Why Games Still Matter: Part One

I love games. Probably because I’m pretty good at them. Or perhaps it has something to do with my desire to win! Whatever the reason, I have a passion for watching, playing, and creating games. Some would say that it’s a good thing I decided to be a youth pastor because all youth pastors do is play games. In some cases I don’t disagree, but for some youth pastors games have become a thing of the past.  Over the next couple weeks, I’d like to give you some reasons to keep playing games in your youth ministry.

Games are a huge part of my current role at the Never The Same. Throughout the summers at NTS Camp, my role is the Activities Director. I oversee all of the games and activities that happen outside of “chapel” environment. Not only do I get to oversee what’s going on, I actually get to spend time outside of camp creating large group games that we call Team Comps.

Over the last 8 or so years doing Team Comps, I have seen all sort of students on the field: athletic, competitive, over aggressive, disinterested, interested but not athletic, etc. While their interests and abilities may cover a broad spectrum, there is something about Team Comps that pulls a team together.

At NTS Camp, it’s not every man for himself out on the comps field. There are four teams, represented by the colors: red, blue, green, and gold. We strategically keep churches on the same team. This allows for a sense of unity among team members. Beyond that we push the team colors to their max and the students respond in the same way! We used to see a few students get dressed up in crazy colored clothes for an hour a day at the Comps field. Now, students are dressed just about 24 hours a day in their team color.

This has allowed us to build a crazy amount of momentum throughout the week. Each night at the main rally, the teams sit together by choice, not because we’ve told them to. They sit and wait for the Team Comps highlights from that day’s competition. When the highlight ends, they know the current scores are going to scroll. As the scores scroll, they lock in from last place to first and when the first place team is revealed, that team erupts with deafening screams, chants, songs, you name it (aside from burning couches or the chapel seats)! The energy surrounding Team Comps is then funneled into the rest of the service.

You may be reading this and saying, “That’s great for camp ministry, but I don’t have the time, the students, or the resources to do large scale games; let alone the ability to film it and cut it into a highlight to be used immediately after!” Well, I’m glad you had that thought. Camp may be the example used, but in any group, no mater the size or resources, games can be a momentum builder.

I personally think games at youth group have gotten a bad rap over the years. They have been used and abused. Games have gotten little to no attention; they are generally the last things a youth pastor thinks about (understandably). Because of the lack of attention, they haven’t been updated in decades! Games have fallen into a transition space in our services. They have become a way to get from one element to another.

This is a downward spiral! Games get no effort, games go poorly during the service, we think students don’t want games, games get cut from youth group.  Hit repeat.

My challenge to us all is to take a little extra time. Choose the right game for your group and for your space. Prepare ahead of time by knowing the rules, being setup, and getting excited to play a game with your students! What a great opportunity to engage them.

Over the next couple weeks, I will share with you some reasons to not only play games in your youth ministry, but to do them well, and why they are important.  To be continued…

Kyle Wood
Director of Operations & Communications
Never The Same


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