Capture the Flag with Grenades

From The Game Gal comes this fun variation of Capture the Flag – using “flour bombs”.

You can play this a number of ways – one flag, two flags, let defenders have bombs or both sides have bombs. The great thing about flour bombs is that they are soft, don’t hurt, are far less messy than you’d think and yet have a dramatic impact when they hit.

Full instructions at The Game Gal.

Can Fun Change the World?

As Christians we like to think that everything boils down to one answer – only Jesus can change the world. While that is unquestionably true, the reality is a little more nuanced. For instance, the apostle Paul tells us “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

If we want Jesus to change the world, we first have to be willing to let him change us. That could mean reconsidering the way we do all kinds of things, including the way that we play with our kids. For instance, we used to play a dodgeball variant called “slaughter.” I don’t want to be a prude about this, but I think we should at least question the way we name games, the types of activities we promote in those games (I’m looking at you, First Person Shooter), the outcomes of our games (winners vs losers).

To paraphrase Paul, all games are permissible to Christians, but not all games will build up the body.

With that in mind, here is a list of 15 games to change the world, just to get an idea of how we might start re-thinking what it means to have fun.



Games to Play In the Dark

Now that the days are getting shorter and it’s not too cold out (at least in some parts of the country), it’s a great time to consider outside and in the dark games.

This one comes from Game Gal – Hit the Dirt is a variant of hide-and-seek where the person who’s “it” stays put and the rest of the group does all the running… while “it” has her eyes closed and counts out loud. Follow the link for the complete set of rules, it can see a lot of fun (and grass burns) from diving to the ground when “it” finishes counting.

Spot It! Fast, Furious Card Game Makes a Great Icebreaker

Here’s a fun card game that will stretch your brain. Spot It! is a deck of round playing cards covered with colorful pictures. Every card in the deck has at least one matching picture with every other card in the deck. Your challenge is to spot a picture that matches your card before anyone else. Sound easy? After one or two hands your brain is guaranteed to lock up.

The game is fast-paced and instantly gets wild. While you can’t play Spot It! very long before mental exhaustion sets in, it’s a great game to have on hand to get people to loosen up and get a little zany.



What do you get when you combine the raw energy of football with the calm restraint of ultimate frisbee and the precision of basketball? The answer is…a ton of fun that can have even your usual sideliners pulling off some amazing athletic feats.

All you need is large grassy playing area, two basketball hoops (or a reasonable equivalent) and a football.

Time: 30 minutes to an hour
Number of Players: ten or more


Get the football into the basket. Score a point.


Game play takes place on a large rectangular field and starts with a coin toss. Winners of the toss can elect to “kick” or receive. The kickers can either kick or throw the ball down field.

1. The ball is moved down the field by means of forward or lateral pass.

2. When a player catches a pass she must stop in place. She can move the ball by passing to another player on her team.

3. As long as the offense remains in possession of the ball, they can continue making plays.

4. If a pass is incomplete or intercepted, possesion reverts to the other team.

5. Defense cannot double-team the person who is in possession of the ball. Defenders must stand back at least one arm’s length from the person with the ball.

6. A point is scored when the ball goes into the “basket.” Offense may assist the ball if the first throw does not score.

7. The team scoring then “kicks off” for the next round.

Set Up

Mark off the sideline and endzone boundaries with chalk, cones or similar. The field can be any large rectangular field, up to the size of a football field.

Endzones are basketball hoops if you can manage. Portable hoops are ideal. Set them at a height that provides a challenge but isn’t too tough for nonathletes.

If you don’t have basketball hoops you can use five gallon buckets or hula hoops for goals. You can also mark a section of a pole or tree with duct tape – if the ball makes contact between the tape marks, a point is scored.

If you want to incorporate the game with your lesson you might try the following:

Life Application

In Foosketball your team has the opportunity to score points as long as you remain in possession of the ball.

What do you need to possess in life in order to get ahead? What happens in life when there’s a “turnover” or you lose possession? How likely is that to happen?

Bible Application Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30

The rich young ruler approached Jesus wanting to know what he needed to “get ahead” in a spiritual sense.

What was Jesus’ answer?

According to Jesus, what does it mean to “take possession of the ball?”

[Photo by Phil Houtz]

Relay Races: Better Bucket Brigades

bucket brigade

A bucket brigade, or human chain, is an effective way to move items over long distances quickly with each person spending only a small amount of effort. If you haven’t played Bucket Brigade Relay, it’s a lot of fun…and with a few adjustments the game can get really wild.

Time: 15 to 30 minutes
Number of Players: ten or more


Be the first team to transport water from a large bucket at one end of the field to a large bucket at the other end of the field.


Divide the group into equal teams with at least five players in each team. The more players in a team the better – that way your “brigades” can span a long distance.

1. Have players line up in a straight line between the full bucket at one end of the field and the empty bucket at the other end. In the standard variation players are spaced equal distance between the buckets, a little less than an arm’s reach apart.

2. Give each player a paper cup. The player closest to the full bucket is the “scooper” and the player at the end of the line is the “dumper.”

2. At the signal the “scooper” scoops a cup full of water from the bucket and pours it into the cup of the player in front of her. That player turns and pours the water into the next player’s cup before turning and getting a fresh cup of water from the scooper.

3. Players continue scooping and passing water until the full bucket is empty.

4. Victory is determined by which team has the most water in their bucket at the end of the relay. In case of a tie, the win goes to the team that finished ahead of the other.

Set Up

You need a large open space and at least four large buckets, with enough paper cups so that each player has his own cup.


Before the event make sure kids know water play is on the agenda, dress appropriately and bring towels.

Before kids arrive, arrange the buckets on the field, fill up the starting buckets with equal amounts of water.


Try playing one relay “straight” and then change it up for more fun. Some variations are:

One Cup Fits All. Instead of giving each player a cup, use only a few cups per team.

Over-and-Under. Again, each team has just a few cups to work with. But they have to pass the cups over-and-under: players line up with their backs to the goal bucket, the first player passes the cup up over her head, the next player takes the cup and passes the cup low between his legs.

Spread the Wealth. Instead of having players groups close together, have them spread out so that they cannot pass the water directly. Teams will have to decide wether they should run to each other or try tossing the water. Let the kids come up with creative solutions, but have one rule – each player must handle each cup of water at least once as it travels down the line (players can handle a cup of water more than once if they like.)

The Hole Truth. Here each contestant has her own cup – but the cup has a small hole in the bottom. This will keep the pace lively as players try to lose the least amount of water for the win.

Life Application

It’s said that “many hands make light work.” (John Heywood) Which is easier, passing the water from person to person, or having each person run back and forth? Which way can you transport the most water?

What are some instances where you have seen this principle in action? What are some times when it is a good idea to “band together” to get a job done.

Bible Application Proverbs 17:17, Luke 10:25-37

Before there were fire trucks, a bucket brigade was the only way to put out a house fire. You really hoped that if your house caught fire, that you had a lot of friends to help you put it out. The Bible says that a good friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity. What is the difference between having someone you consider a good friend and having someone you consider to be a brother? What kinds of adversity – or hard times – can a “brother” help you get past?

Playing with Fire: Match Rockets

Yes, as Steve Hoefer says in this video below, this activity will literally have you playing with fire. But with the right group and good supervision this can be a fun and educational activity. Or not. An activity like this is best with a small group that has built some trust and accountability.

To make this activity into a game, have players compete for distance and accuracy.

Necessary disclaimer: this activity should be conducted with adequate adult supervision in an open area away from combustible materials with adequate eye protection. Never fire a rocket toward another person or animal. Discuss this activity with parents ahead of time.

Time: 20 to 45 minutes
Number of Players: one to five per adult supervisor


Follow the instructions above for making matchstick rockets. Have each contestant make his or her own matchstick rocket.

1. Play for distance. For a smaller group have players use the same “launchpad.” For a larger group have contestants line up about four feet apart along a marked line. Make it clear that contestants do not move past the firing line until you give the signal.

2. Play for accuracy. Put a metal can a reasonable distance, about ten to fifteen feet from the launchpad. Have players take aim and fire. Award prizes to the closest contestants. Make sure nobody goes past the firing line until you give the all-clear.

Set Up

An open outdoor area such as a grass field or parking lot with no combustible materials for about 40 feet in all directions from the launchpad.


  • Book matches
  • Straight pins
  • Large paperclips
  • Aluminum foil
  • Metal can
  • Safety glasses for all within 20 ft. of launchpad


Make this dangerous activity into a “teachable moment” by asking, is this activity safe or dangerous? Was it fun? Did you learn anything? What could have gone wrong? If you try this at home and set something on fire, who would be responsible? (the child would be, but also the child’s parents).

At this point you could transition to a quick study of Philemon. Philemon was a runaway slave who stole from his master and then appealed to Paul in Rome. Paul sent Philemon back to his master to ask for forgiveness. Any damages that Philemon caused where to be charged to Paul’s account. Here you can talk about how Jesus paid the penalty for our sins but we are still responsible for our actions.

Happy rocketeering!

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Ten Reasons Small Groups Are Great for Kids

Back in July Doug Fields blogged ten rewards that teens get from associating with small group leaders. Interestingly a lot of these benefits are directly related to having a relationship with a caring adult.

Here are ten of my own ideas. Some, of course, will overlap with Doug’s –

1. Relationship with a caring adult
2. Solidarity with other Christian youth
3. Learning how to do a personal Bible study
4. A place to talk about random things
5. A place to brag and get recognition
6. Establishing a foundation for future small group involvement
7. A place to discuss social and cultural norms
8. A place to be challenged
9. A place to receive forgiveness
10. Learning to hang out and socialize in a healthy way