Top 20 All-Time Best Youth Group Games

If you know me at all, or have been around me when I’m planning youth group, one of the parts that I always struggle with is coming up with games. So you’ve gone through your YS books and searched Amazon for youth group games…and then what? I think it’s important to have a theology of play and I know that games can be fun and contribute to the formation of community, etc., etc., but when it all comes down to it, I really do not look forward to planning the games. So, as I was sitting around talking to Sarah about games this past Sunday, I thought I’d ask my Facebook/Twitter friends what they thought the all-time best youth group games were. I received about 30 people who mentioned games, and some came up numerous times. So, in order of most votes to least, I present you with the Top 20 All-Time Best Youth Group Games.

  1. Sardines
  2. Hide and Seek
  3. Mafia
  4. Grog (* see description below)
  5. 4 on a Couch
  6. King of the Couch
  7. Underground Church
  8. Manhunt
  9. Flip-it
  10. Rambo
  11. Fruit
  12. Scoot
  13. 4 Square
  14. Partner Tag
  15. Stupid Ninja Game (apparently too confusing to try and explain – if you want to know, we can try and find out)
  16. Ipod Idol (* see description below)
  17. Pudgy Bunny (aka Chubby Bunny)
  18. Belly Button War (* see description below)
  19. “Please Don’t Die” (* see description below)
  20. Ditch (* see description below)

Grog: You take apart a flashlight and hide the parts throughout the play area. One kid is the Grog, which is a monster that can freeze you in place by tagging you. Everyone has to work together to find the parts, assemble the flashlight, and shine it on the Grog to defeat “it.” UPDATE: The last time I played this with the lights completely out. Within 5 minutes, a girl was screaming. First time in my youth ministry career that a kid had to get rushed to the hospital. Nothing serious, but…it was a little scary. So I’d recommend playing with the lights lowered, but not completely pitch black.

iPod Idol: One person has to sing the song that is playing in their earphones on their iPod and everyone else basically plays name that tune.

Belly Button War: Divide 2 teams, one color duck tape covering navel of one team, one color for other. Get the other teams tape.

“Please Don’t Die”: big game of keep away with 2 teams playing each other in the social hall. Winner had the ball at designated time

Ditch: 1 person is it, it starts like hide and seek. Everyone hides, then they try to “catch” the people who are hiding, who can move. Once you are found/tagged, you are also it. And last one to be found/tagged is the winner.

What about you? Do you have any favorite games that your youth group plays? Or what about when you were in youth group, do you recognize any of the games that I have listed here? Finally, what is not on my list that absolutely should be?


  1. says

    Is the “Stupid Ninja Game” you’re referring to also known as Screaming Ninjas? If so, I will try to explain.

    – Group stands in a circle.
    – One person starts as ninja: raises hands (in prayerlike, karate-chop position) above head, and says “Hiyah!” as she brings them down to point across the circle at someone else.
    – Pointed-at person becomes ninja: Says “Hiyah!” as he raises hands overhead. Pauses.
    – The two people standing on either side of the ninja then karate chop (gently) with both hands, toward the ninja’s torso, and at the same time yell “Hiyah!”
    – Then the ninja lowers his hands, yells “Hiyah!” and points toward another new ninja across the circle.
    – This process repeats itself from step 3. Anyone who leaves out a step or drops the rhythm is out. He steps back and the circle closes the gap.
    – When only two people are left, they have a yelling contest. Both people start yelling at the same time, and the one who can hold the yell longer wins.

    If this is not the “Stupid Ninja Game,” then now you’ve learned an awesome new game!

    Thanks for this great article! A similar fantastic game is “Yee Haw”–another circle game with yelling and enthusiastic participation!

    • Joe says

      Well there is a game going around like wildfire and it is called ninja. you get in a circle with your group and there is a master and he says “bow to you r master” and everyone bows and then he says “strike a pose” and everyone does w/e ninja pose they want. the master starts and tries to hit either the person on his left or rights hand. it goes clockwise but you can attack left or right. when he attacks u can do a defensive move but only one and u can only have one attach move. you have to attack in one staright motion. you can jump far if you want it just as to be one fluent motion. if you hit/or get hit on the hands then you or whoever is out.

      then there is the game called “street fighter”. u get in a circle and there is a master and he says the samer thing as from above. He/she turns to left and says “hi-you-cut” and the next person does the same to the other left person but you can shift and the opposite way if you say “tiger uppercut” and it goes the other way. u can throw it across the circle if you say “sonic boom!” and the person u send it 2 has to accept it or they can say “thousand hand slap” and it goes back to the person who threw it. u get out if u mess up.

    • kehret says

      In south Georgia we call it “Hiya” but we do have a ninja game…. everyone stands in a close circle, with their hands together… one person shouts ” 1..2..3.. NINJA!!” and everyone jumps back as far as they can and strikes a ninja pose…. go in a circle and take turns… you make one movement to try to hit anybody’s hand…. that person can make one move to dodge the attack, but if you move more than your 1 move or if your hand gets hit… you are out…. last person is declared head Ninja :)

      • Adam says

        In Montana we call it NINJAAAA DESTRUCTIOOOOOON!!!! Yelling it to start the game in your best fake Japanese voice of course! Whoever yells it usually starts and you go around the circle as people try to get other people out by hitting hands…one attack per person per turn (once you make your attacking move you are frozen…unless you are then attacked) and 1 dodge by the person being attacked (usually the person dodging is the next in line to attack someone else). it can get pretty fast paced. last one standing wins, then play again!

    • says

      Probably my favorite game ever! I’ve played this under a different alias though, the “huh!” game. I was introduced to the game by another youth pastor who I think didn’t realize it was a ninja game and was just yelling HUH! It apparently works either way :)

      Thanks for the list. I am putting one together as well!

  2. Tim says

    haha. I think all of our games are some variation of “Please Don’t Die.” our youth group really likes ‘Sock Wrestling.’ Basically wrestling and trying to pull a pair of tube socks off your opponent. Carpet burns are likely. Hide and Seek in the dark is also popular.

    Adam could you provide descriptions of King of the Couch, Flip It, and Rambo? Youth group is only days away…

  3. says

    Human Tic Tac Toe

    Set up 9 chairs in the middle of the room. Divide the kids into two teams (X team and O team)and number them off. Make sure each team is equal.

    The referee stands in the middle and calls out numbers. When the kids number is called they run to the chairs, sit down, and indicate if they are X or O.
    The first team to get a tic tac toe wins.

      • Whitney says

        Human Tic-Tac-Toe
        1: Make 3 rows of 3 using medal chairs.
        2: Split into two teams, The “X” and the “O” team. (Usually guys vs. girls)
        3: Have each team line up on opposite sides from tallest to shortest.
        4: Go to the tallest person and number them “1” then go down the line till each person has a number.
        5: Call out number (i.e. “X10” or “O5”) taking turns between “x” and “O”
        6: When the person’s number is called they must run to a chair on the “tic-tac-toe” board. They have 3 to 5 seconds to get to the chair with their butt on the chair; they are disqualified if they touch the chair with their hands.
        7: The goal is for the “X” or “O” team to get three of their players in a row.

  4. rachel says

    thanks for posting!
    my youth group is obsessed with ditch and sardines and i’m trying to find some new games that are more creative and interactive… i’d love to find some “non-competitive” games that are fun! i especially need ideas that work with the small group we sometimes have – 4-6 particpants… i like the grog idea!

    i thought nobody was playing chubby bunny anymore due to choking danger???? it seems like a good idea to leave that one in the past.

    and what’s underground church? as i’ve been looking for games, i saw a lot of youth group games that were about “communists” and “romans and centurions” and danger for christians reading the bible/meeting for worship (which i know are real concerns and difficult situations)- it didn’t seem to me the best educational piece to play a fun game with these weird political messages that come out being “us against them”

    also, since i’m totally new to youth group games – could someone explain the couch games?

    • Michelle says

      Underground church is where there are “christians” who have to try to get to the underground church without being caught by the authorities (usually played in large areas at night). When i played it we had a great lesson at the end at the “underground church” about what it might be like to have to worship God where it’s illegal and might cost you your life. It was a huge lesson for me because i remember actually being scared walking around the woods at night looking for the church.

    • Val says


      Seems to me that you have a very strong opinion on things. Remember that when working with youth you cant be so uptight. Competition definitely isn’t a bad thing when in healthy doses, and it really gets the youth involved when they know they have a chance to win! And for chubby bunny, being cautious about it is a good thing, but as for leaving it in the past, that also is something that is really up to those running the youth ministry. If we took out every game that had potential danger, we would have a list of 4games. And for the underground church, it’s most definitely NOT about ‘us’ against ‘them’. It gives kids a really good lesson on how people in other countries TRULY live. It shows them how blessed we are. A whole sermon could be taught based off the things you can learn from that game.

      Welcome to youth group! It’s a wonderful place to grow and learn in your walk with Christ. Working with youth is incredible. I hope you learn a lot and learn to be flexible with those you teach, because if they sense you’re one of those, “Don’t do this, don’t do that. That’s too dangerous. Listen to me because I’m the boss.” kind of people, they will shut you down quicker then you can say “What Happened?” Do everything in LOVE!

      • Cheryl says

        As a youth group helper and a mother of 4 (three teeangers), I do think we error on the side of caution. I, as a parent, do not want my kids playing “chubby bunny”. So make game-time as fun and interactive as possible, and if it teaches a lesson,so much the better!

      • says

        We did a variation on Chubby Bunny using Hot Tamale candies. They are smaller so the choking hazard is eliminated. You get 40 or 50 of those things in your mouth and things heat up fast! After every 10 candies, you need to be able to say the scripture phrase of the night. When you can’t take anymore of the heat, you spit the candies out into a bowl. The person who can handle the most Tamales wins. This game is rather gross but entertaining to all. Even some younger kids have larger mouth capacity than the bigger jocks. Have napkins handy. This is good for a fire themed night. –Pentecost.

  5. says

    I’ll second the awesomeness of “Four on a Couch” and “Mafia.”

    A similar game is called “Bob,” where players sit in a circle of chairs. Each player says their name, and that chair is assigned the person’s name. One chair is assigned as “Bob,” and this is the chair everyone wants to get into. The starting player begins by saying their name, then the name of someone in the circle. Whoever is sitting in the chair assigned that name must respond within 2 seconds with that name, then the name of someone else, and so on. There will be lots of “Bob! Sara!” “Sara, Ryan!” and so on. If a person messes up by not saying the right name, responding to their own name when they’re in another chair, or waiting too long to respond, they sit in the last place chair to the left of “Bob.” Everyone else behind that person then scoots clockwise one chair over, thus giving them a new name to remember. It’s a great game to remember names, takes zero setup, and can be played just about anywhere with anyone for any time.

    Also, anything that involves those foam finger darts is ideal for junior high or middle school students. Give each player one or two darts, then play capture the flag, elimination, or anything else you can think of. Buying finger darts is totally worth it.

  6. says

    Thanks Adam, my group loves sardines (jr high), esp in the dark sanctuary. They also like sanctuary baseball. My high school kids love mafia and SPOONS EXTREME (see below)….

    SPOONS EXTREME is basically the game of spoons on steroids. Instead of placing all the spoons in the middle of the table, you place them all over the room or even in other rooms if you feel adventurous. Once somebody gets all 4 cards, they run and the rest follow. Each go crazy and run all over the place looking for the spoons.

    You can either hide the spoons but that usually takes forever. I usually just place them all over the room in visible sight.

  7. Bridget says

    You wouldn’t believe how many churches I know of that have banned sardines because of the ‘purpleing’ that takes place during that game.

  8. says

    shuffle your buns is one of my fav, no prep, low resource games.

    i had to ban kiss and tackle at another parish. yup. and, eventually, lunge and lurch because someone always. got. hurt.


  9. Sara says

    I found directions to the stupid Ninja game. My youth group added their own moves that were hilarious.


    The Stupid Ninja Game is a party game, wherein 6—15 players sit (or stand) in a circle, each attempting to perform his or her own assigned “stupid ninja” move on cue, followed by the stupid ninja move of another player.

    Ninja moves for real ninja moves google ninja pilot
    The ninja moves are intended to be reminiscent of martial arts-style arcade games such as Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat; hence the name of the game. At the beginning of the game, each player chooses a move to physically perform, along with a short phrase to describe it, such as “,” “” or “Chop-chop to the Eyes!” Alternately, the move may be performed with a sound effect instead of calling out a phrase. Because the fun of the game is in the performance, the moves are often absurd or outlandish. There are no restrictions, and players may invent their own.

    Some common moves:
    * “Get over here” – reaches out with hand and grasps something and brings it in
    * “Sonic Boom” – Cups hands near chest and hands separate as they go away from the body
    * “Sir Yes Sir” – brings right hand up to eyebrow and down to side, then repeats, similar to a military salute
    * “Eeeh”- Depicting a scared rabbit, puts both hands by ears, like scaring someone
    * “Aah, aah, aah”- depicting grabbing opponents heart and throwing it down, thrust hand out, bring it back in, then thrust out again
    * “Protein Rage”- depicting mixing a protein drink, player makes a rotation motion with both hands near knees, then on ‘rage’ pours it over their head
    * “I’ll beat you with a stick”- puts both hands together and moves them downward simultaneously
    * “Bless” – covers mouth and says ‘bless’ in a high, girly voice
    * “I’ll bust you up” – raise right hand to about eye level and make fist, elbow pointing down; place left hand on right elbow and tap
    * “Boom-sucka” – makes a fake gun with right hand, and thrusts hand downward

    The objective is one of two variations:

    Variation 1: Windsor (the most common)
    If the game is timed, each player attempts to be seated at the “highest” seat at the end of the game. If a player makes a mistake, he or she moves to the “lowest” seat, and everyone behind them moves up one seat. The ninja move to be performed stays with the chair, not the player. Players switching chairs must perform the move assigned to that chair.

    Variation 2: Hokua
    If the game is untimed, a player who makes a mistake is eliminated from competition. The last player remaining wins. Since players don’t change positions in this case, they retain their move throughout the game, as well. Eliminating the second-to-last player may take quite a while, as play simply passes back and forth between two people. At this point, the performances usually become much more highly animated compared to earlier rounds, and the runner-up is eliminated because they are laughing too hard at the performance of their opponent.

    The lead player initially yells out, “What time is it?!”, to which all the other players respond “Stupid Ninja Game Time!!!” The lead player then performs his or her own move, plus the move of another player of their choice. The person whose move was called out then repeats their own move, followed by that of yet another player. In this way, the players “pass” the play around the circle. Depending on the group’s choice, players may or may not pass the play back to the person who called their move.

    The following are examples of mistakes that move players to the lowest seat (or eliminate them):
    *Performing a move incorrectly.
    *Not calling out the corresponding phrase correctly.
    *Taking too long to initiate a stupid ninja move.
    *Passing the play to a player who is already eliminated.
    *Performing a move out of turn (believing another player’s move is their own).

  10. Andrew says

    The only game I’ve played in youth ministry that has NEVER bombed is Scatterball. I’ve played most of the others on the list, but there’s always been a time when they’ve fallen flat. Even sardines. Scatterball is foolproof. Here’s how it works:

    1) Grab a round nerf ball, and play in a large open room like a gym. To start, everyone must have a hand on the ball. Establish boundaries outside of which players can’t roam. Throw the ball up in the air, and everyone scatters.
    2) Somebody will grab the ball in the air or off the ground. When in possession of the ball, a player can take two steps — big steps, small steps, it doesn’t matter. No more than two steps. After two steps, the player must throw the ball — dodge ball style — at another player.
    3) If a player is hit by the ball and the ball then falls to the ground, the hit player sits down right where he was hit. BUT, he’s not out. He can still play, he just can’t move from his seated spot.
    4) If a player is hit by the ball and catches it, then the throwing player sits down. Again, sitting players are not out, they just can’t move.
    5) At any time sitting players can snag the ball if it rolls by, and they can throw it at standing players trying to get them out. Sitting players should be advised to work together.
    6) The game ends when only one player is standing, or when time runs out (I like to limit games to less than 10 mins.).

    The reason this game never fails is that a) it has all the action of dodge ball, but b) everyone is playing all the time, and c) even timid kids can end up taking down the macho players from a sitting position. Keep each game short by awarding “survivor status” to any kid still standing after 8 mins. and you have a fast paced, fun game that’s a real winner.

    • Jessie Leigh says

      Thanks, We have an awesome themed night coming up, and I just wante dcray or different games. I like the sound of Scatter Ball and am going to give it a go.

      We have a game that the kids always beg to play. It is called electric broom. Basically you grab the bin, and take the rubbish bag out. Balance a broom ontop of the bin. Everyone gets into a circle and hold hands (monkey grip is better). You want to get other people out by pulling them towards the broom. If the broom gets knocked noff the bin, whoever touched it is out (even if it was multiple people), or if there is a break in the circle the 2 people who broke it are out.

      When people get out, you stop the game, then they reform the circle and reset the broom before resuming. The last person is the winner, although we usually just say the last 2. They love it. If you want a change, we taped glow sticks on it once for a fluro/glow in the dark night.

    • Russell Chapman says

      Jessie, we have a similar game to that.
      My youth group just really loves it.

      We call it “The Chair Game” It’s very similar, but instead of a bin and broom it’s just a chair. Only person goes out at a time.
      And if the circle breaks, the two people that broke it then rocks off to see who stays in and who’s out.

      Another game they love to play is “Human Ball of Flesh”

      This ones fun and competitive. All the guys bundle up together on the floor, hanging on to each other.
      The girls then come in and try to rip the guys off each other. I try to emphasise to not tickle or steal shoes or wedgie the guys, as it is quite unfair. But all to their own.
      Anyway, the last two guys hanging together wins.
      Also, the guys that have already been ripped off can join in and help the girls. And for very obvious reasons, we never let the girls bundle up because the guys will simply score themselves a “free grab”

    • says

      Great idea! We play a similar game where the ones who are hit sit down until the person who hit them is hit and sits down. For example if player A hits player B (remember soft nerf ball), then player B sits right where the ball hit him and can’t play until player C hits player B. When player B sits then everyone hit by player B stands up and is back in the game.

  11. says

    1. Dodgeball- i don’t know who loved it more, them or me.
    2. Gauze jousting- two people. each person puts one thigh high panty hose over their head. the panty hose has gauze or a roll of toilet paper in the end of it to give it weight. the two people stand off spinning their heads to get the hose circling around and they try to entangle and pull the hose off of their opponent. person with hose still on head wins.
    3. Bucket charades- everyone contributes a well known person into the bucket. you go through the bucket three times. first round as pictionary. second round as charades. third round as taboo. a round lasts until all the papers in the bucket have been done. two teams. each team has one person go for one minute to get as many points until they switch.
    4. There isn’t really a name for this one, but it was a version of tag that involved being in a predetermined boundary within our downtown area (small town much like Livermore) and the person who was it was carrying a seriously over-sized stuffed animal. when they caught someone, they’d chuck it and the new it would have to grab it and go after folks. Hi-larious… for us and community members.

  12. LeAnn says

    My game is “Pong Ball.”
    To play this game you need a foam tennis racket, a ping pong ball, and 4 short stools or chairs. You split into 2 teams. The one team is the batting team and the other is fielding. Thsi is an inside game. You have the batting team lined up against the wall while one player sits on the stool in place of home plate , they hit the ball pitched to them. You get 2 strikes then your out, 2 outs per inning. 5 innings are played. When the ball is hit you have to run and sit on every base you get to to make it count. The team at the end of 5 innings is the winner.
    HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Pastor Matt says

    Ninja Tag
    Every one stands in a circle as big as possible while holding hands, when this is done they release hands, designate 1-2 people to be it, it is their task to tag either of their neighbours from above the waist to below the shoulder, but the catch is they are not allowed to move their feet.
    When tagged you are now it and you do the same, tag either neighbour, tag backs are allowed.
    The catch is if you move your feet, you are out, so if your tagged and your feet move your out, if you reach to tag someone and your feet move your out.
    Also if your hand or any other part of your body touches the ground then you are also out.
    When someone is deemed out, they leave the circle and you then reform it and repeat the game by choosing 1-2 more people to be it.
    The last two people in the game are the winners.
    PS in order to tag someone it is acceptable to reach over and place your hand on their foot for support as long as you dont touch the ground and the MUST be tagged between the shoulder and the knee

  14. awanasean says

    THE NOODLE GAME – (aka duck, duck, goose for teenagers)
    Circle of chairs 15-40
    chair in the middle with a funoodle
    one student gets the noodle and goes around and chooses a somebody
    to whack. 1/2 of a noodle works best. we limit whacking to the knee.
    the one with the noodle must set it back on the chair and get to the persons seat before they get the noodle and whack them back. player one is still it if whacked (anywhere)
    before they sit down. if they get to the chair safe, the whackee is now the whacker.
    add more noodles as the game goes on, don’t allow the same people to get hit over and over. we also do a knock down drag out version where the whackee can tackle the whacker. pray for safety and enjoy- our YG all time favorite game.

  15. Ashley Prescott Barlow-Thompson says

    Thank you to everyone for the wonderful comments and ideas. When we play games in youth group, I try to make sure that they fit the theme or the objective of the evening. It is a blessing to be able to encourage plain old fun that is also pointing back to the message we are trying to get across. These kinesthetic learnings help the youth to remember the experience and connect it to the purpose of the evening.

    My question: As a youth pastor who serves youth with disabilities, both physical and mental, are there creative ways to incorporate disabilities into the games mentioned here? I am all about full inclusion and have a hard time adapting many of the games mentioned above for those who are physically and developmentally disabled.


    • Laura says

      My youths favorite game, Bucketball! Mind you many of them played football, but even the cheerleaders and brainiacs enjoyed it. You need two teams and two buckets (one on each end of a field), and one ball. Basically the object is to get the ball into the opponents bucket. Best part, no rules. If you don’t like to be too physical, graphic the ball and toss it towards the opponents bucket. The tough kids just hold onto it and try to force their way into the bucket.

      We had one guy who was in a wheel chair, but was great at defense!

  16. Gabe says

    Actual Candy Land

    Have a Candy Land Tournament but every time someone pulls a character card that moves them forward they get piece of candy. When they get a character card that moves them backwards or land on a “Lose-A-Turn” spot they lose candy. Put a large pile of Candy at the end that the person who wins receives.

    There is nothing funnier then seeing students get upset over pulling a Plumpy card.

    • Rebecca says

      We did something like this, set up an actual candyland board on the floor with construction paper, when someone landed on chocolate swamp we stopped and played “chocolate stare”, when they landed on somewhere else we played a game with digging gummy worms out of whip cream tins using only your mouth. Overall, It was a very memorable event!

  17. says

    There is a game, that was brought to New Zealand by two young Americans, it is called Ninjoshka. It was my belief that they invented it. But I have heard about this game called Ninja, which seems to be the same. Does anyone have information about this game? I want to know: how long it’s been around, the exact rules (and variations), and who created it. If anyone knows that would be awesome.
    Here are the rules for Ninjoshka:

    A group of people start in a close circle and rub their hands together and do a build up: HiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiYA, and in the “YA” you jump back and get into your fighting position (it can be anything you like). Someone is chosen (this usually takes place before the game begins) to start, and they have to hit somebody’s hand or foot, with their hand or foot. They only have one movement, if they attack someone and miss, it is the person they attacked’s turn. If you hit somebody’s hand/foot, that person is out, and you get another turn. The winner the last man standing.

    Any questions please feel free to ask, it is a epic game.

    • says

      I play a variation in which your hand/foot is the weapon and you have to hit the persons lower arm/lower leg. They have 3 hits. If an arm gets hit, it goes behind the back, but if a leg gets hit, it stays in use and can be hit again. If they fall (or if they require more than two limbs to stand), then they lose as well. This one gets a bit more crazy. And even crazier version is when you remove the turn-based and stop-frame aspect of the game and just go nuts.

  18. Chandra says

    Here are 2 more games (feel free to change the names of the characters to fit your group).

    Murder (aka extreme Mafia):
    get in a big room like a fellowship hall and have the kids pic playing cards. There should be only one King, and one Ace and the rest hbe number cards. The person who gets the Ace in the murderer & when the lights shut off they have to go around and slide their finger across thbe throats of anyone they find. When someone gets killed they fall to the floor and lay there untill somone notices them and shouts “dead body”. When that happens the lights flip on (dead bodies are moved out of the way where they can’t talk) and the person with the King steps forward, they are the sheriff. The sheriff can ask the group 3 yes or no questions before they acuse someone of being the murderer. If they get it wrong, the lights go back off and the game continues. If the sheriff gets killed, the mafia wins.

    Kissing Rugby: this is a boys vs. girls or men vs. women game. All the girls are given Letters, and the guys are given Numbers. Then a guy sits in the middle of the room; he is unable to protect himself at all. He calls out a letter and a guy will come out & stand over him to protect him. Then he calls out a number and a girl comes out to attack him. The girl has to try to kiss the guy who called out the numbers, and the boy he called out to defend him has to try to kiss her before she can kiss the guy on the ground. All players are on thier knees (it best to play over something soft like matresses). If thbe defendor kisses the attacker 1st, then that person has to be in the middle (so if the girls lose, then a girl is in the middle) and they switch calling a Numhber or Letter depending on their gender. A fun way to play is for the girls to wear bright red lipstick.

    • says

      Are you joking about the kissing rugby??! That’s the most inappropriate youth group game I’ve ever heard of! I hope you come to your senses and stop playing this game immediately as having youth kiss one another is WAY over the line and should not be tolerated (especially ENCOURAGED) under your supervision. I’m absolutely disgusted that there are youth groups that would think this is okay.

      • casey says

        Understand that she is most likely not talking about kissing on the mouth and that in many cultures a kiss on the cheek is something completely appropriate and would even be done when meeting someone new for the first time. In her cultural context it could be as normal as a hug. In your (Sarah’s and Nancy’s) cultural context it may be inappropriate so you should probably not play it.

      • Noell Rathbun-Cook says

        As a closeted queer kid, I hated games that involved kissing. I also think if you’re going to say goofy stuff like “no purple-ing” to your kids, you need to include “no hot pink-ing and no neon blue-ing”. For my own two cents: I think all the stuff that separates kids into hetero-normative gender stereotypes is problematic.

  19. says

    I had a night time lock in that spurred some variations of some old school classics: all of which were done at night, outside. However, I’m sure that they could be configured for daytime and probably inside if the room is big enough.

    Team Freeze Tag – Players are broken up into teams based on a colored bracelet or armband. Players must tag the players on the other teams and avoid being tagged. Tagged players must “freeze” and stand in place. The frozen players can be released by their own team members only. Once an entire team is frozen, that team is out. The last team remaining are the winners.

    Extreme Duck-Duck-Goose – Players are seated in a large circle with wide gaps between each player. Colored bracelets or armbands are handed out in random order around the circle. Players play classic duck-duck-goose until the chase begins. When being chased a player can cut through the circle as he passes someone with the same colored band as theirs, but they must run directly to another person with that color. The chaser can do the same, but is also restricted to the color of arm band they are wearing. If the chaser catches the runner, then the runner becomes it. If not, then the chaser must be it again.

  20. Melissa Martin says

    We played Glow-In-The-Dark Capture The Flag last night and it was amassivr hit! The flag can be either a flashlight or a glow in the dark item. Teams wear glow in the dark necklaces of – different colors to identify teams – turn out all the lights and have at it! Freeze tag rules added to Capture the Flag makes it that much better!

  21. Jarred says

    Mr. Potatoe Head challange- and awsome game we have played several times, and the teenagers seem to love it!

    you need- mr. potatoe heads,whip cream, and bowls or pans.

    In this game you cant use your hands. u can only use your mouth. you have to grab the pieces out of the pan of whip cream with your mouth and put it on the right spot of the mr. potatoe head. only using your mouth. the first one to get all the pieces on wins! or whoever has the most on when time runs out wins!

  22. Donna Martin says

    My daughter came home and is totally baffled by a game called “Broom” I’ll make space so she can describe it.. the question is: HOW DO THEY DO IT??

    Here’s Rachel: Ok, Two people leave the room. The rest of the group picks an object and person 1 comes back in. The group points out the object they picked and person 2 comes back in. Person 2 guesses the object the group picked. Ex; 1 “Is it the coffee table?” 2; “No.” 1″Is it that lamp?” 2″No.” 1″Is it Liz’s shirt?” 2″ Yes” And I have seen them do it, without speaking, pointing and looking!! Please help!!!

    • Jarred Ricks says

      The game i think your reffering to is a game called black magic, or a game with the same concept.

      in black magic, the person calling out the objects has to be sneaky. the trick is…..

      The object they call out right before the correct object, it is always black.

      so the person guessing just waits until the person calls out an object after the black one.

      hope i could help at least a little bit, haha take care!

    • Caleb says

      What I have seen them do is say ” the 5th object I choose is the right one” so they pick any object then the person picks 4 wrong ones and points to the right one the 5th time. very easy to pull off.

    • James Ng says

      We play a game in youth group called psychic. It is a lot like these ones except the point is to figure out the trick. One person leaves the room and you have either spoke with them before hand or while you are out with them. And the rest of the teens choose something. When the person comes back you point at things and ask the person if that is what the group chose. And they will guess right because they know the trick. You can keep doing it until they figure out what you are doing.

      Use this game to explain that Satan is out to trick your teens and what they see is not always what they get.

      Tricks we have used: Item after something that starts with a “b”, “a”, etc; Tapping your feet; pointing with your left hand; looking at the person vs. not looking; saying it a certain way, or anything really.

  23. Calista says

    I have some games that have traditionally been played by Scouts but can just as easily be played by a Youth Group. First, though, I have to say I am stunned at the marvelous games that people put up here, and we are definitely going to use some of them in our up-coming meetings!

    Eagle-Eye – One person is “it” and stands in the middle of a dark room (or park, if you’re playing outside at night) and is holding a flashlight. Everyone else tries to sneak in close enough to tag the Eagle without getting caught. If the Eagle hears someone, they shine their flashlight. If you’re hit by the beam of light, you’re out.

    Get the Bacon – an item of your choice is placed in the middle of the floor. The kids are divided into two equal groups and each team member is numbered. This means that Team 1 has its members numbered 1 through “whatever” and Team 2 has its members number 1 through “whatever”; each team has a corresponding person with the same number on the other team. The kids are lined up across the room from each other, an equal distance from the item in the middle of the floor. Another person stands at the perimeter and will shout out a number. The two members (one from each team) will race for the item in the center in an attempt to grab it and get it back to his team. Here, the rules fluctuate a little, depending on how much of a contact sport you want it to be. I’ve played where the first to get there wins the round, or that the first to make it back across his team’s line without being tagged wins. You could also, theoretically, play it so that tackling is permitted.

  24. Dave Collier says

    “Noodle Wars” – get a large number of the foam water noodles…cut them in half. Throw them into a large pile in a very large room(gym?). Kids line up at opposite foul lines…blow whistle or say “go” or some sort…kids run to get noodles and start beating each other (no hitting above the shoulders!). It’s a blast and they usually wear out quickly. MAKE SURE NO ONE HITS ABOVE THE SHOULDERS. this game is not recommended for children under age 10…nor should you mix High Schoolers with elementary…someone will always end up crying!

  25. Mary Mac says

    The game of “Wink” is a fun one for us!
    formation – circle of chairs where half of the group sits in a chair
    and the other half is standing behind each person with their hands behind their backs and looking down at the head of the person seated in the chair.

    One extra person needs to be standing behind an empty chair.

    This person starts the game by winking at a seated person. The seated person who is winked at must now get up from their chair quickly and get to the empty chair BEFORE the person who is looking down at their head touches them on their back, or shoulder or arm. If the person is touched then that person has to sit back in the chair. However, the winker is winking at someone else quickly. All the people sitting in the chairs should be LOOKING at the winker so that they can be ready.

    ONCE a person successfully makes it into the empty chair…..the person who now has an empty chair in front of them becomes the new “Winker”.

    No one is eliminated, everyone is on alert! After playing this way for awhile, switch and let those who have been standing, now have a chance at the game while seated.

  26. Mary Mac says

    NOODLES and large noodles sliced to be round ‘burgers’ are a good fun game!

    Everyone has a noodle in one hand and a “burger’ that rests on top of the other hand.

    The object is to flip off any other person’s burger while maintaining your own ‘burger’ on your hand.

    You could play it as an elimination game or have the person move off the playing area to ‘reset’ and enter
    the game anew!

    A talk on second chances, forgiveness, and the love God offers to us over and over might be a good one here!

    • Scott says

      A cheaper alternative might be to have each kid make a paper hat that they must keep on when attempting to knock of the other players hats. If you loose your hat you must go to the re-hatter station where an adult places your hat back on and you re-enter the game. This would be a good variant of tag that slows down the action just a bit and levels the playing field.

  27. Mary Mac says

    One of my all time favorite games is the THUMB game.

    Scattered formation
    face to face with another person
    Each person turns the left palm up
    Each person puts the right thumb DOWN onto the other person’s left palm.

    Leader counts to three and you are to simultaneously pull your right thumb up and away from your
    partner’s palm while trying to catch your partners thumb.

    The leader can play with the tempo of counting to 3….1, 2, 2 1/2, 2 3/4, THREE!

    Switch partners…..try again……then you can gather 2 partnerships and make a foursome…..
    Count again! Again, mixing up the timing and the tempo……
    Then a foursome can join with another foursome….and so on and so on….

    You could use this as an ending in itself….and now everyone is in one big circle to say a blessing or ending prayer. We sometimes find ourselves pulling away from the very ones who want us to stay and play….Let us be mindful of those who love us and care enough to want to be in relationship with us!

  28. Pastor Laurie says

    We played GROG one night a couple years ago and now that is all my middle schoolers ask for! We have an old church with a basement that winds around and it’s dark. The kids have a blast. Just one warning – check with the janitor/custodian about where the mouse traps might be! Had one student get a finger snapped as he was feeling the counters of our old kitchen!

  29. bryan says

    ultimate octopus… quite simple, play ultimate Frisbee, with a thawed raw octopus! super fun and entertaining to watch!

  30. Jameson Mcmaster says

    One of my personal, all-time favorite youth group game is called Samurai,
    Formation- everyone makes a large circle, best to do this by holding hands and moving backwards so everyone is about arms length away. In the center of the circle you place a foam noodle.
    How to play- One person is the, “samurai” and they walk around the interior of the circle holding their own noodle (so you have one noodle in the samurai’s hand and one noodle on the ground) the samurai must at all times be brushing the tip of the noodle against someone’s ankle. And in this fashion he, “patrols” around the inside of the circle. most importantly the samurai has to look forward, he cant be staring at the noodle on the ground the whole time. It is the object of the players to run and steal the noodle in the center and hit the samurai before he hits you. Only one player at a time can attempt to steal the noodle and hit the samurai. if the player is hit first he returns to the circle and the game starts up again ONLY WHEN THE SAMURAI TOUCHES A PLAYER WITH THE NOODLE. if you dont make this clear then people will be running one after the other to get the noodle and it gets crazy. If a player kills the samurai then they are now the samurai and the new round starts when they touch someone with the noodle. Great game, always has some pretty awesome duels worthy of Hollywood!

  31. Scott G says

    Mafia wars. I am at odds about this game. Is this game teaching our kids to lie? ( and be good at it )
    God tells us its wrong to kill, I know we are not actually doing that. but are we desensitizing our minds to this worldly life.
    Please chime in on this and what is your opinion. and comments.

    What kind of message does this send to a person/child that is visiting your youth group?

      • kirk says

        I share this thought. Games are real life as well. As Christians we do not have the option to check out of life. Games that encourage lying, cheating and such should be handled with extreme care. Discipling and building Christ-like character in students is the game.

    • says

      We play a game called Baby Baseball. We use a water balloon launcher (like a 3 person slingshot) and a stuffed animal. The batter puts the stuffed animal in play by shooting it with the water balloon launcher. Other than that, it is baseball rules.

      We used to play with a baby doll, but I actually had a parent tell me that this was teaching their child to shoot her baby brother into the air with a water balloon launcher! These are high schoolers. I mean, come on!

  32. Sarah says

    Our group really likes (what we call) “Lola” parties. They get together in the evening when the church is dark. They congregate in one lit room and one person goes to hide “Lola” (A large doll). They also hide a “murder” weapon (could use a spatula). They come back and release people out of the room one at a time. The church is dark. One random person will be given a flashlight and they are the “killer”. You walk around and have to find the weapon and Lola. You also need to know who the “killer” is without getting caught. (You get caught by the “killer” flashing the light at you). Then get back to the main room. If you get caught by the “killer”, you are out and go sit in the main room. It’s like a life size version of “Clue” and the kids love it.

    Another good group game is “Psyciatrist”. You have to do it with a couple who have never played. Take a few who haven’t out of the room and have them wait there. Go back in to your large group and have them all sit in a circle. Explain the “Psyciatrist” wants to diagnose their problem. So, the Psyciatrist will be asking them questions. When they answer, they are to pretend they are the person to the left of them. So if the Psyciatrist asks about eye color, they would need to know the eye color of the person sitting next to them. If the Psyciatrist gets close to guessing what’s going on (by asking yes or no questions), somes yells “Psyciatrist” and everyone moves to a new seat. It is a blast!!

    And the last one I got that is fun is “Signs”. Everyone sits in a circle and has their own “sign” (ie-tugging ear, tipping hat, whatever). One person stands in the middle and closes their eyes. One person starts by doing their sign and then another persons sign. They respond by doing their sign then somebody else’s, and it keeps going. Once the first sign is done, everyone says “The sign has been received”, and the middle person needs to guess who has the sign while everyone in the circle does the middle persons sign to distract. Then sign goes around however you choose, until the person in the middle catches on, then you start over.

  33. Aaron Moody says

    Our youth group plays a game called King’s Ransom. You break up into teams of three or four. One person is the King of each group, each other member has a dodge ball or gator ball. Each team starts well away from the others. The purpose of the game is to have your King the last one standing. If you get hit by a ball you are out, but if your King gets hit by a ball – your whole team is out. Each member can only use their dodge ball once, but can still stay in the game to block shots that are aimed toward their king. ( The second time we played I put out two yellow dodge balls that were hidden. Only the King could use these. Because you only get one shot you cannot deflect a shot with your dodge ball. Any questions?

  34. Karo says

    Thanks for the ideas!!
    A game that was a huge success at our youth group was paper-whack
    Basically you have 2 newspapers rolled up and taped to make batons. Then 2 kids are chosen, blindfolded, and spun round to disorientate them. The object is for them to find each other and whack them! Not as easy as it sounds. We used the remaining youth to form a circle to contain it a bit.
    We have also had fun doing our own version of the amazing race-split the group into teams and drive around different points where there are different challenges set (ours involved going to the local swimming pool and diving for rings, trying to put a party hat on calves and getting a strike at the bowling alley.

    My FAVE by far though has to be extreme octopus. For those who know how to play ultimate frisbee, its exactly the same, but substitute the frisbee for a real dead octopus. Obviously an outside game-great for playing on camp. We then had a waterslide set up to clean the kids off a bit!!!

  35. Bridget says

    Woah, I think folks are being harsh to Rachel. I didn’t sense that she was being a “listen to me because I’m the boss” or a “spokeswoman for OSHA” at all. I read in her post that she is thinking through things carefully before setting wheels in motion; a good model for all of us! Yes, Underground Church CAN teach a lot about what Christians go through in some places but, let’s face it, that’s only if we take the time to debrief and discuss it. Sure, competition can be good however, if EVERY thing we play is us agains them, well…not so much. It’s about balance. I don’t think it’s any more fair to say she is being too harsh than it would be for her to say the rest of us are too careless.

    Adam, I appreciate all of the effort that you put in to this blog and I’m glad it’s here as a resource. Rachel, welcome to youth ministry! The rest of us, let’s be kind to one another, OK?

  36. says

    We have a variation of ultimate frisbee where we put thawed out octopusses on all the kids heads then they try to knock the octupusses off each otherts heads with frozen salmon. Then the last kid left has to find three sardines in a bowl of whipped cream while singing america the beautiful. mean while all the other kids have to pour chocolate syrup down ther own backs until they are tagged out by a blindfolded monkey we bought just for this game. Its always upsets the parents but the kids love it.

  37. Andy says

    Why make me work to find out what all of these games are? If you’re going to write an article about them please include their info.

  38. chelsea says

    Chair ball is a favorite at our youth group. All you need is a light bouncy ball, one swivel chair, and other chairs. One person goes in the middle with the swivel chair, while everyone else around in a circle sitting is trying to hit the legs of the chair with the ball. The person to hit the legs of the chair is next in the swivel chair. The person sitting in the swivel chair is moving around the circle and can block the incoming ball with only their legs. Simple, but fun!

  39. Helena Markowski says

    Its amazing how a post from 2 years ago is still generating conversation.

    A youth game that we like to play is to teach the message of “judging a book by it’s cover” in our case, this kind of activity works becuase were in a rural community where people especially young people think that they are somewhat invincable.

    so you get about 10 different dishes, discusting &delicious dishes and name them a slightly illusive name.
    fore example: Slim shady (M&M’s)
    Tar (Licorish)
    death by sugar (straight cordial)
    smarties (Brains)
    snot (brocachini)

    After hearing only the name, the teams must nominate their compeditor that has to eat the entier dish. Failure to complete the challange, will leave the other team with a point. in the case that both complete the challange, the team that completed first ill recieve the pont. The idea of the game is to make the participants think ouside the box in instead of taking the dish face value.
    Don’t judge a book by its cover.

  40. morgan says

    How do you play Flip-it?
    and I need some “last minute” game ideas to play with JH students that require little to no supplies..any suggestions?

  41. Alannah Palmer says

    Our youth are loving a game called Keys lately! Super simple – only supplies are a set of keys (doesn’t matter what kind as long as there are a few on the key ring to make noise) and chairs. Set the chairs up to face inward, one for every person minus one chair. The chairless person starts in the middle holding the keys and runs around the inside of the circle, grabbing someone’s hand as they go. That person grabs another person’s hand, and so on, making a chain of people that are being pulled around by the keyholder. When the keyholder drops the keys, everyone scrambles for a chair and whoever doesn’t have one is the new keyholder. This works well with as few as 10 kids and as many as 50. It gets really fun if the keyholder weaves under arms and through the chain as they go, especially if they hold onto the keys until most people are in the chain.

    Thanks for all the game ideas! It’s great when ministry workers can share ideas but it’s a shame that some are so uptight.

  42. says

    My specialty is “disgusting games”. For example, “Disgusting Twister”. You make your own Twister Board out of a plastic table cloth and paper plates attached with duct tape. On the plates you put things like chopped garlic, tuna, mayo, etc. You play like regular twister, only instead of “right foot green”, it becomes “right foot tuna!”. I just made up cards with all the variations possible from the board and used the cards in random order, rather than spinning a wheel as in the real Twister. You really must play this outside, it gets really gross really fast.

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