I have played hundreds of games with youth groups, camp groups, retreat groups and more (I have a playlist here if you actually want to see some of them) and I thought about what a burden games are to those who don’t enjoy them or who feel chained to them.
First, you don’t have to play games with your youth group if you don’t want to. If you see games as only as a way to placate or entertain fidgety students, then games are a burden.
If you think you have to play games or kids won’t come to group then yes, game are like a stone tied around your neck.
I have been at my church seven months and I am now at the student leadership phase. It takes time to build trust and see who has initiative and who does not. I had a student recently ask me if we could play a certain game next week and,
I said, “Would you like to lead the game?”
They said, “Yes” and
I said, “Do you want to get the supplies or should I?
This a simple exchange but it’s also a shift of responsibility. I am not in service to the game, the game is in service to me. Games are a gateway drug to leadership. You may not like coming up with games but there are certain students who would love to take that off your plate.
Games offer more than just a time filler. Games are a testing ground for leadership. Games are on the bottom shelf, like candy in a grocery store, accessible to whomever would like to step and lead them.
If you don’t like leading games, here’s a quick way to find out who might be good at taking that over.
Have youth night where you do a version of Chopped but with games. I did this with a group of students who were griping about my games so I went to the dollar store, bought a bunch of supplies like straws, balloons, and some off items, put them in baskets, divided teams and said, “Ok, you have 20 minutes to create a game and teach us how to play it. The team that comes up with the best game wins.
When the time was up, they had to teach the games to the rest of the group and play it. What they didn’t know is that I had recruited them into leading the games that night. I got to watch them be creative, I watched to see who the leaders were, who the followers were and how they worked together as a team.
Games are a burden if you think they are solely your responsibility to come up with an execute.
Games are also a tool, a way of seeing how your students respond to winning, losing, team work and their level of perseverance.
If you love doing games, don’t hog all the fun, share the responsibility with others.
If you hate doing games, make your life easier by sharing the responsibility with others.
You may just find your next student leader in the process.