But...don't play games just for the sake of playing games. Everything we do in children's ministry should be done with a purpose...including games.
When done with a purpose, games can be a highly effective way to communicate God's truth. Games can provide hands on activities, engage kinesthetic learners and lead to critical thinking and engaging discussions.
Every game you play should lead to a debriefing and discussion about a Biblical truth. Here's a simple pathway we use to make this happen when planning a game.
Start with the Biblical truth. Everything we do should first and foremost be about communicating Biblical truth. So it's not about having a cool game and thinking, "The kids will love this game. Let's find a truth we can tie it to." Instead, our process should be, "This is a great Biblical truth that we want the kids to understand and apply to their lives...how can we use a game to help them get it?"
Find a game that will help the kids understand the Biblical truth. The game is simply a tool to help the kids grasp the truth.
Before the game starts, tell the kids you're going to play a game that will help them better understand the truth you're teaching. This is very important because it gets them thinking about how the game is going to relate to what you're teaching and plants an early seed for the coming discussion.
Play the game. Variety is good when it comes to games. Mix it up with large group games, team games, high-energy games, messy games, fast games, slower games, etc. One important tip - the more kids you can get involved in the game, the more effective it will be. Up front games that involve everyone watching 2-3 kids play are okay occasionally, but shouldn't be the majority of games you play.
Debrief and Discuss. After the game is over, sit down with the kids and talk about how it relates to and illustrates the key truth. Have key questions planned out that will spark discussion. Make the questions open-ended to engage critical thinking.
In our children's ministry, we believe games are highly effective in helping kids grasp Biblical truth. So much so that we recently created a teaching series called, "The Enormously, Gigantically Big Game Show. The series used games to teach kids how big God is and helped them learn about some of His key attributes. One week, we even used the games to explain the deep subject of the Trinity.
Here's an example of one of the games we used to teach kids about the Trinity.
Game 3 - Meltmania - we used a water game to show that water is an example of the Trinity. It can take 3 forms - liquid, solid, vapor. We then talked about how God has manifest Himself to us in 3 ways - God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But He is one God. We tied the conversation to key scripture that talks about the Trinity.
Below is a video sample we made for the game.
Your turn. The floor is yours. How do you use games in your children's ministry? Do you use games to teach Biblical truth? What are some of your favorite games? Share with us in the comment section below.