A Philosophy of Games (OYPO – Vol. 46)

OYPO – One Youth Pastor’s Opinion – Vol. 46

A Philosophy of Games

I wrote this philosophy of games for an upcoming 2nd Edition of my TOOLBOX book. It describes how we try to use games for good:

Games are the well-worn tool in any youth leader’s toolbox. When people play together, they form a common bond around an event, or a laugh, or a moment of triumph.

Youth pastors are constantly looking for ways to connect people to each other. Games can bridge a lost person to a youth group by providing a fun place to want to come. Every year we have people come to our camp because of the games, yet hear the Gospel and are saved. Amen!

Games can also bridge saved people to each other, and fringe people to a group. When a student comes to a church class once or twice per month, he might still feel like an outsider until he connects to someone. Maybe that connection happens at a youth activity or over a foosball table, but usually it happens through that activity called play.

Shoulder-to-shoulder is a smooth segue for face-to-face. Once someone has done something with you, they will be more open to hear something from you.

Games are a tool I am willing to use, as long as I can use them wisely enough to keep Christ preeminent and not merely prominent. I think games can be taken too far in the name of outreach, and their overemphasis can produce either skeptics or apethists[1]. The skeptic views your games like booby traps, trying to suck people in to God, while the apethist already owns five been-there-done-that t-shirts and has no deeper reason to come back for a sixth.

Church youth events are uniquely fun—I do not know of other institutions that create such outrageously fun environments. Yet fun alone is not the goal. Christ is.

As unsaved seekers and Christians alike try to find and follow Christ, games show the humanity of Christians and the joy that Christianity can provide. Within that framework, I am happy to use games in all settings: small groups, large crowds, outside, inside, on a bus, in line at an amusement park, and everywhere in between.

–Bro. Ryan

[1]Apethists is not a word, say ye? Well, that squiggly red line on my computer agrees with you. But I disagree with you and the mighty powers of the Microsoft lexicographers. Fie on you! Fie! Why? Well, go watch my favorite TED Talk called “Go ahead, make up new words!” at for my reasons.