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  • Eric Gallagher

    Should We Be Training or Forming Our Leaders?

    By Eric Gallagher

    For the past 10-15 years, I’ve been watching the evolution of youth ministry. During that time, people have been searching for the right resource that is going to respond to the needs of young people. Today, we have top notch resources that can be used in just about any setting, for any sized group of people, with the best speakers in the world, and some of the best production available. Still…there seems to be a desire or an understanding that we can do even better. Over the past five years, there has been a huge emphasis on training. People will often say that you can have the best resource in the world, but without a well-trained catechist, the resource will mean nothing. This is true…or is it? Perhaps, but I think we need to be clear about the difference between training and formation. Feel free to look up the definitions for training and formation for yourself, but in short, training is the action of teaching someone a skill or behavior and formation is to make or fashion into a certain shape or form. Or, another way to put it is that training is teaching someone to do something, and formation is helping someone to become someone. Now to start, I have to say that in many respects, training and formation are very connected. An example that comes to mind is when I asked my priest if I could start a prayer group in high school. I was amazed at his immediate yes. He didn’t ask many questions about what I was going to do or how, but he saw it as an opportunity to lead and form me. He knew that as I followed the Lord’s promptings in my life, those experiences would bear fruit, and they did in so many ways. The “program” itself maybe didn’t look so great at times, but I have to admit that I wouldn’t be where I am today without that formation: the formation that came from his support, his mentorship, and his trust in what the Lord was doing in me. To the extent that I have been able, this is how I have run youth programs for years. In fact, this is what it means to be “discipleship focused.” We must recognize that in order for a program to be run well, our focus must be on the conduits through which that program is run. While it may be important or even necessary to train someone to do a task, we must understand that it will be through their experiences (human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral) that they will be formed. Having made that distinction, I want to share just a few tips with you on how you can accomplish this type of formation in your efforts: Focus on a leader’s experience rather than their results When you meet with your leaders, either individually or as a group, focus your conversation around their experience. Instead of asking, “What do you think went well?” ask, “Where did you see God working?” Instead of asking, “Where could we improve?” ask, “What was most difficult for you?” This alone will take attention off of the program and put the emphasis on the leader. Their answers will also give you insight into which leaders are attentive to what’s happening in them and which may be too focused on the “program.” Be patient with the lacking in order for growth to occur Taking your eyes off the program will seem like an adult taking their eyes off their two year-old for ten seconds…a lot can happen in that time. Again, we have to ask the question: do we care more about the program than the people? Having patience with an adult desiring to grow in their role will pay huge dividends. Keep the work simple and easy to understand Strive to keep roles simple and easy to understand. This does not mean you should simply dumb things down. Asking someone to “assist in leading a young person to Christian maturity” is a straightforward and clear directive, but it will require a depth of understanding and attentiveness to do it well. The point here is that at any time, you could sit down with that person and ask if they believe that they are doing what they’ve been asked to do. As growth occurs, encourage deeper thought and leadership Continuing from the last point, pay attention to whether your adults understand their task well, and, if so, be ready to invite them into the deeper vision and mission of discipleship. If someone has been leading a small group for some time and desires to take things even deeper, be ready to journey with them in that. Focus on the person as opposed to the program As an adult begins to grab hold of the deeper vision, remain focused on them. It may mean that as they grow in wisdom, discernment, and insight into their gifts and charisms, they will move on and participate in other areas of parish ministry. If you remain focused only on the program, your volunteers will continue to be limited in where and how they are capable of helping out and the degree to which they will be formed. Be willing to sacrifice your best leaders. Remember, your goal is formation, NOT the program. Formation will never end, and if someone leaves your program because they’ve been formed well and feel called to assist in another, you have done your job! To be clear, I understand that these suggestions apply more directly to people who are in roles that are more formative in nature (leading small groups or bible studies, mentoring an individual, teaching, etc. ) and less important for the more menial tasks (bringing cookies, simply being a chaperone, etc.). My hope is not that you set out to create the perfect formation program, nor do I mean to imply that we should focus all of our efforts on formation to the exclusion of anything else. But I do hope that we begin to accept God’s invitation to us and to all of those in our parish to participate in his work, and through that, to receive more of Him. Our role as leaders is simply to allow that to happen and cultivate a culture where we are all becoming more aware of it. And when we do, our work in ministry will be less about what we are doing and more about who we are becoming. We will be changed!
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  • Eric Gallagher

    Ninja Game

    By Eric Gallagher

    You may have seen this game before and not really understood what was going on.  The game is called Ninja.  It is an extremely easy game to figure out and explain but can take a lifetime to master.  Youth Ministers like it simply because they will play and analyze it more than anyone else, ensuring that they could beat any youngster up for the challenge. Here are the instructions: Size of Group:  You can play two people but I would recommend starting with at least four.  If you have more than 20 people, it may be good to split them in to small groups of ten. Goal of the game:  To hit/touch someone else’s hand with your hand.  This eliminates them from the game. Directions:  Have everyone stand in a circle, take a bow (like on the Karate Kid), and strike a pose like a Ninja.  One person will move at a time and you will go in clock-wise motion.  Basically the person whose turn it is will try to touch/hit the hand of another person with their hand with ONE motion.  The person they are trying to attack can make ONE motion to move out of the way.  Both people stay where the end of their motion ends and are frozen until it is either their turn again or they are attacked. How to Win:  You play until one person is left in the game and they are declared the winner. Things to Know: You always go after the person who started to your right at the beginning of the game.  The circle will eventually collapse and people may get out of order.  Always remember who you go after. If someone goes out of turn, have them return to where they were. Can set a rule that your hands must visible (recommended) A role, jump, or spin is considered one motion. Once your youth start to understand the strategy to this game it can become extremely competitive.  It is a great game that most enjoy (especially the volunteers!)
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  • Eric Gallagher

    Blind Dodgeball

    By Eric Gallagher

    In leading 100’s of games over about 16 years this has been one of the favorites. Materials Needed blindfolds a marked off area (either a square in a gym or made with cones) dodge balls (softer is better) Setup Set up the boundaries.  Have each person find a partner.  One of them will be blindfolded and the other will not.  Place a good number balls scattered around within the boundary.  The blindfolded person will be in the boundary area and their teammate will be on the outside.   To start, no one should be holding any balls and it works well to move the person around a bit so they don’t know exactly where they are at or which way they are facing when the game starts. Game Play When the leader says “GO” the teammates on the outside of the play area will guide their teammates to grab a ball and throw it at the other within in the play area.  When a person gets hit by a ball or goes outside of the boundary, they are out.  Play until only one person is remaining. I found many versions of this on YouTube.  I’ve included a video I found of the version we played below.  
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  • Jonah Soucy

    Live Mafia

    By Jonah Soucy

    A twist on the classic Mafia! Make sure you check that one out first so you have at least a small understanding of the rules.  How the game works: Pick a few teens to be "mafia" members. This is done secretly, either having everyone close there eyes and hold out their hands, or by giving out cards and having the face cards be the mafia. Usually I do about 1 mafia for every 5 regulars. The game is played in rounds until all mafia members are eliminated or the mafia win.  Each round goes as follows: All lights in the area are turned off (youth minister and adult core team can have flashlights and walk around) and the youth are free to walk around the area. It needs to be as dark as possible for it to work well. Mafia members can eliminate townspeople at any time by walking up and lightly touching someone's neck. THERE IS NO RUNNING ALLOWED. Townspeople can't run away from the mafia or purposely try to give away who the mafia is. Once eliminated, townspeople have to lie down and "play dead".  When a townsperson finds a "dead" townsperson, they yell "PINEAPPLE" (because we don't want people to be screaming "Dead Body"). When PINEAPPLE is yelled, the round ends immediately and the lights are thrown on.  After the round ends, the townspeople gather for a town meeting. Everyone who has been eliminated gathers nearby, but they cannot speak AT ALL. The townspeople (with the mafia still pretending to be townspeople, then get a chance to try and vote off people who they believe to be mafia members. This is a game of deception and stealth. Mafia members are trying not to be spotted when they eliminate people, and they can even be the ones to find a "dead body" and yell pineapple. Townspeople try to hide, not get killed, and reason out who they think the mafia are.  Suggestions: This game works best in areas where you have multiple rooms (No closed doors for liability/protecting God's Children Reasons). Make sure there are core members around looking out for people. Also, if PINEAPPLE isn't called, it's best to set time limits. I've heard of people playing with a doctor and sheriff like the original mafia but I've never done it and am not quite sure how it work. Let me know if you have any questions!  
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  • Eric Gallagher

    Egg Russian Roulette Game

    By Eric Gallagher

    This game was a huge success at our summer camps.  To start you will need one dozen eggs for every two teams.  Seven of the eggs in each dozen should be boiled and five should not.  Mix them up in the carton so you can't tell which ones are which.   We had the teams (small groups) send a representative up to challenge a representative from another team.  They each selected one egg and (on a count of three) smashed it on their head.  The first team to get three of the raw eggs lost.   Here is a video of Jimmy Fallon doing this with Ryan Reynolds:   Please share other ideas and stories of your experience of this game below! Photo by Kate Remmer on Unsplash
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My Top 8 Youth Ministry Purchases from Amazon

I’ve been an Amazon customer since 2002 when pretty much the only thing that people used it for was to avoid going to the University bookstore and paying full price for college textbooks.  Now Amazon seems to be the first place I look whenever I have need for anything! To start off this new Catholic Youth Ministry Blog I’ve decided that for my first post I would go through the last 16 years of my Amazon orders and share with you the top 8 things I’ve purchased for youth ministry.  Also, please note that if I were to give a true top 8, it would likely include 5-6 books. I’ve decided that I’ll stick to games, resources, supplies, etc. and I’ll devote another post to my favorite books.  So here we go: Please note: these are affiliate links that allow us to receive a portion of any sales made when you purchase these items by clicking through on our site.  This "kickback" goes to support the work of the Catholic Youth Ministry Hub. Games Supplies Poof Soccer Balls We tried out three or four types of balls to use for dodge ball in our gym.  These were by far the best ones we could find. They are soft enough, they last a long time, and more importantly it feels great when you zing that youth with one of them! See it here. Spike Ball An excellent game to have sitting around in a youth room, at camp, etc.  It’s a very common game that most know how to play and it can serve as an excellent ice breaker.  It’s also extremely affordable and is great quality! See it here. Kan Jam This was another well known game that I discovered later on than most.  Similar to Spike Ball (above) this is affordable, it’ll last forever, and most people can just pick it up and play it.   See it here. Board/Party Games Pharisees - The Party Game This is the "Christian" version of the popular youth ministry game "Mafia".   I often tell people it's the perfected version of the game. See it here. Curses Game This is an older game but it’s one of those go-to games that is great for small groups.  In larger groups it’s entertaining enough that observers have no problem just watching! See it here. Exploding Kittens Game I have officially ordered 25 of these from Amazon.  It is an awesome game that can be played in 3-5 minutes and rarely gets old.  It’s another one of those games that observers enjoy watching. It can be expanded to take more players as well. See it here. Other Sleeping Cot I got tired of air mattresses and these have been an excellent replacement for when we need additional beds at camp or on retreat.  They are durable, long lasting, and fairly inexpensive. They aren’t the most comfortable to sleep on but those who have them are usually grateful to have anything! See it here. Pope Francis Bobble Head Definitely the coolest affordable prize that I have bought so far! See it here.     I hope you've enjoyed this list!  If you have other items you'd like to mention, please comment below!

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Egg Russian Roulette Game

This game was a huge success at our summer camps.  To start you will need one dozen eggs for every two teams.  Seven of the eggs in each dozen should be boiled and five should not.  Mix them up in the carton so you can't tell which ones are which.   We had the teams (small groups) send a representative up to challenge a representative from another team.  They each selected one egg and (on a count of three) smashed it on their head.  The first team to get three of the raw eggs lost.   Here is a video of Jimmy Fallon doing this with Ryan Reynolds:   Please share other ideas and stories of your experience of this game below! Photo by Kate Remmer on Unsplash

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

The Jail Fundraiser

The Jail Fundraiser is one of those fundraisers that does far more than raising money.  It's a ton a fun, draws in the entire parish community, and it doesn't ever really get old.  To start, this fundraiser only really works if it's part of a larger parish event like a parish bazaar.   Brief Explanation Set up a space designated as "the jail" where people will be able to sit when they are arrested.  It should be able to hold roughly 10-12 people comfortably.  People will pay you to have someone else arrested for a set amount of time.  You will issue the warrant and the arrested individual will have three options; 1) serve their time, 2) pay to not be arrested, or 3) counter-arrest (post bail and have the person who arrested them be arrested instead).   It's really that simple!  Here's our list of tips: Borrow a large kennel or something to make the jail even more real Purchase or borrow police outfits, handcuffs, etc. to make the experience even more real. Ensure there are little information signs all over that explain the process Put a limit on how many times an individual can be arrested. Offer something fun to do in the jail (reading, facts about prisons, etc.) To keep track of finances well, have an adult manage the jail and the log, require warrants for arrest, etc.  Documentation Needed Arrest Warrant - should include the name of the person arrested, who arrested them, cost, and the three options for the arrested person. Jail Log - keeps track of finances, arrests, etc.    I'll be putting together a package of resources very soon to make available in the Marketplace.  Stay posted!      

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

My New Blog "Other Duties As Assigned"

I've literally been asked dozens of times how I'm able to work in ministry and support my growing family while my wife is also able to stay at home to take care of the house and little ones that are not yet in school.  The quick answer is always...we make it work.  With the launch of the new Catholic Youth Ministry Hub and the freedom to blog "as I wish" I'm planning to use this space to share ways that my wife and I have been able to make things work.   The title "Other Duties as Assigned" gives insights into how we've really been able to make things work.   With my first youth ministry job, I was responsible for the parish website.  Using what I learned in that process, I actually started my own web management business.  At one time I had about a dozen clients (parishes and local businesses) that paid me a monthly fee to maintain their website for them.   Now that I spend most of my time in my work at the Diocesan level, I get the privilege of consulting and working hand in hand with parishes.  I've always desired to share with I have learned.  This led me to starting the Catholic Youth Ministry Hub (long ago) as well as several other websites focused on youth ministry, discipleship, etc.   To say it bluntly, while I'm incredibly grateful for the salary and benefits I receive in my Diocesan work and I believe they are paying me what is right and just, it would be extremely difficult for my wife and I to live on that income alone.  We have four children, three of which are attending our parish catholic school, and we made a commitment early in our marriage to get out of debt and to never return.  About two years ago, with the supplemental income we were bringing in through little side projects, saving through rewards programs, etc, we are now debt free and working on our next financial goals (primarily a 10 year anniversary vacation and small (overdue) home improvement projects).   Anyway, I'm hopeful that this new blog will give me a space to share with you many things that I have learned and  have allowed me to stay in ministry and continue doing what I love! Be sure to click the follow button above to receive emails and updates when I post to the blog!

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

 

BIBLE TABOO

We actually purchased a bible version of "TABOO" Our teens LOVE it. You could easily do it yourself without buying the game though. All you need is a timer, a buzzer & some Bible/Catholic trivia questions. We have also discovered, this game is great at giving you insight to their personalities. You see who is competitive, who leads naturally as well as who is reserved.  

Calvin Hammond

Calvin Hammond

Live Mafia

A twist on the classic Mafia! Make sure you check that one out first so you have at least a small understanding of the rules.  How the game works: Pick a few teens to be "mafia" members. This is done secretly, either having everyone close there eyes and hold out their hands, or by giving out cards and having the face cards be the mafia. Usually I do about 1 mafia for every 5 regulars. The game is played in rounds until all mafia members are eliminated or the mafia win.  Each round goes as follows: All lights in the area are turned off (youth minister and adult core team can have flashlights and walk around) and the youth are free to walk around the area. It needs to be as dark as possible for it to work well. Mafia members can eliminate townspeople at any time by walking up and lightly touching someone's neck. THERE IS NO RUNNING ALLOWED. Townspeople can't run away from the mafia or purposely try to give away who the mafia is. Once eliminated, townspeople have to lie down and "play dead".  When a townsperson finds a "dead" townsperson, they yell "PINEAPPLE" (because we don't want people to be screaming "Dead Body"). When PINEAPPLE is yelled, the round ends immediately and the lights are thrown on.  After the round ends, the townspeople gather for a town meeting. Everyone who has been eliminated gathers nearby, but they cannot speak AT ALL. The townspeople (with the mafia still pretending to be townspeople, then get a chance to try and vote off people who they believe to be mafia members. This is a game of deception and stealth. Mafia members are trying not to be spotted when they eliminate people, and they can even be the ones to find a "dead body" and yell pineapple. Townspeople try to hide, not get killed, and reason out who they think the mafia are.  Suggestions: This game works best in areas where you have multiple rooms (No closed doors for liability/protecting God's Children Reasons). Make sure there are core members around looking out for people. Also, if PINEAPPLE isn't called, it's best to set time limits. I've heard of people playing with a doctor and sheriff like the original mafia but I've never done it and am not quite sure how it work. Let me know if you have any questions!  

Jonah Soucy

Jonah Soucy

Cheeto Face

This is a fun one. You'll need a couple cans of shaving cream and a couple small bags of Cheetos. Make sure you have a couple youth who don't mind getting messy!  The rules are simple. First, split the youth into teams (can be groups, doubles, however you want to do it). Next, have one person from each team volunteer to be the "Cheeto face". This person will cover their face completely with shaving cream, but leave space over their eyes so they can still see. When you say go, the other members on the team will throw Cheetos at them while they move their head and try and catch them on the shaving cream. It's totally goofy, but a lot of fun. It will also require a bit of clean up if you do it inside, so keep that in mind while planning!  Additional rules can be added as you go, such as only being allowed to throw one at a time, having to stand on one leg, having to take steps back, etc. Have fun!

Jonah Soucy

Jonah Soucy

 

Lights out Marco Polo

A game that we had great success with, was a dry version of marco polo, but it needs to be played at night. You can create an arena using tables turned on their side (this also helps with safety). Then you pick who starts as "it" turn off the lights & play like you were in the pool. When someone is tagged, they , as well as the one searching, say out loud "FREEZE". At this point you turn on the lights. No one is allowed to move again until the lights go back out. Its easy, free & the Teens loved it.

The Difference Between Discipleship and Discipleship

The other day, I was having a conversation with a parish youth leader about discipleship, and I started mentioning some of the basic fundamentals of discipleship (i.e. meeting youth where they are, in small groups, in an atmosphere that helps them grow deeper). Before too long, they responded with “that sounds a lot like what Father is doing.” I hear this kind of response often, but usually after we begin to dig in to what I mean when I say “discipleship,” we find that what “Father is doing” is not exactly what I mean when I speak about discipleship. Typically this means he has picked a curriculum or program that he feels will be the most engaging to the youth involved. It also usually means he is picking topics and discussing them in a way that is more interesting than how other teachers have done it in the past. This pastor may very well be helping these young people grow as disciples of Jesus Christ, but the way he is doing it, it is not what I would call “discipleship.” So what is the difference between “discipleship” and “discipleship?” One way of speaking about discipleship is discipleship of Jesus Christ. This is done through practicing the disciplines of a disciple (daily prayer, devotion to the Sacraments, reading of Scripture, loving your neighbor, etc). Following Jesus with this commitment and accountability is a discipleship relationship. I propose through Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry that the way we can most effectively lead others in becoming disciples of Jesus Christ is through discipleship itself. Discipleship is way of teaching. Jesus’ disciples followed Him because he knew the Father and was teaching them His ways. The closer and more committed the disciples were to Jesus, the closer they were to the Father. In a similar way, we seek to create this sort of relationship through discipleship groups. When a youth commits to a healthy and properly ordered discipleship group, they commit to doing what it takes to deepen their love for Christ and the teachings of the Church and they are communicating their desire to be held accountable in that way as well. The leader facilitates this by establishing the Four Earmarks of Discipleship in their group as well as modeling and sharing their own faith. It is time to look for this deeper commitment in our parishes, especially from those youth that are desiring it. Discipleship is willing to push them out of their comfort zone and challenge their commitment to the difficult teachings and demands necessary to go even deeper (see John 6:60). When we begin doing that, we can start calling what we do discipleship.

Are Paul, Barnabas and Timothy ALL in Your Small Group?

I often get asked why I believe small group discipleship is the ideal way to cultivate discipleship in a parish. It is important to remember that we must be less concerned about the “how” we do discipleship and more concerned about what is needed in order for discipleship to be happening with the youth that we are working with. In Scripture we can find a few examples of how the disciples grew as disciples and were influenced and supported in their efforts in going to make more disciples. I really appreciate the small group approach to discipleship, especially with youth, because it can provide a good taste of many of the ways we encounter. The relationship between Paul and Timothy is a great example of discipleship because the Bible makes it pretty clear that Timothy is a disciple of Paul. This relationship is very much like a mentoring relationship where Paul is clearly teaching Timothy and leading him. He is able to do this because he has the wisdom and the experience to pass on to him. Another person who comes into the picture is Barnabas. Barnabas is depicted more as a companion to Paul. As they tackle areas like Cyprus (Acts 13), it is clear they are working together to accomplish the work of discipleship. Looking at these three different people, we see how it would be important for each person to have a Paul (someone pouring into us), a Barnabas (companions/peers encouraging us along the way) and a Timothy (someone we are pouring into). I am confident that every youth can have these three types of relationships through a single small group. Paul The adults act as mentors and provide a wisdom and experience that no other youth can. The teens’ own peers in the group are also likely stronger in some areas and can provide insight and understanding to help guide each of the other teens as the need arises. Barnabas The accountability and support that comes from one’s own peers and friends is especially important to grow as a disciple of Christ. Timothy Just as others may be stronger in some areas, each member likely possesses strengths that can feed the group in a powerful way. The group can also act as a support system or a springboard, generating ideas on how members can be investing in others outside of the group (especially younger siblings).
Be sure to spend some time looking at your small groups and evaluate if there is a Paul- Timothy-Barnabas feel for the youth involved. Lastly, how about you as an adult? Who is your Paul? Who is your Barnabas? Who is your Timothy?

Who is Supposed to Disciple Me?

When I first started diving in to discipleship, I remember a conversation I had with a priest friend of mine. We were discussing how everyone should be “discipled” and what that looks like. The question that the priest asked me, though, was “who is supposed to disciple me (the priest)?” One thing I have found to be very common in places where discipleship is active is that people feel this “need” to be discipled by another person. I thought it would be good to start my new blog by giving a few points that help answer the concerns of this priest. Weekly Discipleship is Not the Only Way We can be a disciple of Jesus Christ without the weekly challenges or meetings with a peer. I would consider myself a disciple of Jesus Christ and I don’t meet regularly with anyone for the sake of discipleship. I do have a spiritual director, but his primary goal is to direct my spiritual life. I also strive to find good men in my life who are older and wiser and are able to hold me accountable to being a good father and husband. The love I have for my wife challenges me each day. To be blunt, I probably don’t have time for a weekly adult discipleship group. Discipleship With a Person is Different Than Discipleship in Jesus Christ Discipleship is discipleship whether it’s with another person or with Jesus Christ (see the Four Earmarks). Discipleship in Jesus Christ consists of active engagement in relationship with Him through the Sacraments, prayer, Etc. However, discipleship with another person looks like the Four Earmarks but with the intent and accountability of growing in relationship with Jesus Christ (who is also a person I know!). Discipleship Needs to be Sought Out Sirach 6:36 says “If you see an intelligent man, visit him early; let your foot wear out his doorstep.” If you feel like you do not have the accountability you need for your own faith development, seek it out. Find people who are faithful, and “wear out their doorsteps.” I actually intend sometime this week to ask a good man to begin mentoring me as a father and husband because I know I could use more accountability and wisdom in those areas of my life. The man I am asking is a great husband and father, and I pray he will accept my invitation. I am seeking him out. Take time to discern the areas with which you struggle, and seek people out to help you.
So if you are waiting around for someone to ask you into discipleship, you may be waiting a while. Seek people out to disciple you. Most people would be honored to be asked. Now to the priest who I mentioned earlier: I know you understand this and thank you for letting me use you as an example. You are a very holy disciple of our Lord. Thank you for your ministry to the Church and for the many disciples you have equipped in the world!

Blind Dodgeball

In leading 100’s of games over about 16 years this has been one of the favorites. Materials Needed blindfolds a marked off area (either a square in a gym or made with cones) dodge balls (softer is better) Setup Set up the boundaries.  Have each person find a partner.  One of them will be blindfolded and the other will not.  Place a good number balls scattered around within the boundary.  The blindfolded person will be in the boundary area and their teammate will be on the outside.   To start, no one should be holding any balls and it works well to move the person around a bit so they don’t know exactly where they are at or which way they are facing when the game starts. Game Play When the leader says “GO” the teammates on the outside of the play area will guide their teammates to grab a ball and throw it at the other within in the play area.  When a person gets hit by a ball or goes outside of the boundary, they are out.  Play until only one person is remaining. I found many versions of this on YouTube.  I’ve included a video I found of the version we played below.  

Poop the Potato

I can’t believe it has taken this long for me to find this game.  Grab some potatoes and some buckets and you are good to go!  Divide your youth into groups or run it individually.  The person takes a potato, puts it between their legs, takes the potato to the bucket and drops it.  If they drop the potato anywhere else on accident, they must go back to the beginning and try again.  The person or team with the most potatoes in the buckets after a set amount of time wins!    

Spoons – The Youth Group Game of All Time

I often have friends in ministry who ask me for directions on games I play and I typically just point them to the site.  When a friend asked me about Spoons and I realized I had never mentioned it on this site, I immediately realized how incomplete the game library on here is.   So, for those who don’t know, here are the instructions to the youth group game that I take much too seriously! Supplies Needed Spoons (one for every person) Playing Cards Directions This game is very simple.  It is played like musical chairs where everyone is competing for a spoon and the one person who does not get one is out.  You play the game until only one person is left. It is ideal to play with no more than 8-10 people.  If you have more than this, break it in to several games and have a championship table when each group is down to only a few. Have everyone sit around a table and put one spoon for each person in the middle of the table.  Take one spoon out so there is one less spoon than the number of people.   Have one person deal four cards to each player.  The goal with the cards is to get four of a kind (4 Aces, 4 Kings, etc.)  To start the game the dealer will take one card from the remaining deck.  They must decide if they want to swap the card out with one of theirs or pass it to the left.  If they swap it out, they must pass one of their previous cards to the left, leaving them always with four cards.  The person to the left does the same thing with the passed cards and the cards continuously go around the table. When someone has four of a kind they can grab a spoon.  Once one person has four of a kind everyone else can grab a spoon at the same time. That’s it.  Shuffle and deal again, removing one spoon each time and a eliminating a new player! Video Example Here is video I found online of a group playing spoons.  

The Shoe Game

Directions This is probably one of the greatest games for retreat type atmosphere when you need to lighten things up a little bit.  To start have group of between 6-8 people form a circle.  You can just have one or two groups.  They do not compete against the other groups and there really is not a winner. This game is played like ‘Hot Potato’ with a twist.  Have one person volunteer to use their shoe as the hot potato.  Start off by playing one round like hot potato and start the music.  When the music stops, have the person holding the show stand.  You will give this person an action that must be done every time they are given the shoe from now on.  You start the music again and when you stop have the person who ended up with the shoe do a different action.  If it was the same person as the first round, they must now do both actions before they can pass the shoe. Here are some examples of actions. Yell ‘I HAVE THE SHOE’ Give everyone in your group a high five. Sing “It’s fun to sing at the Y.M.C.A. while doing the actions. Do the chicken dance Do the Macarena Blow Kisses to everyone in your group Skip around the group once Say two words that rhyme. Do the entire head, shoulders, knees, and toes Flex like a professional body builder (must do different flex each time) Usually this is enough actions.  Keep a look out for people who have several actions and those that think it is a little too funny and be sure ‘accidentally’ stop the music on them.

This is So Much Fun

This is a hilarious youth ministry game that someone showed me this last summer at camp.  You need NO supplies and can do it with two people or 100 people.  I found a pretty humorous video on YouTube of two guys who explain the game well.  This is a different variation from what I saw, but the concept is the same.  Two people have to look at each and do little slightly embarrassing actions with each other.  The person who smiles first, loses the game.  Typically the actions will build off of each so you are doing several things at one time.  In the video below they choose to just do a single action at a time. Actions could include: putting your hand on the other’s shoulder putting both hands on the other’s shoulders hopping on one foot spinning in a circle tapping each other’s nose bopping your head   If you want to skip right to the part where they are playing the game, go to the 3:54 mark. Have your own actions you think would be fun?  Please comment below!

Bigger or Better

This is a community youth ministry game where the youth will be going door to door.  It is best to send the kids in groups and have an adult with each group.  It is very simple. Start everyone at the parish with a small item like a rubberband or paper clip.  Give them one hour to run around door-to-door saying that they are playing a game with their youth group and they are wondering if they can trade their item for something bigger or better. When they make a trade, they move on to another house and do it again until their time is up. Keep in mind that the item can be bigger OR better. We have had youth come back with tractor tires, snow blowers, large screen t.v.’s, and a toilet in the past.  This game is truly a gem!

Bunny Bunny Toki Toki

I was in a meeting this past summer at one of summer missionary training times and heard a crazy game going on outside.  When I walked out and watched them, they were playing this game. Before I even give the instructions, the reason I love this game is because there is so much energy that comes from it. The Motions First I will teach you the motions that are required for the game. Bunny – Make your hand into a duckbill (thumb touching four fingers).  When making this action you will say Bunny four times.  The first two times you will have the duckbill facing your own face.  The second two times you will point the duckbill at another person.  Hoki Toki (means rabbit in Korean) – Wave your arms while saying Toki (four times)  Game Instructions Have everyone stand in a circle (as per 95% of youth ministry games). Explain to them the motions. The game will start with everyone  doing the Koom Cha. One person will start by doing the “Bunny” sign and passing it on to another person, then that person continues by doing it and passing it on the next person. Whenever someone is doing the “Bunny” sign, the two people beside them can try to mess them up by doing the “Toki” sign (see video). Who Wins? You can play it a couple different ways. Whenever someone messes up the bunny action they are out (less fun version) Whenever someone messes up the bunny action they have to run around the circle one time saying “Dink N’ Farkle” repeatedly in rhythm while holding one of their thumbs to their forehead with the rest of their fingers in the air. If the group is really good at it, you can make it harder simply by speeding it up. Video Demo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOFzZhh4Xl0  Enjoy!
 

Hula Circle Pass

Found another quick and easy youth ministry game on YouTube.  The directions are very simple.  Find a hula hoop or something like it.  Have a group of youth join hands.  When you say go, they have to pass the hula hoop around the entire circle without letting go. Watch the video for a good example of it!  

Pin Guard

I am coming to the realization that the game that our youth group played more than anything is not well known by other youth leaders.  Luckily I have a platform to tell the world about it.  So here it is! Pin Guard = Dodge ball With Pins It really is that simple.  If you know how to play dodge ball, Pin Guard is the exact same game except that you can either win by getting everyone on the other team out of the game (like Dodge ball) or by knocking down the all of the other teams pins. We typically played in the gym and would place three pins along the back line of the basketball court, one on each corner and one in the middle. How Do You Play Dodge Ball? I feel sorry for those who may be asking this question (I love Dodge ball).  So I did a little research and found a great quick YouTube video for you to watch here!  
 

Banana Pass

This is pretty clever youth ministry icebreaker that I found while searching YouTube for some ideas. Instructions Have two or more teams.  Have them lie down on their backs in a long line (one persons head at the other persons feet).  The person at the front starts with a banana in between their feet and must lift their legs up to pass it on to the next persons feet.  The first team to get the banana all the way back to the end of their line wins! Here's an example I found on YouTube.  

Throw Down Game

This is a simple icebreaker that I have used several times.  It is great in that it requires people to share about themselves, but in a competitive way. Supplies Needed You will need 20-25 pieces of paper for each person.  I just give everyone one sheet of paper and have them tear it into 20 pieces. How It Works One person will start by saying one fact about themselves.  It should reveal something about their person that others may not have known about them.  The goal is to come up with something that as many people as possible would NOT have in common with them.  For the other people, if they have that thing in common with the person, then they do nothing.  If they do not have it in common with them, then they have to throw a piece of paper in the middle. The goal of the game is to be the last person with paper in your hands. Example One person could start by sharing that they have never broken a bone in their body.  For everyone else, if they have broken a bone in their body, they would throw a piece of paper in the middle.  If they have not broken a bone, they keep their pieces. Suggestions It is best to break them up into small groups so that you go around the circle several times, getting to know each person a bit more.  You should also continue to remind them that it should be something that reveals something about you that the others may not have known.  “I am wearing Red shoes” is boring and obvious.

Tape Head Game

This game is one of the more funnier games to watch.  It is very simple but is wide open for variations. Supplies Needed Hats (usually simple winter caps are fine) Tape Something Else How the game works Have as many people that you want playing to put on one of the hats.  Then you will cover the hat with tape, sticky side facing out.  On the floor, you will have a lot of small objects (we have used coins or q-tips before).  When the leader says GO, everyone with a taped hat on will move around on the floor trying to get as many objects as they can stuck on their hat.  They can only use their head to do so (no hands). A couple of extras or variations We have had a great time putting the hat over their eyes so they could only move around by the help of their teammates voices. You could place different objects that are worth different values You could place several different objects around the room and call out what they should go for.  After a set amount of time, call out the next item.
What Is CYMHUB? - Video


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