“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
KEY POINTS TO SUCCESSFUL GAMES
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:
1) USE EASY GAMES
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!).
2) CLEARLY EXPLAIN INSTRUCTIONS
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!
3) RE-USE GAMES
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.
4) CLEAN TRANSITIONS
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.
5) PRE-STOCK GAMES
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.