Have You Thrown a Party Lately?
By Justin Fox
The truth is; Christians don’t really know how to party. Our culture, our generation, and generations to come need to relearn the fine art of celebration – and nothing is worth celebrating more than God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love for us. Sure, we sing about celebration, we talk about it in sermons, but rarely do any of us actually experience it in our church gatherings. For example, many of the songs we sing reference “dancing”, but how many of us really dance. Be honest.
So, I propose instead of thinking of your next special gathering as “putting on an event”, or “planning out a service”, why don’t you instead THROW A PARTY? Set it up just like a party. Hang streamers, and balloons. Pass out party-poppers and candy. Pour the punch, dim the lights, rent a popcorn machine, hang a disco-ball. You get the picture. Personally, I have felt God calling and nudging me in this direction, and I’m excited to see where it leads.
When I look at the Old Testament and read God’s first instructions to His people about festivals and feast days, it seems as if we’ve missed something. God loves a celebration and I think many of us could benefit from a fresh approach like this.
What would a Christ-centered party look like? What would you actually do? Well, as I have experimented with this lately I’ve discovered a few things that work really well. We like to keep the idea of celebration connected to the Biblical context of worship, but still maintain room for individual creativity. So, take these as suggestions, but be sure to put your creative fingerprints on this and help shape it and mold it for your community.
Ideas For Your Next Celebration:
The plan is to have a band or an individual on stage to play and provide the music during the party. Everything you do needs to be thought out in advance and designed to make sure everyone participates and has a great time.
WORSHIP THROUGH COMMUNITY – 10 min.
Starts with an extended time of unstructured “hanging out”. Music playing, punch flowing, treats out, and no chairs. Let students talk with one other. I recommend serving food first. (Have you ever gone to a party where they save the food for last?)
WORSHIP THROUGH THANKSGIVING – 15 min.
Gather students together and officially welcome them to the party. Get things jumping with 2 or 3 fun, upbeat songs of thanksgiving (original if possible). Then have them seated (on the floor, or have them grab a chair and race back). Encourage them to share with each other in small groups of three or four about the things that they are thankful for. Transition out of that with a few more fun songs. Keep audience participation high and your sense of humor sharp.
WORSHIP THROUGH PETITION – 10 min.
You can’t authentically celebrate without addressing and dealing with the struggles, hardships, and challenges of life. When things are tough and we don’t know where to turn, we turn to God. This is an act of worship.
Have students pray for one another. Maybe in silence, maybe all together out loud, maybe one-on-one, but give them an opportunity to minister to one another.
WORSHIP THROUGH GIVING – 5 min.
A great place for an offering, but make it meaningful and maintain a worshipful atmosphere. We don’t give because God needs it – we give to sacrifice something precious to us as an act of worship.
WORSHIP THROUGH OBEDIENCE – 10 min.
Transition from this prayer time with a call and a challenge to follow God and His ways, even when times are hard. If another song is sung here, it might be fitting to have students stand when they feel led as an act of saying they want to follow God with their whole life.
WORSHIP THROUGH CELEBRATION – 10 min.
With the kids still standing, lead them in thanking God for His grace and strength to obey Him – that it’s not about us, but all about Him, and transition into an up-beat congregational song. In between this and your last song, consider challenging your students to really dance as an act of worship and celebration. One idea that I’ve tried is playing a “dance party medley” from my iPod with songs like the Macarena, the Chicken Dance, and YMCA. It’s a sure-fire way to make sure everyone is dancing and having fun.
WORSHIP THROUGH PARTICIPATION – 10 min.
At the very end, invite several students to join the band up front (or be the “band”), playing random, funny instruments like a small accordion, shaker, cowbell!, ukulele, etc. Get the rest of the crowd involved in some way, cheering for the kids on stage or trying to out-shout one another if possible – anything other than just singing along. Pass out confetti and Party-Poppers and when you give them the signal have them shoot them off to end the song.
PARTY CHECK LIST:
– Streamers, balloons, candy, punch, lights, hot dog machine, popcorn, disco-ball…etc, etc!
– Party-Poppers (1 for each person in your group)
– Any small, rare, silly instruments you have lying around?
– “Party Mix” of songs for before and after the live music and planned activities
– Set seating for audience in a casual, random way in sort of a semi-circle if possible (not too “churchy”)
To close things off create a playlist on your iPod or burn a CD with a selection of party songs like “Celebration” from Kool and the Gang or something to keep the party atmosphere going as closing words or announcements are made.
I’ve already lead 3 or 4 of these events and the response has been overwhelming! I’d be honored to party with you – find out about booking by clicking HERE