Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thoughts on....30 Hour Famine

Our youth group is getting geared up for our 30 Hour Famine event. We are starting our event next Friday. I know, I know, I'm a little bit of a rebel because we do not do ours in the spring like everyone else. The reason I don't do it in the spring is, honestly, I don't have to! I have a ton of other events we do in the spring that cannot be done on a different date, so I always bump 30 Hour Famine back to a fall event.

I love 30 Hour Famine! I've been doing the Famine since my first youth group, over 5 years ago. We've missed some years here and there because of transitions. But I always come back to the Famine. Why? For the first 4 and a half years of my ministry I was a volunteer or part time youth worker at churches with very limited budgets. 30 Hour Famine does not cost the youth group anything. It is a great event that teaches teenagers about allowing their hearts to break for what breaks God's. The TRIBE game that you play during the event is always awesome and really helps teach kids about the things that children in Third World countries face every day.

Now obviously these games do not give a teen first hand knowledge of the dangers, that would take the teen going overseas on a mission trip and seeing these dangers first hand. If you've been doing youth ministry for any length of time you know that not ALL teens are going to do that. This event is a "getting your feet wet" sort of event.

Another awesome aspect is the addition of a FREE curriculum to accompany the event! World Vision partnered with the folks at Simply Youth Ministry and are offering a free 4 week LIVE curriculum that revolves around the 30 Hour Famine. It has 3 weeks of lead up material and a lesson for the Sunday after. It is an awesome way to set you event up via lessons and inform your students about it.

One thing I usually add to our event to add to the experience is a Water Walk. On Saturday morning when everyone wakes up, we walk for around 5K (3.1 miles) to go get water. This simulates the normal chores that face children overseas who do not have access to water in their own homes. In the past we've had students carry 1 gallon jugs of water, which we then donated to the church's emergency supply closet. We have also set up kiddy pools 5K from the church filled with water and mud. The students then filled their containers and hiked back to the church with it. This gave them a lesson in clean drinking water too. (Obviously do not have you students drink the dirty water).

Another thing I have added as more of a parent ministry aspect is to invite the parents to cook or help cook the Break-the-fast meal. This gives them investment into the event and they get to see their students at their hungriest point. They get to talk to their child as the event wraps up and they get to see first hand the experience the student has had. You can also encourage your parents to participate in the fast as well. Another good bonding time for the parent/student is to encourage the parent to cook the students favorite meal for lunch the following Sunday or even that night if the student is still hungry.

I've also been pondering ways to improve on the 30 Hour Famine. Some ways World Vision could take an already great event and take it over the top.

A Student App
As we all know students live on their smart phones. Set up an app that allows them to collect donations, play short videos explaining the Famine to donors, and have fun interactive elements like a 30 day lead up devotional, a prayer guide that allows students to pray for specific hunger needs world wide leading up the the Famine, and a informative feature that teaches them about areas World Vision helps leading up to the Event.

I know I just said I like doing 30 Hour Famine because it is Free. Now I am a full time youth minister and thought that it would be cool to have TRIBE gear in the 30 Hour Famine store. Mainly colored bandanna's with the 30 Hour Famine logo on them for the tribes. I usually grab colored bandanna's at Wal-mart for our tribes to wear during the game, to give them a sense of identity. But it would be cool to have these as a keepsake for their 30 Hour Famine experience, with the logo.

A few years back World Vision partnered with Made for Good to produce their Famine Wear. As youth ministers know, teens love t-shirts. These shirts look awesome. I say look because I have no idea if they are awesome. Since we do our Famine in the fall, by the time we get ready to try to order shirts, they are always either sold out or only have XS and 2XL sizes. With the advent of Teespring and smaller print on demand companies, there really is no excuse not to be able to get these shirts later in the year. We've always resorted to just making our own T-shirts but I would love for my students to have access to the "official" shirts.

Follow up Video's
During the Famine we get the cool lead up video's introducing the kids to various children who are suffering from hunger. And we can designate our funds to go to a specific area. I would love to see videos of a child from the specific area you chose to designate your funds to, and a follow up video to show after the Famine about how World Vision's work has help nurture the child back to health.

30 Hour Famine Year Round
My students are all about long term impact. They want to see how their funds change lives year round. Most cannot afford to sponsor a child on a monthly basis though. I would love to see World Vision partner with someone like and have something like a rice bowl change bank that students, and even kids in our children's ministry could collect change for to send in to keep the impact going year round. Maybe even offer a store that sells 30 Hour Famine shirts and gear that students could buy and when they buy a shirt it provides 25 meals for a child ( or something similar).

These are just some of the ideas floating around in my head that would take a already great event and just make it ridiculously over the top awesome! If you have not ever done a 30 Hour Famine before, what are you waiting on? Join up and help "Release the Feast" to hungry children all over the world!

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