How to do messy!

As fall is here, youth group is back in full swing.  If your youth group is like mine, they want GAMES – MESSY GAMES.  Nothing can build momentum like a big night of messy games.  However games, especially messy games, can trash your youth room and your career.  Here are some tips on how to run messy games: 

  1. Caution Students– Caution students to wear clothes they can ruin. Nothing will destroy a new pair of back to school jeans like a food fight.  People love spontaneous fun, but messy games are probably not the time or place.  Warn students that the games will be messy and encourage them to wear clothes they can get dirty.


  1. Get Parent Consent – Communicate not only with the kids but also the parents. Nothing like picking up a messy kid in a new car!  Also LOOK over consent forms for allergies.  You better check before doing a peanut butter game.


  1. Contain the Mess – Make sure you rope off or set boundaries. The food fight shouldn’t spill over to the sanctuary or the Senior Pastor’s office.  Watermelon softball is great in the field out back, but not so much in the foyer.


  1. Clean-up – Go ahead and recruit people to help clean up. Some people don’t want to get messy, but they still want to contribute.  Clean-up will give them the chance, to serve and keep you out of trouble.  Youth ministry is past being a church janitors worst nightmare!  Get a clean-up crew.


  1. Camera – Messy games are the perfect place for photos. Kids having a blast throwing water balloons, food, etc. are GREAT publicity.  These photos are also keepsakes to bring out on Graduation Sunday.  Get someone who doesn’t want to participate to take photos.


  1. Cut-off – Make sure students know and respect one adult that can bring things to a halt when they are close to getting out of hand. The person should be halfway between the adult that starts the food fight and a drill sergeant.  In other words, not someone who doesn’t know when to stop and not the person who doesn’t want to have any fun either.


  1. Connect to a Point – Don’t miss the opportunity to use the game to teach spiritual truth. Your food fight is a chance to talk about the battle (Ephesians 6).  Your mud fight is a chance to talk about getting clean (1 John 1:9).  Your kiddie pool of Jell-o that students use their toes to find objects in is the perfect place to talk about seeking God.


Follow these tips and you will knock messy games out of the park!

 John Pape is the author of this great blog post and is releasing a series of messy games in the DYM Store soon!