Every week, student church services present a segment that can really be hit-or-miss. It’s the dreaded transition time before the message. This moment usually involves a game, which range from gross (think “live goldfish appetizer”) to geeky (ooh! trivia!). It’s a segment that may feel less intentional than the rest of the programming around it.

We like to call this time Ten Minutes That Serve as an Introduction/Transition to Worship/The Message.

The TMTSAAITTWTM (aka The Hosting Segment) is often reserved for a game—like throwing cheeseballs at a student whose face is covered in peanut butter. Unfortunately, too many games—or less than awesome ones— can also lead to it becoming the segment where students check out and turn their attention to their phones.

So to keep things interesting, here are few ways to diversify your hosting portfolio:

Be equal opportunity
Many games tend to draw the most outgoing students in the room. Shyer types, however, are not interested in swallowing a live earthworm onstage. Find games that appeal to all personalities. Try Insta-faceoff where students view photos (of some pre planned extroverts) and vote for which are the most awkward.

Expand the concept of fun
Students crave variety. So expand what this segment looks like. It could be hang-out time. It could be various game stations set-up around the room. It could be a five-minute mingler. It could be a DJ playing music as students enter the room.

Speaking of music…

Play music
Never underestimate the power of music to enhance your environment. If you’re worried about secular lyrics, search for instrumentals on Spotify or iTunes. You can often find original instrumental tracks by hip-hop and dance artists. Play music whenever you’re hosting, playing a game, or even making announcements. These tracks can keep energy up and awkward silence down.

Make students part of the programming
Chances are you have some talented students in your group. Tap into that talent and make people feel included, while entertaining the room. You could have a segment modeled on The Voice, where aspiring singers get 30 seconds to do their best karaoke. Or a Birthday Battle Rap where the birthday boy or girl sits in the middle of the stage, while two rappers freestyle the best birthday shout-out. This is a time where you can move the spotlight to students, making them feel included, which gives them a reason to come back next week.

Don’t misunderstand. Games. Are. Awesome. Done well, they can be the hook that makes a new student want to return. But don’t sell your transition time short by feeling like you have to come up with a new game every week. There are tons of other ways to engage students, capture their affection, and keep them coming back.

What is your favorite non-game icebreaker?

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