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The person in the center calls the category: Candy Bars! Then goes around the circle so that everyone takes their turn naming a candy bar. The people sitting down call out candy bars hoping to not say the one that the person in the center told the leader. If they say “Snickers,” the item that was told to the leader, then that person gets splashed with water. Or if someone repeats what someone else said they get jacked with some water as well. Then the person who got splashed takes a turn as the person in the center.

Read More — My best go to game!

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Pixelate

Played at our August Central Combined, this is a great casual youth ministry game which works well with an audience.

Select a number of photos and pixelate them by varying degrees — very pixelated, partially pixelated, through to slightly recognisable.

Form two teams and have them send representatives to the front of the room throughout the game. The idea is to buzz in when they think they know what the picture is. If they get it correct their side of the room scores a point. If they guess incorrectly, the other team gets the next picture in the series and a free guess.

We used Picasa from Google to pixelate the photos. I’d also recommend using a variety of images, from video game characters, to iconic buildings and photos of youth from your group.

Example below to give you the idea!

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Screamer

Played on one of our youth camps. We changed screaming for “wooooing”.


Have the entire group “line up in a circle” – you know what I mean… Important: everyone needs to be able to see the eyes of everyone else.

Explain that you will be saying two sets of instructions repeatedly, “heads down” and “heads up.” When you say “heads down,” everyone looks down. Whey you say “heads up,” everyone looks up, STRAIGHT INTO THE EYES of anyone else in the room. Two possible consequences:

  • if they are looking at someone who is looking at someone else, nothing happens;
  • if they are looking at someone who is looking right back at them, they are both to point in a very exaggerated manner at the other person and let out a SCREAM OR YELL. They are then “out” and take their places together outside of the circle to observe.

Once the “screamers” have left the circle, the circle closes in and you repeat step two, followed by step three, until you are down to two people. Yes, they have to do it one more time, even though the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

Read more – First Steps Training

Simple VSQ

Often the simplest games are the most fun. They usually require the least preparation and feel the most natural to play.

I’ve known and listened to the Vitamin String Quartet for a while. If you aren’t familiar with them here’s a snippet from their website.

Comprised of a rotating collective of top classical musicians, Vitamin String Quartet (VSQ) is known for its sophisticated twist on rock and pop’s biggest acts. Fusing master technique with rock n’ roll attitude, VSQ boldly reinvents the music of popular acts such as Metallica, Radiohead, and Lady Gaga with its highly successful album series, stunning live performances, and massive online presence. — About VSQ

To have some fun one afternoon at Central Youth, we queued a few of their covers and competed with each other to guess the song being played.

The musical among us dominated, but it was great fun and organised almost on the fly.

I’ve included some of the tracks we used below. If anyone knows of any other bands or groups that would work for this let me know.

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Ingredients for a Youth Ministry

At the beginning of the year Tahnee and I started a new youth ministry at our church (Christian Life Centre). Having grown up in youth groups the opportunity felt familiar – but the process of finding a structure that would work for our group was a daunting (and continuing) one.

The following article from Average Youth Ministry provides some guidance for new youth leaders just starting out. I wanted to share it because the first point particularly resonated with me.

Everything is built on a solid and simple programmatic structure. Your program is the skeleton, and without a good one, your entire ministry is in jeopardy. Just like humans, every skeleton is unique, but for the most part have the same parts. As you develop your skeleton, don’t try and reinvent the wheel. There is a reason that youth ministries for the past 30 years have had fun games, mixers, worship, teaching and small groups. Within every context, the flavor of this program will very, but most healthy ministries have all 5 ingredients. Whether your main program is Sunday morning or Wednesday night, or whenever, lay out your hour and a half and divide your time into 5 parts and begin to fill in the blanks. Before you know it, you have successfully created a youth ministry that builds community, grows faith, and creates space for ownership. — Benjamin Kerns, Average Youth Ministry

I’ve heard the idea of structure criticised for being restrictive or reducing the effort required (as if that were a bad thing?). So far this year, we’ve found that having a structure gives us a framework in which to play. It gives us the freedom to be as creative each week as we want to be without having to worry as much about planning. If you’re just starting out with youth ministry or have been doing it for a while, I’d highly recommend spending some time to think about your structure.

For more student ministry tips, you can read the full article here – 5 key ingredients for a thriving student ministry.

Camp Lessons

I recently had the opportunity to assist with holiday camps run by Wesley Mission at their Vision Valley site during the autumn school holidays. Although one of the most exhausting weeks I have ever dragged myself through – it really challenged my perspective in a lot of ways.

There’s something about being in a completely different environment, with unfamiliar people, and a new set of responsibilities that challenges who you consider yourself to be. Often I can identify myself by the things that I do, but take all that away and who are you?

The leaders (who I now have the most utmost of respect for) unwittingly set a new standard for the way I approach areas of my life.

Unity

While it appears obvious that a unified group of leaders is inherently valuable – the reality of being able to establish such a team is rarely an easy thing. Unfortunately people are flawed, value themselves by title or responsibility (including myself), but the unity demonstrated on camp throughout activities, discussions, games, etc. made me realise that I can be more concerned with a better way of doing things, then being on board with someone else.

Prayer

Perhaps number one was the result of number two but I became a Christian at an early age and have grown up with the concept of prayer. But there is “knowing that you should spend time in prayer”, and then there is “knowing the privilege and value of prayer”. In a situation where at some ridiculous hour of the night you have just managed to get campers to stay in their rooms, and delirium sets in with the leaders, prayer is not the first thing that jumps to my mind. But spending that hour with other leaders past midnight, to thank God or make requests, reminded me of the grace we’ve been given to communicate with Him, but more than that, the way God allows us to affect situations through prayer.

Loving Kids

Having grown up in youth groups, I’m not a stranger to being involved with youngsters. It’s easy to take an interest and be involved with kids who you genuinely get along with, but the ones that are challenging, don’t fit in or have special needs are where your real motivations can make their appearance. The reality of a 24 x 5 camp is that at some point, if you’re motivated by anything other than love, it’s going to become apparent. What encouraged me was the genuine love that other leaders had for those that they were looking after and made me consider if my motivations are always the same.

Being Authentic

Being who you are, in all circumstances – I guess another way of describing it is being a person of integrity. If you are a Christian then the bible is something that is important to you, not just something you know you should read from time to time because that’s the thing to do. Geoff, who spoke on the camp, was so authentic in his approach to sharing that it challenged me for my own opportunities, am I authentic in saying “this is the truth”, or do I instead say “this is what you want to hear” or “this is what I’ve been told is the truth”?

If you’ve ever considered helping out with a holiday camp, or would like to donate to Wesley Mission’s Operation Hope, check out the Vision Valley website. On top of just being a great fun time – it was a pivotal experience and encouraged me to take stock of who I am, not just what I do.