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10 things to consider when running games

Today’s post is a guest post by Tim Carigon. Tim was a youth pastor/sr. pastor in Hawai’i for 20 years before moving to China with his family to work on behalf of Chinese youth. He also provided us with his “master list” of youth group games, so stay tuned for some of those in coming weeks!

10 things to consider when running youth group games….

#10 Leave them wanting more
Don’t run games into the ground.  Get it flowing and then just when the energy is peaking, wait a couple minutes and move to the next. 

#9 Have a games closet
If you are serious about gaming keep a closet full of implements, resources and stuff. In that closet keep the resources you used most often in games. Any time you play a game that calls for something new, add it to the closet. My must-have list includes duck tape, hula hoops, balls of all sizes, costumes, big markers, poster board, cardboard, playing cards, clothes pins, bullhorn, portable sound, game music, big dice and a whole lot more.

#8 Everything is spiritual
Games are tools to break down walls and bring kids to the center of the community.  They prepare teens to hear, listen and accept.  They are spiritual if you see them as part of the whole experience, and the broader strategy for impacting teens’ lives. Only use games to the degree to which they accomplish your goals.

#7 Safety First
Or at least 2nd!  ;o)  The best games are the ones that are on the edge, but not over it.  The games kids remember are the ones with a little perceived danger. Push the envelope, but be willing shut down games that head over the edge.

#6 Adopt & Adapt
I like to use the word adopt instead of steal, it just sounds more spiritual.  The best way to learn games is to see them – not just read about them.  Adopting someone’s games is really stealing and in youth ministry stealing is permitted. Adapting is what you do to all good games to make them better.  Many outdoor games are adaptations of the good ol’ “Capture the Flag”.  Adapting allows you to adjust games to fit your needs, create variety and make an old game better.  Adaptation usually involves changing one or more of the following: Time, implements, space, rules, object, or players.

#5 Transitions & Connections
The key to a good game session is your transitions and connections.  When planning your games try to lump them together by kinds.  Example: If you do one circle game, do many circle games linked together.  This saves transition time, and allows you to link games together much easier.  Transitions should be filled with music and direction.  Transitions allow for momentum.  The key to transitions is to have all needed implements pre-selected and right next to you.  It also helps to have an assistant that can be prepping the next game.

#4 Keep the plates spinning, but know when to bail
Once you get things rolling keep building momentum.  Momentum is what you are after; that is why you do not wait for a game to tail off. By switching games just when you have built momentum you take that momentum into the next game.  If a game is not adding to the momentum know when to bail and move on.

#3 The more points the better
When it comes down to it the score does not matter, but it sure makes it more fun.  It is not a track and field meet, so don’t score it 5,3,2,1.  The same game is more fun if the winner gets 10,000 points.  And if you are not sure of the score, just make it up!  The more points you give out the harder it is for them to know if the score is right.  ;o)

#2 Find your funny bone
The game master needs to be an emcee/cheerleader/heckler/score keeper/referee/coach and most of all comedian.   The emcee needs to be actively engaging the kids as they play.  When everyone is laughing the game is not taken too seriously and everyone can laugh at themselves.

#1 Variety is the spice of life
All games are not created equally.  Games can be mixers, team builders, upfront games, crowd games, big field games, stunts/gags, messy/gross games, sports and relays.  Use them all for different effect.

Good gaming,

Tim Carigon
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