Epic Youth Work Games … Made Even More Epic!

Hi everybody. Here are a few posts that take regular, classic youth work games and BLENDS THEM WITH EVEN MORE EPIC! Enjoy.

7 New Rules For Ninja

7 Ways To Make WIDE GAME More Extreme

7 Down Right Silly Tweaks To Dodgeball

7 New Rules For Mafia

And for an added bonus:

13 More Extreme Youth Work Games

Don’t forget to let the Baby Jesus out of His Cage at New Year

“Ooh! I better go take down the manger scene. If baby Jesus got loose, he could really do some damage.” [Ned Flanders].

The Beginnings Of Jesus

Have you ever stopped to consider the amount of damage that Jesus can do? At Christmas we talk about his humble beginnings; coming in a feeding trough rather than a Ferrari Enzo, or – perhaps more traditionally – a chariot.

Even that beginning, however, was dangerous and reckless. Only a small proportion of babies survived childbirth in those days, and those were under the best of conditions. Met with the harsh realities of a back alley birth and an ill-equipped teenage mother however, hygiene was hardly on Jesus’ side.

Jesus then grew up under the scrutiny of a strictly observant Jewish community who were all too aware of his scandalous beginnings. He probably spent much of his childhood looking over His shoulder.

Danger, scandal, fear and struggle were inevitably never far from Jesus’ experience.

The Authority Of Jesus

The son of a carpenter with rough hands and a keen eye for detail were married into the sinless and acutely spiritually aware character that Jesus developed. Jesus is God, make no mistake, but He is also a man with strength, the heart of a warrior and just the right kind of fierce pride.

Jesus stood and spoke with the authority and command of a leader. Although I’d like to think of Him as the arch-socialist; reaching out first to the unwanted, the weak and the destitute – my conservative friends would probably beat me up. And rightly so.

However, it wasn’t some bullish masculinity that empowered Jesus’ leadership abilities. It was the obvious spiritual connection to His Father, spoken through a seamless command of the scriptures. In the first few chapters of Mark when Jesus is performing miracles and casting out Demons we are told time and again that it wasn’t the miraculous that drew people to Him, but the authority that was carried through the words of His mouth.

The Controversy Of Jesus

With Jesus came the division among families (‘I did not come to bring peace but the sword’), growing displacement (‘foxes have homes but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head’) and urgency for life (‘let the dead bury their own’). There was always a forward momentum and active motion to the Ministry of Jesus. Even care for the poor (who ‘you will always have with you’) was subtly sidelined in the wake of recognising exactly who He was.

In one breath he encouraged beating swords into ploughshares, but with the next he fashioned the makeshift whip of cords. Such was the paradoxical zeal that He had: both absolute peace for humanity, and right worship of His Father. These, of course, are only a paradox before you are saved.

The Violence Of Jesus

There is violence to the life of Jesus. Not one that he sows, but one that follows Him around like an ambitious plague. Every way walks he finds ready a gang of insurgents rallying to him as a military leader. Even at his birth, thousands of firstborn sons are culled, in the vain hope that he would be stopped.

His journey to the cross is marred with illness, lack of sleep and beatings. He is abandoned by his family, forsaken by his friends devoured by his enemies. Nailed to the cross for all to see – the true warrior of David, dying a traitor’s death. ‘Why do you strike me’ was the only confused protest that we hear leave his lips.

The Victory Of Jesus

Jesus’s victory over death and resurrection has a wake behind it. A journey of violence, of political upheaval, of terrorist threats and personal slander.

Only a warrior comes into this world in the reckless way that He did, sinlessly. Only a warrior grows up under the shadow of violence and remains sinless – even under the constant onslaught of the Devil. Only a warrior dies an obscenely unjust and brutal death sinlessly.

The baby Jesus could really do some damage if we let Him out. Living in the wake of the authority of Jesus is the right thing to do today.

Let’s let Him out of His cage this year, yeah?

Which West Wing Secretary Do You Need?

[playbuzz-item url=”//www.playbuzz.com/timgough10/which-west-wing-secratery-does-your-youth-work-need”]

Evaluating Ministry – Post On Lead Anyone.com

A wee while back, I was approached to write a couple of articles of Leadanyone.com by it’s founder Joel Preston. The whole site is full of quality articles and I would heartily recommend it to you.

The first of my articles went up online, and you can read it here. It’s a simple set of tools used to evaluate objectively your ministry projects. I hope that it’s helpful!

Rules young people want to add to Social Media.

For a young person social media can be a Crystal Maze of awkwardness and mind games – full of traps and ambushes with a prevailing sense of kill or be killed!

We run training for teachers, youth workers and young people themselves on how to stay safe in social media. Yesterday we shook this this up a bit and asked a bunch of young people what new rules or laws they would add to online behaviour.

This question came from the Youth For Christ, Rock Solid Playing Cards. A great resource available here.

Here are their responses, unchanged and unchallenged. What do you think? Particularly think about what fears these answers reveal and how we could respond to them:

– You should not be allowed to comment on something if you haven’t read or watched it through.

– If you wouldn’t say it to their face in front of a crowd, then don’t comment it on their status.

– Keep your opinions to yourself – no liking or disliking it at all.

– You should only be able to publicly comment on a post with the creator’s permission.

– Fake profiles should always have a ‘this person is fake, don’t trust them’ warning on them.

– When feeling bad, you should be able to ask for help and have people reply properly without trolling or silly jokes – real help.

– All comments should be made by video.

– No comments should be anonymous.

– All ‘offensive’ trolling should be banned.

– You should be able to see who is looking at your photos.

– Can’t tag random people without their permission first – or be allowed to share a photo of them anywhere without their permission first.

– Don’t allow friends to talk to you about social media if you don’t have social media.

– Don’t celebrate something others don’t have (like Christmas) in case it offends them.

– Use your real name .

– Stop correcting people’s English.


– Ban all manipulative ‘scroll down to ignore, like or comment if you care’ posts.

– Stop trolling everyone!

– Clamp down on internet slang.

– Ban click bait pages that only make you like them just to give publicity to other pages.

– Limit on what & how much you can share – awful posts should be vetted first.

– Too many selfies!!!

– Don’t allow statuses about an ex .

– Don’t allow statuses about ‘people you know’ without saying their names – especially when it’s obvious!

– Clamp down on the crazy amount of likes people get when they have a baby.

– If you’re not a fan of a thing – don’t go on the page to knock it!

– Don’t allow anyone to change their name to ‘nobody’ – to stop the ‘nobody likes this’ gag.

– Two words: farmville requests


So there they are. Again, think about the fears and questions that these ideas reveal. I recommend asking the same question to your youth group, asking them what they think this reveals and asking how they would respond.

Youth Work USP

What is your Youth Work USP? What do you bring to the table that other young people’s activities don’t?

Often completely alien to the compassion and chaos of the youth work world is the cold and competitive rigours of business. The latter is where USP – that’s unique service provision or unique selling point – comes from.

You might believe that business, sales and marketing strategies should have nothing to do with Christ-saturated youth ministry. You may believe that I’m leading you into a callous, sub-biblical and secular world of professionalism. You may also believe that I’ve simply watched too many episodes of The Apprentice – which might possibly be true!

The truth is, however, that you are probably already employing such strategies – albeit under the guise of mission statements, vision casting and prayer meetings. Business uses different language to ask effectively the same question: how can we best steward resources to have the biggest possible effect?

USP is key to this and incredibly important to nail if you want to succeed in youth work.

If you cannot clearly articulate and communicate what it is that your programs uniquely offer to young people that is above all the other trappings of the world, then they have no reason to join you.

If you can’t say loud and proud what makes your offerings so much better than a Friday night on the slosh, or a Sunday morning xbox fest, then it could account for why you only have three people showing up!

Too many youth programs hide their unique services and values under generic activities that are also provided by just about every other competing activity. Live music and entertainment can be gotten from loads of places – it’s called youtube and a sneaky pint.

Your Youth Work USP

What is it you do that other potential activities don’t?

– Do you offer a safe and compassionate community where outcasts are welcome and accepted?
– Is it direction on how to connect to the maker of the universe?
– Are you giving opportunities to feed the poor and help the homeless?
– Do you give help becoming a holistic person?
– Are you offering the key to fulfilment found in Jesus?

What is your USP? Find it, nail it, and clearly communicate it!

The USP of one of my groups is a welcome invitation to be part of a family that takes care of each other and seeks truth together. This means my ‘youth group’ works for ages 11-25, and is full of both fun activities and spiritually searching worship and study.

This USP attracts many young people who feel isolated and rejected in their own family, and it attracts those who are interested in philosophy and spirituality more generally. The USP drives what we do each night and helps form the culture of questioning, mentoring and peer-to-peer care outside the meeting times. We’ve seen many young people saved from this group!

If you want to attract spiritually aware, community producing, open-to-Jesus young people – then ‘market’ that as your USP in all of your publicity materials. That niche will be on the lookout and they will come!

Once you have developed and grown those young people, then you can set your sights broader as young people will always attract more young people. Too many of us do that backwards – start with an impossibly broad club that competes with secular groups and then try to niche it down. We overfeed on hype which seemingly works well for a couple of years (without a lot of commitments to Jesus to show for it), then we crash, burn and close down.

Find your USP! Be proud of it. Market to it and develop those who come. Then you can build a broader mission strategy off the back of that community. Winner.

More info

If you’d like to think about how to find your USP, check out an article I wrote for leadanyone.com here. If you’d like personal help developing your USP, understanding how to more clearly articulate it or building a group off it, then get in touch via the training page. Thanks!

Youth Event Generator!

Tired of feeling creative? Need a break from the constantly spinning world of social creation? Fear Not! The Ultimate Time-Saving Youth Event Generator has you covered!


Why We Should Cultivate A School Contact Network

In just one local school I have seen four different heads of RE, at least half a dozen changes in senior management and two (about to be three) headteachers – all in the space of five years. This is in no way a unique story.

Many quality teachers are being promoted out of teaching positions and are being lumped with more admin than they have ever had to deal with before. Senior staff positions are under review annually and teachers are surrounded by constant scrutiny. The teaching fabric and staff hierarchies are constantly in flux.

This simply means that authority changes hands constantly, and people who you could rely on at one point may no longer be able to help you.

It is vitally important to cultivate multiple relationships throughout the school. Teachers that you work with today could be running their department by next year. Contrastingly, department heads that valued your services once, could easily be replaced by people who have never met you and have no reason to trust you.

I make a conscious effort to network as broadly as possible within a school. Teachers, librarians, office workers, senior staff and other school visitors are all on my contacts list. I also try to make regular appearances at school events, plays, performances and open days.

As a result I have a working relationship with a wide variety of staff, and I have regular contact with at least 60% of the students of one school every year. The same school I mentioned in my opening line.

Broad school networking relationships: It can be done, and it should at least be attempted.