Games have been a part of youth ministry since Noah got off the ark... or, something like that.
Regardless of when the first youth ministry game was played, they are a constant in most church communities across the globe.
As a result, there are literally thousands of possible games to chose from every Sunday or youth ministry night.
With such a huge selection, how do you know which ones will engage your students? Which ones will leave them screaming and wanting to play again next week?
We've selected five, guaranteed great games that you can use this Sunday night.
- To start, grab a flashlight that is easily disassembled (and easy to put back together) and hide the pieces in different parts of the church. They shouldn't be too hard to find, or be too concealed, as the game will stall quickly.
- Next, find a volunteer to be the GROG and send them out to into the church with the following instructions: tag any non-GROG and bring them to the designated "time out" area.
- Tell all remaining students that they need to work together to find the pieces of the flashlight while avoiding the GROG. When all pieces are found, they have to put the flashlight together and shine it at the GROG to win the game.
- If they are tagged while holding a piece of the flashlight, they have to set it in a visible (and safe!) place. The GROG is not allowed to touch the flashlight.
- The game ends when all players are tagged, or the GROG is defeated.
Leader tip: If you have a smaller group, allow teammates to tag captured players and bring them back in the game. If you have a larger group, designate 2-3 people to be a GROG.
2. Who's the Leader?
- Have all students sit in a large circle and select a person to be "it."
- When that person has left the room, choose a leader. This person will begin doing various hand or body movements that the rest of the group will mimic. For example, the leader begins clapping her hands and everybody starts clapping. The leader stomps her feet, the group stomps their feet.
- As the leader starts her first movement, invite the "it" person into the room and have them stand in the center of the circle. They will watch the group, trying to figure out who the leader is as the group switches between different gestures.
- The "it" person gets three chances to guess who the leader is before they are revealed.
- The leader becomes the new "it" person. Choose a new leader and keep playing!
Leader tip: This is a game that needs at least 10 people to play. If you have more than 20, consider splitting up into two groups.
3. Ultimate Spoons
- Get a deck of cards and enough spoons for each player, minus one.
- Place (or hide!) the spoons in a different room. Don't tell students where they can find the spoons.
- Begin playing a regular game of spoons. If you've never played spoons, or need a reminder on the rules, check them out here.
- When it's normally time to grab a spoon (when a player gets four of a kind), the first player needs to stand up and run/walk to find where the spoons are hidden in the church. All players, at this point, should also search for a spoon.
- When a student finds a spoon, they should run back to the original play area. The last person back to the room (without a spoon) is out for the rest of this game. Keep playing until it's one-on-one and a winner is declared.
Leader tip: this game is idea for 4-8 players. If you have more players, consider having two or more games.
4. Look Out for the Bear!
- Designate one person as the "bear" and have them go hide somewhere in the (preferably) dark church.
- Wait 2-3 minutes and explain the instructions of the game to the rest of the students.
- Have students go out into the church and search for the bear. As they search the church, the bear is not allowed to jump out or chase students until they have been found. When a student sees the bear, they will yell out, "Look out for the bear!" As soon as that happens, the bear will chase and tag as many students as they can before the students make it back to the safe area.
- If a student is tagged, they are now a bear. Play the game until there is only one student left and the rest of your group are bears. If they make it back to the safe area without getting tagged, they are the winner.
Leader Tip: keep the lights on if you're playing with younger kids or the church isn't safe in the dark.
(This is a modified version of a game from Les Christie's book, Best Ever Games for Youth Ministry)
5. Hello, hello
- Come up with a number of "icebreaker" type questions such as, "What's your favorite food?" "What's your dream vacation?" Etc.
- Encourage students to stand up and begin moving around the room. As they walk, have them say, "Hello, hello!" to every person they pass.
- After 10-20 seconds have passed, yell out a number between 1-10 (depending on size of group), and have students quickly get into groups of that number.
- Give them 30-60 seconds to answer the question and then play the game again.
Leader tip: use "would you rather" questions instead of icebreakers.