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Youth Ministry Games

Games are a pivotal component of any youth program, serving multiple purposes. They act as icebreakers, easing initial awkwardness and fostering camaraderie among the youth. Through these activities, individuals discover common interests and form bonds, essential for a cohesive group dynamic.

Moreover, games are instrumental in building teamwork and trust. They encourage collaboration and communication, aligning with Christian values of unity and mutual support. Additionally, games provide a much-needed outlet for physical activity, especially beneficial after prolonged periods of sitting during discussions or teachings.

This active engagement keeps the youth energized and focused, making them more receptive to spiritual messages and teachings. In essence, incorporating games into youth ministry encapsulates the balance between fun and faith formation.

See a collection of games for youth below.

Why Play Games?

Games in youth ministry serve as an effective tool for engagement, fostering a welcoming and energetic environment. They break down barriers among young people, creating a sense of community and belonging. Through fun activities, youth are more receptive to the core messages of faith, as these activities parallel spiritual lessons in teamwork, trust, and moral decision-making. Importantly, games reflect the joy and vibrancy of the Catholic faith, illustrating that spiritual growth can be harmonious with fun and creativity. This approach aligns with Jesus’ teachings, who welcomed and celebrated the presence of children, emphasizing the importance of joy and community in faith.

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Getting to Know You

Around the Mountain Game icebreaker
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Around the Mountain

This icebreaker combines elements of "I Would Never Ever" and Musical Chairs to create an engaging activity. Arrange chairs in a circle and choose one person to start as "It" in the center. "It" makes statements like "Run around the mountain if you ____," filling in the blank with various personal facts, such as owning a dog or having siblings. Those to whom the statement applies must run around the circle and switch chairs, while "It" quickly takes a seat. Whoever remains standing becomes the new "It." This game fosters learning about each other in a fun way and can be played for as long as time allows, making it a dynamic icebreaker for group interactions.

Game of Cards
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Game of Cards Icebreaker

The Game of Cards Icebreaker is an adaptable and engaging activity ideal for youth ministry groups and core teams. Using a simple deck of cards, it facilitates conversations and connections in a dynamic, indoor setting. The rules can be easily modified to suit different group sizes, with the flexibility to customize card groupings, adding an element of unpredictability. It promotes social interaction by forming smaller groups based on poker hands, allowing for easier and less intimidating exchanges of personal information. This setup ensures participants meet a variety of people, enhancing familiarity and comfort within the group, laying a foundation for more effective future activities.

Party Circle Icebreaker
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Party Circle Icebreaker

The Party Circle Icebreaker is an interactive game ideal for youth ministry, especially when welcoming new members. It combines learning names with elements of Duck Duck Goose, making it engaging while helping kids learn each other's names. Two people introduce themselves three times, run to the opposite side, and exchange greetings three times, creating a silly and fun atmosphere. You can add excitement by varying how they move around the circle - skipping, hopping, going backward, or with closed eyes. The goal is simple: getting to know each other while promoting sportsmanship and teamwork, setting a positive tone for youth group meetings.

Lost on a Deserted Island icebreaker game
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Lost on a Deserted Island Icebreaker

"Lost on a Deserted Island" is a fun icebreaker. Participants imagine being stranded alone on a small island, already explored, with abundant food and water. They must select one personal item (non-magical, non-escape related, and not a living being) that fits in a shoebox and explain why they'd choose it. This activity encourages creative thinking and team building, setting a positive tone for the program. As an added twist, participants can also guess the items chosen by those before them, adding an element of surprise and interaction. It's a great way to kick off your youth ministry program with middle schoolers.

Love youR Neighbor Icebreaker Game
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Love Your Neighbor

The "Love Your Neighbor" icebreaker is similar to musical chairs or Duck Duck Goose. Participants sit in a circle, and one person is designated as "It." It asks someone, "Do you love your neighbor?" If they answer "Yes," the neighbors switch seats. If they say "No," they add a specific condition, and anyone meeting that criteria must find a new seat. Those left without seats become the new "It," and the game continues. It encourages quick thinking and interaction, making it a lively icebreaker for group activities. Participants can use creative criteria to answer "No," adding an element of fun and surprise to the game. The question is, do you love your neighbor or not? 🙂

Family Circle Icebreaker
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Family Circle Icebreaker

The Family Circle Icebreaker is suitable for around 15 middle or high school participants. It begins with players sitting in a circle, each writing their favorite thing in a chosen category on a slip of paper, along with their name. These slips are then mixed in a bowl. The game involves a 'head of the household' (HOH) guessing which favorite belongs to whom. Correct guesses add players to the HOH's 'family'. Incorrect guesses lead to a new HOH. The game ends when all players form one large 'family', emphasizing unity and memory skills.

Would You Rather

"Would You Rather" is an engaging game centered on choices, making it an excellent icebreaker or warm-up for meetings emphasizing decision-making. It presents participants with a series of intriguing questions, prompting them to pick between two equally appealing or challenging options. It not only encourages quick decision-making but also sparks interesting discussions as individuals explain their choices. "Would You Rather" injects an element of fun and interactivity into meetings, fostering a relaxed and engaging atmosphere while promoting critical thinking and communication skills. It's a simple yet effective tool for initiating discussions and breaking the ice in various group settings.

getting to know you bingo icebreaker
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Getting to Know You Bingo

A popular icebreaker called "Getting to Know You" Bingo involves students receiving sheets with phrases about themselves. They seek out others who match the phrases and collect signatures in the corresponding spaces. Phrases can cover topics like family and favorites. The activity can be adapted for different time constraints, from "fill your card" bingo for an extended version to shorter variations like completing a row, column, or playing "four corners" style. This game promotes interaction, helping participants learn about each other while adding a fun twist to the icebreaking process in various group settings. This set of 20 bingo cards can be used with youth group or Vacation Bible School.

yes no game icebreaker
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Yes No

The "Yes No" game is an engaging icebreaker that encourages teens to ask each other questions. It's a valuable activity for youth groups or youth ministry meetings, aligning with teachings about saying "Yes" to God and mirroring the Blessed Mother's trust in the Lord. To play, set a timer and distribute tokens or candy to each participant. Teens mingle, posing yes-or-no questions to each other. If someone answers negatively or uses the word "No," they must give their tokens to the questioner. Those without tokens can continue asking questions to regain them. The participant with the most tokens when time's up emerges as the winner, making it a lively and interactive icebreaker.

Common Denominator

This icebreaker is designed for teens or tweens and encourages them to discover commonalities within changing groups. The leader calls out a number, and participants quickly form groups with that number of members. Within 15 seconds, they must identify a concrete shared trait (e.g., all have siblings, wear tied shoes). Groups take turns sharing their commonality. Points are awarded if they meet specific criteria, including the correct number of members, no talking after the time limit, and having a unique answer. The game promotes active participation and observation, with the person accumulating the most points winning. For larger groups, an added rule prevents repeated groupings, encouraging diverse interactions and learning more about each other.

Shoe Sort Icebreaker
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Shoe Sort Icebreaker

The Shoe Sort Icebreaker is a youth group activity that promotes team spirit and breaks the ice. Beyond its surface-level objective, it serves as a tool to challenge snap judgments based on appearances, encouraging a deeper understanding of others. Participants gain insights into their own biases and learn empathy. By playing this game, individuals can reflect on personal growth and unity within the group. The activity aligns with Catholic teachings emphasizing empathy, understanding, and acceptance. Shoe Sort Icebreaker fosters connection and serves as a transformative experience by challenging preconceived notions and promoting genuine understanding among participants.

Team Building Games

Newspaper tower challenge game
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Newspaper Tower Challenge

The Newspaper Tower Challenge is a team-building game that encourages creativity and collaboration among youth. Participants are divided into teams of five or six and given limited supplies, typically newspaper and masking tape. Their task is to construct the tallest freestanding newspaper tower within a set time frame, usually 10 minutes. The tower must stand on its own without any external support. The team with the tallest freestanding tower at the end of the allotted time wins. To increase the challenge, you can opt not to provide tape. Adjusting the time allows for varying levels of complexity in the tower designs, making it a flexible and engaging activity for group settings.

Kingdoms Teambuilding Game
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Kingdoms

The Kingdoms team-building game is a fun and engaging activity suitable for large groups, making it ideal for youth groups or middle school VBS. Players aim to form the largest kingdom based on a chosen category, such as animals or Disney characters. Each player secretly selects an item from the category, and the facilitator records their choices. Then, the facilitator reads the list of items to the group without revealing who chose what. Players take turns guessing items from the list, and if they guess one belonging to a king, they become a vassal in that kingdom. The game continues until everyone is part of a kingdom, and the largest kingdom wins.

Blind Drawing
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Blind Drawing

Blind Drawing is a youth ministry activity that combines fun and learning. Participants describe a picture while the other person draws it without naming the objects in the original image. This game promotes clear and precise communication while highlighting the potential for misunderstandings when communication lacks clarity. Beyond entertainment, Blind Drawing serves a deeper purpose in emphasizing effective communication's importance. It fosters discussions on the pitfalls of miscommunication, encouraging empathy and open dialogue. Through shared laughter and reflection, participants learn to prevent and resolve communication breakdowns, making it a valuable tool for personal growth and building vital life skills in youth ministry.

Minefield Game youth ministry or vbs
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Minefield

Minefield is a versatile and easy-to-set-up youth group activity. It can be played indoors with materials readily available in your meeting space. Participants are divided into teams, and each team designates a "caller" while the others are blindfolded. Blindfolded players must navigate through obstacles based on the caller's instructions. If they touch an obstacle, they return to the start but face no penalty when doing so. The objective is for all team members to reach the opposite side of the minefield. The first team to achieve this wins, making it an enjoyable and interactive team-building game.

Human Knot Game youth ministry or vbs
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Human Knot

Human Knot is an engaging and cooperative team-building activity that requires problem-solving skills. Participants form a tight circle and hold each other's right and left hands, creating a tangled "knot." The challenge is to untangle the knot by stepping over and under other participants' hands, all while maintaining their grip on each other. The goal is to end with everyone untangled and standing in a circle without letting go. Variations like no talking or blindfolding add extra challenges. It's a great way to encourage teamwork, communication, and leadership skills. Afterward, debrief questions can be used to reflect on what worked, the role of communication, leadership skills, and overcoming challenges.

Silent Sorting

This game is a unique twist on the traditional "line up by your birthday" activity, adding an extra challenge by prohibiting spoken words, sounds, or finger gestures to indicate numbers. Each participant is assigned a number, and they must silently arrange themselves in order based on various criteria like birthdays, exact ages, height, or shoe size. This version promotes non-verbal communication and creative problem-solving. It can be played with different variations to keep things interesting. It's a fun and engaging way to foster teamwork and creative thinking while adding a twist to the classic icebreaker game.

Guide Me to Heaven

"Guide Me to Heaven" is a game designed to teach youth the importance of clear instructions and helping others stay on the right path. It's suitable for youth groups and aligns well with themes of friendship and Church teachings. In this game, participants are divided into teams, and one person from each team is chosen as the leader. Blindfolded team members receive verbal instructions from their leader to navigate obstacles and reach the "heaven" finish line. The team that successfully guides all its members to heaven wins.

spot the difference teambuilding game
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Spot the Difference

"Spot the Difference" is a team-building game that enhances observation skills and encourages players to notice changes. Ideal for lessons on attentiveness or recognizing differences, it involves dividing the group into teams. One team lines up while the other observes for one minute. The observing team then leaves the room while the lined-up team makes ten noticeable changes to their appearance. Upon returning, the observing team has two minutes to identify the differences, scoring a point for each correct answer. Teams switch roles, and the one with the most points wins. This game fosters attention to detail and teamwork, making it an engaging activity for group settings.

walk the plank game 1
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Walk the Plank

"Walk the Plank" is an engaging and challenging game suitable for Vacation Bible School or youth group meetings, particularly for middle school students. The objective is for teams to move down the playing area on two planks without anyone falling off, emphasizing cooperation and communication. While it can be turned into a race, the main goal is teamwork and problem-solving, benefiting tweens and teens. Divide the group into teams of about five players, each receiving two planks. Teams must move from one end to the other as a unit, starting over if someone falls off. It encourages creativity and collaboration as teams find their own solutions.

Walk Stop Mix Up

"Walk Stop Mix Up" is a simple and entertaining icebreaker suitable for youth ministry or youth groups. This prop-free game can be played indoors with varying group sizes. Participants are instructed to walk when told "walk" and stop when told "stop." The challenge arises when the additional command "clap" is introduced, requiring them to clap while walking or standing still. The twist occurs when the walking and stopping instructions are reversed, leading to delightful confusion and laughter. To make it more challenging, additional commands like "tap" or reversing "clap" can be added. This game enhances listening skills and guarantees amusement as participants mix up their actions.

water transfer team building game
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Water Transfer

The Water Transfer game is a fun and wet activity suitable for Vacation Bible School, youth ministry, or camp games, fostering teamwork and silliness. Participants are divided into teams and provided with materials to move water from one end of the field to the other. The first team to fill their bucket at the finish line wins, and multiple teams can play simultaneously. A hose at the starting line keeps the initial containers filled, adding to the challenge. For an extra twist, target buckets can have small holes for a continuous water dribble, making it even more entertaining and emphasizing teamwork and strategic thinking.

Relays and Races

Change My Heart Relay Race Game
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Change My Heart Relay Race Game

The "Change My Heart" relay race is a team game that symbolizes heart conversion, linking to Ezekiel 11:19 about receiving a new heart and spirit. Participants replace stones on a heart outline with candy hearts, reflecting the transformation from a heart of stone to one of flesh. It involves running, replacing stones with candy, and teamwork. The first team to complete this task wins, illustrating the concept of spiritual renewal and conversion.

Blanket carry relay game
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Blanket Carry Relay

The Blanket Carry Relay game, ideal for outdoor play, involves teams of five carrying a member on a blanket around a cone and back. Using labeled blankets, participants take turns being carried and carrying, promoting teamwork and physical activity. The game progresses with members rotating through positions, ensuring everyone experiences each role. The objective is to complete five rounds, with each team member being carried once. For larger teams, adjustments are made to accommodate six members, requiring an additional round. The first team to finish all rounds wins. This game combines fun with a test of coordination and cooperation.

Camel through the Eye of a Needle Race
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Camel through the Eye of a Needle Race

The "Camel Through the Eye of a Needle" game illustrates Jesus' teaching that wealth can hinder entry into God's kingdom, akin to a camel passing through a needle's eye. Designed for youth, this camel race simulates the challenge of navigating through narrow openings, symbolizing the spiritual lesson that excessive possessions may impede spiritual progress. The game creatively engages participants in understanding a profound biblical concept through interactive play, emphasizing the value of simplicity and the potential obstacles that material excess can present on one's spiritual journey.

pig food race starter game
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Pig Food Race

The Pig Food Race, inspired by the Parable of the Prodigal Son, is a playful activity where participants use their noses to push foam balls across a designated area, mimicking pigs rooting for food. This game serves as a creative lesson on humility and repentance, themes central to the parable. It's adaptable to various spaces, with a longer course offering a more extended challenge. Ideal for a gym or cafeteria setting, the race emphasizes fun and engagement, encouraging participants to reflect on the story's moral while enjoying a lighthearted competition.

phony fun relay game
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Phony Fun

The Phony Fun Relay Game is designed to explore themes of pretense and hypocrisy in a playful manner. Participants, divided into teams, race to don at least four props, embodying the idea of wearing masks or hiding one's true self. The challenge intensifies as the available props dwindle, making it harder for later participants to maintain their disguises without using their hands. This game not only encourages laughter and teamwork but also serves as a visual metaphor for the difficulties and absurdities of concealing one's identity, culminating in a group photo that captures the humorous spectacle.

crossed up jam up game
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Crossed Up Jam Up

The Crossed Up Jam Up Game mimics navigating a busy intersection, challenging participants to move from one corner of the room to the diagonal opposite while employing various humorous and challenging methods like crab walking, hopping on one foot, or walking backward. This activity, designed for four teams, inevitably leads to a 'traffic jam' at the center, adding to the fun and chaos. The game emphasizes teamwork, coordination, and adaptability, with points awarded to the first team to successfully get all members across. It's a lively way to encourage creative movement and strategy, with the team scoring the most points declared the winner.

unlock your future game
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Unlock Your Future

The Unlock Your Future Game is a team-building activity that challenges youth to collaborate and solve combination locks. Teams are assigned colors correlating with locks and index cards scattered around the area, each card bearing a part of their lock's combination. The objective is to find all the cards, deduce the correct combination, and unlock their team's lock. This game not only tests patience and problem-solving skills but also encourages teamwork and communication. For added complexity, a scavenger hunt element can be introduced, requiring teams to unlock multiple locks in sequence by following clues, enhancing the engagement and challenge.

Carrying Burdens Relay Race
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Carrying Burdens Relay Race

Youth ministry activities provide valuable experiences that teach important life lessons. One standout game is a relay race with heavy backpacks, representing life's burdens. This activity promotes teamwork, endurance, and faith. It reminds participants that trusting in Jesus gives support and strength in carrying life's challenges.

Pirate Peg Legged Race
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Pirate Peg Legged Race

The Pirate Peg Legged Race is a spirited three-legged relay designed for participants of all ages, making it ideal for VBS, youth groups, or camps. Teams compete in pairs, with their legs tied together, donning pirate accessories to enhance the theme. They race to collect "treasure" from one end of the field to their team's chest at the start line. A wet variation involves using water instead of traditional treasure, adding a fun twist. The game emphasizes teamwork, physical coordination, and embraces the pirate theme through costumes and props, offering a dynamic and engaging activity suitable for backup plans or themed events.

Gotta Go Game
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I Gotta Go

The "I Gotta Go" is a fun, engaging activity for youth groups. Participants race to drop a ping pong ball into a jar or bucket, holding the ball between their knees. Designed for teens, the game encourages laughter and teamwork, and can be adapted for themes like pro-life, Advent, or Christmas. Requiring minimal materials (jars and ping pong balls), it's ideal for large or small groups. The game emphasizes coordination and patience, with the first team to successfully deposit all balls into their jar declared the winner. It's a simple yet effective way to foster community and joy.

Silly Server

Silly Server is a fun relay game where participants play the role of waiters, balancing ping pong balls on a plate while racing. It's designed to illustrate that serving isn't always easy, aligning well with themes of service. Teams compete by having members race to a point and back without dropping the ball. If a ball falls, they restart. The game can be modified for added complexity by having players navigate through spaced-out teammates or increasing the number of ping pong balls they must balance. The first team to complete the relay wins, offering a playful way to emphasize perseverance and agility in service tasks.

Pass It On Game
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Pass It On

"Pass It On" is a dynamic relay game ideal for Vacation Bible School (VBS) or youth group activities, focusing on the theme of passing on faith and performing good deeds. Utilizing just a few rolls of toilet paper, it's a simple yet engaging game that can be played indoors or outdoors, perfect for spontaneous plan changes. The game encourages teamwork and coordination as participants pass the toilet paper over and under, aiming to wrap it around each other's waists in a specific pattern. This fun activity not only entertains but also serves as a metaphor for sharing faith and kindness, adaptable to various environments and capable of creating memorable experiences of camaraderie and shared values.

Water Balloon Relay

The Water Balloon Relay is an exhilarating game perfect for Vacation Bible School or church camp, especially fitting for themes related to water, oceans, pirates, or nautical adventures—or simply for the joy of playing with water balloons. Participants, organized into pairs within teams, use towels to toss water balloons along a line without using their hands. If a balloon falls, breaks, or is touched by hands, the team must start over. The game, suitable for primary aged children and up, becomes more challenging for older participants by increasing the distance between pairs. This activity promises laughter, wet fun, and a bit of chaos, making it a favorite among kids who enjoy lively outdoor games.

Invitation Relay
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Invitation Relay

Invitation Relay is a team-based race where players rush to retrieve envelopes containing simple tasks, like "Hop on one foot." Each participant must perform the task before tagging the next player. The objective is to emphasize the concept of accepting and acting upon invitations, drawing parallels to spiritual decisions. In a youth ministry setting, the game visually represents the journey of responding to God's call. The relay underscores individual responsibility within a collective, and the tasks symbolize life's actions in response to various challenges. The game ends with a debrief, tying the playful activities back to its deeper spiritual message.

Food Games

Not So Happy Meal Game
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Not So Happy Meal

In the "Blended Happy Meal Challenge," volunteers race to consume a Happy Meal. Unbeknownst to participants, the Happy Meals are blended into smoothies and served in clear cups. The setup involves hiding the blender and cups, while displaying the Happy Meals visibly. Participants, initially thinking they will eat a regular Happy Meal, are instead given the blended version to drink as quickly as possible. The game, known for eliciting strong reactions and laughter, concludes with a prize for the fastest to finish their unconventional Happy Meal smoothie.

Baby Food Taste Tester
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Baby Food Taste Tester

In Baby Food Taste Tester, youth participants guess various baby food flavors, drawing parallels to spiritual nourishment and the unexpected nature of faith. Each player, potentially blindfolded, tastes differently labeled baby foods and makes guesses, with points awarded for correct answers. This fun, engaging game can be linked to discussions about the Eucharist and spiritual growth, fostering a deeper understanding of faith through a unique and memorable activity. It encourages teamwork, laughter, and reflection, making it an ideal choice for youth.

jelly donut feeding
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Jelly Donut Feeding

Jelly Donut Feeding is a humorous and messy activity involving pairs of participants, blindfolds, and jelly donuts. In this upfront game, each pair consists of a feeder and an eater. The feeder, blindfolded and using only one hand, attempts to feed three jelly donuts to their partner, who also wears a blindfold and cannot use their hands. The challenge is to either finish all three donuts first or consume the most within a set time limit. Laughter and a bit of chaos are expected, making cleanup supplies essential. This game is perfect for group bonding and entertainment.

toasted a food game
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Toasted Game

In this variation of hot potato, participants play with toast and a variety of condiments, ranging from typical spreads like butter and jam to unconventional ones like ketchup and mustard. As bread toasts, players take turns adding a condiment. When the toast pops up, the person next in line must take a bite of the condiment-laden bread. This game, suitable for large groups and often played upfront with 6-10 participants, incites laughter and anticipation as players cheer and challenge each other with creative, often gross, condiment combinations. It's a fun, engaging activity that encourages participation and lighthearted competition.

candy identity game
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Candy Identity

The Candy Identity Game is a fun and thought-provoking activity that blends candy tasting with discussions on identity and appearances. Players guess the flavors of visually similar candies, like Jelly Belly beans or Skittles, without smelling or tasting them initially. This game can be adapted for both small and larger groups. It opens up conversations about not judging by appearances and the similarities and differences among individuals. The game, involving pencils, paper, and various candies, leads to a reveal and taste test, followed by a discussion on perceptions versus reality. It's an engaging way to explore themes of identity and diversity.

donut fishing game
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Donut Fishing

The Donut Fishing game is a humorous and slightly messy indoor activity perfect for youth ministry settings. Participants attempt to eat powdered sugar donuts dangled from strings attached to dowels, without using their hands. This game, which can be played by everyone or in an upfront style with select teams, aligns well with themes of being spiritually fed, community, and even the concept of being 'fishers of men'. It's suitable for various meeting contexts, including discussions about community and shared meals like donuts after Mass. The game also offers a challenge version for added excitement, and it's guaranteed to incite laughter and enjoyment among teens.

Active Games

Glow in the Dark Dodgeball Game
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Glow in the Dark Dodgeball

Glow in the Dark Dodgeball enhances the traditional game with a luminous twist, ideal for night play or in a darkened gym, aligning with themes like "God Lights Our Way" and discipleship. Utilizing soft dodgeballs for safety, the game involves phosphorescent tape on balls and boundaries, glow bracelets for players, and standard rules with a unique "resurrection line" for outed players, offering a dynamic and engaging activity for teens, especially during open gym nights or Easter, reflecting themes of light and renewal.

Protect the President Active Game
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Protect the President

"Protect the President" is a dynamic dodgeball variant designed to energize groups. The game involves one or more dodgeballs and centers on a "president" who must avoid being hit, confined within a small taped circle for added difficulty. Players surround the president and a designated "bodyguard," who defends the president from incoming balls. The bodyguard can block with any body part, while the president dodges without touching the ball. If the president makes contact with the ball, roles switch: the thrower becomes the bodyguard, and the bodyguard becomes the president, ensuring a fast-paced and engaging activity.

Glow in the Dark Balloon Stomp
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Glow in the Dark Balloons Stomp

Glow in the Dark Balloon Stomp puts a luminous spin on the classic game, perfect for youth activities at night or with a "God Lights Our Way" theme. The game uses balloons illuminated by glow sticks, tied to participants' ankles with strings. In a darkened room, players attempt to pop opponents' balloons by stepping on them, aiming to be the last one with an intact balloon. This engaging variation adds an element of excitement and visual appeal to a familiar game, enhancing the fun and competitiveness of the activity.

Guard the Treasure Game for youth ministry or vbs
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Guard the Treasure

"Guard the Treasure" is an engaging indoor game suitable for small youth groups of 6 to 8 players. One player, designated as "It," guards an object representing the treasure, placed at their feet against a wall. The remaining players, the thieves, attempt to snatch the treasure without getting their hands touched by "It." If "It" touches a thief's hand, that hand is immobilized; if both hands are touched, the thief becomes a guard alongside "It." The game escalates as more players join the guard, and if a thief successfully claims the treasure, they become "It" for the next round, promoting alertness and strategy.

Crown the King Energizer
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Crown the King

Crown the King is a youth ministry game best played in open spaces. Players are given a paper crown and a half-length pool noodle. The goal is to knock off others' crowns while keeping your own on. Players are out when their crown falls. Gentle taps with the noodle are encouraged to maintain safety. The last person with a crown wins. The game is ideal for medium-sized groups and serves as a fun icebreaker or community-building activity.

Penny Chin Icebreaker Game
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Penny Chin

Penny Chin is a humorous game where players balance a penny on their chins, trying not to use hands or tilt heads back. The amusing challenge, involving pairs attempting to distract each other to cause the penny to drop, serves as a delightful icebreaker or lesson tie-in on topics like money, tithing, or generosity. A clever trick—using the lower lip to secure the penny—adds a twist, making it harder as smiling and laughing jeopardize the penny's stability. The last person to keep the penny on their chin wins, ensuring laughter and engagement throughout the game.

not in my basket game
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Not in My Basket!

"Not In My Basket!" is an energetic game where teams aim to collect their colored balls in their baskets while excluding others. Suitable for discussing topics like racism and immigration, the game can also explore authority or Magisterium themes by introducing rule changes mid-game. Teams score by adding balls of their color and lose points for opposing colors in their baskets. Rule variations, such as altering point values or removal methods, add complexity, making it adaptable for older participants. This game fosters teamwork, strategy, and adaptability, offering a fun, physical way to engage with serious topics.

train tag active game
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Train Tag

Train Tag is a dynamic, no-supplies-needed game ideal for youth groups or Vacation Bible School, especially fitting a railroad theme. Starting with three "engines" who are "it," the game involves tagging other players to add them as "cars" to their train by linking arms. Only engines can tag, and if a train breaks, it must be reformed before tagging resumes. The game concludes when all players are part of a train, with the longest train declared the winner. This game promotes physical activity, teamwork, and strategy, making it a spontaneous and engaging choice for group settings.

sheep and goats game
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Sheep and Goats

The Sheep and Goats Game is an engaging activity designed as a warm-up for lessons on the Judgement of the Nations or the Corporal Works of Mercy. Using blue balloons to represent sheep and orange balloons for goats, two teams compete to have more sheep on their side of a room divided by masking tape. The objective is to transfer goats to the opponent's side while accumulating sheep on one's own side within a set time frame or until a team has only sheep. This non-contact, strategy-based game emphasizes teamwork and decision-making, with rules against rough play and optional restrictions on balloon popping to maintain fairness and safety.

fruit salad game
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Fruit Salad

The Fruit Salad Game is a simple, no-prep circle game ideal for youth ministry, VBS, or church camps, aligning well with lessons on the Fruits of the Spirit or discussions on "bearing good fruit." Participants sit in a circle, each assigned to be a fruit like an apple, orange, banana, or grape. When a fruit is called out by the person in the center, those assigned that fruit must find a new seat, including the caller, who aims to secure a seat as well. The last person standing calls out the next fruit or "fruit salad," prompting everyone to move. This game encourages active participation, quick thinking, and is a fun way to energize and engage a group.

Cups and Downs
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Cups and Downs

"Cups and Downs" is a high-energy game where participants are split into two teams, with one team tasked with turning cups right side up and the other with flipping them upside down. Using around two dozen plastic cups spread out in a play area, the game initiates a dynamic competition to see which team can dominate their cup orientation before time runs out or until one team has all cups in their designated position. This game serves as an excellent energizer, promoting teamwork, speed, and strategy, making it an ideal activity for groups seeking a fun and engaging challenge.

Sleeping Conductor Game
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Sleeping Conductor

"Sleeping Conductor" is an engaging game for youth groups or Vacation Bible School, promoting observation and critical thinking, paralleling Scriptural themes of trust and discernment. With just a small paper piece needed, it's versatile for indoor or outdoor play, adding excitement to ministry activities. A selected "conductor" sits with closed eyes, holding a "ticket," while a player stealthily takes it. The conductor then has three chances to identify the thief. Success means the thief becomes the next conductor, fostering an interactive and fun environment that enhances learning and engagement among participants.

Tiger Tail Tag
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Tiger Tail Tag

Tiger Tail Tag is an exhilarating game perfect for youth ministry events, combining the thrill of a chase with sweet rewards. Participants chase the "tiger" to catch its tail, and when successful, they are rewarded with candy, making it a dynamic and enjoyable activity for building camaraderie and creating memorable moments.

Shipwreck Game
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Shipwreck

In the Shipwreck game, teams use a "ship" (like a tarp, hula hoop, or cardboard) suitable for their size, ensuring fairness. The game involves setting start and finish lines, dividing players into teams of 5-10, and racing while maintaining contact with their ship. Commands like "shark" require players to quickly gather on their ship, promoting teamwork and quick thinking. The first team to the finish line, following multiple rounds of "shark" commands, earns extra points. The team with the most points wins, emphasizing strategic teamwork, adaptability, and coordination in a fun, competitive setting.

Fox and Chicken Tag
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Fox and Chickens Tag

Fox and Chickens Tag is both fun and meaningful, suitable for youth groups or other events like Vacation Bible School (VBS). It offers more than mere entertainment, connecting with Christian themes like divine love and social justice. Participants play roles of Fox, Mother Hen, and Chicks, enjoying engaging play while reflecting on deeper values. Since it doesn't need any special materials, it's accessible and promotes inclusiveness. Whether aiming to highlight religious themes or just foster joy and camaraderie, Fox and Chickens Tag can be an excellent addition to youth ministry activities.

Bail the Ship

"Bail the Ship" is an exhilarating large group game perfect for Vacation Bible School or camp, focusing on fun and activity rather than competition. Teams use towels to launch water balloons across a divided area, catching and relaunching them, with the game ending once all balloons are broken. This high-energy game not only fosters teamwork and coordination but also provides a refreshing way to cool off and burn energy, making it a favorite among participants seeking excitement and a splashy challenge.

planet pickup game
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Planet Pickup Game

"Planet Pickup" is an energetic game where players, representing planets, race to grab a ball and "orbit" around a designated "sun." Suitable for fun or competitive play, the game can be adapted for team competition, with teams racing to complete orbits, or played in a musical chairs style for increased challenge, eliminating players who fail to secure a ball. This active game encourages physical activity, agility, and strategic thinking, making it an engaging choice for groups looking for a dynamic and thematic activity that combines fun with a touch of cosmic imagination.

Get on Noahs Ark Game
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Get on Noah’s Ark

"Get on Noah's Ark" is a simple and engaging game suitable for Vacation Bible School, church camp, or youth groups, designed for players aged 8 and up. Utilizing laundry baskets as the Ark and stuffed animals as the passengers, the game involves pairs of players—one tossing animals over their head towards their partner who attempts to catch them in the basket. This game, adaptable for indoor or outdoor play, can be scaled in difficulty by varying the number of animals used, making it enjoyable for younger children and challenging enough for older students or youth ministry members. It encourages coordination, teamwork, and provides a fun, thematic connection to the biblical story of Noah's Ark.

Musical Statues

Musical Statues is an energetic game that encourages movement and fun, ideal for youth meetings or VBS, especially those focusing on themes like freedom or joy. Instead of chairs, players dance to music and must freeze when it stops; those who move afterwards are out. This game, needing only a music source and speakers, is more inclusive and less physically risky than musical chairs, making it suitable for older youth. To engage shy participants, leaders can demonstrate exaggerated dance moves everyone must mimic, ensuring active participation and a lively atmosphere, while also providing a lively break between quieter activities.

Caboose on the Loose

In "Caboose on the Loose," participants form small "trains" by holding onto the shoulders or hips of the person in front, with additional players acting as "cabooses" aiming to join a train. When a caboose attaches to a train, the lead player detaches to become a new caboose, keeping the game in constant motion. This non-competitive, fun activity emphasizes teamwork and coordination, with an emphasis on safety to ensure all players can keep up without risk. It's an excellent choice for energizing a group and fostering a sense of unity and laughter, perfect for youth groups or team-building sessions.

Protection Dodge Ball

Protection Dodgeball pairs players, with one acting as a "protector" shielding their partner from incoming balls, highlighting the value of support and defense in a community, akin to intercessory prayer. The game involves soft dodgeballs to ensure safety, with designated throwers aiming at pairs within a defined area. Protectors use their bodies to prevent their partners from being hit, embodying the role of a guardian. This dynamic variation of dodgeball not only provides physical activity but also serves as a metaphor for protection and care within a community, making it an enriching addition to discussions on communal support and spiritual intercession.

Wild Wet Wiffle Ball

Wild Wet Wiffle Ball is a refreshing twist on traditional wiffle ball, designed for youth group or VBS summer activities, incorporating water elements for extra fun. The game uses standard wiffle ball equipment, with kiddie pools as bases and options for sprinklers, Slip 'n Slides, or splash pads to enhance the wetness. The rules adapt to children's capabilities, with modifications for batting and fielding to suit different age groups. Scoring and innings mirror regular wiffle ball, but with a splashy twist—players stand in water-filled pools for bases, adding a cool relief on hot days and making the game an enjoyable, wet adventure.

Eternal Dodge Ball
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Eternal Dodge Ball

Eternal Dodge Ball is the game that never ends. Using soft, no-sting dodge balls, players aim to hit each other, similar to regular dodge ball. Special rules, like a three-step limit for throwing and sitting down when hit, add twists to the gameplay. If you're hit, you can return to the game if the person who hit you gets hit later on. This cycle allows the game to continue indefinitely unless one player hits everyone else. The game not only offers endless entertainment but also serves as a practical tool for discussing eternity in a youth ministry context.

Mutiny (Human Pinata)

Mutiny, also known as "human pinata," is a lively outdoor game perfect for VBS or youth groups, where "pirates" chase a "captain" to collect candy. Each pirate wields a foam pool noodle as a sword and has a bag for their loot. The game emphasizes gentle taps instead of hits, with the captain dispersing candy into the air when tagged, allowing for a brief escape. This activity, enhanced by thematic costumes, encourages active participation, fairness, and the joy of sharing rewards, making it an exciting and inclusive game that combines physical activity with imaginative play.

Knowledge and Teaching Games

love definitions
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Love Definitions

The Love Definitions icebreaker game is designed for youth ministry settings to explore diverse viewpoints on love and foster group unity and teamwork. In this game, participants form small groups to create a concise definition of love using five words or fewer. These definitions are then shared anonymously, and the group guesses which team devised each one, leading to a discussion that allows individuals to share personal interpretations and experiences related to love. This activity not only prompts reflection on the meaning of love but also encourages creativity, collaboration, and open dialogue among participants.

Noisy Circle A Listening Game
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Noisy Circle

The Noisy Circle Listening Game is designed to highlight the challenge of discerning important messages amidst distractions, akin to hearing God's voice in a noisy world. Participants, standing in a circle, engage in simultaneous conversations with partners across from them on given topics, forcing them to speak loudly and listen intently due to the distance and ambient noise. After discussing, pairs share what they learned about each other. This activity prompts reflection on the effort required to listen amidst distractions and the importance of focusing to discern deeper, meaningful communication, such as understanding God's guidance in our lives.

Know it all energizer Game
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Know It All

The Know It All Game is a competitive activity designed to test the knowledge of youth across various categories. Teams compete by writing down as many items as possible within a category in one minute, with the opportunity to rotate players if someone gets stuck. Points are awarded for each unique, appropriate answer, and after several rounds, the team with the most points is declared the "Know It All." This game not only encourages quick thinking and teamwork but also serves as an engaging way to review or introduce topics, from biblical figures to general trivia like state capitals or ice cream flavors.

Sacrament Scavenger Hunt
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Sacrament Scavenger Hunt

The Sacrament Scavenger Hunt is an engaging activity designed to familiarize participants with the symbols and concepts of the Catholic sacraments through interactive exploration. Items related to various sacraments are hidden around a meeting space or grounds for participants to find. These range from direct sacramental symbols, like a cup of water for Baptism or a chalice for Eucharist, to more discussion-provoking objects like an eraser for Reconciliation or super glue for Matrimony. This scavenger hunt offers a dynamic way to spark conversations about the sacraments, making learning about faith both fun and memorable.

Is the Price Right?

The game "Is the Price Right?" challenges the notion that value is solely determined by monetary worth, addressing the impact of materialism and consumerism. Participants rank items and concepts by price, starting with tangible objects like pasta and cell phones, then integrating intangible elements such as family, friendship, and environmental well-being. This progression from material goods to invaluable human and ethical elements encourages reflection on what truly holds worth beyond market value. Through this activity, youth are prompted to question fairness, the influence of currency on value perception, and the deeper criteria for determining what is genuinely valuable, leading to insights on decision-making influenced by perceived worth.

alphabet race a humility game
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Alphabet Race – A Humility Game

The Alphabet Race is a humility game designed to challenge participants' confidence in their knowledge of the alphabet by asking them to arrange letters in reverse order. Selected from those who express confidence in their skills, players are given a bowl of alphabet letters to sequence backwards, with the twist of starting over if they misplace a letter. This activity not only tests alphabetical knowledge but also prompts reflection on overestimating abilities and recognizing that tasks easy for some may be challenging for others. It serves as an engaging lead-in to discussions about humility, encouraging players to consider their own strengths and limitations.

paper toss game
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Paper Toss and the Holy Spirit

The Paper Toss Game is a simple yet engaging activity for youth groups or Vacation Bible School, aimed at illustrating a lesson about the Holy Spirit. Participants try to throw crumpled paper into a wastebasket with a fan blowing between them and the target, making the task challenging. The game, which can be adjusted in difficulty, ends with a shoot-off for those who successfully land their paper in the basket. Following the game, a discussion anchored by John 3:8 explores the invisible, yet perceivable presence of the Holy Spirit, akin to the wind's effects, prompting reflection on how the Holy Spirit's influence is observed in life.

Leaders We Love
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Leaders We Love

Leadership is an essential aspect of youth ministry, as young people are encouraged to take an active role in their faith communities and become leaders themselves. By engaging in this activity, the youth can explore different perspectives on leadership and broaden their understanding of what makes a good leader. The small group setting encourages the youth to share their thoughts and ideas, which can help them develop their communication and teamwork skills.

fearful finds
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Fearful Finds Relay

The Fearful Finds relay game is designed to challenge participants to confront their fears by searching for coins hidden in a box filled with unsettling textures. Teams of five dive into containers layered with cooked spaghetti, pudding, soft candy, and potting soil to retrieve five coins, facing the unknown with each reach. This activity not only sparks laughter and teamwork but also prompts a deeper reflection on personal fears and the role of faith in overcoming them. Following the game, discussion questions encourage players to share their experiences and explore how their faith can support them in facing and overcoming fears in life.

Tangled Web Game
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Tangled Web

The Tangled Web Game uses a ball of string to create a tangled mess, making it a great activity to demonstrate how sin can create chaos in our lives. It teaches the importance of honesty and integrity. As players work together to untangle the web, they also learn the value of communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills.

Spread the Good news Game
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Spread the Good News

The Spread the Good News game reinforces the importance of clear communication and evangelization. By playing the game, youth can learn how to communicate more effectively and ensure that the message of the gospel is not lost or distorted in the process. It can be used as an icebreaker to help youth get to know each other better or as a knowledge and teaching game to reinforce key themes related to evangelization. The game can be used to foster a sense of community, deepen faith, and provide a fun and engaging way for youth to learn about the importance of sharing the good news of the gospel message.

Jeopardy for Youth Ministry
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Create a Reusable Jeopardy Game Board

Are you looking to enhance your youth ministry program with an engaging and educational activity? Discover how to design a reusable Jeopardy game board and bring the excitement of Jeopardy into your youth ministry, fostering learning and fun for all participants.

Seeing the Big Picture

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.

Graceful Strides Relay
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Graceful Strides Relay

Graceful Strides Relay is an interactive game where participants take varying steps during a relay race. It symbolizes unequal contributions while reflecting the equal rewards concept from the parable of the workers in Matthew 20:1-16. The relay's structure prompts discussions about grace, fairness, and teamwork, making it a practical way to engage with these concepts in a youth ministry context.

Ten Commandments Dice Game
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Ten Commandments Dice Game

This educational game uses two blank wooden dice labeled with numbers 1-5 and a cross (representing zero) for learning the Ten Commandments. Initially, children roll one die and recite the commandment corresponding to the number shown. As they become familiar with the first five commandments, the game progresses to rolling both dice, adding the numbers, and stating the relevant commandment. Rolling a cross can prompt a re-roll or a playful action. This engaging method helps children memorize and understand the Ten Commandments in a fun and interactive way.

Pathway to Change Game
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Pathway to Change

The "Pathway to Change" game is a dynamic, interactive activity designed to introduce themes of repentance and transformation to youth groups. Participants navigate an obstacle course, engaging with reflective questions and actions related to personal growth and spiritual change. Materials include simple items like cones, ropes, and index cards with prompts that encourage introspection on virtues, challenges, and faith. It serves as an effective icebreaker and a profound way to explore the journey towards becoming closer to Jesus, making it an ideal exercise for youth ministry sessions, particularly those focusing on themes of Lent and personal conversion.

Just for Fun

Extreme War

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.

Show Me the Money

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.

Silly Sentence Game

This silly sentence game is a fun icebreaker. It works with a large group but it is also fun with a smaller group.

Glow in the Dark Ring Toss

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.

Medusa

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.

Drip Drip Drop

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.

Ships and Sailors

This Ships and Sailors game is an active game where one player gives commands and the others must follow them. A little like Simon Says or Chicken on a Hut or Jackrabbit, except with a nautical theme.

Melt My Ice Heart

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.

Mingle

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.

Emotion in Motion

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.

Talent Comm – A Talent Game

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.

Sculptionary

Sculptionary is somewhat like Pictionary, except with clay sculpting instead of drawing. Adults and youth will enjoy it!

Animal Sounds

Animal Sounds is an icebreaker. In it, each person is given the name of an animal. They must find their match by making animal sounds. A printable list of animals is included.

Egg-Chicken-Dinosaur (Evolution)

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.

Tick-Tock the Crocodile Hunt

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.

Ah So Co

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.

Simon Says – The Balloon Edition

Everyone knows how to play Simon Says. This game is Simon Says with a twist!

Treasure Islands

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.

Psychiatrist

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.

Buried Treasure

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.

Water Drop Race

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.

Hook the Treasure

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.

Fish Bowl Toss Carnival Game
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Fish Bowl Toss

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

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!

Fight the Bite Secret Tag

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.

Davy Jones Locker

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.

The Boat is Sinking

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.

Pictionary

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!

Pair Off Square Off

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.

Glow in the Dark Twister

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.

Treasure Hunt

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.

Games for Specific Holy Days, Seasons, and Holidays

Could You Give It Up Game

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.

Shepherd’s Voice

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

Turkey Hunt Thanksgiving Game

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.

Comments

3 responses to “Youth Ministry Games”

  1. Mariam Avatar
    Mariam

    Hi
    Thank you for this very useful games.
    I am serving a group of youth 16 and 17 years old in canada
    I am wondering if you have a pdf file regrouping this all interesting games?
    If yes, can you please share it with me by email?

    Thanks

    1. Young Catholics Avatar

      I don't have a PDF with all of the youth ministry games in it at this time. I'm hoping to find time to do that in the future. For now, most of the games have a PDF copy on the game description page.

  2. fatima Avatar

    This Page is AMAZING. Thank you!!!

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