It feels like a question we’ve all asked ourselves at least once (if not every week) as Youth Workers. We’ve done the hard work of preparing for a lesson, making sure it’s theologically sound; we’ve emailed parents and prepped our small group leaders, BUT wait! What about that dreaded game!?! Sound familiar? So we’ve come back to the question of why?
Why do we put ourselves through this week in and week out? Is it really important? Is it leading students to Jesus? Is it helping them grow closer to God? Unless it’s a Sword Drill, it’s probably not biblical!
Perhaps at this point you’re thinking, well, you basically answered it for me. These are exactly the reasons I’m no longer running any game time during my Youth Group times. Well, let me offer three reasons to continue playing games at Youth Group.
1. Games are Attractional
This shouldn’t be the answer for some of the other things that we do week to week during our meetings, but games can be the attractional portion of your night. In order for this to happen, you have to put in a little effort. Let’s say you take the time to plan 4 big game events into your calendar. These could be things like a Harvest Hangout or Winter Comps (I see you, Adam!). These types of events are ones that you can promote and try to draw a crowd. If you can pull off these events, they can help you build momentum going into your weekly game times as well.
2. Games Give Students (and Adults) a Break
Sometimes it’s just a nice break for students in the night. It allows them the opportunity to act a little crazy and burn off some much-needed energy! This helps not just you but your adult leaders too. You can even sometimes plan a game where you just might get a chance to whap a student with a pool noodle or dodgeball. Your time spent planning could be the difference in a student paying attention to your lesson later on in the night.
3. Games Build Community (and Leadership Skills)
Time spent on teams accomplishing a goal or a task is a great way to build bonds between students and adults. Every time I’ve led or watched a game, there are always instances where students’ leadership skills rise to the surface. They see a need and feel like they’ve got what it takes (or a loud enough voice) to make a difference. These can be defining moments. If we’re being intentional in our game time and not just considering it filler, we will see moments that we can capture the real students we’ve been working with. Moments where their character shines or maybe it looks a little tarnished. Either way, they can help us as we help our students become the Jesus followers we hope they will become.
Next time you forget to plan that game and you’re rushing around for an idea, remember that it matters!
Director of Operations and Communication