Health and Growth

14 Last-Minute Fun Youth Group Activities & Games | Tithe.ly

Looking for youth group activities? We'll highlight 14 of the best last-minute ideas for fun & meaningful youth group activities & games. Read here!

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.

… Yeah.

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.

To Encourage Having Fun

Remember, it's easy to get caught into a mindless routine of last-minute activities that just pass the time (think 3rd grade substitute teacher wheeling in the VHS and playing a movie everyone had already seen 30 times). The most effective plans that youth leaders can create are the ones that encourage all the kids and students involved to participate!

To Encourage Working Together

Competition, classic games, and beat-the-clock time limits all have their place, but team-building and group activities exist for a reason. Even if they start out awkward, the idea of a group pretzel or a human period is to break the ice all the way and to build camaraderie and lasting memories.

To Encourage Serving Others

Think: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts. What earns a badge? Helping the elderly cross the street, carrying someone's groceries inside, setting up your friend's tent before your own. All things revolved around selfless acts of service. It's not always easy for adult leaders to put themselves in the shoes of the youth. Pro tip: use the same principles they used when you were a kid, but combine some of the new age tech and culture into it.

  • Example: Have someone record a TikTok of another person helping bag the groceries for an elderly person at a grocery store. Add some fun music behind it, then post it to your Youth Group's TikTok account. Tech + service = fun.

Get-to-know-you activities

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

Physical Activities

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.

Creative Activities

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.

Spiritual Activities

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.

Passive Activities

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.

Youth  Activities & Games FAQs

How can I make my youth group more engaging?

It's a mistake to think that anything and everything will be engaging if you "try hard enough". A good first step to engaging the youth is to figure out what it is that they already do for fun (usually something related to technology: TikTok, video games, etc.) and creating a healthy intersection between that hobby and faith (like recording a TikTok video of the group sharing their faith with someone). If your group is athletic, consider playing a sport and involving the parents. Do a Parents vs. Kids game of kickball. If your group loves to read, go around in a circle and play "Pass the Story", where each person adds a sentence to the one prior and creates a story together. Be creative; enter their world.

What game do you play in a group?

Sometimes the best, most memorable group activities are the ones where you simply ask an engaging question to the group and let them respond. You could even do a mock-debate. Divide the room into one opinion and another and watch them passionately argue (constructively, hopefully!) with one another. You can always do a movie night, board games, Olympics-esque trials, and more. There are so many good group games out there. Consider asking someone in the group to plan the activity ahead of time (give them time to prepare!). This will engage someone other than an adult leader and potentially give way to a more engaging time for the rest of the youth as well.

How do you start a community for youth group?

Buy-in from the parents. Build a loyal group of 5 or 6 parents of children in the age group that you're building a community for. Have those parents take turns hosting hospitable, welcoming events for the rest of the kids. It can be a pizza/movie night, a game night, a beach day, a pancake breakfast– whatever! As the parents build consistency, the kids will begin to expect it and long for it. Before too long, their best friends will be in that community!

What are some good icebreakers for youth groups?

Something that usually works is to ask questions that are totally ridiculous and let the kids imaginations run wild. They'll all start to feed off of each other's answers and everyone will be laughing together.

  • If you could have one video that goes completely viral on TikTok, what video would it be?
  • Would you rather give up having a cellphone forever or mix a little bit of pickle juice in every drink you ever have from now on?
  • If you could be a fish, which ocean would you live in and why?

Okay, these are getting out of hand. When you use your imagination, they will use theirs.

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 6, 2021 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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14 Last-Minute Fun Youth Group Activities & Games | Tithe.ly

14 Last-Minute Fun Youth Group Activities & Games | Tithe.ly

Looking for youth group activities? We'll highlight 14 of the best last-minute ideas for fun & meaningful youth group activities & games. Read here!

Show notes

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.

… Yeah.

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.

To Encourage Having Fun

Remember, it's easy to get caught into a mindless routine of last-minute activities that just pass the time (think 3rd grade substitute teacher wheeling in the VHS and playing a movie everyone had already seen 30 times). The most effective plans that youth leaders can create are the ones that encourage all the kids and students involved to participate!

To Encourage Working Together

Competition, classic games, and beat-the-clock time limits all have their place, but team-building and group activities exist for a reason. Even if they start out awkward, the idea of a group pretzel or a human period is to break the ice all the way and to build camaraderie and lasting memories.

To Encourage Serving Others

Think: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts. What earns a badge? Helping the elderly cross the street, carrying someone's groceries inside, setting up your friend's tent before your own. All things revolved around selfless acts of service. It's not always easy for adult leaders to put themselves in the shoes of the youth. Pro tip: use the same principles they used when you were a kid, but combine some of the new age tech and culture into it.

  • Example: Have someone record a TikTok of another person helping bag the groceries for an elderly person at a grocery store. Add some fun music behind it, then post it to your Youth Group's TikTok account. Tech + service = fun.

Get-to-know-you activities

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

Physical Activities

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.

Creative Activities

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.

Spiritual Activities

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.

Passive Activities

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.

Youth  Activities & Games FAQs

How can I make my youth group more engaging?

It's a mistake to think that anything and everything will be engaging if you "try hard enough". A good first step to engaging the youth is to figure out what it is that they already do for fun (usually something related to technology: TikTok, video games, etc.) and creating a healthy intersection between that hobby and faith (like recording a TikTok video of the group sharing their faith with someone). If your group is athletic, consider playing a sport and involving the parents. Do a Parents vs. Kids game of kickball. If your group loves to read, go around in a circle and play "Pass the Story", where each person adds a sentence to the one prior and creates a story together. Be creative; enter their world.

What game do you play in a group?

Sometimes the best, most memorable group activities are the ones where you simply ask an engaging question to the group and let them respond. You could even do a mock-debate. Divide the room into one opinion and another and watch them passionately argue (constructively, hopefully!) with one another. You can always do a movie night, board games, Olympics-esque trials, and more. There are so many good group games out there. Consider asking someone in the group to plan the activity ahead of time (give them time to prepare!). This will engage someone other than an adult leader and potentially give way to a more engaging time for the rest of the youth as well.

How do you start a community for youth group?

Buy-in from the parents. Build a loyal group of 5 or 6 parents of children in the age group that you're building a community for. Have those parents take turns hosting hospitable, welcoming events for the rest of the kids. It can be a pizza/movie night, a game night, a beach day, a pancake breakfast– whatever! As the parents build consistency, the kids will begin to expect it and long for it. Before too long, their best friends will be in that community!

What are some good icebreakers for youth groups?

Something that usually works is to ask questions that are totally ridiculous and let the kids imaginations run wild. They'll all start to feed off of each other's answers and everyone will be laughing together.

  • If you could have one video that goes completely viral on TikTok, what video would it be?
  • Would you rather give up having a cellphone forever or mix a little bit of pickle juice in every drink you ever have from now on?
  • If you could be a fish, which ocean would you live in and why?

Okay, these are getting out of hand. When you use your imagination, they will use theirs.

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 6, 2021 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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