Games are a recommended part of any youth program. Youth ministry games can be used as icebreakers to help youth get to know each other better. They can be used to foster teamwork and trust. They are a way to spend a little energy when they have been sitting to long.
See a collection of youth ministry games below.
Getting to Know You
This is t is a combination of I Would Never Ever and Musical Chairs.
This Game of Cards Icebreaker can be played indoors with a large group. The idea is to get people to mix and mingle and get to know each other better. All you need is a deck of cards.
This icebreaker is part name game and part Duck Duck Goose. There is a lot of handshaking or waving and introductions going on, so this game would be a good youth group activity for a meeting with new members.
Explain that each of the participants is stranded alone on a deserted island. He or she must choose one item they can have and why they would choose to have that object. Start with a few rules…
This icebreaker is a little like musical chairs or Duck Duck Goose. It involves getting up and moving to an empty seat. The question is, do you love your neighbor or not? 🙂
Family Circle works well as an icebreaker or for a lesson about relationships. It is is best for about 15 players and is age appropriate for middle school or high school youth ministry.
Would You Rather is about choices. It is a fun icebreaker or warmup for a meeting about decision making. A set of questions is included.
This icebreaker for teens or tweens helps them learn what they have in common. It is a good getting to know you activity because the groups change each round.
Yes No makes a great icebreaker because the teens will be asking each other questions.
Getting to Know You Bingo works well as a VBS or a youth group icebreaker. This set of 20 bingo cards can be used with youth group or Vacation Bible School.
Shoe Sort icebreaker is a fun youth group activity where people try to match shoes with their owners. It makes a great icebreaker or team builder.
Team Building Games
Groups of youth will be given a limited number of supplies. Then they use their creativity to build the tallest newspaper tower in a limited amount of time.
The goal of this kingdoms game is to form kingdoms. The largest kingdom wins! All you need are a paper and pencil to make a list, so it is super easy.
One person describes a picture and the other draws it based on the description. But the person giving the description cannot name any of the objects in the original!
Minefield which seems to have lots of variations. It is easy to set up in a youth group setting, requires materials you can find in your meeting space, and can be played indoors, so it is a good option for youth ministry or Vacation Bible School.
Human Knot is a fun activity which requires some problem solving skills. Since it is a cooperative game also makes a fun team building activity.
Silent Sorting will test the participants’ communication skills. Not only can’t they speak. They also can’t indicate numbers with their fingers.
This will help youth understand the importance of clear instructions and helping each other stay on the right path. It goes well with a meeting focused on friends or the teaching of the Church.
In Spot the Difference, youth must observe what has changed. It is a good team building activity for a lesson on noticing differences, seeing change, or being observant.
Walk the Plank will be difficult for younger children but it would be appropriate for middle school VBS or youth group. It has a problem solving and team building aspect to it which tweens and teens will enjoy.
Walk Stop Mix Up is a team building activity or icebreaker which requires listening skills. It requires no props, can be played indoors, and works for different group sizes.
Water Transfer is wet silly fun for VBS or youth ministry. It also builds team spirit because group members need to work together to determine the best strategy to move their water. It would work well for middle school Vacation Bible School, as a camp game, or as a youth group icebreaker.
Relays and Races
This relay race goes well with any topic relating to conversion of heart. It is easy to set up and run.
This is best played outside on a field. In it, teams carry a member on a blankets. Everyone takes a turn carrying and being carried.
This game is meant to go with the scripture passage in which Jesus explains “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
This Pig Food Race makes participants look like pigs rooting for food, so it is perfect as a Prodigal Son game for a lesson on the parable.
Phony Fun is a relay where people are not themselves! Take a picture of all of them when the relay is over. It will get some laughs.
This challenge is a little like trying to walk through a busy intersection. There always seems to be someone in the way!
Silly Server is a relay where participants pretend they are waiters. They must balance some ping pong balls on a plate while running back and forth.
This game for youth ministry is really funny and teens love it. It looks like a kid trying to get to the bathroom “in time”.
The Pirate Peg Legged Race is basically a three legged relay race with a few other things thrown in for some pirate fun! There is the standard version and a wet watery version.
Pass It On is very simple and only requires some rolls of toilet paper. It can be played indoors or outdoors. This makes it a good option if you have to suddenly change plans due to rain or other circumstances beyond your control.
Water Balloon Relay is a fun and wet for your Vacation Bible School or church camp. Have plenty of water balloons on hand! Your VBS kids will want to play this over and over again.
Youth will be asked to volunteer to eat a Happy Meal. But they don’t realize it will be blended up! Be prepared for some gagging and extreme reactions.
Baby food is pretty bland and it can be difficult to know the flavor just by tasting it. In this baby food game, teenagers try to guess the flavors of assorted baby foods
Jelly donut feeding is a messy food game. It involves blindfolds and sticky jelly doughnuts! Have some cleanup supplies on hand. This is played as an up front game.
This game is a little like hot potato, but the person who gets caught must eat a piece of toast. And what is on the bread? Whatever the people first in line chose!
Candy identity game is a food guessing game. This goes really well with a lesson on identity or how we see ourselves.
Donut Fishing will get everyone laughing. It is only a little messy, so it can easily be done indoors. Your teens will love it.
This puts a fun twist on your traditional dodge ball game. Play it at night or if you can darken your gym you can play in any time. This is a great game for an open gym night with your teens.
Protect the President game is a fast paced game to let off some steam and increase energy in the group. It is a variation of dodge-ball.
Most people working with youth are familiar with Balloon Stomp. This is a twist on the game which uses glow in the dark balloons. It would go well with a GLOW (God Lights Our Way) theme or just any evening activity.
Guard the Treasure can be played in a relativity small indoor area. One youth guards the “treasure” while the thieves try to steal it.
Or maybe it should be called “Uncrown the King” because the goal is to knock off other player’s crowns and keep your own.
Penny Chin is a funny game where players try to balance a penny on their chins without tilting their heads back or touching it with their hands. There is a trick!
Eternal Dodge Ball never ends. Every time somebody gets out by getting hit with the ball, someone has a chance to return to the game. Unless you have one really dominant player, this game will go on and on and on for an eternity!
Let the little pirates chase around the captain and steal his candy. This is a great fun for VBS or youth group. If you play this for a themed vacation bible school or youth ministry meeting, have the captain dress up if possible.
Wild Wet Wiffle Ball is a fun summer option for a youth group. It is just like regular wiffle ball, only wetter.
Tiger Tail Tag is another human pinata option for your Vacation Bible School, youth ministry, or youth group. The tiger throws candy when one of the youth catches it.
Fox and Chickens tag is a variation on tag which the person who is it tries to tag the last person in line. The people at the front of the line try to protect the last person.
Bail the Ship pits two groups against each other and burns off a lot of energy. I have seen it played at Vacation Bible School and at camp. It’s always a lot of fun!
Ship Wreck requires a combination of speed, teamwork, and listening skills. So this is not necessarily won by the most athletic team. Some teamwork strategy can really even the odds.
Get on Noah’s Ark is an easy option for your Vacation Bible School, church camp, or youth group. All you need is some laundry baskets and stuffed animals. Even your youngest VBS students will enjoy this. Use more animals for older students.
Musical Statues encourages youth to get up and move. It makes a good break between more sedentary activities.
This is an easy no-prep circle game for youth ministry, Vacation Bible School (VBS), church camp, or religious ed. It could be used for a lesson on the Fruits of the Spirit or to accompany discussion about “bearing good fruit”.
This is train themed fun. It is an active, running game and requires not equipment.
This is a no supplies required tag, which means it can be used on the spur of the moment.
This is fun for youth group or Vacation Bible School. All you need is a small piece of paper to be the ticket. It is moderately active and can be played indoors or outdoors. Since there is not a lot of running, it even works in a meeting room.
Youth try to get their own balls in their own basket while keeping the other team’s balls out. This goes well with a meeting focused on racism or immigration.
Protection Dodge Ball reminds us how nice it is to have someone looking out for us. In this version of dodgeball, youth are grouped into pairs. One member of each pair tries to prevent their partner from being hit with a ball.
It is an active, train themed running game and requires no equipment. Use it as a bonus activity for VBS or to have some fun at a youth ministry meeting.
Knowledge and Teaching Games
In this game you test the knowledge of youth in various categories. Play several rounds and then total up the points to see which team has more members who Know It All.
This sacrament scavenger hunt introduces some of the symbols and concepts of the sacraments in a fun way. Hide various sacrament related items around your meeting space or grounds. Here is a list and some tips…
This will teach youth how hard it is to hear above the din. We really need to focus in order to hear God’s voice above all of the other voices which are competing for our attention.
This humility game will help participants consider if they are really as good at a task as they think they are.
Consumerism and materialism can make it seem like everything has a dollar value. Is the Price Right will help youth understand that not everything is defined by a price tag.
This is an easy game for your youth group or Vacation Bible School. It is fun but also provides a lesson about the Holy Spirit. See the reflection questions and scripture passage at the end of the game for how to turn this game into a teaching experience.
Leaders We Love is an activity to help youth think about the qualities of a good leader. It is held in an informal, small group setting so youth will be comfortable sharing.
Players put their hands in a box of unknown substance to find coins. It is a test of if they can overcome their fear of what they might be touching. Be prepared for some funny reactions! There are also some reflection questions at the end.
Strength in Numbers shows youth that they need help from God and from their community. The reflection questions help them explore the importance of relying on Jesus and each other. It is also a good lesson in endurance.
This activity (sometimes called “spider web”) uses a ball of string to create a tangled mess. It can be used as an example of how sin can create a tangled mess in our lives.
This is designed to help youth understand that it can be disorienting or difficult to understand something if we only see it from a small perspective. It can be difficult for us to understand why the Holy Spirit is leading us somewhere unfamiliar or why the Church has a teaching.
Just for Fun
Show Me the Money is just a fun game played with play money. It is meant to get everyone interacting and there is no real lesson here.
This is a twist on the classic war card game. It can be played tournament style with a large group since the time of play is limited.
This silly sentence game is a fun icebreaker. It works with a large group but it is also fun with a smaller group.
Medusa is for a group of about 8 or more teenagers. It is based on the Greek legend of Medusa. Looking at her caused people to turn to stone.
Glow in the Dark Ring Toss is a fun easy game for any “light” themed youth ministry meeting or Vacation Bible School. It only requires a few materials – glow sticks and water bottles.
Drip Drip Drop is a water game for teenagers which can be played indoors if you don’t mind wiping up a few puddles at the end. It is basically Duck Duck Goose with water.
Mingle icebreaker is a super easy game which can be played at any time because it requires no set up. It goes pretty quickly, so you can play multiple rounds.
Melt My Ice Heart could go with a meeting focused on stubbornness or belief or change of heart. Or just for fun. Your teens will love it. Each team must try to melt a giant ice cube.
Talent Comm is a talent game which lets players interact based on their personal gifts for communication. Some people communicate through words, others through pictures, and others through actions.
In this game, youth use their facial expressions to pass their emotions around a circle. There is no winner or loser. This is just a game about how our faces can show our emotions.
This is a really simple icebreaker for youth group, youth ministry, or middle school VBS. It would also work well for your Vacation Bible School teen leaders. It is super easy to play and requires no materials, making it a good filler activity.
Treasure Hunt is a really easy activity to do either indoors or outdoors. And your older VBS or youth ministry students will enjoy it as much as the younger ones.
Hook the Treasure is a really easy activity for your pirate or nautical themed VBS or youth camp. This would be perfect for younger children at your Vacation Bible School and it is pretty easy to put together. The only work involved is making the “hooks” for each child.
Treasure Islands is a game very like Musical Chairs. For younger groups you can put the “islands” closer together. For older students, place them farther apart so they have to do a little running.
Tick-Tock the Crocodile Hunt is a very simple small group indoor activity for a pirate themed Vacation Bible School or camp. It works best with eight or fewer players. In this activity one of the players (Captain Hook), hunts for a ticking crocodile.
Everyone knows how to play Simon Says. This game is Simon Says with a twist!
Buried Treasure is a fun activity for all ages. It works well for Vacation Bible School or youth ministry. Everyone enjoys playing in a sandbox! For older players, use smaller treasures to make them more difficult to find.
In this activity, the group has a problem. The psychiatrist has to figure out what it is. This icebreaker requires no prep or materials. It works well for six or more people.
Ah So Co is a fast paced circle activity which works well for six or more players. This game is all about following directions. It is also about saying and doing the right thing at the right time.
This is an indoor water game. It is not messy at all! This works well with any age group also. It would go well with any topic related to water, such as baptism, or a community theme, since the water drop sticks together.
In the traditional carnival game, if you land your ball in a bowl with a fish, you get a live goldfish! But this version does not have live fish.
Ninja is for about 8 to 12 youth. It can be used as a warm up or a time filler. And it can be played in any meeting space. Teenagers love this!
Davy Jones Locker is simple fun for young children at Vacation Bible School or church camp. They fish men and treasure out of the sea. Even the youngest children at VBS will enjoy this one. Everyone gets to keep whatever they fish out.
Players secretly tag each other with bug bites. Players who get caught in the act get an extra bite! This is meant to be played while other activities are going on.
Egg-Chicken-Dinosaur is also sometimes called Evolution . It can be used just for fun, but it would also fit in well with a meeting about the Catholic view on evolution or any discussion focused on faith and science.
Players are assigned to be one half of a famous pair. They must find the person who matches them. Sounds easy enough right? Except they don’t know who they are! So they must ask questions to find out.
Pictionary is warm up game to play with your youth group. You can use words with are related to the theme of the meeting. Teens love this game!
There are two options here for the play area. One uses glow in the dark sidewalk chalk. For the other option, you can make the mat from a purchased Twister game and glow in the dark paint.
Games for Specific Holy Days, Seasons, and Holidays
This is a Lenten variation of the Ten Fingers game. Youth must try to outwit each other by guessing what they would give up for Lent which the others would not.
You will need an open area, but it can be played indoors. The best part is that it doesn’t require any materials, so you can use it as a bonus game or time filler without any preparation.
Shepherd’s Voice helps youth understand the importance of listening. Each group of sheep must listen to their shepherd’s voice and follow it. It also goes well with a lesson on sticking together in community. The group of sheep will find it easier to get home if they stay together
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