Why Every Youth Pastor Should Watch Jimmy Fallon (Or, The Importance of Youth Ministry Games)

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon - Season 4If you are a youth pastor, I think you should be watching The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.

Now, if you are a youth pastor, maybe you like late nights. But if you are a youth pastor like me, watching anything on that late (yes, 10:35 is late) feels overwhelming and exhausting. I will admit I do not watch The Tonight Show in real time. So you really have no excuse because I watch clips on YouTube. This way I can get to sleep at a decent hour and be selective about what segments I watch.

Not only is it helpful to watch The Tonight Show to stay culturally aware, but by watching Jimmy Fallon, you will receive inspiration. Especially inspiration for youth ministry games.

I’ll offer this as a disclaimer: it is late night television, even with its earlier time slot, it is not known for being clean. However, I see a lot of secular media as an opportunity to learn.

Confession: I used to hate youth ministry games.

Growing up attending youth group, we cut out games. My heart was not broken at the time because I must have thought I was too cool to embarrass myself by eating a banana while wearing pantyhose on my head. When I started interning with a youth ministry, one of my tasks was games. This was mainly because the youth pastor with whom I interned did not want to plan games. I developed a love for youth ministry games. In fact, in the midst of doubt about my calling, it was multiple games of Mafia that drew me back to my call.

Youth ministry games are important. They are not the most important part of youth ministry. Youth group games help break the ice and build comradery. Basically, games are important in youth ministry because they build relationships. Friendships form from shared experiences.

While our lessons and discussions are most informative and formative, they do not always provide a chance to build relationships over memorable shared experiences. When lessons do, they are gold. Realistically, some lessons will be more individualistic and require inward reflection. Games break that up by bringing people together. Games provide an opportunity to laugh at each other and at yourself. Time and time again, games provide shared experiences.

In youth ministry, there are times to be serious and there are times to have fun.

I try to have variety in the games we play. I alternate between more active and less active games. Personally, I am not an athlete, so I’m always considering what do athletic and non-athletic teens want to do? I also enjoy games where there is no real winner. And I love it when my adult volunteers can join in the fun.

Therefore, watching The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon will boost your game game (get it? because “game” can have multiple meanings?). Without further ado, I bring you:

Three Tonight Show Games You Should Play with Your Youth Group:

1. Box of Lies

Alright, so as a general rule, maybe it’s not always the best to play games in which you instruct your teens to lie. Other than that, this game has real potential. You have random things lying around. You can put said random things (staplers, perhaps) in Jell-O and bam! You have a game.

2. 5-Second Summaries

This game is easy to set up. You just need to write down movies your teens have heard of. I recommend Disney movies or something more PG. I would also recommend you write down the movies rather than have the teens write down movies just to stay on the safe side. Plus, I recently played a game with my teens where they had to write down famous people for us to act out. I received a collection of athletes, characters from books, and actors from the 1980s. They could guess their own, but when it wasn’t their own, they had no idea who people were. I like this game because it requires little prep, but seems like fun.

3. Lip Sync Battle

Words cannot describe how badly I want to have my teens compete in a lip sync battle. Does this really need an explanation?

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