5 Tips

“Relationships are often built through games. Games are a common activity that’s less threatening than sharing prayer requests. Watch how kids build relationships – it’s usually through shared activities. So use games as a part of your ministry of building relationships within your group.” ~ Tiger McLuen


As stated with the quote above, games are important. Games make people laugh, compete and learn. So, you much use games strategically within your ministry. Below are a few tips to help you be successful in your games and team building:


If you do not understand the game you are leading there is a great chance that your audience will not understand it either. Sometimes we want to impress others with a sophisticated game, but I still get great participation from the games that we grew up with such as fruit basket turnover (Interestingly enough I was recently in a whole room full of teenagers that had never heard of this game – they thought it was new and LOVED IT!).


I have been guilty of expecting students to know the rules of the game I was playing without fully explaining the rules. Again it is important that YOU understand the rules. When I have the luxury of doing activities with a room that has multi-media I will display the rules on the screen so everyone can read them. You also can pass out printed instructions if needed. Of course this takes pre-planning, but being over prepared will also help make the instructions easy to communicate!


I do not recommend creating new activities every time your group meets. When you find an activity that your group really likes, feel free to use it several weeks in a roll. This a creates comfort level for the students who are afraid to jump in on the unexpected. It takes a lot of hard work to do games well and do them consistently so let your “crowd favorites” work for you. I circulate games. When I found one that was exciting, I would make a note of it and bring it back in a few weeks or the next month.


Dead time during scheduled activities gives me a nervous tick. I can’t stand it! If you lose five minutes from every youth service each week, that adds up to loosing nearly 4 1/2 hours of instructional time for the year. So, you have to be intentional to eliminate these dead spaces. Here are some tips:

  • A) USE COUNT DOWNS – A timed devise such as a countdown on the screen, or a song that you play, or the timer on your phone can help keep your activities to a concise time. This actually builds the excitement of the activity because students know they have a limited time to participate and will usually give their all.
  • B) USE HELPERS – I used to try to lead games by myself and inevitably it always created down time. Now, I will use 2 to 3 helpers which include adults and responsible students to set up the game while I am giving instructions and then help me facilitate the game and finally, clean up the game as I move to the next portion of the service.


Let me clarify, I hate dead time, however with that being said, the opportunities for dead time within your ministry are endless. Someone doesn’t show up, a leader forgot important materials, that girls passes out AGAIN . . . (I am not making light of this, but you know who I am talking about). You can either be pulled by every crisis that happens – and there will be many – or you can have a backup plan.

One strategy that I was taught that you may find helpful is to create a gaming board that lists all of your games, the props needed, and the date you last played them. This way you can keep your games stocked and have a continual resource of games to play when you need a game in a hurry. As I travel, I always have a plastic tub with me when I speak. This tub is my crisis prevention plan that can help me out of nearly any situation. It contains a bag of balloons, a beachball, a bag of clothes pins, a roll of twine, a bag of ink pens, a bag of sharpie markers, index cards, sticky notes, pipe cleaners and many other exciting items. I have went to this tub often to avoid a meltdown.


Happy gaming! Making games work in your favor takes preparation and practice but these tips should make your task a little easier.


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