Should Your Youth Ministry Play Games Anymore?

I recently received this great question from a fellow youth pastor:

“I was wondering what your position is on playing games during youth? I am not a huge advocate of playing games during or before youth group starts. However we have had a steady decline in the number of High School Youth that are attending our HS youth night. When I asked some of the students that are still coming why, the others had stopped coming they mentioned that they wanted to play more games. When I first arrived here back in March there was a large emphasis on games and the High School kids got used to that. With that said the High Students lack depth and they are the only group asking for more games. I believe that my purpose here is to develop depth within the youth group through the presentation of the Gospel each and every week and that a larger emphasis on a message and worship should and will be my primary objective. I fear that our HS group simply wants to come to be entertained and I am not interested in that. I do realize that youth should be fun and I’m not completely opposed to playing a game every now and then but I was wondering what your stance was on games with in your ministry and how you utilize them if you utilize them at all. ”

I love that honesty and his focus on the gospel. He is so right when it comes to the purpose, focus, and reason for gathering teens together for a worship service. Here’s my response to him:

“That’s a great question. Here are a few of my thoughts. I understand you wanting to shy away from games because of your heart for the Word and because of the past of your student ministry being focused on games. I’m in a little different situation. My high school ministry doesn’t necessarily like the games but my middle school ministry does. Sometimes we play games in our youth worship services and sometimes we don’t. It really just depends on the night, the schedule, and the service. As youth pastors, we really are more like missionaries to a post-Christian culture of teenagers. The cultural cry of our teens is definitely “entertain me!” I think games can be a great way to break the ice, get them comfortable, show them that Jesus is also after their joy, that the church is a great place to be, to get them interacting together, and to start the night out out ‘in their world’. Just like a great sermon-opening introduction to start the message out in their world, I think an opening game can serve the same purpose for the worship service itself. You and I are ready to worship as the service starts, but they are not. They are coming in from a harsh world, unloving homes, a mean school, a culture designed to entertain them at every turn, etc. So we need to show them that God’s kingdom isn’t only preaching and singing…its also filled with fellowship and fun. But that doesn’t mean games instead of preaching. I know many youth pastors who do games for the majority of their worship night and only a devotional for a few minutes. They are ministering in their own context so I’m not judging. I like to do 5 – 10 minutes of games max, and around 50 minutes of preaching/teaching, which leaves about 30 minutes for worship in our 90 minute worship service. You can check out the ‘service flow’ or ‘service order’ in each one of our sermon blog posts on for more gaming ideas and scheduling for you.”

You can also check out a few of CBSM’s favorite games to play at:

What are your thoughts on games in youth ministry?

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