Best Youth Group Games: YS Idea Lab with Les Christie

Jacob Eckeberger
February 10th, 2016

Les Christie is a long-time veteran of youth ministry, and he’s been the game guru in my mind for the last 10 years. In this YS Idea Lab, Les explains the DNA of a perfect youth group game and helps us understand how to make the most out of games with students.

If you don’t have time to watch the entire video and catch all the wisdom Les gives us, here are some key points:

1) Games should be fun to watch, fun to describe, and fun to play.

I’ve made the mistake of picking games that are only fun to play, and I never understood why kids weren’t as excited about the game as I thought they would be. Now I know. If the description of the game is boring, students won’t get excited about it. If it’s not fun to watch, then the kids who can’t participate will be uninterested. That’s a huge factor if you’re playing a game that involves a level of elimination. Picking a game that’s fun at all three levels will help the entire experience be a blast for the group.

2) Pick a game where you overcome a challenge and not a person.

Les says several times in this YS Idea Lab that he looks for games that make people better friends in the end. By choosing a game that rallies the entire group to overcome a challenge, you’ll help students learn how to work together instead of against each other. Les gives a great example of a game called People of the Mountain. It’s a take on the classic King of the Hill, which is all about overcoming people. In People of the Mountain, the object is to fit as many people on top of a table as possible. Les takes a really sturdy, 3’x3’x1′ solid oak table and surrounds it with wrestling mats on the floor. He then challenges the students to see how many people they can squeeze on top of the table at once. Their record is 17, and each time they play the game, they work together to try to beat that record.

3) Always stop the game at it’s peak.

Students will remember the last few seconds of the game that they play. When you stop a game at the most exciting point, it will help carry the excitement over to the next time you play the game. If you let the game go on too long—to the point that it’s not exciting anymore and they’re ready for it to end—they’ll be less enthusiastic about it the next time you play.

4) Be sure to involve kids who live with physical and mental challenges.

I really appreciate that Les reminds us to always plan to include every student in the game—especially those living with physical or mental challenges. There’s always a way to incorporate them, and having them involved will go a long way to making them feel a part of the entire group.

The YS Idea Labs are filmed on location at the National Youth Workers Convention. Check out more YS Idea Labs HERE.and register early for NYWC to save BIG: NYWC.COM.

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JACOB ECKEBERGER is the Content and Community Manager at Youth Specialties, an itinerant worship leader, the spouse of a church planter, and a long time volunteer youth worker. You can find him blogging about social media and digital strategy ideas at JACOBECKEBERGER.COM.

Jacob Eckeberger

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.