I had a friend recently ask me what my high school ministry does with games and how we create atmosphere.  I thought about my answer and realized it would be worth writing about for the world.

Games are a staple of the all American youth group and can go a long way to provide atmosphere and even set up your topic and teaching.  Some groups do games outside or in another room (a gym), or games that involve setup, while others just do up-front games involving screens and trivia.

I have always seen value in the different kinds of games.  There are games that are sports-like, games that are large group games, and games that are up front games.

As HSM has grown and changed over the last couple of years our games have too.  We used to be in our sanctuary (gym) and playing anything we wanted, with all the room we wanted.  Many times we were unable to provide atmosphere and connection with so much room it was too big.  Now, we are in a room that we so blessed to have. A 1-year old 150 seat state of the art interior decorated, audio/visual pimped out, student ministry oasis, but to be honest because of our growth in many ways we are limited in games.

Even in the last month, our gaming reached the tipping point and brought me to the realization that we are headed toward being a “large” group.

When we first moved into this room we had some wiggle room and could still do your average youth ministry games like hitting each other with wadded up newspaper.  More and more have to do games that are “up front” games.  A couple weeks ago we did a game that involved volunteers up front trying to eat pudding with pantyhose over their heads.  We also did an up front game where we had volunteers try to toss Frisbees in trashcans that went up the center aisle.

We are still able to do some games that involve everyone but they tend to be ones that everyone can do in their seats.  Last week we handed everyone a piece of newspaper and had them wad it up.  The game was everyone throwing their paperball to the other side of the room and seeing which side had the most at the end of 1 minute.  This week we are doing one where we will freeze a penny in a bunch of ice cubes and the audience will have to get the pennies out by rubbing them on the carpet.

Our gaming has shifted away even in the last year as we outgrow our room from traditional musical chairs type large games to ones that still involve others but are in seats. 

To answer the questions after explaining the back-story, I think the involvement of people even if you leave them in their seats is key.  Up front games where you watch something funny can happen sometimes but they cannot work every week.  Here are 2 keys no matter what your setting or size.

One key is having a great emcee who can explain the game and drive it with their presence on the microphone, this doesn’t always happen with high schoolers leading.  Another key you cannot underestimate for atmosphere is graphics and sound.  Atmosphere is made with what is on your screens and the way you use music. When the game is taking place you have to turn music up and set the tone for the room. 

Hope this helps.




I haven’t done this in a while…

  • My brother sent me a link the VH1’s list of the top 100 hip hop songs of all time. He said and I quote “this should keep you busy for an hour”.  He is right. I was gonna make my list but I need to see their list before I can provide commentary. I do know that I would “Walk this Way” by Run DMC as my top song.  Anyway here is a link and rest assure that more on this will follow.  I just need Brandon to DVR this series for me…hint hint!
  • Speaking of “Walk This Way”, I have the vinyl and want to frame it for my office but I can’t find a record frame anywhere.
  • My song of the week is “All I Need (live)” by Shawn McDonald.  I have had people tell me for years that I would like him and I do. I must admit that he restored some faith in the Christian music scene.
  • Katy Perry takes note of a sign on her behalf and the disconnect to Christianity.


The majority of an iceberg’s mass is underwater.  Although there is a part that is visible, it is not the part that you should be most concerned with.  The Titanic sunk because it hit an ice berg, but it was the damage underwater that made that event so infamous.

I think the same thing is applicable to ministry and leadership.  Sometimes we get so concerned with the visible, up front, stuff that we forget that there are systems, policies, culture, and expectations that create those behaviors and results we see.

Just like an ice berg the part that should get the most attention and be worried about the most is not what we naturally defer to.

If your praise band is terrible, you don’t need a new guitar peddle, you need to new leadership.

If your worship is not attracting un churched, you don’t need a Nintendo wii, you need to tell your people to invite friends and train them to create a culture that welcome and values guests.

We spend too much time worrying about the wrong stuff. 

I have spent too much time worrying about the wrong stuff.

I am trying to get better at seeing how systems create behaviors.



I read a quote recently that said, “success is judged by the amount of awkward conversations you have.”

I want to not only be successful but to be a leader so I have been trying to initiate awkward conversations.  Not for the sake of trying to be important or throw my weight around (I am not important, but I do weigh 200 lbs).  In my experience myself and others to often do not say what is in our minds and on our hearts even if it has been put their by the Lord.  We overlook things, let them embitter us and ultimately sit back as things turn out the exact opporite that we would want and could have spoken up against and/or changed.  I am trying to get better at knowing that I did what I could and said what I knew needed said.

When I need to confront a youth staff member who is diluting our vision

When I see sin or shortcomings in someone’s life

When someone is selling themselves short

When someone compromises something I am passionate about

When someone hurts those around them

When someone is dating a tool

When someone is putting God in a box

What do you need to speak up about?



  • Most of central Ohio has power back so life is almost normal.  You still can’t assume that everyone you are talking to took a hot shower.
  • I had my district licensure exam this morning.  I passed so that is always good.  The whole process for me has been a great journey.  It feels good to have people affirm you in ministry and help you grow in your knowledge of the Word. The guys on my staff have been invaluable investing in me countless hours and conversations and coaching and teaching me.  I am blessed to serve with the staff I do.
  • The best part of passing licensure was the pumpkin pie my wife made me.
  • HSM was jumpin’ again tonight. Vickie Darrough is knocking the ball our of the park creating atmosphere and theme to support our series.
  • Next week we have a night to review our summer ministry, which hopefully is also an early promotion for next summer.
  • 2 weeks from today we start a series called the thin green line on money, giving, and all that jazz.  It is a topic that is not often talked about in high school ministries so I am excited to see it unfold.  We are going to be taking up a one time offering at the end of the series.
  • Our student leaders are getting more comfortable leading from the front and it is cool to see their influence and leadership.
  • Getting jazzed for Catalyst next month.
  • Gonna connect soon via phone with Michael Creighton the student pastor at Revolution Church in Canton, GA. Excited to see how and why they do what they do.
  • The adult Grace Group I am leading is really taking shape and taking off. I am excited because those are my best friends.  These are people who bring the biggest smiles to my face and I love sharing life with them.
  • Tomorrow is one of those days that I want to go to the office and just hammer out a ton of work but after a 14 hour Wednesday, I will probably be working in slow motion.  


I have heard it said that there are more men than women in the world.

I have also heard it said that there are more women than men in homes around America.

I have experienced first hand that there are more women than men in the church.

This represents itself in more women serving and leading in the church.

My pastor advised from the beginning that my biggest battle (and success) would be to attract and build a youth staff of male’s long term.

Recently I am realizing that as I look at my ratio of guys to girls in student leadership (3:7) how much all the above things are effecting even student ministry.

Today my wife and I were making some calls to market our grace (small) groups for the year as they start up.  I was having her call the girls and I took the guys and I literally had 2 for every 12 that she had to make.

I blazed through my calls but soon found myself thinking about the lack of guys in my ministry, guys in my church, and guys in the universal church.




Well yesterday Columbus, Ohio had 40-50 mph wind gusts that resulted in us being without power since 4PM yesterday.

(I am writing this from the church)

No TV, No internet.  We had to read books, talk to our neighbors, and improvise, it was chaos.

I think it would take about 5 days till people started looting and things turned into a scene from I am legend.