Games in Student Ministry

In the past I have worked in student ministries where they used games every week and also student ministries that rarely use games at all. Like anything else, doing games in your student ministry will have it’s pros and cons. After seeing some links recently about youth ministry games, I thought I would share some thoughts that will hopefully help guide you as you think about using games in your student ministry.

1. You don’t have to do them! Games are not essential to your student ministry. I worked in a student ministry that had a game every Wednesday night as part of their mid-week service. It got to the point where it became an “essential” part of the program. But what happened over time was the games became routine and boring to the students, leaders ran out of ideas for new games, and they started taking up too much time in the service. Eventually, we stopped doing games every week and started doing them every few weeks. The bottom line is, you don’t have to always do games. Student ministry is about building discipleship through teaching God’s Word, not having the best games every week.

2. Use them creatively. If you are going to do games in your student ministry, do it creatively. Here are two ways you can use games creatively. First, use games that force the students to interact. Use games to build interaction and community among your students. Get them into teams and force them to work together. Second, use games that build into your lessons. I try to do this as much as possible, but it sometimes is difficult. Use games that build into your particular lesson that night. Use the game has an illustration or an attention grabber for your lesson. However you use games in your student ministry, do it creatively. One last thing about using games creatively, make sure and do all type of games. There are various types of games you can do: upfront games where you bring a few students on stage to play, everyone plays games where every student gets to play, and indoor/outdoor games.

3. When it’s summer, go outside! One of my favorite things to do in the summer with students is water games outside. During the summer months, plan some large group games that you can do outside. One of my favorites is called slip n’ slide kickball. Basically you make a kick ball field with plastic kiddie pools being the bases and between the bases is slip n’ slides (I suggest buying the plastic from Lowe’s). You play a normal game of kickball, but when students are running on slick plastic and diving into kiddie pools, it gets crazy! Do games like this during the summer. I suggest that you do all your teaching and stuff early in the night then do your outdoor game at the end.

Here are some links that provide great game ideas: games page has some great game ideas
Rug Burn-E-book full of indoor games
Grass Stains-E-book fill of outdoor games
The Source for Youth Ministry-Games and Icebreakers

Published by Austin McCann

Austin is the student ministries director at Redemption Chapel in Stow, OH. He has a BA from Piedmont International University and a Master of Arts in Religion with a Christian leadership focus from Liberty University School of Divinity. Austin enjoys reading, writing, playing basketball and golf, and spending time with his family.

Join the Conversation


  1. When I work with Middle School students, I almost always use games – especially in programs where we are trying to draw unchurched students or we want or regulars to bring friends. It seems like middle school students are not embarrassed to bring their friends to an event that will have a well planned game.
    Our Middle School ministry plays outside games EVERY Wednesday night and we play a ten minute up front game or all participating game before the Bible training on Sunday mornings. IT is just part of our culture.

    1. Bill,

      It seems like games always go over better with Middle School students. When it comes to High School students, you have to be more creative because it’s harder to get them “excited” with games. Your statement “It is just part of our culture” is important because a lot of times games don’t fit the “culture” of some student ministries and some they do. Thanks for taking the time to read this post and leaving your thoughts.


  2. I am not a game guy because when I was a youth, I thought they were lame. So I don’t do games during my midweek worship time. However, I’ve learned it never hurts to have a football, basketball, or soccer ball hanging around for youth to play. Right now my students are on a soccer kick, so all I have to do is give them a soccer ball and they’re ready to go!

    I do appreciate your first thought on “you don’t have to do them.” I think a lot of ministers feel pressure to have games because of all the resources and youth ministry websites that promote them so much. So its refreshing to hear someone say don’t worry about it. Keep up the great work Austin!

    1. Josh,

      As always, thanks for reading and leaving your thoughts! I’m kinda like you, I’m not a huge “game guy.” I’m using them in our ministry now more for interaction and community builders. I have noticed that keeping a basketball, football, and soccer ball in my car is a huge help! There has been so many nights after church I stayed and threw football with some guys as they waited for their rides. Nice to have those quick things to do to build relationships with your students.


      1. Games are good for community building, especially if you’re new to your church and you’re trying to get to know everyone. Games are good for retreats, outreach events, or the occasional “lets just have some fun” night. But to do them every week is overkill in my opinion.

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