To assist youth leaders and youth in finding fun and meaningful activities, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has launched a new youth activity website packed with more than 150 activities that work anywhere in the world. It is located at www.lds.org/youth/activities?lang=eng.
Activities are an important part of the youth program in the LDS Church. In addition to Sunday activities, LDS youth are invited to meet together on an additional night during the week to do activities together. "Many youth feel isolated in their efforts to live the gospel in an increasingly wicked world," said Brother David L. Beck, Young Men general president. "When they gather for activities, they draw strength from one another."
Ephesians 2:19 says, "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God."
Young Women general president, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson told the LDS Church News, "Mutual night activities play an essential role in the youth programs of the church. Activities are not only fun and entertaining, they also serve to bring the youth together in fellowship and give them a sense of belonging and mutual support. Activities provide a great opportunity to invite nonmembers and less active youth to participate and socialize in a non-threatening church setting."
"When it comes to youth activities in the church, the typical question is 'What are we going to do?'" said Mike Madsen, project manager for the new youth activity website created by the church. "That question needs to change to 'What activity can we do to help the less active come to church?' or 'What service would help the elderly in our ward?' Activities should be based on needs and interests and planned with a purpose."
The church Handbook 2 states, "In addition to providing fun and entertainment, activities should build testimonies, strengthen families and foster unity and personal growth." Following that direction, the content of the new site has three main components including activity ideas, training about effective planning, and communication and planning tools to help bring about the purposes of church activities. These purposes include:
- Supporting the missionary and rescue effort
- Fostering wholesome interaction between young men and young women
- Building positive relationships and opportunities for mentoring
- Engaging in living the gospel; preparing for future roles, serving others and fostering leadership
- Help youth live the gospel; prepare for future roles, grow personally, serve others and foster leadership
Elder Stanley G. Ellis of the Seventy said, "The activity ideas on this website were written to be adaptable to a variety of local circumstances. However, we recognize that many of the good ideas for activities are out there in the wards and branches around the world — the things you've tried and found successful. We encourage youth and leaders to share your good ideas on the site. Tell us about activities you've held that have really strengthened the youth. That's how this site will become a rich, inspiring resource for the international church."
The new website also allows leaders to see what activities the young men and young women in their ward or stake are planning. For example a bishop can log into the site and see what the Mia Maids are doing for the month of January and the site will show exactly what the activity is and when it is happening.
The site includes a planner with links to the ward calendar and ways to create and save email groups, such as the parents of all the Beehives in the ward. It also includes links to the Come, Follow Me lessons, Personal Progress and Duty to God.
Elder Christoffel Golden of the Seventy said, "We encourage youth leaders to involve parents as you plan activities. Ask them about the needs and interests of their children — they are the experts in this area. Look for ways to include families in the activities you plan — several of the activity ideas on the website include suggestions for involving families."
"It looks great on a mobile phone," said Brother Madsen. "It was designed from its inception to work well on a mobile device and looks great. The site is also an excellent resource for families and provides great ideas for family-friendly activities. Social media elements include posting to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and email for parents to know what is going on." The site will be available in the same 23 languages as the Come, Follow Me youth curriculum with an official launch in January 2014.
"Through activities, youth find opportunities to serve others," said Brother Beck. "They become a great blessing to their family members and the community. They learn for themselves the truth of the Savior’s promise, 'Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it' (Matthew 16:25)."