Youth Ministry Is Not A Game..Or Is It?

When I was in youth group (a very long time ago), I remember my youth pastor doing a contest called L.I.F.E.. He broke down the youth group into four teams and we would have weekly contests between team members, etc. and at the end the winning team received X. This is still a viable tool to use today to get more kids to show up or get involved but I wonder how certain aspects of social media have changed this game dynamic or changed this medium of game play.

I belong to several social media apps that use Funware to keep me coming back.  Funware is a game dynamic that offers points, badges, etc. to get us to keep coming back to the app or webpage. Frequent flyer miles are an example of the earliest Funware used. If you earn enough points you get a free flight. I remember an episode of the Brady Bunch where they collected greens stamps and they had to decide what they were going to buy.

I use apps like Get Glue and Foursquare for fun. Get Glue offers special digital stickers you can post on your Get Glue page and will they will even send you the real stickers once once you have accumulated enough. You get stickers for watching movies on opening weekend or watching  new t.v shows several times in row. Foursquare is an app that allows you to “check in” to places. If you check in enough times you can become mayor of that location.

There are many more kinds of apps like this available and more coming out every year. Old companies are trying to revamp their model by using Funware. I am working on a project for our youth ministry that involves a similar mechanic. This game play mechanic will only available to our Get It First Newsletter Crew, well, because they are awesome. If you would like to receive it, you can sign up in the top right corner of this page.

So, is youth ministry a game? Do you use contests, exclusivity, earned titles, loyalty programs or privileges to get kids to come back to your group? If you don’t, why not? Please share your best idea(s) so we can all benefit.

You can debate the topic of games in youth ministry HERE

Here is a link to a great video on the topic of Gamification by Gabe Zichermann author of Game Based Mechanics. I should warn you, he does use some salty language in the video.

I have been pondering this blog for quite some time. As the world of social media and apps becomes more game centric, I am wondering if this has impacted the way we engage students and build loyalty to our students. Is it possible that the under use of games, in the broadest sense, a missing link? Let me know if you’ve retooled your contests or games for youth ministry based on funware or social game mechanics.

I have a created a lens on Squidoo.com that includes comment areas, polls, and a debate so you can weigh in on any of the topic I have covered here and a few new ones.

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