Why is it that comment sections breed pessimism and ignorance? (Yeah… I’m definitely going to rant about this one.)
Here’s the situation. A girl submits a creative and fun game idea to our web site, we add the game to our page… and then a couple people feel that it’s their duty to start criticizing her idea. Not even intelligent criticism.
One of the top pages accessed on our youth ministry web site is our Games & Icebreakers page. Last month that page generated 22,670 page views, mostly youth workers browsing through our database of literally over 1,000 free game and icebreaker ideas. Many youth workers use game & icebreaker ideas like these to “break the ice” (go figure) with kids and open doors for relational ministry.
Yes, I’m aware that some people think that games don’t work.
They are wrong.
Sound dogmatic? Well, here’s the facts. If games are proven to be beneficial in some situations, then one can’t say that they don’t work. The more intelligent statement would be, “Games aren’t the answer for every situation.” Or, “Don’t use games without any purpose in mind.” But don’t incorrectly surmise, “Games don’t work.”
This is nothing new. It’s become trendy to criticize games in the last few years. I’ve written entire articles on this debate (like this one, To Game or Not to Game).
Frankly, I’m tired of the whining.
A few days ago a game idea came in from Sarah-Jane that I thought was creative… it was titled, Toast. Toast is “hot-potato-like” game idea. I liked the idea. My game guru Todd liked the idea. I even showed it to my 16-year-old daughter Alyssa and asked her opinion. She thought it sounded like fun. (She thought it might actually be fun with her friends at a slumber party too.)
The concept is simple. A bunch of people gather around a table with two pieces of toast and an assortment of condiments (ketchup, butter, honey, etc.). You put one piece of toast in the toaster, and while waiting for it to pop up, people take turns adding condiments to the other piece of toast. Keep passing the toast and adding condiments until the other piece pops up. When it pops up… the person with the other piece in front of them has to eat it, with all its creative condiments.
Alyssa (in her creative mind) thought it might even be more fun if you organized the condiments into themes that weren’t so gross. In other words, instead of doing the typical “gross out” youth group game, do a “ice cream toppings” theme with chocolate, caramel, marshmallow topping, rainbow sprinkles, etc. This game could have fun holiday options (Christmas cookie decorations, etc.)
So why criticize it?
One person criticized it for wasting food. I don’t want to get into that debate in this blog. I don’t like wasting food either, but if done right, this game won’t waste food. (They eat the toast)
The ludicrous criticism was this:
I would like to know how this game edifies the church or builds your youth into a better relationship with Jesus?
How is this person going to be pleased with any game?
The fact is, I used games in my outreach ministry for years for pure fun. Yes, for fun! (Fun isn’t sin, you know.) Kids brought their friends and the ministry grew week after week. We shared the Gospel weekly and I saw a ton of kids come to Christ and get plugged into the church through that ministry.
Is that edifying enough for ya?
Last year I volunteered in a local jr. high ministry and had a small group of guys. I remember several weeks playing dodgeball with my guys, laughing and having a great time. This kind of bonding led to great conversations.
Games… done right… open doors for relational ministry.