Monday, June 13, 2011

Mystery Trips (Vol. 1)

I've told you about Mystery Events and Gorilla Kidnappings- now it's time to share with you a couple of ideas we had for a bit more elaborate mystery event- The Mystery Trip!

Creativity is such an important part of student ministry.  As a youth worker you are constantly striving to come up with ideas that have a WOW factor.  You want to keep students a bit off-guard, wondering what you might come up with next.  You are always seeking new ideas, or at least ideas that are new to your group.  Summer is always one of the best times to really cut loose with wild, wacky & insane ideas.  You find should always push the limits of what is acceptable and what is possible, all because you have to get them to show up before you can share Jesus with them.  And every now and then, you cross the line between the creative and the insane!  Here's one example...

On August 2nd, 1996, the student ministry of the First United Methodist Church of Kissimmee went flying over that line.  As part of our summer ministries, we decided to do a Mystery Trip.  Students could sign-up, pay their $35 and have absolutely no idea where they were going.  We would give parents the information when they arrived at the church on the day of the adventure.  There was a tremendous amount of excitement generated by this new event, and about 25 of us (see group photo at top) prepared to share in the mystery.  The only people who knew where we were going were Jerry Hanbery (my intern) and myself.  We had decided to take the group to Myrtle Beach, SC.  Many of the students had never been, and we were planning a major trip there in the summer of 1997.  A weekend in MB seemed like a wonderful idea for an adventure.  And it was- eventually.

We left the church at 7 PM on Friday, August 2nd, but we had to wait for someone to finish their participation in a fashion show at the local mall, so we wound up sitting in the mall parking lot until around 8 PM.  During this wait, Kendall Crotty began to pass the word around that we were going to Myrtle Beach.  His mom had ratted us out (why is it always the parents who screw up mystery events?)!  Before we ever began our Mystery Trip, the mystery was solved.  That was the first bummer.  The second bummer was that I had been to MB a hundred times in my life, but never from Kissimmee, FL.  It's a long way.  A very long way.  About 9 hours.  I'll let you do the math, but suffice it to say that we arrived at the Days Inn in MB in the very early hours of Saturday morning.  We arrived, checked in, and went to bed.  It was noon before we were up and about and enjoying the sun and surf.

We had a great weekend.  We played together, ate together, visited the Myrtle Beach Pavilion together and worshipped together.  We spent 18 hours in vans to spend 30 hours at the beach when we lived in Florida; that was the insane part.  But we had wanted a memorable event, one that the kids would talk about for years to come- and we got one!  We had titled the weekend Live To Tell after the Geoff Moore and the Distance song for two reasons.  One, our theme for worship was that our lives should tell the people we meet that we were followers of Jesus.  Secondly, we wanted them to know that this weekend was about survival; that they had lived, and should spread the word that strange and wonderful things were happening in the youth ministry of FUMC-K.  On both counts the weekend was an amazing success.  It is safe to say that in those years Jerry and I were often wrong, but we were seldom boring...

We did another Mystery Trip a couple of years later that was not as insane, but was much more dramatic.  That story, and some tips on how to make your trip succeed, are coming Wednesday...  

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