Giving youth pastors the tools they need to make and shape disciples.

Youth Ministry: You Play To Win “The Game”

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Some people will not appreciate this post because they think I am reducing youth ministry or ministry to a game. That is not my intent but rather to make similarities between ministry and games or gaming. As pastors, (and all Christians) we ought to take the gospel and our calling very seriously, but that does not mean we are aren’t in some kind of game mode at some point in our ministry. The point of this post is to help you decide what the “win” is your ministry and go for that. If you’ll take this post for what is is, the rantings of a crazy man, and not a theological treatise your head won’t explode and ruin your day.


It’s Football season. I love football. I love college football. I am an Alabama fan by marriage and a Notre Dame Fan by heart. In the pro’s I am Giants fan. I don’t believe we watch games to see teams tie. We watch to see who the winner will be. If you want to see a game without winners and losers start your own Upward Basketball Channel.

I like winning. It beats losing in my opinion. Herman Edwards says it bests, “You play to win the game.”. The big question in life, as in ministry, is “What is the WIN and how do I get it?” If we can define what the win is over all and the smaller wins along the way that lead to “the big win”, then we will be much more focused and satisfied people and ministers.

This is a longer post than usual so take moment to enjoy this before continuing

This series of posts are inspired by an article I read called: What Games Are by Tadhg Kelly  over on Tech Crunch. I will be quoting some of his article and some of his sources as well.

All this week I will be discussing how to find The Win in our youth ministries. I will be breaking this weeks posts into smaller thoughts?

What is a win in a youth meeting?

What is a win in Evangelism?

What is a win in Discipleship?

Defining the win in life and ministry

Gaming Your Youth Ministry With A Clear Conscience

Today, I want to focus on Youth Ministry as game.

Think about it. Do you count your students every week? Why? Because we’re playing a mental game. More equals better and less than last week is viewed by some as #fail.

Students are not points on a score board, and should never be treated as such, but the weekly head count is one way we decide whether the youth meeting was a win. We often break down that win into smaller wins:

How many visitors did we have?

Did the visitor come back?

Was that certain kid there?

The danger, of a mental game like this, is that we equate God’s blessing with the numbers, derive our self worth by those numbers, or define our competency as a minister by those numbers. Numbers do none of these. Numbers are only one factor in the big picture of the game of youth ministry. But, they are numbers none the less and numbers are a part of the game.

Social Media apps like Foursquare or Get Glue give us badges for checking in or achievements for unlocking certain levels. We’ve been doing this in youth ministry for years. Pack a pew, bring a friend get a __________ ( slice of pizza) bring the most friends get a __________ (car?). Contests, and the like, are part of the Youth Ministry landscape and are neither good or bad, but they are part of gaming in your ministry.

Football, like life, is four quarters. You may be a rookie and working out the bugs of your ministry in the first quarter or you are like me, heading out of the locker room to start the third quarter of life and ministry. No matter where you are in the mix, if you are playing with passion and playing to win, you are playing “the game” correctly.

Tomorrow:  What Kind of Game Are You Playing?

How do you define “win” in youth ministry?

How do you define “win” in your youth meeting?

How do you find yourself “gaming the ministry”?





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