Leveraging Games During Youth Group
A few months ago (ok, 7 months ago) I wrote a blog about why I believe games still matter in youth ministry. Whether or not you read that entry, I want to continue the thread by talking about how to leverage games during your youth group time. As I said before, games have become either something we do to fill time or something we’ve let fall away into the dark abyss of old youth ministry trends. I would like to show you that games can be quick to setup, purposeful, and fun.
I remember planning for our Wednesday night youth group time and getting everything set exactly how I wanted it, just to realize at the last minute I forgot to prepare for the game I had planned. At that point we either scrambled to come up with something new or send an intern to the store for Clamato juice (it’s exactly what you think it is…) in the eleventh hour!
So, how do you find games that are easy to do and quick to prep for? I like to think through three questions:
- Do I have the supplies on hand or can I get them locally?
- Can I set it up ahead of time?
- Are the rules easy to follow?
If the supplies are readily available, if the game can be prepped in advance, and if the rules don’t take 10 minutes to discuss, then it’s a good game.
I was at a conference last year where the speaker made a comment about games. He said games aren’t just something you should do because you work with students; games have a greater purpose in youth ministry. I resonate with this line of thinking. While the game may not be purposeful in and of itself, your intentionality towards the time should be filled with purpose. Besides, it would be weird to play prayer dodgeball or don’t look at porn tag! When you spend the time to find a game or activity that students will enjoy, you make it purposeful. When you engage the students on a different level, you make it purposeful. The speaker at the conference said, “Not every student understands the message, but perhaps the games and the fun keep them coming back until they do!”
I have planned plenty of games that have been a complete failure. I have run many games that have been a complete success. Fun is in the eye of the beholder. All I ask of you is that you don’t just pick the first game you see on a youth pastor website and say, “Well if it’s on the internet it has to be good.” Run it through in your head and think of how specific students will approach the game. If it fails, adjust! Some of the games my students would ask to play over and over weren’t initially successful, we had to tweak the rules and style of play a few times to find the right combination.
If you approach games with a time-filler, energy waster kind of attitude, games will always fail. If you are intentional about what game and why you play games, games won’t always succeed, but the time spent with the students will be some of the most valuable and most memorable.
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Never The Same
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