So when it comes to advice and suggestions for events, Youth Leader 101 typically notes that special events, like school, community or national sporting events are often great excuses for getting students together. The NCAA basketball tournament, known as March Madness, is a perfect example. Though I would suggest this also makes an outstanding community outreach opportunity.
For the past few years, we have opened up our church and youth area and we have broadcast the March Madness basketball games on big screen TVs. For the first weekend of the tournament, we have had games on the big screens from noon on Thursday, through Thursday night and then again at noon on Friday, through late Friday night. We didn't charge admission, because we wanted to welcome the community, not create a fundraising event.
Many individuals take time off work and head to sports bars to watch these hours of basketball. We figured (correctly) that many folks would prefer a smoke-free, inexpensive place to hang out and watch the games. Many also like the fact that their families are welcome too. We organized our youth group to assist with making food for the visitors, cleaning up, and hanging out with those who attended.
Many students brought friends from other churches or unchurched friends. We had a significant number of adults who had not been to church for a while, but appreciated the opportunity to watch the basketball games. The students built relationships with many of these visitors.
The event was fun for the students, entertaining for everyone, and it turned out to be a significant ministry outreach for the youth group. Anyone else try this for March Madness?