This game is a favorite that can be used with almost any group size and a rubber ball! BTW, get yourself a nice rubber kick ball! They cost what? A dollar? And you’re still using that beat up half flat kickball that has been in your church’s closet since the first Bush administration! C’mon man, loosen the purse strings a little!
The game mechanic is simple. The group forms a circle. In the center of the circle is the “body guard” and the “target”. [NOTE: at my last church I made the mistake of referring to the “target” as the “president” and from then on my Jr. High Boys referred to the game as “J.F.K”! Wrong Costner movie! If you want to keep the conversation at you recreation time from teetering between the distasteful and the treasonous, it’s best to refer to the person in the middle as the “target”.] Everyone else in the circle are the assassins. The object is pretty simple. The assassins are trying to hit the target with the ball. The assassins in the circle pass the ball to each other until someone has a clear shot. The body guard meanwhile is protecting the target by deflecting the ball with his body. If they pick up or catch the ball they can throw it to someone else in the circle. My group considers it bad form to hurl the ball way outside the circle but your group will have to determine its own circle game etiquette. Here’s the tricky part: once the target is hit, everyone moves up a notch. The target returns to the circle, the body guard becomes the target, and the person who hit the target becomes the new body guard. You can stop the game to engage in a peaceful transition of power but my group prefers the messiness of a South American coup. For us, as soon as the target is hit, the body guard becomes the new target so the one that lands the blow has to jump into the circle and protect their fragile new arrangement!
If you have a lot of power throwers who like to aim for the kidneys in your group, you may consider a two handed rule where the ball must be thrown with both hands. I find it prevents the chaos of everyone breaking the circle to run for a stray ball to say that if the ball leaves the circle to your left, you have a right to it. Assassins also should hold the shape and not enter the circle. If ball hogging is a problem, give each player ten seconds to shoot or pass.
Whitney Huston Tribute Edition. We all honor the passing of musical legends in our own way. Might I suggest this spin on the classic? Show your group the original Bodyguard trailer. Then play by the rules above except the bodyguard will be referred to as Kevin and the target will be referred to as Whitney. Also in the background play, “I Will Always Love You”. In a continuous loop. This will give your game a certain sensitivity and raw emotional power it was lacking before.
However you choose to play this game, I’m sure it will be a crowd pleaser. If only for that special moment when the big kid everyone refers to as Sasquatch becomes the target and the short sixth grade boy nicknamed “oompa loompa” becomes his new bodyguard. Hilarity is guaranteed to ensue!
Does YOUR group have a favorite circle game?
Be honest! When you first read the title, the first thing you thought of was you and a bunch of pimply teens sitting around the church Sunday School class reading the latest issue of Fantastic Four and asking, “Is it time for you to FLAME ON!!! for Jesus?” Chances are, after you received this mental image, you either shuddered with horror or shouted: “YESSSSS!!! That would be AWESOME!!!”, and gave your life size cutout of Han Solo a high five. Either way, I got your attention. Now hear me out. No, I’m not suggesting you try to pull the deep spiritual truths out of the Amazing Spider-Man. Although they are there (c’mon,”with great power comes great responsibility?” That’s the book of James)! What I am suggesting is that you find a cool use for all your old comic books!
When I was a kid, whenever I got sick, my Mom would bring me some medicine from the drug store and a new comic book. Somehow, in my mind, I’ve always had an association between being sick in bed and reading the latest Avengers adventure. This is why whenever I visit one of my students in the hospital or at home, I bring them a comic book from my collection. I’m not one of those “collectors” who has their comic books hermetically sealed and only reads them with rubber gloves in a dark room (you THINK I’m joking!), but because I’m such a geek, I’ve amassed tons of comic books over the years and giving them away puts them to a special use! I’ve noticed several benefits to a ministry like this:
- Flowers die, cards get thrown away, they’ll keep your comic book forever! The kids I give a comic book to seem to really treasure them. Not because they’re super comic book geeks but because they can tell it’s very special to me. I explain that it’s from my own personal collection and how my mom used to give me a comic book. It’s a way I can communicate love.
- It gives kids something to do while they are immobile. Being in the hospital sucks!!! A comic book can kill a half an hour (at my reading level at least!).
- It can be highly personalized! I like to explain why I chose the comic book I did for them. Something along the lines of, “Hey, I know you love to skate board so I brought you an issue of Spider-Man where he gets help from Tony Hawk!”
- It gets rid of my old collection and gives me an excuse to buy new comic books. When I come home from the comic book store with a stack of new comic books, I can look my wife straight in the eye and say, “I’m doing the Lord’s work!”
Obviously, there may be a transferable principle for your ministry. If you are not passionate about comic books, you’re probably passionate about something else that is weird and off kilter (You are a youth pastor after all)! Maybe you could do something similar with trading cards, “mixed tape” CDs, or happy meal toys. I have a friend who collects Hot Wheels like crazy! He belongs to a Hot Wheels club where they race Hot Wheels! Over the years he has massed a stash of thousands of Hot Wheels! He always keeps a large supply of them that are not particularly valuable to him to give away to charities or pass out instead of candy at his church’s Trunk-or-Treat. I have another friend who always gives away a heavily marked book off of his bookshelf for birthday and Christmas presents. He always writes the most wonderful note in the inside cover. These are the sorts of things that cost very little, but the receiver truly treasures. Sharing something YOU are passionate about communicates love in a way few other things in life do!
Do YOU have a similar practice in YOUR ministry? I’d love to hear about it!