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Built to Last Ages 6 to 12

If you've ever visited a construction site, you know it's a busy and active place. Each day brings new developments and progressive changes as builders work toward the finished product. Some essential elements of construction go unseen, such as soil treatments or the hidden energy source that's buried underground. But excitement grows as builders pour concrete, place beams, and hang drywall -- all visual reminders of a solid, lasting structure that's held together with countless nuts and bolts.

Construction takes tools, effort, and time -- a building doesn't spring up overnight. Kids' relationships also need tools, effort, and time to build. It can be challenging for your kids to build lasting friendships, though, when they may only see each other for one hour a week. But it's relationships, especially the well-constructed ones, that draw kids to your ministry and ultimately help them experience the most important relationship of all -- their relationship with Jesus.

So why not make kids' relationships the foundation in the solid, lasting structure of your ministry? Friendships are the true nuts and bolts of what shores up your ministry. These 12 great ideas -- all from children's ministers just like you -- give kids a blueprint to build lasting, solid relationships with other kids at your church.

Speed Friends

This speedy experience lets kids quickly learn more about the kids in their class.

Best for: Ages 9 to 12

Tools: Chairs, a white board, erasable markers

Blueprints: Form two circles with chairs -- an inner circle facing out and an outer circle facing the center. The chairs should be facing each other in pairs. Have kids each choose a chair. On "go," kids have three minutes to ask each other the following questions (write them on the board first):
• What's your best subject in school? your worst?

• If you could be a professional athlete, what sport would you choose?

• If you could choose anyone, who would you spend an entire day with this weekend? Why?

Every three minutes have the inner circle move clockwise and the outer circle move counterclockwise. Kids start over with a new partner and the same questions in this friendship-
building game.

Gordon and Becki West

Mesa, Arizona

Silly Connections

This silly game will get kids working together.

Best for: Ages 6 to 12

Tools: None

Blueprints: Gather kids in the middle of your room. Tell them you'll call out directions on ways to connect with others in a group. Kids who miss connecting with a group sit until the next round. Call out the number of kids who must connect and a silly way for them to do so, such as a group of five touching elbows, or a group of eight with their ankles hooked. This game will generate lots of laughter and fun as kids work together and build relationships.

Carmen Kamrath

Loveland, Colorado


Specialty Shops

Kids love to showcase their interests and talents with this experience.

Best for: Ages 6 to 12

Tools: Pencils, paper, "shop" supplies

Blueprints: Ask kids to write their top three interests and hobbies. Then group kids together according to their interests, and have them work together to create a "shop" during class for a couple of weeks. Kids who love to do hair and nails could set up a beauty parlor, or if they enjoy a specific sport, they could have a pro shop. Give kids supplies and time to create their shops. Once the shops are complete, create play money and have each group form two mini-groups -- shoppers and servers. Let the shoppers from each group go shopping one week while the servers serve them at their shops. Switch shoppers and servers the following week. Your kids will form connections working with others who have similar interests.

MariLee Parrish 

Loveland, Colorado

Back to Back

This fun game will get kids talking behind each other's back -- in a good way!

Best for: Ages 6 to 12

Tools: None

Blueprints: Have kids each find a partner and stand back to back. Tell kids that on your signal, they must learn two things they never knew about their partners. Give each partner 30 seconds to get the information, and then switch partners. When you've played several rounds, have kids share surprising things they discovered about other kids in their class.

Adam Day
Lancaster, Ohio

Fast Food Frenzy

This event gives preteens time to build relationships with each other and leaders as they move and dine throughout the evening.

Best for: Ages 10 to 12

Tools: Vehicles, qualified drivers to transport preteens, and restaurant clue sheets (click here to download a clue sheet).

Blueprints: Have preteens load into vehicles to venture out to various fast food restaurants, enjoying one course at each establishment. For example, they might have side salads at Wendy's, french fries at McDonald's, cheeseburgers at Burger King, Slurpee drinks at 7-Eleven, and hot fudge sundaes at Dairy Queen. At each stop, give traveling groups a clue sheet that'll lead them to the next stop. Kids will have a great time eating together -- and they'll have lots to talk about over each meal course.

Gordon and Becki West
Mesa, Arizona

Two Truths and a False

Kids can try to stump each other as they learn interesting information about their friends.

Best for: Ages 9 to 12

Tools: None

Blueprints: Have kids form a circle. Tell them they'll need to share two things about themselves that are true and one thing that's false -- all at the same time. Tell kids all their statements should sound like the truth. Then have the rest of the group try to figure out which statement is false. Kids will learn all sorts of information about each other they may not find out during their normal class time together.

Lisa Leonard
New Providence, New Jersey


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