If you look at the title and say to yourself, what is a “Bridge event”, let me clarify before I get into how 5th Quarter is a great bridge event. A Bridge event is designed to give every student an opportunity to come and experience some of what we do as a youth program in hopes that if they do not go to Church or have a Church home, they would make Cedar Run that place. We are bridging them from not involved into being involved in our program.
What is 5th Quarter?
5th Quarter is a weekly event we do every Friday night from 9:30 – 11:30 pm during the local high school football season. We open our church up to any and all middle and high school students, although we see very few middle schoolers as it involves parents driving.
It is not an original event in any way, but what we do to it adds a little “Cedar Run” to the mix. The purpose of 5th Quarter is two-fold:
- Offer a safe alternative for middle and high school youth to come after the high school football games. It is our hope that instead of them having nothing to do, hence getting in trouble or going to parties, that they would choose to come to Cedar Run and hang out in a great place where they can be themselves and have a great time doing it.
- Be a bridge into our program. We want others to start coming to Cedar Run after they experience 5th Quarter.
How does it work?
For us, 5th Quarter is simple. We open the whole Church up (which isn’t huge) and allow the kids to pick and choose to do whatever they want. If they want to go outside and play football or death hack, they can (if you don’t know what death hack is, it is a cross between hackie sack and dodgeball – lots of fun). If they want to go upstairs and play video games or watch a movie, they can. If they just want to sit at tables and socialize with their friends, they can! Again, it is simple.
We have added different things to 5th Quarter throughout the 2 years we have been doing it. At different times, we have added s’mores (usually when it gets colder), a coffeehouse format where we have leaders or kids perform in a corner for others, and we have even experimented with a dance party room.
Ultimately, our goal is not to to structure it too much, but allow the youth to come and just be themselves. It seems like that is a great option for them as we draw around 60 students each Friday night.
How does it Bridge students into the Program?
This is just our 2nd year doing 5th Quarter, but already we have seen new students who come to 5th Quarter start showing up at other Cedar Run events, in particular Sunday morning. What 5th Quarter shows students is that Cedar Run is a safe and cool place to come. Therefore, it is our hope that they want to check us out on a Sunday morning or one of the Special events that we do.
When new students come to 5th Quarter, they are often blown away by the food, the hospitality, the fun and the simple fact that they can be themselves. We don’t have a program and there is no outreach talk given (although we probably could do one). We just give them a safe place to come and a positive alternative to other Friday night options.
5th Quarter is a great bridge event that works for us because of 3 key groups of people:
- Leaders – Each week we have 5th Quarter, we get a lot of our leaders to come out and participate. When they do come, they quickly see that this is a perfect opportunity for them to do contact work with new students. It is a blessing that our leaders are very relational with students so this event is a great opportunity for them to come out and build new friendships. As new students get comfortable with the leaders, it increases the likelihood that they will come to Cedar Run.
- Students – Our leaders are able to meet so many new people each week because our students bring their friends out. A lot of our students (especially the core student leaders) are very outreach oriented. They want their friends to come meet Christ and so they have no issue with bringing them to Cedar Run. Without them bringing their friends when we first started last year, this could have easily turned into a Cedar Run only event – which is not the intent.
- Parents – This is a great way to involve parents. We have parents bring food, help serve the food and even mingle with the students. Last week, we found out that one of the parents can is a get card magician. He had half the group hanging on his every trick! What a great opportunity for students to see parents involved and that they care about their children. Without parents there to help and take care of the food, it would mean that our leaders would not be able to hang out and do contact work with the students as much. Plus, it gives parents a sense of what we do and who we are ministering to.
5th Quarter is a great bridge event that works very well for us and I believe it can work for you all as well. So, while it is still fresh in your mind, TAKE A MINUTE and…
- Think through whether or not you can do a 5th Quarter. It is not too late to do at least 1 or 2 of them this year. We plan 5th Quarter every Friday night after the football games. So, when the football season ends, our season ends. So, you still have time to organize and put one on.
- If you feel that 5th Quarter doesn’t work for your area, what could you do that is similar enough to 5th Quarter, but be called something different? The key for us is that your church is a safe place for people to go to instead of going out and getting into trouble. So, is there something you could do instead but have the same effect?
Like this post or have a different idea, post a comment so we can be encouraging each other reach students for Christ!