sunday nights to read up on the issue, providing a variety of source ideas in books, magazines, newspapers and online. The next Sunday night discuss the issue from different perspectives. Set guidelines at the beginning that everyone will be listened to with respect and no one will put down someone with a divergent opinion. Read passages from the Bible about the issue and discuss what Biblical principles come into play regarding the issue. Talk about what those in the class can do to make a difference regarding the issue and what actions would draw people to or push them away from the love of Christ.
Using Biblical passages such as Jesus caring enough about his hungry listeners to feed them from Luke 9:11-17 and his story about the Good Samaritan on showing mercy from Luke 10:30-37, talk about how Jesus lived his life loving and helping others regardless of stature, wealth, political clout, religion or occupation. Point out that he reached out to those in need whether the individual was an arrogant Pharisee or a prostitute. With input from those attending, make a list of ways they can put their faith into practice globally, nationally and locally. Make plans to begin assisting at a local shelter, a food bank or distribution center. Take meals, as a group, to those who are unable to attend services because of illness.
Music, Worship and Personal Stories
Spend the evening singing worship songs. Use a guitarist or bring in a Christian band to play. Include a few individuals to the evening's schedule who wish to share their stories of the difference Christ has made in their lives. Make it an upbeat, informal service with time for prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
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Carolyn Scheidies has been writing professionally since 1994. She writes a column for the “Kearney Hub” and her latest book is “From the Ashes.” She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she has also lectured in the media department.