Why I use games in student ministry

funnoodlesSome youth pastors say that they aren’t game people.  I understand where they are coming from and what they are saying.

I don’t think the use of games or not using games is any kind of indication of spiritual temperature in the ministry. But I use games because I believe they work.  In my situation, I’m around different students on a regular basis, so games are needed to literally break the ice as we get together and get to know each other.  I have also been in situations where I am with the same group of students from the same church each week.  In that case, we had to use different games for a different purpose. But, they still are a vital part of making the connection.

Of course, the main goal isn’t to play games.  The main goal is to create a community that aids in the process of the overarching mission to make disciples.

I believe that games can:

Help engage students.  When students enter a room for an event or evening meeting, games help engage them.  Even as the meeting has begun, games help make sure all the students are included.

Help put all the students on the same playing field.  You can be a first timer or a lifer, but you’re all on the same level when learning this new experience together.  It quickly helps put every student on the same field for a moment.

Help connect a point or goal with an experience.  Studies have proven that they best way to remember something is to experience it.  Games and activities help create experiences.

Help involve leaders and kids in working together.  Games are a great way to delegate leadership to other adults or key student leaders.  Games are also an easy entry into each adult getting connected to students.

Help open up conversation. Games can lead to opening doors for conversation.  Depending on the game and purpose of it, questions can be asked, explored and discovered.

Help community to be built and memories to be made.  The only goal for a particular game may to have fun, build community and make memories.  Never underestimate the power of making memories with students.  It’s the stories that will be shared for many years to come.  And in the process, we weave into the fabric of their lives the importance of relationships within the body of Christ – the church!

Help build relationships. Along the lines of some of other points, games, at times, make building relationships easier.  Student to student relationship as well as leader to student relationships.

It’s not easy work to develop games that are needed week in and week out, but I believe it important.   This week I’ll be sharing some of the types of games I use and tips for leading them.

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