Minute-to-Win-It Games


This year we pivoted to a completely small groups-based model, which means that all of our events are now in the context of small groups too, whether they meet online or in-person.

We give groups creative freedom to do some fun games online through this list I compiled, but we ALSO wanted to give special days devoted to fun. We are calling them “Party-in-a-Box” because we are creating kits for each of our students, whether they are in person or online, that have all the materials to create a party with their small group once a month.

For March, our theme is “Minute-to-Win-It” games. For reference, we are making 250 kits, and it cost $800 on the dot (all I have budgeted for each of these!).

Kit Contents


  1. Separate skittles into their individual colors; first to complete wins. (don’t eat because of other games)
  2. Place a popsicle stick in your mouth, and place a skittle on one at a time. First to balance 6 skittles wins (or whoever can get the most on in a minute wins)
  3. Cup-Stacking: First to make a tower with their cups and tear down wins
  4. Move The Cup: Place the red cup on top, and the five clear cups below it. Move the cups from the bottom to the top one by one. The first person to move their red cup to the bottom wins!
  5. First to suck their jello through a straw wins!
  6. Each person blow up one balloon. The person who can keep their balloon in the air the longest with just a straw wins! (or hands if in person)
  7. Using a straw, transfer gold fish from one cup to the other. First one wins.
  8. First person to bounce all three ping pong balls into one cup wins!
  9. Fill up each cup with water almost all the way to the top. Place the ping pong ball in the first cup. Blow the ping pong ball into the next cup until it lands in the last cup. First one to do one wins!
  10. Line up cups in a line on the edge of a table. Blow up the balloon (don’t tie it). Use the air to blow the cups off the table one by one.
  11. Come up with a creative way to pop the balloon without using your hands!
  12. There is a puzzle in the bag. First to put it together wins! Bonus: they can color the puzzle to make it their own!
  13. There is a Rubix cube in the bag. First to place it together wins!
  14. Use the playdoh to make a creation. Get the group to guess what you made — first one to guess correctly gets a point.
  15. WHEN DONE: Use everything in your bag to make an epic tower! Best one wins!

BONUS MINUTE GAME – Scattegories – Instruct everyone to get a pen and a piece of paper. Place one minute on the clock — name as many XYZ in a minute as you can. Whoever has the most UNIQUE characters at the end wins! You can also use an online version of Scattegories.

35+ Group Games Games You Can Play on Zoom


This year we pivoted to a small groups-based model, with both in-person and online options. While in-person groups have board games and other activities they can do, we initially found it difficult to keep our groups on Zoom entertained. Here are some of the games we’ve loved — 35 games listed just as a starting point (and I’ll add more as we go!)

Group Games – Extra Device Needed

Group Games – Download the Same App

  • Among Us: Have everyone download the app, get a private room, and play along!
  • Heads Up: It’s like Charades, but an app everyone would have to have
  • Psych: Like Two Truths and a Lie, a fun hit!

Group Games – No extra device needed

  • Powerpoint Games from DYM: We LOVE using games from Download Youth Ministry with our group. Since we are in a small groups model, we download the games and then place them on Google Drive. We tell small groups they can play those games, and have created a small library for them. Just be careful not to use games that are “Sidekick Only,” as each leader would have to purchase and download Sidekick.
  • Charades/Pictionary/Hangman/”Gurgle the Song”: We’ve given groups a bunch of words (or they can do their own) and then they can choose how to play those. Some groups love annotating on Zoom. You can also use this generator
  • Random Trivia Generator: You can show the trivia on your screen or read it from your phone, and students can anser.
  • BINGO – You could always send the students the cards and chips.
  • Murder Mystery Parties – You would send the materials in advance. Here are is one option of virtual mystery parties!
  • Scavenger Hunt – Come up with a list of items, and have your students race to find them! You can also do this with sentiment; i.e. “find the item that best represents your week,” “find a picture that means something to you,” etc.
  • I-Spy – Play using anything from anyone’s screen background!
  • Chopped/Cooking Competition – With parent permission of course, you can do cooking challenges with your group via Zoom. Send them some supplies to cook from, set parameters (microwave only for middles?), and let them dream!

Color Wars


As summer is around the corner, so is the excitement that it will soon be warm enough to do “color wars” again!

What is color wars? Color wars consists of kids throwing different color paint powders at each other. Sometimes there are team competitions involved. Sometimes there is a charity run involved, where every mile a new color gets thrown at contestants! The goal is to get as messy and colorful as possible!

How do you accomplish color wars? You CAN buy color wars pigmented powder, but it gets VERY expensive. The color goes much more quickly than you might expect. I’ve done color wars now 3 times, and here is our fool-proof way to do it!


The most popular way to do color wars is with dry powder — and I like to use dry tempera paint. Here are the products you’ll need for about 60 people for 20ish minutes of free play (like I said, it goes quick! When in doubt, buy more):

One hack that was helpful for us was to mix the color powder and the corn starch into the bucket, then use a dixie cup to scoop 1-2 dixie cups into each knee high. Then, tie it off making it a “ball.” We learned the hard way to snip off the excess sock, as students used them to sling them at each other and hit one another.


Here is what you will want to purchase:


We set up pools of messy activities, as well as served messy food (without napkins!). We opted for a “messy games” night versus a “color wars” because I just don’t love that term, to be honest. My favorite thing to call it is a “Mess-tival.” Here are some of the pools of mess we had:

  • Slime Baff – it took 20 packets to fill up a standard rectangle kiddie pool
  • Jello – don’t use real jello, use this fake stuff! One of these fills 100 gallons.
  • Pool of Orbeez. It takes SO MANY ORBEEZ to fill up a pool. And they are not ask biodegradable as they appear; they will leave a surface slick for a long time unless you wash them away. It takes over 1 million water beads, or 20 of these. Make sure to leave at LEAST overnight and covered in order for them all to expand!
  • We also did buckets of water balloons. Can’t go wrong with Bunch-O-Balloons or its cheaper versions!
  • We also love to add other water activities — water slides, slip-n-slides, and a foam pit we get from our local inflatables guy! And don’t forget tons of Ice Pops or Snow Cones!

Creative Service Projects You Don’t Have to Leave Campus For


Youth Ministry pre-2020 used to be an in-person ministry with some digital opportunities, but the pandemic has flip-flopped us to be a digital ministry with some in-person opportunities. As we look forward to the summer, it can be overwhelming dreaming of creative experiences for our students, especially ways for them to serve. Most of our service partners are not taking volunteers, and may not take teenagers for the forseeable future.

I took to our Women in Youth Ministry Facebook group, as well as some other brains, trying to dream up a list of some creative ways to serve this summer, ways that could be helpful for any age (including our 5th-8th graders, who are constantly rejected from service sites in the first place!). Here are some ways to serve this summer, no matter the age, in easy ways that honor social-distancing:

  • Create hygiene kits and snack packs for local homeless shelters. Here is the wish list I created that contains all the materials we gather when doing these. I’ve done this 5 times now, and it’s always a hit!
  • Do a meal packing with organizations like the Million Meal Movement here in Indy. It costs a little bit of money, but you could even do a fundraiser where students ask family friends to sponsor their meals they pack.
  • Create bags for kids with activities. You can donate these to food pantries, to fire stations/police stations to give to frightened children, to the Ronald McDonald House, etc.
  • Create an alphabet coloring book. Have each student draw an outline of a letter, and they can decorate it to their creativity’s extent. Copy and make into a coloring book and distribute to children.
  • Do a Poverty Simulation
  • Do a Canned Food Drive. You can even drop off flyers/bags on the doorsteps of homes in your church’s neighborhood with instructions to leave the products on the doorstep another day. Then students can go pick them up — without making contact with people.
  • Write cards to first responders, your church’s shut-ins, or the residents at a senior living facility.
  • Pot flowers and deliver to a senior living facility.
  • Make care packages and deliver to first responders. Make homemade soaps, scrubs, baked goods, etc.
  • Partner with a local farm or urban garden.
  • Do a car wash! Make it free, or charge and donate the proceeds to a cause.
  • Do a prayer walk or an anti-racism walk with information about the roots of racism in the community.
  • Create kits for the younger children in your church for worship.
  • Do prayer stations, or do a twist and create prayerful “service” stations. An example is making inspirational rocks that students can scatter throughout their city. They can also write a thank-you card to a ministry leader or first responder.
  • Make tie-blankets. Donate to a shelter.
  • Painting anything around the church (but make this intergenerational and have lots of adults!)
  • Washing windows is always my default when we’ve run out of other projects!

I believe that these service projects will survive the pandemic and be go-tos for our middle school ministry in the future, as it is so tough for service organizations to take them! Sometimes it takes experiences like the last year to get really creative and think out of the box. If you have any ideas to add to this list, I’d love to hear them!

Bob Ross Painting Party – Part 2: Watercolors!


Hey friends!

About a year ago I posted about how we did Bob Ross IN PERSON using acrylics, which was a huge hit for our kids. Right now, we are a completely small groups-based ministry, which means that groups are meeting in 10 or less in-person or on Zoom. Since we are not doing large events, we developed “Party-in-a-Box,” where we put some items into a kit and they can do them together as a group. This month we are doing a Bob Ross Party.

Separating and dropping off/mailing Acrylics to 225 kids was a logistical nightmare. So I thought: what about watercolors?

I was naïve, unfortunately, to think that all I would have to do is sub watercolors and everything else would be the same. What I didn’t realize is that Watercolors are a completely different medium altogether. With the help of my friend Jason Rockacy, an architectural illustrator who specializes in watercolors, he helped conceptualize a painting and the tools needed to pull this off with our students.

I encourage you to go give Jason some love over at his website: http://www.rockacystudios.com/



* you may use this video with your group!


  • This may take the ENTIRE HOUR, and if students are in-person they may have to go home with the painting still drying on the cardboard (or you may choose to leave it in your space). Make sure to watch the end of the video so they know how to take tape off and dry.
  • WATCH THE SECTION, THEN HIT PAUSE WHEREVER IT SAYS “PAUSE.” Encourage the students to listen the entire time before painting so that they understand the instructions.
  • Encourage creativity! If they decide to red mountains and a purple sky, hey. It’s their world to live in.
  • Encourage them to do their best, and don’t laugh at their mistakes. Students need a safe place to “fail,” and we should never laugh at them.
  • you will have two cups – one for dirty water and one for clean water. Don’t dip a dirty brush into clean water. 
  • let an area dry completely before painting next to it
    • if the paint bleeds, push it back with brush and/or dry with paper towel
    • Paint will flood wherever water lives.
    • You will know when it’s dry when it’s no longer glossy
  • watercolors dry lighter than it looks
    • if you want an area to be darker, wait for it to dry and then paint another layer over it
  • don’t get your paper too wet:
    • If you get too much water on your paintbrush, squeeze the extra off
    • If you create puddles, dab with paper towel
  • If you don’t like a paint color you’ve created in the well, wipe it with a paper towel and start again!

I hope your group enjoys this activity!

Commit to Anti-Racism This Year


Happy 2021 friends!

The other day my friend Karli posted this on Twitter:

She lamented how Black people have conversations about racism every single day, but it takes a tragedy for a white person to get involved. It’s exhausting for our black friends. I was chatting with a few of the women who sit on my leadership team for Women in Youth Ministry, and they lamented how the questions they’re asked about race typically start at the very beginning, usually with something “google-able.” That’s how far behind we are, white friends.

So much good work was made last year in the work of anti-racism; but I’m curious — are you still growing? It’s been a while since a tragedy has caught national attention — are you still paying attention? Are you still reading the books, listening to the podcasts, watching the documentaries, learning from black people? Or is it going to take another tragedy to move further on your anti-racism journey?

When I was in middle school, my Senior Pastor shocked our church in his New Year’s Sermon. Most pastors take this opportunity to set the trajectory that the church will go in that year, and this year in 2003 my pastor chose the route of anti-racism.

Settled in Ferguson, MO one mile from where Michael Brown would be brutally murdered by a police officer 10 years later, my pastor made a big statement to the church: We are a primarily white church in a primarily black community. As good evangelicals, it is important for us to evangelize to our neighbors. And if we want to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have to prepare for our church to look different; namely, for black people to sit in our pews. And if we are going to effectively reach our black community for Christ, that means that our leadership at the church will need to look more like the community. Namely, we would want to have black people on our pastoral staff and lay leadership teams.

You are probably reading this and applauding, yes? Expecting that the church gave a standing ovation, and everyone lined up to sign themselves up for our new efforts to reach the community?

I was in 7th grade when this happened, and I was so excited to finally be in youth group. I had been a “bus kid,” one of the kids who rode the church bus to church each Sunday without my parents. I was an at-risk kid who the church brought in and loved. I remember hearing this message and going, “Whoa, I never thought of this stuff… but it makes sense. Sign me up.” I actually lived in Ferguson and was not intimidated by this message. But most of the congregation had already white-flighted out of there in the 90s, including our youth families. Every single youth family left the church, including our youth leader.

My pastor made good on his promise to make our church more diverse, and hired a black youth pastor. On my youth pastor’s first night, it was just him, his wife, their niece, and me. My youth pastor groomed me for ministry, and we grew the student ministry. And over time, the church would re-grow and look the way our pastor dreamed.

It didn’t come without sacrifice. My church wanted to be “all things to all people,” which meant sometimes out of accommodating people excellence was sacrificed. But it was beautiful that way. We added praise-dancing and group-led worship and gospel choirs and allowed our young people to lead in any capacity they wished. In addition to our sacrifice of excellence, we also sacrificed some of our patriarchal theology. Women were now allowed to pass the offering plate. Women were allowed to prophesy from stage through music and prayer. We also sacrificed traditions. Our potlucks changed, the fundraisers we did changed, and even the night we did youth changed. We did all of this to reach our community. And of course, we sacrificed people. Many people would continue to leave when they realized we were serious about our work.

Last year my current church, St. Luke’s, made a commitment to be anti-racist. We are a primarily white church, and serve a very diverse community of people, being situated right on the line of Indianapolis and Carmel. Next door we have $300,000 condos, a mile south have multi-million dollar homes, and a mile on either side of our road we have low-income apartment communities. We are 20 minutes away from most people in the Indianapolis area, and we serve people in all areas.

The term anti-racism originated with Angela Davis:

“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”

Angela Y. Davis

At St. Luke’s, we talk about how anti-racism is a combination of understanding our biases (especially as white people) but also dismantling racism where we see it. When we see racism in action, we do what we can and what it takes to call it out and work to break it down. This is such a basic overview. Here are some books where you can read and learn more. If you’re a church leader, I also recommend this book.

As we launched our anti-racism work, we started having conversations with our students, starting with baby steps especially for our middles. What is privilege? Who might be marginalized? What can we do?

It was met with some frustration from families. They’re too young to talk about racism.

It brought me back to 7th grade, to the sermon given by my pastor. It was the first time I thought about racism in terms of my role in dismantling it, even though I had grown up in a primarily-black community. It set my life down a different trajectory, including ministry. It was a shock for sure as a 13-year old, but it was needed. My pastor made a commitment for our church to be anti-racist, and it changed my life.

So, it’s a new year, 18 years after the sermon I heard in 7th grade. And it’s the same New Year’s message:

  • How are you going to commit to anti-racism this year?
  • Where do you need the influence of BIPOC (black, indigenous, & other people of color) bloggers, teachers, podcasters, preachers, leaders, authors? In your work, home, church, hobbies, friendships, and otherwise?
  • Are you ready to make sacrifices? Are you ready to be uncomfortable? Admit that things might be awkward until you arrive to the future that God has asked of you?
  • Are you ready to have difficult conversations with coworkers, friends, family, and even strangers when racism happens?
  • Are you willing to talk about racism and promote anti-racist efforts with the young people in your life?
  • Are you willing to have a different future than the one you planned, a future that is full of diversity?

If you don’t know where to start, here are some things that have helped me:

  • Asking Google first.
  • Ask a black friend about their experiences. Last year I sat down with one of my best friends who is mixed race, and asked her for the first time in our 6-year friendship about her experiences.
  • Start absorbing content made by black people. One small change that has made a big impact for me was following every black entertainer (musician, artist, actor, etc.) I loved on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I also asked my Twitter friends for BIPOC & LGBTQ+ theologians they loved and followed them. It changed my entire feed.
  • I started watching some of my black friends’ church services online.
  • I made a commitment to myself in 2020 that I wouldn’t read any books by white men, which was my default author-type.
  • When deciding what show I should binge next, I looked at the cast list.
  • Join Be the Bridge Facebook Group — read the rules first.

We have a long way to go — will you commit to be on this journey with me?

New Years’ Goal-Setting Workshop


With the New Year comes a time to set new goals. Whether you choose to do a SMART plan, a “word” for 2021, or make a half-hearted promise over the champagne toast, 80% of New Years’ Resolutions fail by February.

In my opinion, the reason resolutions fail is because they are too vague. We don’t think through the potential obstacles, hard conversations, or limiting beliefs that holds us back from achieving something, even if it could literally change our lives. Then we find ourselves believing that we can’t actually achieve our goals, because we believe we have “tried before,” even though our attempts were really half-attempts.

As your coach, I’ll provide the tools to help you conquer 2021. No more excuses for incomplete dreams, failed visions, and another year of not hitting resolutions.

Group Workshop – $20

Ideal for someone who already knows what goal they want to set, and doesn’t mind setting it in a group setting. Groups will be capped at 10 people.

There are three times to choose from –

  • Saturday, January 2nd at 10am EST
  • Sunday, January 3rd at 1pm EST
  • Thursday, January 7th at 8pm EST

Individual Session – $50

Ideal for someone who wants a more individual approach, especially if they feel what will get them “unstuck” is undetermined yet.

Times will be on Fridays & Saturdays throughout January, although an alternative time can be scheduled by contacting Heather directly.

If you decide to add on a 3-month coaching package, it will be discounted by $100.

Serve-at-Home Saturday


I am convinced that the best ideas in ministry come from being curious about what other youth ministries are doing, and then adapting them to fit your own context — and this is 100% true for my new favorite service activity during this season, Serve-at-Home Saturday!

This idea came from Queen Katie Edwards, over at Saddleback. She cheered me on as we adapted to our context! Because Queens cheer on Queens.

Since BINGO on Instagram was so hot last month, we decided to go that route for our students — complete a BINGO, and you get a prize! We delivered small care packages the following week with snacks, a branded Youth Ministries Magnet, and some candy.

Here is what it looked like!

Use this link to download from Canva and use for yourself!

This month we are doing it “Scavenger Hunt” Style. We are still creating what this looks like, but we are partnering with our Children’s Ministry so that it’s an activity for the whole family! Families will have to complete one activity from each category:

  1. Serve your HOME
  2. Serve your NEIGHBORHOOD
  3. Serve your CHURCH
  4. Serve your COMMUNITY

Many of the activities are the same as the ones from the Bingo Board, with some additions that make it more kid & family-friendly. I’ll update this post with what we decide to go with!

Navigating Screen-Related Addictions and Teenagers in the Midst of COVID-19


With schools closed for the rest of the school year, data says that most children ages 6-12 are spending at least 50% more time online, with no definitive statistic for teenagers. But as I talk to our teenagers, and use my instincts from my personal increased screen time, I can guess that that most of our tweens and teens are spending most of their days online.

It’s no one’s fault, really, that our whole lives have turned into online lives. Everything we do now happens there – our learning, our work, our television, our hangouts with friends, even ordering our food. Our entire lives have gone almost completely digital, and in many ways it’s helping us feel more connected.

But there are many dangers that happen when we increase our screen time –

  • Exposure to pornography, which happens for the first time at an average of 8-11 years old
  • Being “numbed” by the violence and sexualization of television shows and movies
  • Feeling fatigued by online meetings and gatherings, even adding to long-term loss of emotional or social intelligence
  • Poor eating habits as we snack while Netflix’ing
  • Depression from over-exposure to sad news

These dangers are increased for our teenagers, whose prefrontal cortexes are not fully developed until age 25. Teenagers are in a crucial stage where what they consume can actually define the way their brain looks for the rest of their life. Psychologists call this the “use it or lose it” principle; that what you are exposed to in the teenage years lasts forever, and the parts of your brain that you engage are the parts you engage for your lifetime. This is why we often teach foreign languages for the first time in middle school – because this is when your brain is the most vulnerable to keeping new pieces of information.

Of course, addiction to bad behaviors can happen at any age, but considering most of our students’ screen time is unsupervised and the risk they are especially under, my point is to be cautionary during this period of time.

So what can you do?


I cannot say it enough: Look at your students’ search history. Take a look at what’s in their feed on Instagram or Tik Tok from their phone so you can see what is advertised to them. While Instagram can be an innocent app, you might be surprised as to who is messaging them or what is on their search page – that is the content they look at!

There are even ways to monitor their phones. If you have open communication with your teen (which hear me: is not easy to have), ask them what they look at. Ask them if they’ve ever seen a pornographic image. Open up the dialogue and see what they say.


A feature I find cool on Apple Products is the Screen Time feature – you can limit how much time is spent each day on it. You can password protect that time, as well. I have it set so that I only spend a certain amount of time each day on social media and games.

I also encourage you to set limits like no screens after a certain time or screens only in certain rooms of the house. And unless your child relies on their phone as an alarm clock, I encourage you to remove screens at bedtime.


Often when I tell parents about the “use it or lose it” principle, one of the first questions I get is, “So, should our kids play video games?”

My answer? Actually, yes! But consider the games they play and what it is teaching their brains. Games that involve strategy or physical movement or healthy competition could be really great for teens. Games like first-person shooter games should be more limited. I think Fortnite is a blast, but I also think it should have time limits and “real life” should be returned to.


“Back in my day, all I had were Barbie Dolls and Legos.” It’s true, the world has changed a lot in 20 years. When I was a teenager, I’d ride my bike all over the neighborhood, get in trouble for coming into the house covered in mud, and on rainy days I would read books and make crafts.

This is a great time to get a little old-school. I’ve loved watching families sew masks together, play Monopoly, and garden. I’m curious if this is the time to do more activities where we step away from our screens and get creative!

I also think taking breaks during the day is important, too! Taking an hour to paint or have a 15-minute dance party just to get away from the grind of E-learning is a fun way to give the eyes a break.


Students have shared with me (and they could be making this up, who knows?!) that they’ve been staying up until 3am, even 5am, on their devices, and then sleeping until 1pm.

I waiver on the issue of trying to keep as much normalcy as possible, because like, we are going through a global trauma right now. Just this evening my friends had to give in and let their kindergartner have bubbles in her bath, even though that’s a “Saturday thing.” Each day we pick our battles and some things just aren’t worth fighting for.

But when we think about teens and what they need, they actually need more sleep than any other age group; 9-10 hours! Enforcing a solid sleep schedule with our teens (and giving them grace to sleep in, since they usually get far less than this), is really important.


When I talk to teenagers about their screen usage, they totally throw their parents under the bus. They talk about how their parents are always looking at their phones, taking business calls, etc. And look, no judgment; my husband and I have conversations about screens and how it impacts our relationship often. And while screens seem like an easy escape when we are annoyed with one another, I have noticed that screens actually cause us to disconnect more.

When I was a teenager, my mom would say to me, “Do as I say, not as I do” and I would retort, “Actions speak louder than words.” Teenagers are brilliant. And so, if we have an expectation for them, it is fair that we follow that expectation ourselves.

I love the way the book Right Click approaches this topic, as they talk about creating a family covenant for screen time. This makes it so that it’s not just on the teenager to create better habits, but so that it’s for the whole family.

This time is unprecedented. There is no research that tells us what to do or how to behave. But six weeks in, we are beginning to notice that some habits are forming in our teenagers that have the potential to cause damage permanently.

At St. Luke’s, we want to partner with you. If you want to talk through any of this with us, don’t be afraid to reach out! This time is confusing, but we have resources to help you through it.

How I Do My Makeup!


People are always asking me to teach them how to do my makeup, and TBH, I’m terrible on camera.

Peep this youtube video I made once:

But people always ask me, so I’ve compiled a list of my holy grail products!







  • They don’t make it anymore… but this in another shade.





**By using my Amazon Affiliate Links, I will receive a small amount that helps keep my blog and Women in Youth Ministry alive! Thanks!