Do Games Still Work?

It’s summer and a lot of youth workers are on our site searching for fun games and activities. Add to that our fun little game rating and commenting contest we’re having right now where I’m giving away 10 prizes, both DVDs and books (peek here for details).

This brings up a big question. Do games still work?

Some people seem to be casting stones at ministries who still use games. Are games a tool of the past? Do they no longer open doors?

That’s the question I asked this week in my guest post on Tim Schmoyer’s Life in Student Ministry blog… an article I titled, To Play Games or Not to Play Games. Here’s a couple snippets:

The location wasn’t anything special—a multi-purpose room of a small little church. But about 70 students, gangbangers and high school dropouts from the community were gathered, laughing, playing games and having fun.

Games? Yes, gangbangers playing games.

30 minutes later the leader told a story and began a discussion about real life issues. This week the topic was death. A student laid down in the front of the room as if in an open casket at a funeral, and friends of the teenager began coming up and giving eulogies.

The leader wrapped up by sharing the Gospel. A handful of kids checked a box on a card saying, “I’d like to talk about this more.” Three one-on-one meetings happened that week between a caring adult and students. One of the students gave his life to Christ.

Across the country I visited and entirely different venue:

Every Thursday night teenagers would gather together here. A little music, a video, then a student would come up and share their story—or testimony as some like to call it. Then the leader would open the word and share for about 25 minutes. Week after week teenagers gave their lives to Christ, grew in their faith, fellowshipped with other believers and worshipped their creator.

When I talked with the leader of the group, the subject of games somehow surfaced. “We don’t play games here!” The leader snapped. “High school kids don’t want to play games,” he continued. “They want something relevant to their lives.”

Really? Games don’t work?

Who’s right?

That’s what I seek to answer in that blog. Read it, jump in and comment.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
[Are you getting this daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it's real easy-go here.
This entry was posted in Contests, Discussion Ideas, Youth Ministry Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Do Games Still Work?

  1. Ben Terpstra says:

    In a world of people saying its totally wrong to have such an such or totally right to do such and such both I believe to be very passionate and very convincing. Truth be told Christ used many different ways to reach the heart of man and I believe that to be true with us today, we need to enlist many different ways to reach our youth too.
    I believe most if not all youth workers would agree with the statment that Christ used many different ways to reach the heart. Now the question is it a thing of Biblical perportions that we can use the tool of games to reach the heart. I believe yes as long as one has a purpose and a plan for the game. If the only purpose is to show love and demonstate love and unity then great make sure the game doesn’t detract from the main purpose.

  2. Linda says:

    Games definitely still work! it helps break the tension and put people at ease. gives you something ‘fun’ to do and much more. can experience bonding with a lighthearted game and open you up to better bonding when sharing experiences and studying the bible. helps ‘new’ to the group or christianity folks with ‘common’ ground. used carefuly and during appropriate times when together, they can be very helpful and even encouraging!

  3. Frank says:

    Yes. Games do work for ministry and for fun time. People (non-believers) that christians are to serious. They don’t know what relaxing and having fun is.?? Games is a great ice breakers for people to come together.

  4. Linda Willeford says:

    Yes, games do work, I started playing games in the beginning of my youth ministry, but stopped and the group died out,in numbers and
    spirit, I am going back to games, Youth need a little fun in their lives, and if that is want it takes to get them there, than I can feed them spirititly.

  5. Tyler Rody says:

    I think games and activities work because it allows students the opportunity to be themselves in a fun and relational environment.
    I think small groups also work because it allows students the opportunity to be themselves in a growing, relevant, discipleship and relational environment.
    Keeping Christ central in all we do is the key.
    But I don’t think combining the two equally is a good option. I find students have a hard time switching from throwing chickens to theology.

  6. Steve Swan says:

    I suppose it all depends, as it usually does, on the purpose behind it all. Our church has a labyrinthine layout which makes it awesome for church wide games, so we use as an outreach point for community kids. My student leadership team and I try to plan games with a purpose in mind, whether that’s outreach or relationship building. It never ceases to amaze me how walls come down after interacting in a game. But I know plenty of ministries that don’t do games that God is working through too.