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games resources

Not all games linked to will be suitable for all groups, or even any youth group. Always check the game and complete a risk assessment. Do use these to springboard to different ideas. And if you've got ideas for games or know of other resources, please let me know.

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CHRISTMAS IDEAS

Check out our latest Christmas ideas including games, quizzes and of course, our Christmas Escape Room, which was designed for online use, but easy to do with a group in the room.

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

Whodo?
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whodo?

Whodo?

is a whodunnit? game, created by Scott Rushby at Testwood Baptist Church, Southampton.

Teams head round different rooms to find out who committed the crime, where and with what weapon.

Download printable resources, instructions, detective cards and background music here.

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"Each time I open it, I come away from it encouraged and equipped to do what I can for the Lord.."

Eleni Brooks, Youth Intern

Find out more about Dave's manual for youth ministry.

team challenges

Why not use games to help build relationships within your group? Split people up into teams across friendship groups, then have them do a mixture of activities together for a good amount of time.

We use these on our residentials to encourage young people to break apart from their regular friends.

Have a look at some ideas below, or let me know your best ones.

atoms

It really should be called molecules, but ATOMS is more fun!

Simple but effective. Split everyone into 3s and have them hold hands to make a circle. You do that by looping one of your hand-holds over the top of a person in another team's head. That breaks them apart from their team and adds them into your team. You're now a four, leaving behind a two.

You'd better watch your back though, because by the time you've joined them into your team, one of your team may have been snatched.

The aim is to get everyone into your group, but groups become progressively more unwieldy, so you may just have to give up at some point. Largest group at the end wins.

Atoms

T-Rex Challenge

Wrap young people with tape so that their elbows are tightly into their sides, leaving only their forearms and hands able to move. In other words, they look a little bit like a T-Rex.

Then give people a task to do e.g. make a bed, lay a table, etc. Be as creative as you can be.

 

Race in teams against each other, or play it collaboratively.

It might be better for them to have a friend of the same sex tape them up. There is a danger if they trip up that they won't be able to stop themselves falling, so have leaders close by.

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T-Rex
challenge

Picture by OkiSulaeman from Pixabay

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Ikea line or Scandinavian town?

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

It's an either/or quiz. Screenshare the name. Make sure to put all those pesky accents in. But is it a line from IKEA (and you can guess what sort for extra points), a Scandinavian town (and you can guess the country for more points) or maybe both? 

Get people to pretend to swing a hammer for IKEA or relax with a (soft) drink in the sauna for Scandinavian town. And for both, they can try to do the two things simultaneously! If you want to make it competitive, people sit down if they get it wrong until there is only one person left.

To save you time, find the meaning of IKEA lines here. [Other Scandinavian furniture shops are available, but I can't immediately think of any...]

IKEA line or town

Four square and the next level

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Who hasn't played four square yet? 

Really simple game. Mark four squares (see left diagram) with masking tape or chalk. One person stands in each square, the rest of the group line up at the bottom arrow. The aim is to become the King by progressing up the squares.

The King hits a netball or soft football into someone else's square. The person in that square must hit it into someone else's square. Game continues until the ball bounces inside a square, in which case the person who is in the square goes out, or the ball bounces first outside a square, in which case the last person to hit the ball is out. If someone is out, they join the back of the queue. Everyone else moves up. The first person in the queue then starts in the bottom square. 

The only real rule is that the ball must go up after being hit. It can't be slammed down into someone else's square because that would be quick but boring!

Bigger group? You can make it nine-square and put the King in the middle...

Next level or smaller room? Play Table Four Square

Same idea, but use four tables, which don't even have to be the same size or height. Play with table tennis bats and a table tennis ball. Players stand next to their table. The King starts by hitting the ball onto someone else's table. That player must return the ball onto a different table. If they don't do that, or their shot misses someone else's table, they join the back of the queue and people move up.

You've got raised edges on your tables? Don't worry! If someone hits the edge and it goes off in a funny direction, just shout 'chalk dust' and replay the point.

Thanks Cliff McLelland from St Francis' Church, Valley Park, Southampton for this idea.

Four square

becky's pinterest of ideas

Love these little gems you find sometimes - people who put stuff out there to resource the rest of us! Becky Hepworth, Ministry Trainee at Park Church, Stoke-on-Trent, UK has set up a Pinterest page of youth resources, including a really extensive games section. Click on the link below and go to Games. Muffin pan challenge? Sorted!

Becky's ideas
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card snatch

Is this the easiest game in the world?

Split the group into two teams. It doesn't really matter what size the teams are. Put them at opposite ends of the room. Hold a pack of playing cards in your hand. Shout a combination of cards, for example, Kings, Hearts, red twos, cards with four or more club symbols on them, whatever comes to mind. At the same time, throw the cards to separate over as wide an area as possible.

When you shout the cards, the two teams rush forward and find the cards you asked for. Some are upside down to make it more difficult. They bring the card back to their side to score a point. 

Add more interest by saying that you can tag a member of the other team, if they are holding one of the matching cards. If they tag someone and they are holding a matching card, they get the card to take back to their side and noone can tag them (get them to put their hand up so noone tags them). If they get it wrong, they lose a point. That is a recipe for subterfuge (do I pretend I have one?) and a bit of chaos, but it's quite fun chaos. You might need a referee with each team, to ensure fair play.

Big group? Add more packs of cards. 

Use it to introduce: a Bible story about separating one group from another. You can work it out.

Photo by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

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commandos

One of our group's favourite games

This active game is played in two or more teams. Most fun outside in a long field, but it worked fine for us in a fairly long church.

The counter stands at one end of the playing area. We had to have two no-go areas in the church which the counter couldn't see.

The aim is to get from one end of the area to the other without being seen. We have some pillars, and laid out folding tables in four lines, at intervals, standing up, to provide places for people to hide. The last ones were quite a way from the counter.

The counter rolls a die and shouts the number. They will be counting to this number. Then they shout out 'Fast', 'Medium' or 'Slow' and lower their head. To count, they add 'Dot' between the numbers (Fast is one dot, medium two and slow three). So if it's 3 Medium, they'll count One Dot Dot Two Dot Dot Three Dot Dot Up. 

While they are counting, the young people move to the first row of hides. When the counter shouts 'Up', if they can see anyone moving, or not quite behind the hide, they'll call their name and the young person has to go back to the start to begin again.

When a team member reaches the counter, they lay their hand on their shoulder and stretch towards their team. The next person in just needs to be hanging on to their team member when the counter says 'Up', making it progressively easier. First team to get all their team to the counter  wins.

Commando

signs

If you've got 10 plus people, stand in a circle and each say what your 'sign' is. That might be as easy as putting your thumb up or jumping in the air, spinning 360 degrees and landing again. They shouldn't make a noise (!) and they should all be different.

Then, get everyone used to the game, by one person doing their sign, followed by someone else's sign. That person then starts with their sign, and does a third person's. The only rule is: you can't pass it back to the person who gave you the sign. When everyone's sign has been produced, ask for a volunteer to leave the room.

Meanwhile, choose a young person to start with the sign. When the person comes back in, the young person starting secretly does their sign, followed by someone else's and the person in the middle tries to catch the sign. 

Play continues until they catch the sign, then that person goes out and you play another round.

the animal game

Stand in a circle. Every young person chooses an animal. With one in the middle, a student has to say their name followed by another animal in the circle.

 

The person in the middle has to tag that person

before they say their animal, followed by another animal. If they tag them before they say someone else's animal, they are in the middle.

Want to make it more epic? Give the person in the middle a pool noodle to make the tag with.

If it's the start of term and people don't really know each other, use this game with people's names as a getting-to-know-you exercise.

scatterball

If your young people are bored with dodgeball (I mean, how can anyone get bored with dodgeball? But just imagine they might be)...

The ball is thrown up in the middle of the room and everyone scatters. After that, if the ball hits you, you sit down. You can no longer win, but you can get other people out if the ball rolls to you and you hit someone else with the ball.

Last one standing wins!

ball in the bucket

Have the group stand in a circle and put a bucket in the middle. While music plays, have them pass two or more (depending on the size of your group) balls round the circle. When the music stops, the person holding it has to get the ball in the bucket. They can throw it, but it must stay in the bucket! If they win, they get a small prize. Keep going. 

Taskmaster

Channel 4's Taskmaster series has got some quirky games to play, even if all you learn is that charades are far more fun if you use giant sponge hands. You can see the sort of games they play on Channel 4's website:

Sian Pearson, Youth Pastor at St. Andrew's, Kendray produced some great task ideas and leaders' notes for Taskmaster which she shares here: 

Taskmaster
Flockey

ball in the bucket

Have the group stand in a circle and put a bucket in the middle. While music plays, have them pass two or more (depending on the size of your group) balls round the circle. When the music stops, the person holding it has to get the ball in the bucket. They can throw it, but it must stay in the bucket! If they win, they get a small prize. Keep going. 

flockey

So you've played hockey, now mix it up with hockey played using flyswats and table tennis ball. Throw in some extra interest by adding an extra ball sometimes. Use a bin for the goal.

As ever, do your risk assessment and then continue dynamically. If they're likely to clash heads, it's time to stop.

Gaga ball

Have you played Gaga Ball yet? It's dodgeball, but more intense.

If not, check out the link below for the rules. You need a ball and some folding tables... or you can spend a load of time with wood and joints, then find a place to store it... I'd just go for the tables. 

ninja

Not sure how I've missed this game for so long, but it's brilliant and not bad as a spectator sport.

Stand in a circle and all adopt a karate pose (no, I didn't really know what a proper one looked like either, but just try). Then go round the circle, trying to hit someone else's hand. You hit - they lose that hand. Two lost hands and they're out.  You miss and you're frozen in place. You can only move when it's your turn or when someone tries to hit you.

Only one Ninja is left standing.

Gaga Bal

splat

Classic game. Everyone stands in a circle, with one person in the middle. That person points two hands with forefinger extended (think 'gun') at a person in the circle and says 'splat'. They duck. The person on both sides turn inwards, and 'splat' each other. First splat wins and the other sits down. 

If the person ducking doesn't get down fast enough and gets splatted, they sit down and the other two remain in.

Local rules apply to choose the winner from the last two. Normally, it's a splat off of some sort. Players start back to back. Choose a word e.g. Zerubbabel. The person from the middle says a word which isn't a mile away from Zerubbabel: Zoroastrian, Xerophyte, Zerynthia (maybe best to use an easier word). At each word, players take a step away from each other. When they've run out of other words to say, or the players have nearly reached the wall, say 'Zerubbabel'. Both spin, and the first splat wins the game.

splattergories

Next level - a mix of Splat and Scattergories.

When the person in the middle points at the player in the circle, instead of saying 'splat', they say a category. The person ducks and the first person on either side to name something in that category stays in and the other sits down.

Categories are only limited by your imagination from pop stars to historical novels, from youth leaders to Chinese dynasties, from composers to Geordie TV presenters i.e. coming from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK. The more bizarre you can make them, the better.

If you want some fairly simple ideas, click the link below.

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nerf war ideas

If in your context, it's OK to shoot Nerf bullets at each other (these are sponge, by the way), and you, sorry, I mean your young people, are a bit bored with just running around shooting each other, you can mix it up with these amazing ideas from ​Dan Bright, Youth Pastor at Greyfriars Church, Reading.

Nerf wars

making nerf work

Always check your Nerf guns before you start (I mean, you really have to) and put in new batteries. It's not a lot of fun if your gun isn't working or jams with every bullet. Oh, and the young people might not enjoy it either...

Haven't got enough Nerf guns? Get people to bring their own, but they can't be super-charged (yes, people do). Or let it be known, that when people are getting rid of them at home, you want them. You'll soon have a loft full.

I have no affiliation with Nerf or Hasbro.

"In terms of setup we have often gone BIG but kept games simple. We will use washing line and rope to drape a bunch of rooms and then use clothes pegs and duct tape to hang fabric from them so it creates a network of coridors like a maze. Smoke machine also definitely comes out! We have rigged up speakers in the past to play music through - either cheese like 007 or really bassy stuff works well.

It’s something I’ve inherited here and have to keep up with the expectations! My predecessor even got the church scaffold tower out one year and set up a leader as sniper! I’ve never quite gone that far!"

Tim Taylor

Youth Pastor

Highfield Church, Southampton

mixing nerf up

You've got a smoke machine? [Don't worry, I haven't either] Then close the doors into a corridor and fill it with smoke (careful with your smoke alarms). Think about your added risks too.

Add a cheap laser machine.

Add in an orange flashing light. 

Everything is an obstacle. Who hasn't got folding tables in church? Your pews can come into their own as cover. 

Enjoy!

"I bought a massive box of bullets and goggles, and then got them to bring their own blasters... I also have a team member who is seriously into Nerf, so he roped in others from church with blasters and passion and they led the session. 

 

We did one inside with obstacles, and another outside with wide games. For outside, we borrowed massive inflatable Nerf obstacles and saved up big cardboard boxes. Everyone got stuck in. It was awesome."

Bea Ellaby

Youth Pastor

Christ Church, Abingdon

Minute-to-win-it games

minute-to-win-it games

I've just come across these party games masters. Loads of them can be used in a youth group setting. Why not try an evening not dissimilar to Taskmaster or The Cube (UK TV programmes)?

 

Get people up from different teams to play each game while the rest cheer them on, or have a minute-to-win-it game going on all night for people to have a go.

human pac-man

You know they'll love it, even if the young people have no idea what Pacman is!

This video gives you an idea of what you could do. Coloured sheets over the ghost's heads will definitely add to it.

Human Pac-Man

Set up ideas

Task ideas

IRL game not dissimilar to among us

Abby Poole, Youth Worker at Guildford Baptist Church and her brilliant team organised a game similar to Among Us. Why not go for it yourself?

Find out more by downloading the instructions below.

I am in no way affiliated to Among Us, nor have they approved this content. If you're not familiar with the online game, check out the Innersloth game here.

Among us IRL
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OFFICE CHAIR indoor hockey

So, you play indoor hockey. You don't? It is a youth group favourite. Companies providing sticks and balls include Unihoc. Mix it up, even if you don't have to be socially-distanced, by playing on office chairs. No office chairs? Just use normal chairs. Place them  in rows two metres apart (a bit like table football (surely, you'll have played human table football before...!)). Mark a cross under each chair and ask the young people not to leave the cross. 

Do a risk assessment, though. Worst case scenario is to allow a young person to play barefoot and have a leader run over their foot with an office chair. I'd suggest keeping the chairs static and wearing shoes.

Office chair hockey

after eight or oreo race

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Absolute classic. I'm sure it must have been played in the time of Moses. Put an After Eight or Oreo (other wafer-thin mints and biscuits are available) on each group member's forehead. Say 'go' and watch them try to manipulate it into their mouth without using their hands. A great facial muscle work out. 

Image by Wikimediaimages from Pixabay

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Noughts and crosses relay

Best played with foam noughts and crosses (three of each). In two teams, one person at a time races to the front and places down one of their pieces (either a nought or a cross) on a board laid out (you can use nine hula hoops, or four crossed sticks). They come back and the next team member races forward. Once they have placed all their pieces, they can start swapping their pieces to an open space. First team to get three of their pieces in a row in any direction wins.

Image by Kristin McGill from Pixabay

Relays and races

DOWNLOAD A WEALTH OF GAME IDEAS

Jenni is Mission Enabler for Scripture Union in the South-East of England. These were compiled for use with children, but nearly all of them work well with youth.

Game ideas
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Don Eskridge's hand games are simple but effective, and if you're still staying socially distanced, most work with that. Fairly obviously, if you have to grab the wrist of the player next to you, this isn't a socially-distanced game!

Hand games

go-to places

Here are some places I tend to go if I need a new idea for a game. Check out The Source for Youth Ministry, fervr.net, Grow Games, Youth Ministry Great Games & Icebreakers and Inspire Devotions. As with all these things, not every idea will be appropriate for your group, but you should find something here you can use.

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Go-to places for games ideas

MORE RESOURCES

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SMALL GROUP IDEAS

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CHERISHING YOUR YOUTH

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OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

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"Raising the Bar is a MUST READ for every youth minister."

Matt Wendal, US Youth Pastor

Get more ideas and support for your youth ministry with my book: "RAISING THE BAR: Nearly Everything You Need to Know about Christian Youth Ministry."

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