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Games have been part of youth ministry dating back to the stone ages (a fact that was researched on the internet).

Games can be a great addition to your youth ministry, but if you’re not careful, they can simple become nothing more than time-fillers. As you know, most teenagers don’t show up to youth group and think, “I really hope the adult leaders fill my time!” In this week’s youthministry.com/daily we will explore some ideas on how to make games a strategic part of your ministry. Really, we want to invite you to think a little deeper than just playing games.

Our experience is that the best types of games are the ones that build community and break down barriers. Shared experiences and making memories are powerful ways to impact in a teenager’s life. Most games lead to an element of fun, and a fun environment can leave an imprint that lasts for years beyond their youth ministry experience (Tommy’s scar, concussion and helicopter ride to the emergency room also serve as an unforgettable memory. Hint: when you play Red Rover, don’t turn off the lights thinking it would be better played in complete darkness).

The essential ingredient to all great youth ministry games is FUN. Everyone loves to laugh, and in an atmosphere of fun, teenagers can become comfortable and more open to engage in the other aspects of a ministry program. Students are usually more apt to sing, share, listen, and reflect when they feel comfortable.

We realize that games can get out of control (and we’ll address that tomorrow), but typically games will serve as a relationship catalyst. How? Simple… good games force people to connect. Some students will arrive to your ministry program with a hard heart and may be softened up with some fun. Most teenagers, who live outside the church culture, consider church as boring (and therefore God as boring) and a little fun can help shatter these stereotypes. Also, we’ve found that in our high pressure, stressful world, games provide an opportunity for teenagers to unwind, relax and “just be a kid.”

Some lessons are better “caught” in a game environment rather than taught in a message or Bible study. Games that lead toward teachable moments are powerful ways to leverage a game beyond the sole purpose of fun. When possible, connect you’re a game with a deeper meaning to support a message or ministry value.

Games can have a tremendous impact on your ministry when used correctly. In what way are games moving your ministry forward?

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