Does this sound familiar? All of your youth are involved in five different fundraisers in two months, all of which are crucial for the trip to the National Youth Gathering. Many youth groups spend long hours trying to raise funds for youth activities, and many youth activities revolve around generating money for awesome experiences for teenagers. Unfortunately, these fund raising activities are not always team-building activities, an important distinction to make.

Is competition within a youth group healthy or is it divisive? Webster’s dictionary links the word “competition” with rivalry and the pursuit of a prize. What does Scripture say?

Acts 2:44-45 gives us a picture of group relationships in the early Christian Church: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”

The Acts 2 example illustrates the ideal in getting along as a group. People were interested in the group as a whole and not in individual gain. The witness the first Christian Church gave attracted many others to join them: “The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Shouldn’t this be the goal of every Christian group? What about your youth group?

Individual competition can be a part of youth activities, such as ping-pong tournaments, board games, or Bible-knowledge contests. However, when it comes to building group camaraderie, team building is much more important than competition. When the goal is to bring the group closer for one major culminating event, team building, not competitive fund raising, should be the focus for each activity related to that event.

Too many times, youth groups get involved in generating money at the expense of building relationships. Instead of competing to see which individual raises the most money selling pizzas, youth groups would be doing everyone a favor by working together in an activity that brings enjoyment to others as the group works together to achieve a common goal.

One example of a team building activity that also raises funds is the Trivia Night. For this activity, each youth uses his or her talents to contribute to the project. The contributions include being on the set-up crew, coming up with the questions, putting up a classy display of the team scores, and soliciting church members and area businesses for prize donations and food. When each youth uses his or her talents, the contribution affects both the group and the individual in a positive way.

When the group works together to achieve a goal, a bonds develop among the people involved as they make plans, see their plans unfold, and feel the satisfaction of accomplishing a goal through hard work and the success of the event. Not only does the group raise money, the team is strengthened and others are served.

To reduce individual competition within your group, the team concept is crucial. Never forget the ultimate goal for any church group: To share Christ so that more people may come to know Him. When the work becomes drudgery, the leader needs to find the spark that ignites the excitement for the group. To find that spark, open up the Word of God and get back to the basics. What are we all about? Bringing Jesus to the people!

Finally, remember Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Randy Rogers serves Lutheran High School South, St. Louis, MO as guidance counselor and varsity basketball coach.

thESource is published on the Web by LCMS District & Congregational Services-Youth Ministry. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, 1333 South Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295; 1-800-248-1930; Editor: Gretchen M. Jameson; Assistant Editor: Dawn Cornelius-Gaunt; Layout: Gretchen M. Jameson. VOL. 1 NO. 10 August 2004.