30 Church Picnic Games and Ideas
Church picnics evoke memories of lawn blankets, potato salad and a casual gathering opportunity beyond Sunday morning service. If your church needs some fresh ideas for getting members to interact, here are 30 ideas and games to make your next church picnic a memorable one.
Ideas to Make Your Day a Hit
- Make a Good Impression - Some attendees may be newcomers to your church (or invited guests of members), so it’s a good idea to include a “Who We Are” booth. Play a video introducing your church on continuous loop, set out pamphlets or set up a welcome center with your friendliest greeters to explain your core values, special ministries and upcoming events.
- Add a Service Element - Getting to know each other is a worthy endeavor, but your picnic can also include a service event like a church wide baby shower where people can donate supplies such as diapers to a local family shelter. You could also have a basket for “Christmas in July” (or whatever month!), and attendees can bring a gift card to a local grocery store for families who might come to the church seeking financial assistance.
- Get Crafty - A craft station is fun for children who might not want to play more active games. Ideas include a marble painting station, card making for those in the hospital or a make-and-take themed craft for the season of the year (such as a pinecone birdfeeder for summer). Recruit an adult supervisor or some teens to help little ones. Genius Tip: Get more inspiration with these 100 summer crafts for kids.
Coordinate all the church picnic food items with a sign up. SAMPLE
- Say Cheese - A photo booth is a sure way to get families to ham it up. If you include props, you can give awards for most creative, silliest or could-be Christmas-card-worthy photo! Print these out and place them on bulletin boards around your church.
- Direct People - Communicate what is happening during your picnic by posting signs announcing where activities will be held, when food is served, the time games will start, etc. Rent or borrow a portable sound system for announcements and background worship music.
- Mix it Up - A great way to get the group mingling is to people to line up by birthday month and day, starting in January. That will get folks sharing birthdays and getting organized. See how many “birthday twins” you have! You can also use this activity to create one big group and then divide the group into teams if needed.
Games for Any Space
- Gorilla Race - Divide into teams, and mark a starting and finish line that is about 20 feet in length. When you yell “go” one player at a time grabs his knees and races down to the finish line, holding his knees for the length of the course, then turning and running back. The first team to have its final player cross the finish line wins!
- Books of the Bible Scramble - Divide your groups depending on the size of your picnic and do Old Testament (39) or New Testament (27) or the whole Bible (66). Write out books of the Bible on index cards (make two sets for two teams, each in a different color) and give each player a card. The catch: They can’t show other team members what is on their card. When you say “go,” the group must arrange itself according to order in the Bible. The fastest team wins. You can also increase the challenge by not allowing any talking, and team members must help each other find a place in line without saying anything.
- Crazy Ball Bowling - You can use a seasonal item for your bowling ball — a pumpkin for a fall picnic, large plastic Easter eggs for a spring picnic, beach balls for a summer picnic, etc. — and use either plastic drinking cups or two-liter bottles set up in a pyramid. The highest score out of five rolls win or you can combine scores and make it a team game.
- Inflatable Competitions - If you budget allows for it, rent an inflatable sumo ring or boxing ring and have church staff challenge each other to some inflated fun.
- Crazy Object Obstacle Course - Create a race course with traffic cones or other obstacles that racers must roll a “crazy” item around. (Some ideas: stuffed animals, a sandbag or beach ball.) Add to the challenge by requiring them to use a broom or plastic golf club. You can make this either a race between two players with two courses or set it up as a relay.
- Sleeping Bag Race - Grab a few old sleeping bags and play this on a smooth surface like grass or the gym floor. The smaller partner gets on the bag and other person pulls them down the floor to the finish line. Include some obstacles to navigate around for added fun.
- Picnic Basket Relay - Teams compete by taking their full baskets down to the designated area, setting up their blanket, food, plates and silverware and eating one item then yelling, “Yum, yum in my tum tum” (or other ridiculous phrase) before putting the items back into the basket and racing back for the next player to repeat the process.
- Oversized Bible Word Games - Make oversized tiles ahead of time to be used by two teams. You can play traditional Scrabble or Bananagrams and add to the competition by asking that all words must be biblical references.
Indoor Games for a Rainy Day
- Minute to Win It - These are great as a rainout alternative. A few favorites: “cookie face” where the participant must get a cookie from her forehead to her mouth within a minute; “chopstick cereal,” where participants must use chopsticks to place small cereal like Kix in a bowl; and “cup stack” — see who can stack the tallest tower of plastic cups in a minute. Genius Tip: Browse these 50 minute to win it games for even more ideas.
- Human Ring Toss - Great for a child partnered with someone older, have the smaller person stand in a spot about five feet away from their partner. That person will throw large pool inner tubes and try to encircle his partner, who should stand with arms over head and hands together to make a nice pointed target for throwing!
- Hot Air Ping Pong - Place a taped line down the middle of an eight-foot table. Two teams surround the table on their knees (or in a chair next to the table if kneeling is too difficult). The object is to blow the ball over the tape-line “net” and keep the ball from dropping off the table without touching it. If it drops, gives the other team a point, just like regular ping pong.
Organize a 24-hour prayer event with a sign up. SAMPLE
- Church Choir Relay - If you have some choir robes, gather a couple and other fun props from the youth group room or skit closet (wigs, glasses, hats, etc.). Add a hymnal and divide your group into two teams. Each member must race down, get ready for choir and pick a song to try and sing at least one line and chorus before removing everything and racing down to tag the next team member.
- Silly Sock Race - Tell contestants that they have to put on as many socks as they can in one minute onto one foot. Have them sit in a chair or on the floor. The catch is that you blindfold participants and make them wear winter mittens. Those observing must cheer them on and help them find all get all the socks off the floor and onto their feet before time runs out!
- Marshmallow Launch - This one is a craft and competition all in one. This challenge can be for individuals or teams, but participants must create a simple catapult sometime during the picnic. (Plans are available online.) At a designated hour, competitors bring their launchers to test their creation with mini or full-sized marshmallows.
- Bird’s Eye Game - Grab a ladder or two from the janitor’s closet. Teams of six to eight are given 30 seconds to create something using only their bodies (like a number, a letter or a shape). After 20 seconds, they have to freeze. Judges go to the top of the ladders to determine who most accurately portrayed the challenge from the “bird’s eye view.” Take pictures of groups so the hilarity can be enjoyed by those on the ground!
- Name That Tune (Church Version) - Traditional hymns and current radio worship tunes provide an opportunity for all generations to play along. Be sure to include songs from last summer’s Vacation Bible School or something you sing frequently as a congregation. Participants can not only name tunes, but fill in the last words/phrases of a popular chorus or name the composer from a song.
Outdoor Group Games
- Twinkle Toes Contest - Get several plastic serving bowls (or for teams use a kiddie pool) and fill with ice and an equal number of marbles per team. The object is to see who can grab all the marbles out of their bowls using only their toes first. If anyone seems to be going extraordinary quickly, the host of the games can throw in a few other funny items (like plastic bugs!) to increase the challenge!
- Blanket Volleyball - You will need a volleyball net set up for this game. Each team member holds the outside of a large quilt, sheet or blanket. Place a beach ball or volleyball in the middle of one of the blankets and the team has three tries to get it over the net by lowering and lifting the blanket. If the other team does not catch it, the serving team gets a point. If the other team does catch it, then play continues until the ball gets dropped.
- Caterpillar (or Butterfly) Beach Ball Race - For butterflies, you will need just one beach ball per two-person team. For caterpillars, line up five players and place a beach ball in between each person in the “caterpillar.” For the butterfly, team members stand with the ball between their backs and clasp hands behind them. Teams race down a course and try to drop the ball in a laundry basket. You can make a relay by having the two players then return to the starting line for the next pair to do the same. Alternatively, you can do it caterpillar style, and the team of five (with beach balls balanced between the back of the first player and chest of the next player) must balance the balls between them down a race course and drop each ball, one at a time, into the laundry basket in order to win.
Coordinate a church service week with a sign up. SAMPLE
- Biblical Reverse Charades - Before the game, write on slips of paper the names of stories from the Bible. Instead of one person acting out the clue, the whole team works together to act it out while only one person guesses.
- Beach Ball Blaster - Teams of four to six members, using only a water gun or foam water blaster, start at one end of the playing field and work as a team to blast water on a large beach ball to move the ball down the field and back. You can set up an obstacle course for the ball to navigate — for example going over pool noodles or getting in and out of a hula hoop — for an added challenge. Have water buckets handy for reloading.
- Bucket Balance Water Challenge - Warning: Team members need to prepare to get wet! Small groups lay on the ground with shoes on but laces untied in a circle, balancing a bucket of water between their feet. The first team to get all its shoes off without spilling their bucket wins.
- Wet Noodle Relay - Tape a cup to the top of a pool noodle and fill it partially with water. Line teams up and mark a spot on the noodle (far enough down that it is tricky to pass), and team members must hold the noodle vertically and pass it down the line without spilling any water! You can make it more challenging by having participants pass it several times or use just one hand with the other hand behind their backs.
- Beauty Shop Toss - Divide the players into teams of two and put a shower cap onto one of the members. Cover the shower cap with shaving cream or whipped cream. The goal is for the partner to stand a distance away and throw cheese puffs or balls onto the cap of their beauty shop customer! Encouraging the partner about how gorgeous they look is recommended!
Church picnic games will be a hit if you create a sense of excitement, friendly competition and lots of laughter to top it off! Be sure to recruit young and old, mix your 8 a.m. service regulars with 11 a.m.-ers and use some of these great ideas and games for a church picnic to remember.
Julie David is married to a worship pastor and after 20 years in ministry together with three daughters, she is still developing the tender balance of thick skin and gracious heart. She leads a small group of high school girls.