Student ministry always has some component of fun and games to it, but if we are honest sometimes games are hard to run or get creative with. I get it. I tend to focus my energy on teaching and interpersonal relationships over games, and often that means I need to dig into my repertoire of ready-to-go games or ones that are easy to set up and run.

This week I want to share with you some of my must-have games and activities that have proved invaluable over the years. I want to provide you with some activities and games that have an upfront cost but long-term benefits, and some activities you can host with resources you have on hand or are low cost. All of these can be run with minimal or no direction to free you up to do what you need to.

9 Square in the Air

This is an amazing resource and promises hours of fun and friendly competition. Think of it as a unique combination of foursquare and volleyball but you don’t have to be a super star athlete to play or win. This is an easy to set up activity and it runs itself. You can also host tournaments or play a “HORSE” style variant as well. It is a little pricey, but this product was developed by a youth pastor who has a heart for other youth workers so they offer discounts to churches. Simply email them and ask if they will help out with pricing, and they will get you a discount code.

Cornhole or Bags

This is a great activity to have out during a social time or game time. It is super easy and almost everyone knows how to play: toss the bags onto to the wooden board and try to get them into the hole. It is also super beneficial because it runs itself and if you have a couple of sets you can run competitive tournaments or just have multiple games going on at once. These run around $120, but I have found looking for slightly higher quality cornhole games ensures they will last.

Giant Jenga

This is just a lot of fun and the name says it all…it is the Jenga we all know and love, but giant sized! The cool thing about these sets is you can price compare because multiple store have them throughout the year (Aldi currently has one on sale in its seasonal section), or you can even make them yourself if you have some two by fours. This is a lot of fun and sure to bring a ton of laughs and moments that should be shared on social media.

Spikeball

This has taken the college world by storm but it is also a must-have for any student ministry. This is a new and unique style of game that is similar to volleyball, foursquare, and a trampoline for your ball. It can be played one on one, or up to three on three and has really simple game-play. This is a game you will need to walk students through once or twice but it is fairly easy to catch on, and it will run itself if you just set it out for a few weeks in a row.

GagaBall or Octoball

If you haven’t heard of this game, prepare for a game that is a ton of fun and really simple to run and set up. You can always build or purchase one of these games, but my recommendation is to use eight-foot tables to setup the octagon. The game is fairly simple: players stand inside of the octagon and drop a ball (a kickball or volleyball works really well) and hit the ball at opposing players with their hands in an effort to get them out. If a player is hit below the knee they are out. GagaBall can be done indoors and outdoors so this can be a year-round activity.

Sports Equipment

Depending on your facility and what you are allowed to do in it, having a variety of sporting equipment is a must. We don’t have a gym at our church but we do have a lot of outdoor space to use during the warmer months. We have collected various balls, Frisbees, cones, flags, and other equipment so once the weather is favorable we can go outside and have fun. Kickball has become a huge favorite and so has ultimate frisbee. Both of these games are super simple and involve minimal setup and facilitating to make them a success.

Minute to Win it

Everyone knows these games and they are a blast to play. You can find any number of these style games online, and many of the items you need you may already have at your ministry, can find for low cost in dollar stores, or ask families donate (i.e. toilet tissue, empty tissue boxes, packs of Oreos, etc.). Part of making this event fun is setting up a rotation for groups of students to move through so multiple people can play at the same time.

Board games, puzzles, and coloring books

These are relatively low cost or free if you can get them donated. Students love to play card games, board games, and even trivia, so I always keep an eye out at Walmart, Target, thrift stores, and yard sales. But also consider asking people to donate their gently used activities and then incorporate them into your ministry.

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