Games have so much potential to add to the youth group environment and help students be ready to better engage with the message and worship. They are such a great way to include all the students in something ridiculous, break the ice, get some energy out before the message and mix friend groups up so they interact with other people! In my opinion, games are the bomb diggity!

I had very little idea of what made a good game before I got my job as the Junior High Director. Growing up, I was the student that hated playing! Now games are a huge part of my life, I love playing them, and I am slowly learning what makes a great game.

These are the three best things that I have found that I can do to ensure the maximum amount of my students play and enjoy:

1) Make it visually appealing. My biggest wins have been games where the students walk into the gym and KNOW something’s up. (Best games hands down: life-size Angry Birds, Pirates, and Minute to Win It)

2) Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate with unnecessary rules. My students have Sesame Street attention spans. Yours probably do too! The less rules the better. Get them playing and add rules if you need to. I usually DO but it’s easier if they’re already well on their way to understanding how the game works. Keeping it simple is also awesome for kids who show up a bit late. They can easily get the hang of things and don’t need a huge string of instructions as they come in.

3) Include different skills/abilities. This is the biggest thing! If you create a game that is only for athletic kids, chances are, only the athletic kids will have fun. Have several different challenges within the game that can allow for every student to feel successful in some way.

4) Get your leaders involved! If they get into the game and are willing to laugh at themselves and get sweaty running around, your students will be SO much more enthusiastic! I cannot emphasize the difference it has made to our games when the leaders buy in, and do what it takes to see all their kids engaged in the games. Incredible.

What have you found with your crew? What have your major wins been? I’d love to snag some new ideas from you guys!

Emily Bruins is the Junior High Director at Peace Portal Alliance Church in Surrey, BC. She gets to work alongside Geoff Stewart and it’s pretty awesome (Geoff did not force me to say that)


Yikes! The summer is nearly over and that means that students are getting ready to go back. They are filling the malls buying skinny jeans,  fresh new Toms, loading up on Axe body spray and Hollister perfume.

For some students, there is the excitement and anticipation of seeing friends and being back at school. But for others, it might be a new school, or their first time in high school and that can be really scary. Students for the most part have a deep desire to be accepted and the first few weeks at a new school are pivotal as kids will often make friends with the first person who is willing to befriend them regardless of who they are. The role that friends play in the life of young person is huge, and falling into the wrong crowd early can have disastrous consequences, so that is where we come in.

Here is how it plays out at Journey: We have grades 6-12 meeting on the same night but somewhat separately, but the students do mingle and older students often know many of the younger ones. When the school year starts in a few weeks, we know that our students will likely know some people at their new school and that is where we get involved. During the first week of school we will be visiting every high school in the area at lunch time, visiting, encouraging and most importantly connecting our students. We can do so much to help make the transition into a new school, healthy, fun and life giving as we help to connect students in a new environment.

There is obvious value for us, to connect and shepherd our students, but this is one of the biggest reasons that the schools around us let us visit all the time. The administration at the schools see the value in us helping students make a smooth and healthy transition into their new school.

-Geoff (Twitter)


A few weeks ago I shared with you about having the opportunity to baptise a man whose daughters both were a part of our youth group with one being a leader the other a high school senior. Their dad had been sick for some time but recently made a decision to give what remained of his life to Jesus as well as get baptized. He passed away 10 days ago, and I officiated his funeral this past weekend. I have officiated many funerals in my short ministry career, but none were as challenging as this one. I could barely speak at times as the emotions were almost too much. But in the end, his life was honoured and the work that God had done in and through him celebrated. I thought I would share with you this video that we made, it was the opening of the memorial service and to me it was so encouraging for a few reasons:

1 – The Gospel was proclaimed loud and clear from a student and a leader not a pastor

2 – It made it clear that Jesus was the only way

3 – All who attended the memorial were able to hear the Hope that Lauren and Georgina have in Christ and Christ alone.

If you have 7 minutes, I hope this can encourage you today.


Its been a while since we have compiled a list of the songs that our worship teams are playing these days so here they are. It would be great to hear some songs that are really resonating with your students as well. So add a comment with your current top ten.

          Josh at HSM – Saddleback

  • We Are The Free – Matt Redman
  • All I am – Phil Wickam
  • Learn To Love – Cluster of Students
  • Child of God – Tim Timmons
  • Saviour of the World – Ben Cantelon
  • Forever Reign – Hillsong United
  • Divine and Holy – Cluster of Students
  • One Thing Remains – Jesus Culture
  • God Above All -  Hillsong United
  • We Can Change The World – Matt Redman


        Geoff at Journey – Peace Portal Church

  • Unending Love – Hillsong United
  • Saviour of the World – Ben Cantelon
  • All Glory – Nikki Fletcher
  • We Are The Free – Matt Redman
  • Reign In Us – Starfield
  • You’ll Come – Hillsong United
  • How He Loves Us – Jesus Culture
  • God is Able – Hillsong United
  • Dancing Generation – Matt Redman
  • Tear Down The Walls – Hillsong
GS – Twitter