Youth pastors are overworked.
The church usually dumps a bunch of random tasks on youth pastors, because they’re young and full of energy.
At the same time, they expect you to write powerful sermons every single week while organizing engaging games and events to rival the entertainment industry’s multi-billion dollar budgets.
Youth Pastor can be an impossible role.
Have you felt this way?
Have you felt so overburdened by random church work that you actually don’t have time to do your one job: minister to the youth?
This is extremely common.
Youth pastors very often show up to youth groups exhausted, coming up with some half-baked youth group activity that they googled 5 minutes before the meeting.
If that’s you, here are 14 ideas that you can scrape together in minutes that kids will actually like.
A big part of youth ministry is building relationships with your students.
One easy way you can get to know students is to organize some get-to-know-you games. A youth group game can be a fun activity for students to play to break any barrier that may be making them feel uncomfortable or shy so they can get to know each other.
Here are a few youth group game ideas many churches have used:
1. M&M Roulette (Prep time: 15 Minutes)
- Write prompts next to every color M&M (Yellow: Your favorite kind of food, Red: Something you’re good at; Blue: Your favorite vacation)
- Have students sit in a circle.
- Open a pack of M&Ms.
- Pass around the pack.
- Ask students to pick out an M&M
- Whatever color they get, they have to answer the prompt
- Go until the pack is empty
2. Dice and Dare (Prep time: 15 Minutes)
- Write 12 get-to-know-you questions on a board.
- Have students sit in a circle.
- Have each student roll the dice once and answer the number question shown on the dice.
3. This or That (Prep time: 15 Minutes)
- Write a list of 10 this-or-that questions (for example: “Would you rather be a bee or a horse?” “Would you rather eat a beetle or get stung by a bee?” “Would you rather have five brothers or five sisters?” You can draw from this list of 200 examples.)
- Have students sit in a circle.
- Ask the first student a “This or That” question.
- Take turns going around the circle.
- Added element: Use “This or That” questions for M&M Roulette or Dice & Dare
Do you know what students have?
A lot of energy.
As a Youth Pastor, you’ll want to plan on running youth group students around or face their wrath.
4. Life-Size Tic Tac Toe (Prep time: 5 minutes)
- Arrange three rows of three chairs (so that there is a square of nine chairs total).
- Arrange the student into two teams.
- Each team takes turns sending one member to sit in a chair.
- The first team with three in a row wins!
5. Bank Robbery (Prep time: 30 minutes)
- Buy several boxes of streamers.
- Tape them horizontally along the hallway as if they were lasers in a bank.
- Have students try to get through the “lasers” one at a time as fast as possible without knocking any streamers down.
- The fastest student wins a prize.
6. The Worm Olympics (Prep time: 5 minutes)
- Prepare two sleeping bags.
- Pair up students in pairs of two.
- Each person in a pair gets in a sleeping bag on the ground (one pair at a time).
- Have each member of the team race each other from a starting line to the finishing line.
- Added element: Create a “Playoff Bracket” and hold a championship game for a prize.
Have time to buy a few things and organize youth group games and activities?
You’re going to love these games (and so will your students).
7. Yarn-Wrapped Cardboard Letters (Prep time: 60 minutes)
- Decide a word that you want to spell with letters that correspond to the number of kids.
- Pre-cut letters from cardboard.
- Pre-cut 1-yard pieces of yarn.
- Pre-cut 10 pieces of masking tape per letter.
- Give each student one letter, 10 pieces of tape half-taped to a paper plate so that they are easy to grab, and 10 pieces of 1-yard yarn.
- Show students how to wrap one piece of yarn over the letter at a time until the entire cardboard letter is covered in this way.
- Tape the beginning of a piece of yarn to the bottom of the letter.
- Wrap the yarn around the letter without any gaps until the yarn runs out, and then tuck the end of that piece of yarn under the original piece of tape.
- Begin a new piece of yarn.
- Repeat until the entire letter is covered.
- This game for groups is one fun way for youth ministry students to make something and show off their creative abilities.
8. Woolen Heart (Prep time: 60 minutes)
- Pre-cut hearts from cardboard with a printed stencil (click here to download an easy one).
- Buy red yarn.
- Give students a long piece of yarn (about ¼ of a spool, depending on the size of the heart your cut — make sure it is enough to cover the cardboard heart without any gaps).
- Give each student a cardboard heart.
- Show them how to wrap the heart with yarn.
- Have each student wrap the heart with yarn.
- Help younger students tie off the yarn end.
- Use the heart to teach them about a message of God’s love and display them in the youth room.
Don’t leave your students hanging after your Bible study.
Reinforce your message with these youth group activities s:
9. One-Verse Bible Study (Prep time: 15 minutes)
- Pick a Bible verse, or as one person in the youth group to choose.
- Write three one-sentence applications.
- Print five different translations (NIV, ESV, KJV, NASB, The Message).
- Give a different translation to five different students.
- Have each student read a different translation out loud.
- Share one application.
- Ask students what applications the passage could have to real life.
10. Quick Prayer Meeting (Prep time: 0 minutes)
- Ask students for prayer requests.
- Write requests on a board.
- Ask students to pray for each request, after which you will close with a summary.
11. “Last Week’s Sermon” Discussion (Prep time: 15 minutes)
Summarize the sermon in 1–2 minutes. Then, ask the following questions:
- What is your favorite thing to do when bored during a sermon?
- What illustrations did the pastor use last week?
- How did the sermon apply to your life?
- Close in prayer.
Your students are bombarded with a slew of messages every day.
From Instagram, movies, and YouTube, your students are swimming in a sea of information. To help people think about the messages they hear and the images they see, try one of these church youth group activities. These fun activities will all work for a small group or large church youth group.
12. Movie Night (Prep time: 15 minutes)
- Pick an age-appropriate movie, or ask one person in your youth group to pick each time.
- Buy snacks.
- Ensure you have appropriate audio/video elements in place before the youth meeting.
- Instruct students to turn their phones off.
- Distribute snacks in shareable bowls while the movie is playing,
13. YouTube Clip Discussion (Prep time: 15 minutes)
- Find a YouTube clip from a speaker like Andy Stanley, Ravi Zacharias, or Rick Warren.
- Play the YouTube clip for students.
- Ask them what they liked or disliked about the clip.
- Use the students responses as prompts for discussion.
14. Latest News Discussion (Prep time: 15 minutes)
- Select a recent national or local news clip that won’t instigate debate between students.
- Identify two issues or questions the news piece highlights and how the church could play a positive role in the issue.
- Share the piece with students.
- Begin by sharing one of the issues or questions you identified, and ask your youth what they think about the issue or question.
- Share the second issue or question and do the same.
- Ask the youth what other issues or questions the news clip raises.
- Share your thoughts about how the church could play a role in the issues.
- Ask the youth how else the church could play a positive role in the issues.
Over to You
You might be in a busy season where you don’t have time to come up with insanely original church youth group activities and deep ideas.
You might randomly be in a situation where you have to lead the youth group.
Whatever the circumstance, don’t dwell too long on these simple youth group activities.
Pick one and run with it.
Editor’s Note: This post was updated on August 21, 2020 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.