Got a few questions about a recent game we did called Frog or Duck? It was a simple and fun game we did as part of the opening of our youth services a few weeks back (read the full Weekend in Review here). Parker just posted the graphics/sound/video if you want to try to game out in your ministry, too!

JG

A few years ago, NBC introduced a show that has really revolutionized the games we play in youth ministry, A Minute to Win It. I love these games, they are simple to set up, have a predetermined amount of time, and the students love playing them. I think the best part about these games is there is no shame. If a student can’t beat a game, they don’t have to walk back to their seat feeling like a loser, because the games are easy enough that anyone can do them and at the same time hard enough that no one can really do them.

Previous to this, there was another game show that many Youth Ministries borrowed ideas from, and its about to start airing new episodes again. I strongly urge you to think before you use any games from this show, and that show is Fear Factor. Now, I’m not against Fear Factor. When the show used to be on, I used to love watching it. So don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Youth Pastors shouldn’t watch the show. This isn’t a blog post against Fear Factor at all.

The title of this post isn’t aimed at the show Fear Factor. No, I believe one of the greatest threats to youth ministry is what many call the “Disgusting” games.

I remember when I was in 7th grade, we played a game in Youth Group where there were 4 teams on one side of the room, and on the other, there were four grocery bags, and the idea was that one at a time, one person from each team would run over to the bag, and without looking, reach in, pull something out, and eat whatever they pulled out. They would be a variety of things, like maybe a snickers bar, maybe a can of coke, or maybe a jar of baby food and a jar of pickled pigs feet. Then the student had to run back across the room.

Or even the games where a student has to eat as many Twinkies as they can in a minute, but one of the twinkies they are given is full of mayonnaise instead of the cream filling. I’ve heard of more disgusting games, and am sure you have. But what I have also seen, specifically in middle school, is a real threat to ministry to specific students.

I had planned on writing a post about this at some point for the last few weeks, but my greatest encouragement came last night after Middle School when one of our girls came up to me afterwords and said “I really just want to thank you for not making us play any gross games. I never came to Middle School Mayhem because the first day I went in 6th grade, I had to bob for pigs feet. I don’t feel embarrassed playing your games though.”

I already was committed to never playing a gross game in our youth group, now I’m committed to trying to wake up others to think the same thing. Because here is the deal. This post is called “One of the greatest threats to youth ministry” because I honestly believe these kinds of games are extremely damaging to our ministry to students.

The First way they are damaging is because of the very nature of the game. When we play these games, and we ask for a volunteer, we really are asking for someone to come on stage and be laughed at while they get very uncomfortable. There’s no community building happening in this game, except for a community of students laughing at the contestant. Specifically for already shy kids, this can be an extremely painful experience, and like my student expressed last night, one that makes them not even want to come to youth group.

The second way they are damaging is they perpetuate the myth that Youth ministry is just a bunch of silly games. We have a lot of students in our church who don’t come to our youth ministry. I’m working at getting them involved, but I also know one of the things that has kept them out is the image of “just fun and games” that many youth ministries have adopted. If I was a parent, and I sent my student to youth group and they came home and said “I don’t feel well, we played dodgeball with fish tonight,” I’m not sure I’m ever letting my student go back there.

Call me crazy, but I just don’t see any benefit to playing disgusting games. I’d love to hear one if you have one, but for me, these kind of gross games serve as nothing but a threat to real ministry, and we will never do them.

What’s the grossest game you have ever heard of our played yourself?

If you use Gross games, why have you chosen to use them in your ministry?

If you don’t use gross games, why have you chosen not to?

Ben Read is the Student Ministries Director of Trinity Evangelical Church in North Reading, MA.



From time to time we play a game in youth group that requires a contestant or two on stage. Here’s a quick principle that I’ve seen work over and over again:

The right contestant makes a good game great.

Picking a great contestant on the fly from stage is really difficult – the host feels pressure to pick a contestant right away and the person that typically immediately responds to the call for a contestant doesn’t usually make a good one. Since the right student is so important, here’s what I suggest: pick them ahead of time. During the countdown to your service starting (or whatever you use to kick things off) take a second to scan the crowd and select a solid person to play the game. It will save you from that awkward moment when you don’t have anyone volunteering or the same kid raises their hand eagerly every week. Pick them ahead of time and you’ll get variety. skill and personality like never before. Try it and you might never go back.

Any advice for youth workers picking a student to play a game?

JG

Last year youth groups all over started to use games from NBC’s Minute to Win It game show. They’ve uploaded a ton of new games to the official site – if you’re looking for a fun summer camp program element or service icebreaker, this might be an easy place to find one. Hit it up here!

JG



This weekend we played a GREAT game our team came up with called Facebook Hack. Have you ever left your Facebook logged in and someone posted a fake status? Just about everyone has – and this week, we asked for a volunteer in the audience to come up on the stage and do just that – log in and give control of their Facebook profile in the hands of the host. The audience immediately reacted to just how big of a deal this was – we haven’t had a game with this much engagement in a while. They needed to answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly or pay the virtual price.

There’s a fine line hosting something like this, and Chris handled the game masterfully – posting funny updates to their status and unfriending people from their top friends list – all live on the screen shown to the crowd. The crowd even got into it and started posting pics/comments on the contestant’s profile page while the game was going on. So awesome!

The contestant had to answer nearly impossible questions correctly to avoid the consequences to their friends list. The whole game showed just how incredibly important Facebook is to a student, and it tied in SO well to the series theme of Facebook Official.

Maybe an idea that would work for you or a springboard that you could work from. It was SO great!

JG