There’s a common thrash amongst youth pastors – should you use games to attract more kids to your group? Or do games distract from your message?
Both camps, I think, miss the point somewhat. Games are so much more than a means to an end. Play has powerful benefits it its own right. Young people who know how to play well with others have more options available to them.
Consider these real-life scenarios:
A group of twenty teenagers and their youth leaders are standing in the dark on a street corner in San Francisco waiting for a bus that won’t come for another half hour. Every one of them is bone-tired from working in a food pantry. Some of them didn’t bring enough warm clothing. It is freezing cold.
One of the kids has an idea – let’s play Big Booty. What could have been a 30 minute grumble fest turns into a fun-for-all.
Too old for Trick-or-Treat, a high school girl isn’t thrilled by the idea of staying home and handing out candy to an endless parade of Cinderellas, Transformers and Harry Potters. She gets permission from her parents and then meets her friends at a warehouse owned by the family business where they all play a ginormous game of Sardines in the dark.
A group of college age young men and women get together and hang out. They all want to do something besides beer pong. One of them suggests a game of Team Assassin. Hilarity ensues.
Increasingly I’m seeing young people take the games they’ve learned in youth group and and play them with their friends who don’t attend church. Playing group games may not be evangelism, but it’s a great way for people young or old spend a Saturday night.