BIG DAY – Live 2-Foot Lizards? Bacon Soda Tasting? Toilet Plunger Races In Church?! Oh My.

What do toilet plungers, bacon soda, hissing lizards, and frozen mayonnaise have in common?

Preaching Rally games, of course!

Having silly games is crucial to the Preaching Rally. Without the chance to loosen up, have fun and laugh together, attendees would not return to the Preaching Rally.

Lest we think games are somehow non-spiritual, or playing games at a preaching event is diminishing the importance, consider the following thoughts on why we include games at our Preaching Rally:

They are simple. We do not do over-the-top crazy games. Instead, we keep them simple. No game lasts more than 20 minutes, and most are only a few minutes each. No games drag on. Before anyone realizes, the time is up and we are moving on to the next thing on the schedule.

They do not detract from the message. Because our games are simple, they do not hijack the event’s focus. The preaching is the focus of the day, and the content is what creates the impact.

They create fun memories. Part of the strategy of the Preaching Rally is to create memories together (hopefully good ones), so we have fun, shocking, and character-driven games (namely, the boldest volunteers from each youth group, and the youth directors).

They “loosen up” a crowd. Everyone knows that an “ice-breaker” can be used effectively to break down intangible barriers between strangers. Games serve the message by awakening people’s minds and getting them past the new-ness of the day.

They get people laughing. Something about laughing together is medicinal (sounds like a Bible verse, huh?). Even grouchy people can find humor in a 25-year-old man “rowing” a skateboard with a toilet plunger.

The Bible’s not against it. I have not found a Bible verse that condemns using games in a service. I have not found one that commands me to use games, either. If I understand Bible liberty right, I am okay in God’s eyes when I play “Rock-Paper-Scissors” at our Preaching Rally.


You might say that we should just show up, open in prayer, sing a song or two and have four hours of preaching. Games might be too childish for you. You might think Christians ought to be more mature than to have to “use” games as a ploy to make the preaching palatable.

A part of me agrees with that sentiment. I am not a games-ey kind of guy, usually. But I see the value of what games can be and do in a service, and I will continue to use them in their place.

After doing crowd games for several years, I have come to realize a few things:

Fun is easy in a crowd. I used to stress myself out over the games. I wanted everyone to enjoy themselves, and I felt like I had to do all the work to make that happen. I realized that teens have fun in a crowd, almost automatically. Up-front games are just as fun as crowd games (usually they are MORE fun for everyone), because the teens who do not want to be involved still enjoy watching others. And sending a race up and down the aisles helps involve the crowd, including those sitting in the back.

Characters reflect the crowd. I use volunteers for most of our games because volunteers are willing. A willing person is usually a character–not easily embarrassed, loves to be seen, will do silly things for a laugh. People rally around a character, rooting him on to his best. The character is like the spokesman for the crowd, and the crowd experiences the game through their character, particularly if he or she is from their youth group. The crowd tastes the nasty soda when they see the guy grimace. The crowd groans in agony when their favorite candidate loses to the other.

Youth pastors are the best characters. The crowd favorite is the “Youth Pastor Round” of whatever game is happening. Fruit-by-the-foot-eating relay race? The teen round is exciting; the youth pastor round is electric. Everyone–including the kids who hate their youth pastor–wants their representative to win. Better yet, everyone wants to see their own youth leaders in a different setting–like a no-hands ice cream eating contest (with a frozen mayo substitute for one particular youth pastor). [Note: do not embarrass the youth leader. I try not to choose games that might diminish the youth leader’s respect in the eyes of the teens.]


Below are a few of the games we have used in the past…

Group Rock-Paper-Scissors-HOORAY!

Total Blackout

Dismissal Games

Slam Dunk Contest

Sword Drills

Push-ups Challenge

Marshmallow Home Run Derby

Can You Spell?

Push Palms

Plunger Skateboard Races

Fruit by Foot Race

Ice Cream Eating Relays

Extreme Duck Duck Goose