In my recent post 5 Things to make Church Work More Fun, I listed the following things as some ideas for how to overcome the mundane challenges that sometimes come with working on a church staff.

  1. Celebrate
  2. Play Together
  3. Laugh
  4. Share Stories
  5. Worship Together

I promised to unpack them, so here is number 2 play together!  Why are games important to youth ministry, because it creates space for youth to build relationships and common experiences with each other.  In preparing for staff retreats or planning days, I always remember being asked to “do something that is fun and builds team.”  I remember being offended the first time I was asked. Surely, I had something more to offer in leadership that games and team builders.  I did and I did on the retreat. But what I found was that my youth ministry gifts were extremely valuable to our time together, because the games and team builders broke down walls, loosened people up, and create creative space just like they do in youth group.
Over the years, I have led lots of games with church staffs.  Some of my all time favorite moments come from the following activities:

  1. Bowling – you just don’t have to be good
  2. Ropes Course or ropes course activities (its lots of fun to be the leader)
  3. Encore – a great game that involves singing

But my all time favorite was an idea by Paul Bonner my junior high youth minister.  We worked on a large church staff with 60+ staff members.  Paul convinced our senior pastor to play Gotcha!  You may remember the 80’s movie (I guess actually most of you don’t because you weren’t born yet). Here’s how you play:

  • Small water gun pistols for everyone on the staff (or in your youth group)
  • Strips of paper with the names of everyone participating on them (one name per strip)
  • You may want to create rules sheets in case people try to cheat

Everyone receives a piece of paper with a name on it(they should not have their own name and you need to make sure that two people don’t have each other’s names otherwise the game will end prematurely) and a water gun.  Here are the rules:

  • Each participant attempts to shoot the person whose name they receive with the water gun.
  • Participants must keep their names a secret until they shoot the person.
  • Participants can only be shoot under the following conditions:
    • A witness must be present
    • It can only happen on the church premises
    • During working hours
    • Worship service times are off limits
    • Bathrooms are off limits
  • After shooting their person, the staff member declares, “Gotcha!”
  • The person who was “got” gives the person who shot them their name which becomes their next target
  • You can only “get” your target.
  • Your only defense against the person after you is to avoid being got.  So avoid places with witnesses and run fast.
  • Play continues until the winner gets their own name.

Giving out names is key to a successful event, because you want to avoid an early end where someone gets their name before everyone else is eliminated.  This happens sometimes if you have an even number of people.  In the scenario below, you could end up with 2 winners who don’t know abou the other.  An odd number of people and making sure two people don’t have each other eliminates this problem.

  • Deech – Mindi
  • Mindi – Lesleigh
  • Lesliegh – Deech
  • Andrew – Julia
  • Julia – Jim
  • JIm – Andrew

Our staff had a blast.  Some took the game more seriously than others.  But after 7 days, our pastors administrative assistant was the winner.  She took me out on day two by simply telling me that the senior pastor needed to see me.
What other things have you done as a staff to have fun?