The Name Game

contributed by Pam Zimmer

Honey If You Love Me, Do You Know Your Neighbor? and yes the classic Name Game, all of these are staples of the typical youth group event. They may be used as ice breakers, or simply to have a little fun and act a little silly, but they are an ever present entity. So when does it come time to retire a staple such as The Name Game? For youth just coming into youth group, these games are fresh and new to them, but for those moving towards senior high, these games have become old and stale.

I was hosting a youth retreat just last year when my senior high youth decided to mutiny during The Name Game. Refusing to play, they proceeded to make the game miserable for all of the new youth around them, talking amongst themselves loudly as younger youth tried very hard to remember the names and adjectives of their new friends. About half-way through the game it simply became too much to continue and we had to call the game, everyone in the room now sour for the rest of the evening.

To me, The Name Game is a classic tradition, a game that can be a bit lame, but a game that has been tied to the roots of our annual winter retreat for many years, and therefore looked upon fondly by those who want to remember those times. Those were also times when Youth group had a steady flow of new members so icebreakers and name games were a very important element of the retreat. Now however, as numbers decline and youth spend more time with one another outside of the church, icebreakers such as The Name Game have become obsolete. As one youth commented to me, “Why are we playing this stupid game when we already know everyone in the room?”

Even when new games are introduced, it seems like the youth tire of them far quicker than they used to. I remember when I was in youth group there were games we loved to play every single week. Now, if a game is played more than a few times a year it becomes old and boring to them. Have your games become stale in the eyes of your youth? Or on the flip side, if you have any games that your youth simply can’t get enough of, share them here!

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