Games are a huge part of youth ministry. They’re fun, they break tension, form relationships and create memories. They are a big part of ministry; however, they can be a big distraction if done incorrectly.
That’s right there is an etiquette to games for your ministry. If ignored it will not only effect the outcome of the activity, but impact how people see your ministry. To master the art of the game you need to:
NOTE AND NAME IT’S PURPOSE
Why are you playing that game? It needs to have a purpose. It doesn’t have to be profound it can simply:
- Serve as an icebreaker
- Lighten the mood after a heavy subject
- Display healthy competition
- Teach a lesson
No matter the purpose make sure it fits with what you are doing. A random game can be jarring and distracting. If it works with the overall agenda of the evening then you will create a flow where your teens can engage and go further.
TEST BEFORE YOU SHIP
Not every game needs to be tested but if you need to know the outcomes. Answering questions like:
- Is this activity safe?
- Will we have enough participants?
- Is the technology reliable?
- Who needs to know what?
Again, some games are pretty simple, but the more elements that are involved the more you need to know what you are doing before putting it out there.
People enjoy games and activities that have clear rules and results. If people are at all confused during an activity they can easily lose interest and disengage.
Make sure everyone involved, including the participants are clear with what they need to know and do. If you have written instructions get someone to review them. If they are given verbally practice them.
It might seem like overkill, but full participation leads to a better experience.
CHECK YOUR MATERIALS AND BE PREPARED
It’s easy to get excited about a game without thinking about what you need to make it happen. In fact there have been times when we’ve been moments away only to realize we are missing something essential.
Be prepared and organized by:
- Delegating responsibility and ownership to others.
- Make sure you have all the necessary materials.
- Review materials and instructions.
- Check everything multiple times.
Prepare for an activity like you would a message or a holy night of worship. It will show your audience that you care about their time, attention and engagement.
OUTSOURCE TO SAVE TIME
There are thousands of youth ministry and camp games available on this thing called the Internet. In fact my buddies over at Download Youth Ministry (Check them out HERE), Stuff You Can Use (Check them out HERE) and ProjectYM (Check them out HERE) have a selection of activities.
Most games you purchase also give you the ability to adapt it for your ministry. Don’t be afraid to create theme music or design a goofy trophy for the winners. Use the time saved from creating your own game to personalize something you purchased. In the end teens won’t care as long as they are having a great time.
LEAD WITH ENERGY AND HUMILITY
People tend to jump on board with an idea when they see someone else is into it. If you show enthusiasm and excitement it will be contagious.
At the same time be humble. Technical difficulties, material malfunction and disruptive behavior can mess up a game. Address the situation with humility and then try to move on. The worst thing you can do is show your frustration.
Do games belong in ministry? Sure they do. They are there to build relationships and add to the atmosphere. In the end they can bring your ministry to a whole new level.
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