Try some of these games that are fun to do with your family after the meal, before you go to bed, on a rainy afternoon or during a long ride in the car. They can help to promote knowledge of Scripture and discuss important Biblical truths in a playful way. The starting point of every game is that we do not have to be able to rehearse names and events like facts from a history book, but that we have to be able to relate them to our own lives and understand what Biblical persons and events can teach us about living close to God today.
1. Alphabet of Biblical names
All present take turns in naming a Biblical person according to the letters of the alphabet. Abraham, Barnabas, Cornelius and so on. You can even do the game twice, once for men and once for women.
Tips: For a name with an f you can give ones beginning with ph, like Philip. Some letters we have do not exist in the Biblical languages or are rendered differently (for example in Hebrew there is a letter that comes close to q, but is often rendered with k). Therefore some letters (like x and y) can be better be skipped. For q think of Quirinius mentioned in Luke 2 (his name is Roman and the Romans knew many names with Q).
Every name has to be accompanied by a short explanation of who this person was. For example: Aristarchus (helper of Paul)- Balaam (sorcerer named in Numbers) - Cyrus (Persian king named in Daniel)- Demas (helper of Paul who forsook him to go back into the world) - Elisah (prophet, successor of Elijah) and so on.
You can also pick a letter and have everyone name a person with that letter. The last person who cannot come up with another name can pick another letter.
For example A: Adam, Abraham, Apollos, Aquila, Ataliah, Asa, Ahimelech, Amos and so on.
Here you can also ask the participants to tell something about the person they mentioned.
You can do one of these games before you read the Bible (for example after a meal) and decide on looking up one of the persons' stories and read and discuss it.
2. Link Biblical names
The first person names a Biblical person, the next one names another whose name begins with the last letter of the first name. Example: Luke - Eve - Esther - Rahab - Benjamin - Nicodemus - and so on.
Here again the game works best when you tell something about the person concerned.
Luke (wrote a gospel and the book of Acts)- Eve (first woman, wife of Adam)- Esther (queen who saved her people) - Rahab (woman who was saved when Jericho was destroyed because she trusted in God)- Benjamin (youngest son of Jacob, brother of Joseph)- Nicodemus (man who came to see Jesus in the night and who learned that people have to be born again to be able to serve God)- and so on. Again you can take one of these persons and discuss him or her some more, like Nicodemus. Why did he come in the night? What does Jesus tell him and what does this mean? How does it affect us?
3. Who am I?
A nice game that can be made more or less difficult. Give a description of a Biblical person consisting of several clues and see who knows what person is meant.
Example: I am a king of Israel. During my reign the first temple was built. Answer: Salomon.
If people do not know it after this second clue give more like: I am exceedingly wise. I am a son of David. My mother was Bathseba.
This game is also suitable for younger children if you use simple clues like: I was swallowed by a big fish (Jonah) or God showed me the rainbow as a promise that He would keep people safe (Noah) or God helped me fight a very tall man, a real giant (David). This can help, for instance, to rehearse what they learned in Sundayschool during the next week.
You can discuss the person some more by putting questions and relating them to doing something. Examples:
Would you like to be like X? Why? Shall we pray that we will look like this person?
Do you think God makes promises to us too? Shall we look up some promises God made to us?
Do we sometimes have to fight things bigger than we are? Shall we pray that God helps us to fight against bad things? (With older children you can discuss the parts of the spiritual armor Paul mentions in Ephesians 6. Raise simple questions like: Why do you need a helmet? Why do you need a sword? What does this mean for us?)
You name a person and the others have to match the person with another person like him or constrast him with a person that made other choices. Example: Moses - match Aaron, David - contrast Saul. There are many types of contrast possible, think of Martha and Mary, Kain and Abel, Luke and Demas.
The participants can give a short explanation of the match or contrast: Martha was busy serving, but Mary took time to listen to Jesus. Kain was jealous of Abel, who was just, and therefore he killed him. Both Luke and Demas traveled with Paul, but while Luke stayed with Paul, Demas left him.
This game can be a good opportunity to discuss the different choices we can make in life and the consequences that can have for ourselves and others.
5. Where was it?
This one is more difficult as places tend to be forgotten more easily than people. But it can be fun especially when you have got a few people together who know a lot (or think they do). Start with easy ones like: On this place Jacob saw a ladder reaching up to heaven (Bethel) or Adam and Eve lived here before they were sent away (garden of Eden). Then try ones like: Abraham lived here before he was called to go to a land God would show him (Ur) or mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments (Sinai). More difficult ones are: birthplace of David (Bethlehem), city where the silversmith Demetrius caused enmity against Paul (Ephesus) or isle where John received the revelations described in the last Bible book (Patmos).
You can also name places that Paul visited during his travels (Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, and well-known ones like Athens and Rom).
6. When did it happen?
This game is all about putting events in the right chronological order. Name three or four events and ask others to determine in what order they happened. For example: exodus from Egypt - death of Joseph - destruction of Sodom and Gomorra. Correct order: destruction of Sodom and Gomorra (this was during the lifetime of Abraham), death of Joseph (who was Abraham's great-grandson) and exodus from Egypt (which happened many years after Joseph had died and the people had been suppressed by the Egyptians).
By relating the events to each other as we did in the explanations provided above you create a better awareness of temporal sequence in the Bible and the way in which events are related to each other (and are for example the fulfilment of prophecy).
The game is suitable for children who have got some sense of temporal sequence and who know some key Biblical events like creation, the travels of Abraham and his descendants, Moses and the exodus from Egypt, the kings of Israel and so on.
7. Traveling in the Bible
This is a nice game to do while traveling. Ask your children to name ways in which people traveled in the Bible. You can help them by making suggestions and asking for examples.
Think of traveling: on foot (Jesus and his disciples), on a donkey (Jesus; the Samaritan who rescues the wounded man by the road), on horseback (the armies in the Old Testament; Mordechai when he was honored by king Ahasverus), on a camel (Rebekah when she came to marry Isaac), in a wagon (the eunuch from Ethiopia), on a ship (Paul on his travels).
Discuss the various ways some more:
Who rode on a horse? (kings; that is why it is meaningful Jesus did not enter Jerusalem on a horse but on a donkey)
When traveling by ship how did people know where they were? (by looking at the stars; see for example Acts 27:20).
8. Animals in the Bible
Name as many animals as possible that occur in the Bible: snake, horse, donkey, goat, sheep, eagle, fox, dog, lion, sparrow, camel, deer and so on. Think of the list of animals that should not be eaten to find some more animals like swine and hare, and many birds like owl, raven, hawk, cuckoo, swan and heron (Leviticus 11).
Discuss what animal imagery can teach us. For example: a sparrow is but a small and inconspicuous bird, but still God feeds it and takes care of it. God also feeds us and takes care of us.
Discuss in general what it means that God made the earth (that He is in control, that we can trust Him, that He expects us to be good to animals and to creation in general).
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