I love a good prank (as long as I'm the one pulling it), and, over the course of my 9-year career as youth minister I pulled a few on the teens. My favorite of all-time took place when our retreat kicked off on a Friday night that also happened to be April Fool's Day:
We started the retreat with an 'icebreaker' in which I selected three volunteers. I laid out dozens of eggs on a tarp and told the contestants that one of the eggs was filled with chocolate (seriously they bought it). They were told they had to crack the eggs on their foreheads until one of them found the 'chocolate' one. Whoever accomplished that would win a prize.
The teens began banging the eggs on their heads and yolk was flying everywhere. After all the eggs were cracked, the three teens looked at me in stunned amazement. Where was the chocolate egg? April Fool's! (Did they honestly think that I could somehow get chocolate inside of a regular everyday egg?)
Over the years, I had many teens try to 'get me.' Alas, none of them were successful. Ever. Oh they tried. Believe me, they tried, but for some reason I was always able to sniff out their scheming ways (probably because of my high level of paranoia). Anyway, they couldn't pull it off, but if they did, here are a few fun (and harmless) pranks they could have tried that would have left me with a good chuckle.
- Hum's the word: Just about every Life Night includes some kind of talk or testimony. As your youth minister begins to deliver another legendary teaching, start humming. For added fun, choose a song that everyone can hum-a-long to.
- Sound-byte office door: Purchase a greeting card that plays a song or some kind of sound byte. Remove the small sound piece from the card and tape it to the youth minister's office door hinge. Close the door when you leave. The next time the youth minister opens his or her office door, they'll be excited to hear Justin Bieber signing them Happy Birthday.
- Youth minister look-a-likes: Most youth ministers have a certain fashion sense (some better than others). Send out a text or facebook message to all youth group participants asking them to dress like the youth minister at the next Life Night. See how long it takes for him or her to catch on.
- The Stare: Want to drive your youth minister crazy? Stare right above his or her head for the first 5 minutes of the Life Night. Count how long it takes them to ask what you're looking at.
- Cellophane desk wrap: Youth ministers do not spend all 40 hours of their workweek in their office, so someone needs to keep it fresh. Create a sign that says, 'Sealed for Freshness' and then wrap everything on their desk, in their desk, and even their desk in cellophane (Saran Wrap).
- Code word aerobics: Every youth minister seems to have his or her own special word or catch phrase that they repeat over and over and over again. (You can read more about this phenomenon here.) During one Life Night, have the whole youth group stand up and salute every time he or she uses that word or phrase. Maybe they'll realize that it's time to get a Thesaurus.
- Desktop screenshot: Open up a program on your youth minister's computer (i.e. Microsoft word). Take a screen shot of their desktop and then save that screen shot as their new desktop. Watch and laugh at their frustration as they wonder why they can't close Word.
- Ready, Set, Sing: Spontaneously sing the same Praise and Worship song over and over again. Right as your youth minister finishes the opening prayer for the Life Night, spontaneously breakout into the chorus of a Praise and Worship song and sing it over and over again. Might I suggest, 'Open the Eyes of My Heart?' It's most youth minister's favorite, and I'm sure they would just love it.
- Hi, Porteous: Address your youth minister by only using his/her last name. If you really want to throw your youth minister off, convince all of your peers to call him or her by his or her last name all night long. Or, if you already do that, just refer to them as 'Koko.'
No matter the prank you try to pull, remember that the keys to a good one are creativity, secrecy, and the involvement of all (or at least the majority) of the youth group. Have fun, but be sure to not cause any harm. And don't carry them on for too long. No one likes a joke that has been overplayed. Happy pranking!