Christian Youth Games
You wanted a list of the best Christian youth games? Well, others have already done a much better job of that than I ever could. Here, we are mostly concerned with
the role of youth ministry in the church and how games fit into that ministry. You can search for them just as easily as I can, and there are many, but only you can
pick the one(s) that speak to your particular circumstances. I can just help you figure out what to look for.
Role of Youth Ministry
Youth ministry is probably one of the most important roles anybody can have in the church. It is also a role with its own unique challenges and solutions.
As a youth minister you will be dealing with people who are seriously trying to define themselves as part of society, their peer group, as part of the church as well as in their individual relationships with God. The faith environment they encounter at home and at church can mean the difference between turning to God or turning away from God. Youth ministry is a huge responsibility. Paradoxically enough, many churches today leave the task to the youngest and most inexperienced pastor or to volunteers.
Youth ministry is different from other types of ministry. There are a lot of competing interests in the lives of youths these days, not least of all other youths. It is for this reason, youths make the best youth ministers. It is for this reason, mission trips and camps are incredibly enriching experiences for youths. They love to see something tangible coming out of efforts they do together.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for them is to just stand back and let them do their thing. One of the old-timers at church was complaining that the young people were just roaming the halls instead of sitting in classrooms or in the sanctuary with their families. My take on that is, let them. It's OK.
It is incredibly tempting to try to persuade, to convince, even coerce, the young people to become members of the church. It is not about that. That is only external. What matters is the internal. Do they have a relationship with Jesus? Is He front and center every day of their lives? There is nothing you or anybody can do to make that happen or prevent it from happening for that matter. You can not replace a home with parents who are believers. The best you can do is try to create an environment where spiritual growth happens, encouraging them to genuinely seek God with their whole hearts. Youth ministry is a supplement to parenting, not a replacement. Therefore, youth ministry also involves working with adults, helping them to get involved yet staying out of the way.
Role of Christian Youth Games and Activities
It is equally tempting to make it so much about the fun that there is no room left for the gospel. Realize that children and youths learn in different ways than adults. They experience. Therefore, Christian games are not just about having fun. Christian games challenge, they have a purpose and a message. They teach people about God. Fun is a by-product, not the other way around. They are about friendship, teamwork, lifting each other up, teaching, participation and gospel illustration. The way Jesus taught was through parables and illustrations. Christian games for youth groups should do the same.
Your physical circumstances or number and make-up of participants may determine what kind of games you can play. The youth minister sets the goals, purpose and guidelines.
Youth Game Categories
Here are some broad categories of games. It is easy enough to see that some games are better for a small group than for a large one or better for indoor than outdoor. Some other criteria may take a bit more thought.
Groups in the secular world, by definition, are exclusive. You join a group to identify with one group and not another. Christian groups in contrast and therefore their games should be inclusive, not exclusive.
Chances are that if you ended up at a youth group gathering it was because someone invited you. Like most other groups, even Christian youth groups can feel intimidating the first time around. You will probably feel a little uncomfortable at the beginning and cling to the person who invited you.
If you are a youth leader, you could teach a lesson from the Bible like you usually do, but before you do that, it is essential that the new person becomes included without shining a spotlight on him/her. Group games and activities are a great way to do that. The particular kind we are looking for here are called icebreaker games or get-to-know-you games.
Team building games
A lot of games encourage people to compete against each other. Why not teach them to compete with each other to accomplish a task better than another team?
When I was a kid, we usually made soccer teams mostly based on popularity. Why not use height instead? Have the people line up in order of height. That is a problem solving team activity all by itself. Then assign one to the tallest person, two to the next tallest, one to the third tallest, two to the fourth tallest and so on. You should end up with an equal number of ones and twos. You have two teams.
Trust building games
What does it mean to trust someone? We often say we trust in the Lord, but what exactly does it mean when we say that? It means that we depend on Him. Without Him, we can do nothing. With God, everything is possible.
The blind leading the blind is an example of a trust building game. Make an obstacle course and draw a map of it. Show the map only to the team leader. Blindfold everybody and tell the leader to lead the team through the course.
It is tempting to use gambling instead of games as fundraisers. What is the difference? Gambling, games of chance, is fueled by greed. Sometimes games, games of skill, also have monetary rewards and therefore also may fuel greed.
Criteria that Apply to all Games
They have to be safe. They have to be fun, not lame. They cannot be gross. They cannot have losers, everyone needs to feel like they are winners. They have to
teach something about God. Use a post-game debrief to talk about what they learned.