Bridge Events that Work: 5th Quarter

5Q33If 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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!

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2 Comments

Filed under Outreach, Students

2 responses to “Bridge Events that Work: 5th Quarter

  1. We do a similar “Bridge Event” called Hang Time at Church of the Epiphany. This is a mid-week, two hour event that allows youth a safe place to bring their friends on Wednesdays from 3:00-5:00pm. There is a similar format to 5th Quarter in that there is food, games, and an openness that allows youth to feel at home. This is a time of rest, release, and fellowship at the middle of their long weeks. Here is an article that I wrote a while back to describe Hang Time, which can also be found on our facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8333736989 :

    Hang Time
    By: Robbie Pruitt

    “Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, defines hang time as referring to a number of things: Hang time generally refers to how long something stays in the air: In basketball, the length of time a player stays in the air after jumping, either to make a slam dunk, lay-up or jump shot. In American football, hang time is the length of time a punted ball flies through the air.” In the newly popular summer sport of wake boarding hang time is flying through the air after hitting a sweet wave, or jump.

    In Rock climbing hang time is referred to as the time that is spent hanging from a hold on a rock face or wall. It is also referred to as resting on ones equipment, the rope, the anchors, the harness and everything in-between to rest and to regain ones composure to finish the hard work of a difficult and challenging climb. It is also popular in the sport of rock climbing to “log some hang time.” This is something that can be purposefully done by initiating a fall in order to test the equipment and to become more comfortable with risking challenging moves in climbing, demonstrating confidence in your belay partner, and pushing your physical and mental limits. Hang time also naturally occurs in rock climbing when a rest is needed or a mistake is made during the climb and the climber accidentally falls. During hang time the belay person, a person holding the other end of the rope and taking up the climbers slack and anchoring the climber, assumes full responsibility for holding the climber in place safely for a rest or safely lowering the climber down for another shot at the climb.

    On Wednesdays from 3:00-5:00pm, at Hang Time, the youth of our church have the opportunity to “log some hang time.” What we mean by this follows more closely with the climbing definition of hang time. The youth of our church are actively being obedient to God in a moment of Sabbath rest and recreation. They are deliberately showing up to Hang Time to have fellowship with one another, to rest, play games, pray together, and to demonstrate trust in God with their week and their lives. By resting and having intentional confidence in God, our belay person, and in our equipment, the fellowship of believers, the reading of the scriptures and prayer, we are bringing honor to God. We are making our lives a living testimony that simply says, “It is not about me, it is about Jesus.” We are taking the control away from ourselves and putting it in His hands and because of this we can rest in His strength, learn from His direction, scope out our life’s proverbial climb in Him and with Him and execute that climb of life beyond our own physical and mental abilities because of His rest and His abilities. Jesus never just leaves us hanging He gives us the rest we need; He walks us through, and climbs beside us.

    Scripture commands us in many different places to rest and Jesus Himself modeled this rest when He withdrew to solitary places to pray away from the crowds (Luke 5:16). Hebrews chapter four verses nine through twelve speaks about this hang time rest; it says, “The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey, or the climb, we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, and not drop out through some sort of disobedience. God means what he says. What he says goes (Hebrews 4:9-12).” So, come “log some hang time” with us at Hang Time on Wednesday’s from 3:00-5:00pm and get the well needed rest and direction you need in the middle of your week and follow the direction of our Lord Himself who is a God of hang time, Sabbath Rest.

  2. Here is another article written about our bridge event, Hang Time:

    Salt and Light – Hang Time

    © 2008, American Anglican Council Weekly Update, October 24, 2008, By: Rev. J. Philip Ashey

    When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, they were, like sheep with no shepherd. Matthew 9: 36

    In the pressured, stressed academic and extra curricular life of the teens of Herndon, Virginia there is one scheduled weekly event which the teens themselves consider mandatory. It happens at the Church of the Epiphany, Wednesdays, 3-5PM where about 20-30 kids come together from public schools, Christian schools, and home schools for “Hang-Time”. What happens there? Nothing, and everything –pizza (of course) and while Christian music plays softly in the background a survey of the room reveals someone asleep on the couch, a chess game, homework, conversations, video game challenges, even a spontaneous jam session on the stage complete with keyboard and sound system. There is a group lounging while they watch a Christian video. Mixing and mingling with the group are young college age leaders who came out of the “Hang-Time” themselves.

    Robbie Pruitt, the Youth Leader at Epiphany who began the program bases it also on God’s call for Sabbath rest – rest from the demanding, overscheduled, weary lives these teens live. Robbie points out “Scripture commands us in many different places to rest and Jesus Himself modeled this rest when He withdrew to solitary places to pray away from the crowds (Luke 5:16). The lack of structure makes this a place of respite.

    In the last 15 minutes or so, when they come together for scripture and prayer it is in the safety of a circle of trusted friends. Sometimes Robbie shows a short contemporary Christian DVD—“Nooma” from Mars Hill Church, and Revolution are among his favorites. These are short lessons with high impact. Prayers are requested for school work, conflicts with parents, sick friends, and those struggling with broken homes. “Here,” Robbie says,” we are learning to make our lives a living testimony that simply says, “It is not about me, it is about Jesus.” We are taking the control away from ourselves and putting it in God’s hands and because of this we can rest in His strength, and learn from His direction.”

    Robbie Pruitt sees this time each week as a way of building long term relationships with the kids. He sees himself as a “visible shepherd”: one whom the “harassed and helpless” can come to for conversation, counsel and prayer. But, he says, the key is consistency: just being there every week, present and available in the name and the power of Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs, Robbie sees the focus on establishing a consistent, prayerful presence with the few, not the many, making each teen feel singularly important. He estimates that about forty different teens come when they can. When they can’t they can always visit “Hang Time” on Facebook. The program has also expanded other youth ministries – the kids consider themselves a family and so when a youth retreat happens they often come together.

    When asked about Hang-Time it was described by one teen participant as”less in your face – food, games, and videos, extremely spontaneous, extremely fun, and extremely chilled”.

    You can find more information about Hang Time and Epiphany’s Youth Ministries at http://www.epiphany-herndon.org/Youth/

    “Hang Time” is a wonderful example of how missional churches major on relationships. Why? Because that’s what Jesus did. Jesus spent his entire public ministry focused on a small group of twelve disciples—and much of it on the road “hanging out” with them. In our internet world, where relationships are decentralized and genuine community is diminished, Jesus is calling his church to be a place where we can offer real community, in Christ. Churches are mission outposts that offer genuine, caring, Christ-centered relationships.

    As Robbie observed, some youth who cannot and will not attend church show up at Hang Time almost every week. They are on the way to becoming followers of Jesus Christ, because they have discovered genuine Christian community.

    We call it the Church.

    Have you and your church considered how you might become a missionary outpost that majors on relationships—just like Jesus? Who are the harassed and helpless in your community, your neighborhood, your workplace? May Christ give you his heart, the heart of the Good Shepherd, to hang out with a purpose!

    Yours in Christ,

    Rev. J. Philip Ashey
    Chief Operating Officer
    American Anglican Council

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