Best-Ever Games for Youth Ministry


Field-tested fun! The Game Guy is geared up and ready to give you over 200 great games that are easy to pull off and field-tested with teens in many settings.

You will find:

  • "Gaming Tips" on:
– getting kids to participate,
– lead games for special needs,
– change ...
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Field-tested fun! The Game Guy is geared up and ready to give you over 200 great games that are easy to pull off and field-tested with teens in many settings.

You will find:

  • "Gaming Tips" on:
– getting kids to participate,
– lead games for special needs,
– change competitive games into cooperative games,
– save games gone bad, and more!
  • Symbols showing:
– energy levels (Energy Saver to Zoomer),
– space needed,
– games played in pairs, and
– crowd-pleasers that work well for 50 or more players.
  • Classic games with new twists.
  • Games for playing indoors and outdoors.
  • Games that teach.
  • Games that build community in your group!
  • Supply lists.
  • Tips and bonus ideas.
  • Notes on group sizes.
  • Indexes listing games by:
– game activity (running, posing, storytelling, singing, writing, etc.)
– game object (balls, balloons, beans, etc.)
– game formation.

Plus, this legendary games expert exposes some of the worst games ever played, and shares his philosophy of fun in youth ministry. You'll be equipped to lead youth with the best collection of games—ever!

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What People Are Saying

Laurie Polich
Laurie Polich, Youth Speaker and Author
Les Christie knows games. He's been creating them, teaching them and playing them for 40 years. I can't think of anyone more qualified to write this book. You can rest assured this resource was created by the best.
Efrem Smith
Efrem Smith, Senior Pastor, Sanctuary Covenant Church, Author, Raising Up Young Heroes
Les Christie reminds us that the 'fun factor' is still a great way to break the ice, build community, and tear down walls of division within youth ministry. Les Christie, over the years, has shown a great gift for compiling and creating various ways to use games as a springboard to teaching gospel truths. This is a must-have in a youth minister's library.
Doug Fields
Doug Fields, Pastor to Students, Saddleback Church President, Simply Youth Ministry
This is a great book of games?that actually work. Some great classics and many that I've never seen that my students really enjoyed. I appreciate that Les has provided some gaming tips so my volunteers can lead with confidence. The majority of the games in the book require little or no preparation, few props, and almost no cash?which is great for any youth worker. You can play them immediately. Les has been leading seminars on games around the world for several years and he's taken the best and put them in our hands. Thanks for this great game book!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764427701
  • Publisher: Group Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/8/2005
  • Pages: 143
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Les Christie has been in youth ministry for 40 years. He has led popular seminars all over the world, training more than a million volunteers from a wide variety of organizations and denominations. Dr. Christie is the author of 13 books and co-author of 10 others. Les has been the chair of the Youth Ministry Department at William Jessup University since 1993
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Table of Contents

A Brief History of Games
A Few Philosophical Thoughts on Games
A Theology of Fun and Games
Games (in Alphabetical Order)
Worst Games Ever
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This book is the result of over 37 years of close association with teenagers and games. Games are great fun, and they build community! Those are the primary reasons we play them and why they've continued to survive in an era when there are so many other forms of entertainment.This book contains a cross section of both new games and time-honored favorites. Each of the games requires little or no equipment and has been done-either by me or someone I trust-with real kids in a real youth group setting. Whether or not you choose every game for your group, you can rest assured that they have been winners with a group of young people. Most of these games may be played anywhere, under any condition, and at any time. And you'll rarely need supplies or prep time! Also, the vast majority of these games will work great with all sizes, ages, and types of groups. To help you find the kind of game you're looking for, we've included special icons throughout the book that point out unique qualities. For instance, if you see the "Wide Open" icon next to a game, but you have a medium-sized room, don't avoid that game-just consider how you might adjust it to meet your needs. Take a look at the icons you'll see throughout the book: Zoomer:
These games are played at top speed; they're fast and call for lots of energy. Energy:
These are calmer, more stationary games. They involve a minimum amount of movement. Wide:
If you have access to a large room or other space-perhaps a gym or field-these games will work perfectly for your group. Pair Up:
In these games, students form pairs and navigate the game as partners. Crowd Pleaser:
This icon tells you that a game works great with a large group-such as 50 or more students. Also scattered throughout this book are Gaming Tips, which give essential suggestions and insights on everything from choosing, beginning, to leading a game. Here's one of the most valuable tips right up front: Read the following tip and the other tips carefully, and apply them to your unique group of teenagers. Gaming Tip: How to Ensure SafetyTreat each young person like your own child, younger sibling, niece, or nephew. Don't put any student in a situation in which you wouldn't readily place this precious family member.Carry phone numbers of important people who should be contacted in case of an emergency (including ambulance, police, supervisor, parent, and hospital).Being safe does not equal not having much fun. A few minor changes or adjustments can turn a risky game into a safe one without reducing the level of fun.Obviously games that involve motorized vehicles, slippery surfaces, protruding objects, heavy physical contact, turbulent water, and hitting people in any way deserve special attention before you decide to proceed with your games. Any game is wrong if you know someone will get hurt.The safety-smart youth leader anticipates danger. Bring your great game idea to life with a simulated run, using youth leaders as "crash test dummies." As you play, you'll be able to identify the danger points and make changes before you present the game to the youth group.I've noticed that many youth workers have forgotten how much fun it is to work with playful, energetic young people. These are the same youth leaders who insist they want students to move beyond "fun and games." I'm in agreement; it would be unwise to have a youth group based solely on fun and games. However, to eliminate fun and games altogether would be equally unwise. To get rid of youthful fun because it's no longer enjoyable for a few older youth leaders is criminal. Fourthly, play is disappearing in youth ministry because we're fearful of labels. Specifically, many youth leaders are fearful of being identified as "a kid who never grew up." I've always believed the best youth leaders are two-thirds adult and one-third kid. Don't reverse this equation or you'll quickly be in deep weeds! But don't forget to honor that third of you that's still looking to call up some friends and go out to play. It's your ticket to building relationships with teenagers and having a blast while you do it. A Theology of Fun and GamesOf the 156 episodes from The Twilight Zone series, one of my favorites is "Kick the Can." Originally shown on February 9, 1962, the story is about a group of older people living in a retirement home. Charles and Ben have been friends since childhood, and when some children playing Kick the Can outside their retirement home capture their attention, Charles shares a secret. The secret of youth, Charles tells the other residents, is in playing games. Charles finally gets the rest of the retirees to play when he says in desperation, "I can't play Kick the Can alone." But his best friend Ben won't play. Ben thinks playing isn't something older people should do. Charles' reply is priceless. He tells Ben that Ben's afraid to look silly, afraid to make a mistake. Charles says, "You decided you were an old man, and that has made you old." Reluctantly, Charles goes off to play Kick the Can without Ben. The episode ends with the retirement home residents transformed into children again, happily playing together, while Ben has remained an old man. When we allow ourselves to play as children do, we can feel God's pleasure fill our lungs. We instinctively recognize that playing games is one way to do as Paul urged us-to "rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4). Yet, how often do we allow our teenagers to do just that? Too many religious people are so serious that they act as if they haven't smiled in years. To them, playful interaction is an inconvenience and anything not driven by purpose isn't worth the time. We're supposed to be a community of joy and grace, but somehow we've lost the elements of spontaneity and mystery. We have become a community of programs. We need to have fun and play games because God commands us to rest from work; to break the pattern of work and its grip on our daily lives, schedules, and thinking. Those of us who value play have a biblical basis for seeing play as important: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven...a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance" (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4). I don't think the average person can imagine Jesus as someone who laughed and knew the true meaning of fun. Most art and media usually portray Jesus as stern and unsmiling. Yet isn't he the Creator of our ability to smile and laugh in the first place? And since Jesus was fully human as well as divine, we can safely assume Jesus loved a good, hearty laugh now and again. Read the Gospels and you'll see Christ's sly insertions of humor and sharp wit and appreciation of the absurd. Jesus employed irony in his sermons (see Matthew 7:16). He often used deliberately preposterous statements to get his point across (see Matthew 18:23-25 and Mark 10:25). I've always enjoyed a certain story attributed to Erma Bombeck (although I've never been able to track her down as the source for the story). It seems Ms. Bombeck was approached by a woman from church who said, "We know that Jesus never laughed because the Bible never says he laughed." Ms. Bombeck's quick reply was "Neither does it say in the Bible that Jesus wet his pants, but if he was ever two years old we can assume that happened." I agree with Ms. Bombeck: You can't make an argument that Jesus was always solemn by looking at Scripture. You can, however, see trace elements of his humor as you see how he responded to and talked with people. Plus, Jesus had a soft spot in his heart for children, and that says plenty. In Matthew 18:2-5 we read about an incident where Jesus called a child to him. Jesus put the child in the midst of very serious adults and said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." Humility is the singular, small door to the divine playground of fun. To enter the kingdom, we must bow down our high and holy heads. That's the only way. If you're standing proud, you can't clear the doorway. The kingdom has been prepared for those who come to it as little children (Mark 10:15). What if children really are examples of true faith? What if working with young people also involves learning from them? In addition to Erma Bombeck, deep theological thinkers have enjoyed play-or wished they did. Martin Luther wrote, "It is pleasing to the dear Lord whenever thou rejoicest or laughest from the bottom of thy heart" (Surprised by Laughter: the Comic World of C.S. Lewis, Terry Lindvall). Sounds like a guy I'd want at the next youth retreat during game time.I believe only the innocent (children) or those liberated from guilt are really free and able to play. We've long been like bathers who want to keep their feet, or at least one foot, or by all means one toe, on the bottom so they stay grounded. To lose that foothold would be to surrender ourselves to a glorious tumble into the surf. And you know what? That's not a bad thing. When a person makes a faith commitment to Jesus, repentance from sin often results in initial sadness that swiftly becomes a spontaneous gladness mixed with laughter. Why? Because our sins have been forgiven! The proper response to receiving new life is joy. Humility accepts grace with wild abandon; laughter and joy follow repentance as sunrise follows night. Like David before the Ark of God, we should kick up our heels in delight (see 2 Samuel 6:14). As the psalmist tells us, "Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy" (Psalm 126:2a). Hang on to the giggles, laughter, and teaching moments that happen in your youth room. These are important memories your students will need when they face tough situations.People who've learned to play-and play well with others-are ahead of the pack. "I would much rather be ruled by men who know how to play than by men who do not know how to play," G.K. Chesterton writes in All Things Considered. "[The playground] is a place for humanising those who might otherwise be tyrants, or even experts." And one of the tragedies of C.S. Lewis' life was that he had discouraging experiences with games as a child in school. Those experiences negatively colored his view of games for the rest of his life. In his book Surprised by Joy, Lewis wrote: "Compulsory games had, in my day, banished the element of play...The rivalry was too fierce, the prizes too glittering, the 'hell of failure' too severe." C.S. Lewis possessed a heightened sense of play and fun throughout his life, but because he felt inadequate, he didn't participate in games while young. If we hope to build relationships with teenagers, perhaps we adults would do well to relearn the lost language of youth-the language of play. Play is one way to celebrate, to let the laughter spill out of your life. It's also a healthy way to let off steam or take a break from pain that surrounds us. It also helps us grow closer to each other and ultimately to God. Guide your students through the games in this book with these ideas in your heart and mind.
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