Don’t forget to check out our ultimate list of youth group games for any occasion where you’ll find 19 different games and instructions!
Maybe you live in Montana where outdoor youth ministry games are not an option during the freezing winter, or Phoenix where an outdoor activity in the heat of the summer probably isn’t the best idea! Wherever your church is, a go-to list of indoor games is a must for youth groups, especially when those unexpected rainy days happen! Here are our top five indoor youth group games with full instructions and spiritual applications.
Mix It Up
“Mix It Up” takes scavenger hunts to another level! During this indoor game, your youth group will have to find objects on their list. Easy, right? But the twist is, the items on their list are written in scrambled letters!
What You’ll Need
- A bunch of random objects of your choice for students to find
- Four lists of items that are written out with mixed up letters. So, for example, RED BUCKET might turn into DRE KBEUCT. Make sure each list has different items.
- A large area to play in (youth group room, sanctuary, etc.)
If you’re limited in space, don’t sweat it. You can still play this game and get creative about where you hide the scavenger hunt objects.
How to Play this Indoor Game
- Divide everyone up into four teams (or whatever works for your size youth group).
- Distribute a list to each of the four groups.
- Release the groups into the playing area. Students must figure out what their items are and then search to find them. Students are not allowed to take any items not on their list.
- Once a team has all of their items, they must return them to a designated space, where a leader will check the accuracy of their finds. The first team to collect all of their items wins!
Feel free to add your own rules to this game. For example, if a team unscrambles a word incorrectly and grabs a wrong item, they can lose a point. If they grab another team’s item, they can lose multiple points!
Playing games is a great way to get your students to bond and relax before the lesson, but games are even better when they reinforce the message you’re going to give and help grow your ministry spiritually!
There are a couple of ways you can connect this game to our spiritual lives. One is by pointing out that the messages of the world are confusing and misleading, like the scrambled letters, but the Word of God is clear and meant to always point us in the right direction (2 Timothy 3:16 – 17). You can also talk about how the Bible might sometimes seem confusing like the jumbled letters (emphasis on the “seem”), but God wants us to understand Scripture, and the Holy Spirit will help us understand His Word.
Ships in the Harbor!
This silly game will get everyone laughing. In “Ships in the Harbor!” students must help each other navigate around a room while being blindfolded. But using “left,” “right,” and so on is boring. Instead, students must use boating terms like “port” and “starboard”!
What You’ll Need
- Any random items you could use as obstacles (chairs, tables, etc.). Make sure they aren’t dangerous if bumped into.
- A blindfold.
- A large room to set up the course in.
How to Play this Youth Ministry Game
- Set up a maze/course using chairs, tables, and whatever else you happen to have lying around.
- Divide everyone into pairs. Have each pair choose who will be the ship first, and who will be the helmsman first.
- Ships will be blindfolded and placed at the entrance to the maze. Helmsmen must then direct the ships through the maze with verbal commands, but CANNOT use “left”, “right”, “backward”, or “forward”.
- Instead, Helmsmen must use “bow”, “port”, “starboard”, and “stern”, or whatever words you want to choose, to direct the ships through safely.
- Once everyone has gone through, have them switch places, so ships become helmsmen and helmsmen become ships.
- For an added challenge, time everyone and see who can guide their partner through first!
Remember, helmsmen are supposed to try their best to give their ship correct commands. If a student is being meanspirited and intentionally trying to get someone to run into objects, step in.
This is a great game that can lead into a discussion on the value of listening and memorization as Christians. The same way that the ships had to trust and listen to their helmsmen, followers of Jesus must trust and listen to the voice of the Spirit, especially if they aren’t sure what their next step should be (Proverbs 3:5-6). This game could also be used as an intro to the topic of listening to those in authority, like pastors or parents. Make sure you explain that unlike the helmsmen (and pastors and parents), who are human and imperfect, God doesn’t make mistakes when He gives us directions and commands.
Half of the challenge of this game for both the helmsmen and ships is remembering what those boating commands mean. Another option is to use this game as an opportunity to explain to your students that memorizing Bible verses helps us make decisions every day when we’re confronted with different choices or even temptations.
Ask the Sage
“Ask the Sage” seems like a simple game at first, but it enforces intentionality and cautiousness! Students are given lists of questions only some students (Sages) know the answers to and must find the correct Sage to get each answer. However, they must be careful with how they greet the Sage and ask their question or they’ll be forced to move on to the next Sage.
What you’ll need
- A question sheet for each player
- A pencil or pen for each player
How to play this youth group game
- Create question sheets for all the students with questions only a “wise sage” could answer.
- Choose volunteers to be Sages and have them wait in different rooms. Sages will be given answers to certain questions on the question sheet.
- Students search for Sages, asking permission using the phrase “OH GREAT WISE SAGE, MAY I ENTER?” If they do not say the phrase exactly, they must move on to the next Sage.
- Once granted an audience with the Sage, the students ask a question. If they fail to ask the question exactly how it’s written, they must move on to the next Sage. If the Sage doesn’t know the answer, the student should note that.
- If the Sage knows, the student marks a correct answer on the sheet. First student with all correct answers wins.
An important rule to remember is that students can’t go to the same Sage twice in a row. Also, the questions and answers don’t have to be serious; you can make them witty or goofy! Read more about “Ask the Sage” here!
The point of this game is to encourage students to think before they speak and be intentional about their words. This is a great game to play before preaching a sermon on James 3:1-12 (taming the tongue) or Matthew 15:1-20 (Jesus describing how words can defile us). God has so much to say about our speech, from coarse language and dirty jokes (Ephesians 5:4) to the countless verses in the old and new testament about gossip. “Ask the Sage” can be a fun youth group game to explain how difficult it is to control our tongues, which is why we need to rely on God to help us.
Name That Tune
“Name That Tune” is a silly and simple game that doesn’t require a ton of prep or explaining! It’s a perfect indoor youth group activity for a rainy day.
What you’ll need
- A piece of paper and pen or pencil for yourself
- A piece of paper and pen or pencil for each team
- A list of 25 songs (5 modern, 5 older, 5 Disney, 5 90s, and 5 country)
- An electronic device to play the songs in a way that all the students can hear them.
How to play this indoor game
- Prepare your list of 25 songs, mix them up, and add them to your electronic audio device.
- Create an answer sheet with the songs numbered from 1 to 25 in the order you will play them.
- Divide the group into teams. Assign a youth leader or student leader to write down the answers and assist.
- Give the teams 30 seconds to choose a team name and write it at the top of their paper along with everyone’s names.
- Instruct the teams to number their paper from 1 to 25. Disqualify any team that fails to do so, or provide pre-numbered papers.
- Play 20 seconds of any part of each song without allowing time to recoup. If a team guesses the correct song but on the wrong number, it’s counted as a miss.
- Award one point for naming the song correctly and two points for naming the artist.
The team that gets the most points wins! It’s super easy, but you can still check out the full instructions.
Disclaimer: not every game has to have a spiritual application. We think most games should have a purpose and that you should take advantage of every Gospel opportunity. But you’re allowed to also have random, spontaneous games every once in a while, and students can also see right through you cheesily “forcing” a spiritual message.
That said, you can choose to tie this game in with a lesson by using some of these questions: “Do you know the Bible as well as these song titles and lyrics? Can you recognize or finish a verse when you hear a few words from it? Are you spending enough time in Scripture that it comes to mind often like the way these songs did?” Be careful your tone of voice doesn’t sound accusatory and to balance these questions with the grace God gives each of us in our spiritual journey.
“Mafia” is a classic! This is a role-playing game that involves a secret mafia character attempting to “kill” all the villagers before they figure out which person is the mafia player. You have to take the time to explain the rules and you may have to do a few trial rounds as the first time can be a little confusing. But once everyone gets it, it’s a blast!
What you’ll need
A place for everyone to sit in a circle.
How to play this youth ministry game
Assign everyone roles
- Leader: the narrator and game master who chooses players’ roles and gives instructions
- Mafia: work in secret to take out villagers
- Doctor: can save people
- Detective: learns player identities in secret
- Villagers: everyone else; they try to figure out who the mafia is and vote them out
Have everyone sit in a circle with their eyes shut. The leader taps the head of one person or multiple people who will be mafia. Then the leader announces that the next person to be tapped is a doctor. After tapping the doctor, the leader announces that the next person to be tapped will be the detective. After the detective is tapped, the leader instructs everyone to open their eyes.
Every round goes like this
- The leader asks everyone to shut their eyes and then asks the mafia to open their eyes and point out who they want to eliminate. They close their eyes again.
- Next, the doctor is allowed to open his/her eyes. They point at someone to be immune to attack. The doctor then closes their eyes again.
- Next, the detective opens his/her eyes and points at someone who they think is guilty. The narrator nods yes or no. The detective then closes their eyes again.
- Now, all eyes open. The narrator tells a creative story of the murder that took place last night. If the doctor saved the right person, they say the person was saved. If not, that person has a dramatic death scene.
- Now the youth get to accuse people and try to plead their innocence. Eventually, the leader calls for a show of hands to see who the group thinks is mafia. The person they vote for is out of the game, but they don’t reveal their role.
- The game continues night after night until any and all mafia are caught — which means the villagers win — or all the villagers are eliminated, which is a victory for the mafia.
This game is great to play around a campfire or as a last minute game because no materials are needed. It’s also perfect for long bus rides to conferences, camps, or retreats!
There are a couple of simple spiritual applications you can choose to tie in. The doctor can be connected to the Great Physician – Jesus! The same way the doctor can save people in the game, Jesus can save us from our sins and eternal separation from God when we ask Him to rescue us. But unlike the doctor in the game, Jesus never fails to save anyone who puts their trust in Him.
In the same way that the villagers didn’t know who the mafia was, it can be difficult to discern those who want to edify us and those who may harm our walk with God. The “mafia” in our lives can be anyone from a false teacher to a friend trying to lead us astray. We must look to God for wisdom and His Word to guide us in discerning someone’s character and intentions.
Start Your Gospel Advancing Journey
Dare 2 Share understands that youth leaders are busy and even something as simple as choosing and facilitating a game can add stress. We also understand that ultimately, your job isn’t to entertain kids. It’s to transform them into disciples of Jesus. That’s why new game ideas are just one of the free resources we provide for Gospel Advancing leaders.
When you become a Gospel Advancing leader, you join a network of like-minded youth pastors who are dedicated to sharing the Gospel themselves and reaching the teenagers in their community with Christ by training their students to become powerful evangelists and disciple-makers. Start your journey by subscribing to our Gospel Advancing Weekly newsletter and receive curriculum, books, tips, and ideas each week right in your inbox. Or fill out our short form by clicking the button below and get connected!
Indoor Games for Youth Groups FAQs
Yes! There are many times throughout the year when the climate doesn’t allow for playing games outdoors. Indoor games are also perfect for rainy days!
Yes, youth leaders can apply spiritual messages to games. A spiritual application can almost always be found in games, even if it doesn’t seem obvious at first. By applying spiritual takeaways to games, youth leaders can reinforce their sermons and bible lessons’ messages.
Not every game has to have a spiritual component or application. It’s okay for youth groups to participate in games that are just silly or fun! That said, including a spiritual application in your games reinforces that the point of youth ministry is not just to hang out and have a good time, but to develop spiritually .
It depends on the game, but many indoor youth group games do not need a lot of setup or materials. Some games, like Mafia for instance, don’t need any materials at all. Often, the most fun games are the simplest games!