The Source for Youth Ministry
Jonathan's Resource Ezine

Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Tuesday, March 19, 2002

In This Issue

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by Jonathan McKee
March 19, 2002

Reactions ?Ezine? readers sent in
last week about gross games

Two weeks ago I included an article in this EZINE about a church that was getting sued for gross games- no, not a game on my site.? If you haven?t read it- check out the archives page: (bottom article)

Last week I sent you a response to the article that bashed gross games (and my games).? If you haven?t read it- you can check out that archives page as well: (first article)

I received a TON of responses to this email.? First, let me say thank you for your response.? I only wish I could have e-mailed you all back personally- so please accept this as a ?thank you.?? It was good to hear from so many of you.? You had great insight.? Keep up the good work.

Below are a few responses that would best represent the whole. There were so many I wish I could have posted- we just put them in categories and grabbed a few from each.? Please accept my apology if your?s wasn?t used- your response was GREAT!? I divided the responses into three categories: Against Gross Games, For Gross Games, and For a Balance of Both Normal and Some Gross Games

Let?s start with those who don?t think gross games should be used.? You made up 22.7% of the responses:

My position on gross games is they are not necessary.? Gross games are a kin to a comedian using foul language to get a laugh.? People laugh, out of awkward discomfort only. I personally avoid food games as well. Why encourage gluttony? Why play with food while others die for lack of it?? --Tim, Lititz, PA--

I agree with the paster.? I have quit using you as a source for games because almost all of your games deal with having fun at the expense and embarrassment of others.? This is not a Christian attitude.? I would like the paster 'Jane Doe' to start a submit her list of games, as most sites have the same type of games as does yours.? ?Mark--

I agree with Jane Doe.? I don't feel the need to use the disgusting games for our group to have fun. Parents place a lot of trust in me and so I don't need to abuse that.? Also I have a lot of kids from the neighborhood come to our group that don't attend anything else at our church.? I think the gross out games hurt our image as well.? I'm sorry the church is being sued for this......but I kind of saw that coming with some of those games.? If I were you Jonathon, I would take the raunchy games off your site.? That is my vote.? --Jim, Youth Minister for 17 years--

People for gross games made up 29.6% of the responses:

Many times in youth ministry I have seen people "cap" one another, but "Jane Doe", you take the cake. I find it hard to believe that someone who is truly leading this generation in a way that is pleasing in the sight of God can find better words to use than "crap". I understand if you have been exalted to the high places in youth ministry where you "have been at the largest churches in the U.S.", but for all of those who are out there under paid and over worked we seldom have time to invent a game, muchless get one from someone else. And for all those of us who are not guru's at inventing games, we'll stick with getting ideas from others.....even if they're gross.........because they still reach young people.?? --"Jane Doe's Friend"--

Dude, our kids love the gross games.? Currently I co_lead our junior high youth group of about 20+ students.? They love these games.? I recall one game that went haywire for me was the Halloween "pass the brains" game.??? (I got that game from you.? Thanks!) I carved out a pumpkin, put candy in the bottom, topped it all with cold, wet spaghetti, and they passed it around while the music played.? When the music stopped, they had to dig in and get a piece of candy.? Well the game went great!?? Only haywire part was that at the end, it turned into an all out spaghetti fight.? It was tossed all around the room and we had a huge mess to clean up.? You know what though, the kids had a great time.? I appreciate all your ideas Jonathan!? On top of that, YOU MAKE THEM FREE! That makes it even more awesome for me.? I say, "Keep 'em comin' dude!"? --Jeff, Cottage Grove, MN--

Most of my jr. highers weren't interested in going to youth group, but once they saw what we were doing, they came, AND they brought their friend.? An example:? SPEW, you know, the game w/Alka Seltzer and 7UP.? These kids, especially the skeptical 8th grade "men", were going nuts.? I heard from parents that they talked about it all day and even told their non_believing friends at school how crazy their youth group is.? Now, I'm all up for discernment.? Nobody wants to get sued or put students at risk, but come on!!? We ask kids not to drink or smoke crack, so if their bragging rights at school is that they drank coke through a sock, is that so bad, especially if their buddies want to come check it out?? I've never seen students get fired up for another round of musical chairs. --Bob--

If you thought there is a balance to using games that are gross and not- you made up 47.7% of the responses:

Having run a couple of gross nights _ not to the extent of being sued _ we have always had great fun as a group. I think common sense must prevail as too must the reason for having these nights. They help young people bond and relax in a way that is quite unique allowing them to do things they probably wouldn't in the company of their peers normally. Take them or leave them _ just be wise in what you do.? --Stu, Australia?

Jane Doe's response was a little harsh I thought.? Let's just hope that Jane didn't mean to sound as rough as she did. As far as the gross games, I am not a big fan of the "Gross Game."? I'm not terribly opposed to them, I just prefer more physical and mental challenges.? I do like to read about them and I like the fact that you have a very wide variety of content listed on your site.? Thanks for taking the time and effort that you do to make this site.? Your information and content has changed the way I do my ministry and I think everyone in my group loves it.? Oh well, you can't please all the people all of the don't even try.? --Jay, Carrollton, TX--

It is up to the youth pastor to use common sense in dealing with games!? Some games for some groups may be to gross, but for others that is exactly what they need. The problem is that if a youth worker tries to use the games instead of actually building relationships with the kids . . . In December I took over a group with 13 kids at my first meeting. I promoted a "goldfish bob" for one week and the next week we had over 25 kids. Now 3.5 months later we are having an average attendance of 47! I owe it all to a God idea of a goldfish bob. . . One young man who was into drugs and Satanism, came to our ?goldfish bob.? He then came back the next week, and the next, and the next. After 4 visits, He accepted Jesus!! During a recent testimony time during the church's regular
service... he testified about his salvation. In his testimony, he made the comment that he went fishing for a goldfish, and got hooked himself.? Thank you Jonathan for your web site.? --John Eldridge, Alabama, USA?

When I read the article about the church being sued, it didn't surprise me.? The lesson I take from this is discernment.? We have to think about the possible consequences before we do our activities.? The middle schoolers I worked with DO like "gross" games, but the question is what is gross.? When I read about what the youth leaders of that sued church allowed the kids to do _ it was absolutely disgusting.? Messy games can be fun and they become something that kids talk about during the week.? I like to do creative and weird games _ the kids love them, but they are just a means of building a bridge.? Never would I want to do something that would damage the reputation of the ministry and most of all endanger a child.? So are messy games BAD?? NO, we just need to be discerning and keep the mission in front of us.? Jonathan, thank you for trying to give youth workers tools to reach more kids for Christ. --Ashley--

Hey, I like your web site. I think the suggestions on there are great and I've used them to pull myself out of a slump on a few occasions. . . The job of a youth leader is not to look at every thing out there and use it verbatim, but to read your group and understand what would work for them, and maybe make some modifications. I realize that there are some games on your web site that would get me strung up if I used them, but that's were our judgment comes into play. Those same games would go over awesome with some other group out. The stuff on your web site is NOT crap!! . . . even though I know I haven't ?been involved in the largest churches in the U. S,? Keep up the good work Jonathan. --Kris?

First let me refute the claim made by Mrs Doe. I use your site extensively for great game ideas. My game director was given a bunch of resources when she took the position: 1. A bunch of cheesy book full of games your mom played when she was in youth ministry, and 2. Your web site.? She only uses your web site! Our students love the games we use from your site. We also play some gross games.? I can't believe that someone would trash your site. This is a wonderful FREE resource that is full of great ideas. Games are an important part of student ministry but we must remember they are only one of many tools we use to capture this generation. If it doesn't work for your students, pitch it! Use what works to reach your students for our Lord. My students like it when I blend up a happy meal. In fact they go back to their schools and tell other students who usually show up to see what we'll do next! Thanks for this FREE resource Jonathan.? --Chris, Mountain Home, AR--

The above article really touched on how games and programming
can help relational ministry . . . which can help your group grow.
To read more about the basics on growing and reaching
more students, check out the below article:

JONATHAN?S HONEST RESPONSE: Gross Games... Yay or Nay!

I think that many of the responses above speak a lot of truth.? This whole survey has brought up some good points.? Most of you said it well, so I am going to conclude with a few final thoughts:

1.? GAMES ARE A MEANS TO AN END.? In other words- ?games? aren?t the focus, we simply use them to achieve a desired outcome.? I use games as a ?tool? to help draw students in, get kids interacting with each other, or even to focus their attention up front.? Just last week, 1146 of you visited one of my most popular games page, ANYWHERE GAMES.? This page has some of my favorites like HANNAH?S GAME, ICE GRAB IT, HI MY NAME IS, and IDENTITY CIRCLE.? I often start the year with games like this to help me learn the names of kids and to help them get to know each other.? Games are a means to an end.

2.? BLENDING A HAPPY MEAL ISN?T A SIN!? The Dead Sea Scrolls didn?t include new text dictating, ?Thou shall not blendeth thy McDonalds!?? Even though you wouldn?t catch me making kids lick peanut butter out of an armpit, let?s not condescend our brothers in Christ who use gross games to further the kingdom.? I?ve used blenders, shaving cream and whipped cream pies to draw a crowd.? The last time I saw a blender used at a program, several hundred kids gave their lives to Christ later in the evening when the Gospel was presented.? Praise God for his work.

3.? OUR FOCUS IS ON CHRIST.? If we have the best games in the world that draw crowds from other continents . . . but don?t focus on Christ . . . we?ve done nothing.? I?m excited to bring you games and to share game articles with you, but they?re not my passion.? My passion is for you to have Christ in your life and to be a light in his kingdom, shining brightly for him.? (Matt 5:16)? Lets face it- the life of a minister is hard sometimes.? My goal is to try to provide resources and training for you so you can concentrate on growing in Christ and sharing his love with others.

So as good as it is to assess our motives with games and evaluate our programming, I get much more excited about next week?s article: BALANCING FAMILY AND MINISTRY.? We?ve all felt the pressure of trying to find the balance between time dedicated to ministry and personal and family time. How do we do it?? We?ll tackle that next week.

Keep up the good work!

God Bless,



Looking for an Easter video clip to start a discussion or present the Gospel.? Well, there are a couple good ones- but one that I?ve always received a good response from is the one from BEN HUR.

Most students today haven?t seen this 1959 picture that won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.? The clip that I use is 61 minutes into the film (including the six and a half minute overture in the beginning).? If you rent the DVD, it?s chapter 18, titled Water from a stranger.

The scene starts from the carpenter?s shop belonging to Jesus or possibly his father.? (You never see Jesus? face- so you might have to explain that to students.)? The camera then moves outside where you see the approaching group of slaves including Ben Hur, played by Charlton Heston.? (If they only could have got a REAL actor like Steven Seagal . . . just kidding!)

The slaves are literally dying of thirst.? As they bring out water for the slaves, the slaves gulp it up like they haven?t had a drop in days.? When it is Ben Hur?s turn, they skip him.? He falls to the dirt and mutters a desperate prayer, ?God . . . help me!?

Then a shadow comes over Ben Hur, as someone pours water over him and helps him drink. One of the guard tries to rebuke this unseen stranger (Jesus), but turns away shamefully when looked at by the stranger.

As the line of slaves leave, the stranger walks into view and we see the back of him . . . it looks like the typical American depiction of Jesus.

There are many different directions you can go with this clip.?

1.? You can simply talk about who Jesus is and what he means to us.? You can use the discussion starter I link below for this kind of discussion.

2.? You can use the story in John 4 where Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman about living water.

3.? You can use that as an introduction to Jesus character and then present the Gospel or the Easter Story.

For more video clip ideas about Jesus or Easter
click on the following video clip link and
scroll down to the section titled GOSPEL MESSAGE:

For a simple discussion starter to
stimulate talk on who Jesus is,
use the following link and click on

The Hideous Heap Contest

I?ve been telling you about the Hideous Heap Contest.?? Time is almost up- and you still have a FREE chance at winning the YS IDEAS LIBRARY.? Interested?? Keep reading.

I have an ugly youth worker?s car.? It?s an 83 nasty-yellow Volvo.? Well . . . Youth Specialties and I want to reward a youth worker out there who drives the ugliest car.? The Source came up with THE HIDEOUS HEAP CONTEST, and Youth Specialties is sponsoring the prize.? Check it out:

We are putting on a contest for all youth workers, volunteer or paid, to reward them for driving a ?hideous heap!?? If you drive one of these pathetic vehicles, keep reading or just pop onto our web page and click on the picture of the ?Hideous Heap!??

Youth Specialties is sponsoring this contest and is giving their new IDEAS LIBRARY on CD ROM for the prize (a $180 value).?


1.? Take a picture of your HIDEOUS HEAP!? Scan it, digitize it, do whatever you have to do to email it to us!? No snail mail in this contest.? If you can make this happen_ go on to point number 2!

2.? Email us at with the following:
The picture of your heap
Your name
Your phone number
Your role as a youth worker (are you a volunteer, are you paid, do you clean up after the slobs in the junior high room?)
And a description of your heap, 30 words or less (e.g. My yellow Volvo might be ugly, but she RUNS!? No stereo, no air, just gets me and the kids from here to there.? --Jonathan-- )

3.? Jonathan McKee of The Source and Mike Atkinson of Youth Specialties will judge all entries the last day of March and post the winner on April Fools Day!

Just click on the picture of the ?Hideous Heap?
on the front of our web page:


If you have any other youth ministry ideas you want to share, please email me

God Bless!

Jonathan R. McKee

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