1Q interview: New Year’s Ideas

Jacob Eckeberger
December 22nd, 2014

Original photo by Michael Pchelnikov.

If you’re in a panic because you haven’t finalized New Year’s plans for your youth group yet, here are some great ideas from 3 incredible youth workers:


Matt Larkin serves as the Coordinator of Student & Kids’ Ministries for the Advent Christian General Conference (www.acgc.us).

One thing I’ve always said is that my best ideas in youth ministry are the ones I stole from someone else. And this is no different! One of my favorite New Year’s activities with students is something I actually, originally, witnessed at a fall youth retreat I was a part of. But it seemed like a great idea for a New Year’s celebration. The premise of the activity is basically this… letting go of whatever junk we may be harboring that is hindering us from our walk with God.

After talking about this concept with the students, each student receives a helium filled balloon (ideally, one that has an internal light). Each student is then given a sharpie, so they can write 1 or more things they want to let go of. This could be a personal hurt, some area of sin in their lives, or something else entirely. The idea is simply that it is something they want to let go of so they can walk more closely with God. After they finish writing, we take the group outside and release the lit balloons into the night sky. It is a powerful visual and a great New Year’s activity. It really helps encourage students to start the New Year fresh, as they seek to walk more closely with God.


Stephanie Riebe is one of the student ministries directors at Castleton United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

My co-director will roll his eyes when he reads this sentence but I love a good ol’ New Years Eve lock-in/party with our students. We’ve had different opportunities for our teens on New Years Eve over the past couple of years—sometimes a parent pick up after watching the ball drop and sometimes the all nighter filled with cleaning up spilled 2 liters of soda in the carpet and 3am rounds of the game underground church. There’s just something that resonates with my sentimental side as a full time youth director that loves starting a new year looking around a room filled with teenagers. Watching their faces as they kick off a new year together and praying for the Lord’s direction, vision and protection over these precious students and the ones God will lead into the doors of our ministry in the year to come. So…call me cheesy, I’ll claim the title when it comes to kicking off a new year with a New Years Eve lock-in. It’s always a win with the parents too…as long as I’m not calling them to chaperone.


Shawn Breeden is the Youth and Worship Pastor at South Main Church in Roswell, NM. 

I love New Years Eve because it is one of the rare occasions students are naturally thinking (a little) into their futures.  Without over-reaching, I try to capitalize on this by having a time for students to respond to the question, “what do you hope happens in your life this year?”  This is surrounded by the usual New Years Activities, be that a party or lock-in or whatever.  I try to find creative methods for students to express their answers too.  A few years ago we used black-light paint on a black canvass and allowed students to share their hopes throughout the night.  This canvass was framed and hung on the wall in the youth room for the year – simply looking like an all black painting – and we came back to it about once a quarter with a black-light and talked about our hopes and what God was doing in our lives.  It was a powerful image of how God often restores hope in our lives when everything seems dark.  I love the holiday breaks from school as they provide so much time to be with students.  New Years is one of those moments.

Jacob Eckeberger

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.