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Youth Ministry Essentials: The $1 Idea Bucket

Youth Ministry Essentials: The $1 Idea Bucket

One of my favorite places is the discount store, better known as the Dollar Store. Now way back when, we had something called the "five and dime," which I guess is what today's dollar store is when adjusted for inflation. My favorite of all the bargain shops is the true dollar store where everything really is just $1. I like to just walk through and think, "Wow, everything is just a dollar." But then again, I'm easily amused . . .

Why all the dollar talk? Because if you're looking for a cool game, an outing, or a discussion starter for a Bible study, I have the answer. And it's one your pastor, finance committee, and parents will love. I call it, the $1 Youth Ministry Idea Bucket. Here are a creative things to do for $1.


Are you planning a Bible Study on poverty and hunger (like, say youthministry360's Least of These)? Does your youth group plan to take up money for World Hunger Day or the Souper Bowl of Caring? If so, tell your group you're going to take them all out to eat and all they need to do is bring $1. Load up the vans and go to a fast food restaurant that offers a dollar menu. It won't take long for them to realize the dollar menu isn't a lot of food. They'll also have to choose between getting something to eat and getting something to drink. (You might want to bring a little extra for the tax.) Use the experience to point out the global issue of poverty and hunger. According to there are 1.03 billion in the world that deal with hunger each day, and 1.34 billion who live on less than $1.25 per day. 16,000 children die each day from hunger related illnesses. Tell your students that the $1 they just spent on a burger or fries could feed a poverty-stricken child for ten days.


If you need to do a little team building, take your students to your local dollar store and divide them up into groups of about four or five. Give each team $1 to purchase any item in the store. Return to your church and tell the teams they now have to explain how that item could be used to share the love of Christ to others. Make sure each team has Bibles, pens, and some paper. After about 10 or 15 minutes bring the groups back together and get their reports. Congratulate them on thinking outside the box and encourage them to always be thinking of ways they can share God's love with people. Some ideas may even turn into ministries for your youth group!


Ask your students to bring $1 the next time your group meets. (Make sure you bring an extra dollar or two for those who forget.) At your next meeting tell the students their assignment is to give the dollar away to help someone in need during the week. When your students meet again have them write down what they did with their dollar. Allow time for volunteers to share their experience with the group. Your students might just realize there are a lot of people helping people in their community. Encourage them to get involved.

These are just a few thoughts of how to make $1 go a long way in your youth ministry. Hopefully, they will prove to be as fun for your group as they have been for mine. 

Share your thoughts with the youthministry360 community:

  • What are your ideas on how to have fun (and learn while you're at it) with $1?

About The Author

Richard Parker

Richard Parker

Richard Parker is the resident youth ministry guru at YM360. Richard has served as a youth minister for the past 41 years. ("Shockingly, he was Les' youth minister yet STILL decided to stay in ministry"!) He is currently co-pastor and student minister at a new church plant, Branches Church, in Russellville, AL. Richard serves as a special projects editor and staff writer. Richard wrote YM360's "REACH: A 6 Lesson Study on the Book of Psalms" and has contributed on all of YM360's ongoing curriculum projects. He's also written many of YM360's free lessons, devotions, and blog posts. He and his wife Amy have two daughters, Lauren and Leah, one granddaughter and one grandson.