Read an Excerpt
Ready to Go Youth Group Activities
101 Games, Puzzles, Quizzes, & Ideas For Busy Leaders
By Todd Outcalt, Jennifer A. Youngman
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2005 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
A positive start is key to student participation in a youth group meeting. A good beginning sets everyone to moving, thinking, and learning. These activities are jumpstarts that will ignite your students and set the stage for more serious quests. Some are fun, others are more cerebral—but all of these activities work well in a pinch.
1. TOOLBOX TALENTS
(1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 14-18)
Supplies: A toolbox filled with a wide assortment of tools such as screwdrivers, hammers, and wrenches. Also include some out-of-the-ordinary tools such as a tire-pressure gauge, a pair of work gloves, jumper cables, and perhaps some gardening tools or electrical tape.
Read aloud 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 14-18. Then say something like: "Each of us has been given gifts by God. Each of these gifts is useful and beneficial to the whole of God's work. But sometimes we need a way to discover our spiritual gifts. That's why I've brought this toolbox—as a way to help you consider your gifts. Take a few moments to look through the toolbox, then choose a tool that matches a gift or trait that you believe you possess.
"For example, you may choose a tire-pressure gauge, because you think that you are good at lifting up other people and helping to relieve the stress or pressure in their lives. Or you may choose a set of jumper cables because you believe that you are an energetic person and that your magnetism and excitement rub off on other people. Afterward be prepared to tell the group why you chose your particular tool."
Give everyone the opportunity to talk about his or her gift. This beginning can also lead to a deeper discussion of 1 Corinthians 12 or a lesson about spiritual gifts.
2. ONLY IN MY DREAMS
This discussion may generate a few laughs as well as more serious pondering about dreams and their place in our lives.
Ask the following questions and invite youth to respond by considering: What might this dream mean? What might be significant about this dream? (It surely goes without saying, but you might want to mention the difference between appropriate- and inappropriate-for-discussion dreams.)
-> One recurring dream I have is ...
-> One frightening dream I have had is ...
-> My most vivid dream was ...
-> My most uplifting dream was ...
-> One of the things I daydream about is ...
3. SHOE IN
Invite youth to gather in a circle and place their shoes in the center. Take a few moments to look over the various colors, shapes, and sizes of footwear. Spark group-building and fun by asking the following questions:
1. Who in our group has the largest shoes? the smallest?
2. Who has the most colorful shoes?
3. Who has the dirtiest shoes? the cleanest?
4. If you could trade shoes with someone in the group, who would it be? Why?
5. Who has the most unique shoes?
6. If you could walk in someone else's shoes for a day, whose would they be?
7. What do you think we can tell about other people from their shoes?
4. ARTFUL DODGERS
Supplies: An art or coffee-table book containing photographs of various paintings, sculptures, and other artwork. If your group is fairly large, you may need more than one book.
Allow the youth to look through the book and select two or three pieces of art that they particularly like or find interesting. Then ask:
1. Which pieces of art spoke most forcefully to you? Why?
2. Why do you think you were drawn to a particular painting or sculpture?
3. How can art lift our spirits?
4. How might a work of art depict spiritual themes that words might not be able to convey?
5. How does color and shape help to spark our imaginations?
6. How would you paint God?
7. How would you paint the way you feel today?
8. What colors would best describe your life right now? Why?
5. TABLE OF CONTENTS
If you are looking for a jump-start Bible study, ask the youth to turn to the Table of Contents in their Bibles. Ask:
1. What is your favorite book of the Bible?
2. What book of the Bible would you like to study?
3. What book of the Bible seems the most intriguing to you?
4. What book of the Bible is the most inspirational to you?
5. What book of the Bible is the most complex or difficult for you to understand?
6. With whom do you most identify in the Bible? Why?
7. What would help you to better understand the Bible?
6. CLASSIFIED INFORMATION
Supplies: Several pages of your local newspaper's "Classified Ads"
Give each youth a portion of the advertisements. Read aloud Proverbs 9, then ask the following:
1. Based upon the classified advertisements you hold in your hand, what do you think people today are seeking in life?
2. What can we learn about human need and desire from reading these ads?
3. What wisdom can we gain from thinking about our wants and needs?
4. What are some of your desires?
5. If you could write a "want ad" to God, what would it say?
7. DYNAMIC DUOS
Divide youth into teams and compete for the best or fastest answers. Read aloud only the first half of the following famous duos (not what's in the parentheses). Add others of your own. Allow teams to identify the second half. Keep score to see which team guesses the most correct answers.
-> Bonnie and (Clyde)
-> Batman and (Robin)
-> Arsenic and (lace)
-> Fork and (spoon)
-> Song and (dance)
-> Peaches and (cream)
-> Chip and (Dale)
-> Burgers and (fries)
-> Aquila and (Priscilla)
-> Popeye and (Olive Oyle)
-> Peanut butter and (jelly)
-> Coyote and (Roadrunner)
-> Salt and (pepper)
-> Cats and (dogs)
-> Hot and (cold)
-> Jupiter and (Mars)
-> Fish and (chips)
-> Adam and (Eve)
6. PUNCH LINES
Begin any group session by reading aloud the following first-liners. Allow youth to complete the jokes with their original punch lines.
1. How many (blondes/brunettes/redheads/your idea) does it take to make soup?
2. How many (guys/girls/elephants/your idea) does it take to fix a car?
3. Two fleas walk into a church. One looks at the other and says:
4. Two lobsters are caught in a trap. One looks at the other and says:
5. While walking past a construction sight, two women hear a wolf whistle. One says to the other:
6. A pastor, a priest, and a rabbi are sitting next to one another at a football game. The rabbi turns to the pastor and says:
7. A squirrel and a chipmunk are fighting over the same nut. A raccoon comes along and says:
8. A funny thing happened to me on the way to the church:
9. THE STICK-ON CLASS
Supplies: A supply of sticky notes, a markerboard or large sheet of paper, markers
Beforehand write these categories on a markerboard or large sheet of paper: Things You Would Like to Talk About and Things You Can Talk About. Post in a prominent place in the meeting room.
Hand out a supply of sticky notes, and ask youth to list five subjects each that they would like to talk about and five subjects each that they know something about (one item per sticky note). After a few minutes, ask youth to stick each sticky note under the appropriate heading on the markerboard or paper you prepared earlier.
Give the group a few minutes to prioritize each column's notes in the order they would like to talk about them.
Collect the notes and proceed to discuss the topics in the order they have been placed. If there are youth who feel confident talking about a certain subject, provide a forum for them to do so in a controlled and helpful environment. Keep the ideas for future use.
10. WEEK AHEAD
Supplies: note cards, pencils or pens, markerboard or large sheet of paper, markers
Helping youth to think about the days ahead is an interesting way to begin a meeting. Beforehand write the phrases below on a markerboard or large sheet of paper. As youth arrive, hand out note cards and pencils, then ask each student to make notes about any decisions he or she is making that will influence the coming week. Invite volunteers to read one of their statements as a discussion starter.
In the Coming Week:
-> The biggest decision I have to make is ...
-> I am not looking forward to ...
-> I am anxious about ...
-> The one thing I hope to accomplish is ...
-> The one change I have to make is ...
-> I can always count on a good time when ...
-> The one person I need to talk to is ...
-> My biggest spiritual challenge will be ...
-> I pledge to complete ...
11. THE ONE QUESTION
This activity is not only fun but can also be insightful. Divide the group into two teams. Ask one team to complete the following statements with a question; the second team then attempts to answer the questions asked by the first team.
-> The "One Question" I'd like to ask about love is:
-> The "One Question" I'd like to ask God is:
-> The "One Question" I'd like to know the answer to is:
-> The "One Question" I'd like to ask a professor or teacher is:
-> The "One Question" I'd like to ask our pastor is:
-> The "One Question" I'd like to forget is:
12. HOT OR COLD
Read aloud each of the following scenarios, waiting after each for youth to tell whether they are "hot" or "cold" on the idea. For example, they either like it (and say "hot"), or they don't (and say "cold"). If time allows, ask volunteers to explain why they are hot or cold on a particular idea.
-> I would like to preach a sermon.
-> I would like to go door-to-door and tell others about our church.
-> I would like to be a high school teacher.
-> I would like to be a millionaire.
-> I would like to be poor but happy.
-> I would like to parachute out of an airplane.
-> I would like to work in a church someday.
-> I would like to be single when I am forty years old.
-> I would like to make a living with my hands (woodworking, painting, and so on).
-> I would like to work for a big company.
-> I would like to spend a summer vacation helping people in another country.
-> I would like to live to be one hundred years old.
-> I would like to drive an eighteen-wheeler for a living.
-> I would like to travel to Mars.
-> I would like to be a funeral director.
-> I would like to teach a child to read.
-> I would like to read the entire Bible.
13. YOU MIGHT BE A TEENAGER IF ...
Invite youth to complete the following sentences.
-> You might be a teenager if ...
-> You might be lost in your middle school if ...
-> You might have a bad biology teacher if ...
-> You might be eating a bad school lunch if ...
-> You might be attending a new high school if ...
-> You might be in trouble if ...
-> You might be sent to detention if ...
-> You might have too much homework if ...
-> You might have a lousy basketball team if ...
-> You might be in trouble if you hear the teachers saying ...
-> You might be a recent high school graduate if ...
-> You might be in this youth group if ...
14. THE LONGEST PSALM (PSALM 119)
Hand out Bibles to students. Assign each student an eight-verse section of Psalm 119—the longest psalm in the Bible. This psalm is also an acrostic; the first line of every eight verses begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Ask each youth to choose and read aloud one verse from the assigned eight verses that speaks to him or her. As time allows, discuss the meaning of each verse read aloud.
15. BIBLE BOOK SCRAMBLE
Supplies: Note cards
Ahead of time, write the names of the books of the Bible on note cards (one book per card). Make two or more sets, depending upon the size of your group. Shuffle each set of cards. Divide the group into two or more teams. Give each team a set of cards. Set a time limit, and instruct each team to arrange its set of cards in the correct biblical order.
16. COLD POTATO
Supplies: Small prize, ice pack (one that is pre-packaged in a bag). If you are really short on time, you might use a small bag of ice or a large ice cube.
This exercise adds a fun twist to the old game of Hot Potato. Gather the group in a circle. Begin passing the ice pack around the circle. Whenever the leader says, "stop," the person caught holding the ice pack is "out" and must leave the circle. The last youth remaining wins a prize.
Supplies: Clipboard, paper, pen
Beforehand attach a piece of paper and an ink pen to a clipboard. At the top of the paper, write the sentence: It was a dark and stormy night.
Gather the group in a circle. Explain that you will pass around a clipboard and a piece of paper that already has one sentence written on it. Youth will use that sentence to begin a story, each person writing one sentence, adding to the story in some way, before passing the clipboard to the next person. For a large group, consider passing a second story-starter to keep the group engaged. For smaller groups, you may need to pass around the clipboard two or three times.
Once the story is complete, ask for a volunteer (or several) to read it aloud. You can also use this activity to create spiritual or personal stories. Other good beginning phrases are: Today I was thinking about God when suddenly ... or When the lights went out at church....
18. BELIEVE IT OR NOT?
Supplies: Note cards, pens or pencils
Give each youth a note card and a pencil, then ask each to write one obscure "fact" about his or her life (such as "I like spinach") and one fictional statement that might fool other group members (such as "I shook hands with a famous basketball player").
After youth are finished, invite each youth to read aloud either of his or her statements (fact or fiction). Ask the group to vote on whether they think the statement is fact or fiction. Continue until everyone has had a chance to read a fact and fiction statement. This is a great game for helping group members learn more about one another.CHAPTER 2
One of the most difficult last-minute youth meetings to pull off successfully is a study—whether it be a Bible study, a small-group session, or a youth-group forum on dating, for example. Here are several time-savvy studies that will help keep your pulse rate in check when you don't have the time to develop a lesson on your own. Just grab this book and lead the youth in one of these thirty-minute studies.
19. ROMANCE AND REALITY
(Song of Songs)
Supplies: Several pages of personal (dating) ads from your local newspaper
This quick-to-organize study about romance, dating, and sex is appropriate for any youth group. Give each youth a segment of personal ads. Invite the whole group to read in unison chapter 1 of the Song of Songs (sometimes called Song of Solomon). Then ask:
1. Based on the dating ads, what do you think people are looking for in a relationship?
2. What needs or inadequacies might be expressed in these ads?
3. Do you think it is easy to find someone to love forever? Why or why not?
4. Why do you think the Bible contains a love letter (the Song of Songs)?
5. What does this book of the Bible tell us about the need for human love and compatibility?
6. The man and woman in Song of Songs are in love. In what stage of a relationship are they? How do they express this love?
7. At what stage of a relationship do you think sexual expression should emerge? Why or why not?
8. What do you think is the Christian understanding of sexual intimacy?
9. If you were to compose a dating ad for the perfect mate, what would your ad say?
20. A TIME FOR EVERY SEASON
Supplies: Writing paper, pencils
Begin by giving everyone a sheet of paper and a pencil. Read aloud Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Ask youth to review the Scripture passage and list particular instances when they have witnessed or experienced any of the "times" mentioned in the passage (a time of weeping, laughing, gaining or losing, and so on). They may use their personal life experiences, or they may draw from observations they make about the world around them.
After a few minutes, reread Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, verse by verse. After each verse, invite youth to talk about the particular "times" they have witnessed. Close by asking:
-> What do you think the writer of Ecclesiastes is trying to communicate about life?
-> Do you think life is more heavily weighed toward the bad or the good?
-> How might life be more "balanced" by having faith in God?
-> How might we make the best of our own time?
-> Do you think this view of life (the view described in Ecclesiastes) is accurate?
-> In what ways might our feelings get in the way of our embracing a new "time" in life?
-> In your life, which of these "times" have you experienced most often or most intensely?
21. LOST AND FOUND
Supplies: Bibles, writing paper, pencils
Hand out paper and pencils. Ask youth to answer these two questions:
1. Have you ever been lost (such as in a store or in the woods)? What was it like? How did you feel?
2. Can you remember how you felt when you were found? How did this reunion take place?
Hand out Bibles. Invite one student to read aloud Luke 15:1-10. If you have a large group, divide students into small teams to discuss the following questions:
-> Why do you think Jesus used stories about being lost and found to describe our need for God?
-> What are some examples of being "lost"?
-> Where do you see God at work in these stories? What is God doing?
-> In what ways is God's activity related to our being "found"?
-> What are some words that you would use to describe how God sees us?
-> Which story speaks more to you: the parable of the shepherd and lost sheep or the parable of the woman and the lost coin? Why?
-> How are these stories similar? How are they different?
-> If you were telling a story about God's salvation, how would it go?
-> Why do you think each of us needs to be "found"?
Excerpted from Ready to Go Youth Group Activities by Todd Outcalt, Jennifer A. Youngman. Copyright © 2005 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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