As you are planning, keep in mind that we cannot assume that everyone in the room has been going to the church for years or that they are excited about being here. Try not to talk about “last year” or “the past” because for a good number of the youth in the room, they were not there last year or in the past. Stick to this year and what you are looking forward to or getting input from them on what they want to do in the upcoming year.
Find a new game or a new icebreaker so everyone is learning something new and they aren’t reminiscing about when they have done it before. This lessens the anxiety about “doing it right” because everyone is learning at the same time.
Pray together. Pray at the beginning of your time together, pray at the end of your time together. Invite them to pray for one another. Invite them to name their prayer requests out loud or put them in a prayer box. Framing your time together in prayer is one of the things that will remind them why they are there. Prayer centers all of us, calling us together as God’s children, to engage in God’s mission in the world.