No One Left Behind

Today, we want to thank one of our followers, Gabe Rangel, who serves  as the Youth Director of First United Methodist Church in Bridgeport, Texas. He recently asked us about a game that could help teach students about stewardship.


While most of our games aren’t usually tied to a larger point (other than to have fun!), we thought we might be able to help out with a game called No One Left Behind. To help understand how to tie the illustration, see our TEACHING POINTS at the end of the post.

PREP TIME– 10-20 Minutes

ITEMS NEEDED– Each team will need: 1 Tire, 2″ x 4″ (8′ long) board, 2 sturdy buckets (coffee cans or step stool work as well)

GAME TIME– 20-30 Minutes

PARTICIPANTS– 10-20 per team (additional people on teams will require more time)


Find a large open space, at least 30 feet in length. Line teams up along the width of the space/field. Give each team their items and set the clock for 20-30 minutes.

Mark the starting point and end point (30 feet from the start). Instruct each team to select one leader for the game. Their goal is to get the entire team across the finish line without one person touching the ground with any part of their body. The catch is that they can only use the items you have given them. If anyone touches the ground, the entire team must go back to the start!

The game is EXTREMELY challenging, so don’t worry if they can not successfully navigate their way across the expanse. The goal of this game, unlike almost every other game we have, is to let this game serve as a teaching point.

Because of that, make sure to create teams that have a mix of students that might not always be together. It is also imperative that you NOT GET INVOLVED DURING THE GAME! If you are like me, you will want to, but resist the temptation. You can answer practical questions they may have, but that is all.

This is a great game where everyone can walk away a winner!


1. Have another leader help with the explanation of the game and helping move items back to the beginning.

2. If you choose to help teams some, let items stay in place at the halfway mark. This means that they don’t have to continue to move the items back to the start if they elect not to. Placing the items onto the course is one of the most difficult and time consuming parts, so this will be a huge advantage. I recommend this if no one is coming close to finishing.


This game combines a leadership, teamwork and stewardship lessons. Depending on how you need to steer the lesson, you can use the brief teaching points below:

1. Leadership

During a game like this, you will find that leaders always emerge. It is always interesting to contrast which leadership styles work in games where they may be frustration or difficulty. Take some time to debrief immediately after the game with your teams. Point out the successes and the opportunities that teams had in regard to leadership. Here are a few questions to get your conversation started:

Did your leader lead? (Did someone else who wasn’t the leader end up leading?)

How did it help/hurt the team?

Was encouragement given for success? Blame given for failure?

What is the most important quality as a leader?

Remember to steer the conversation where it needs to go, don’t let it be a complaining session, especially for teams that struggled. Go bigger picture and the leadership aspect into the future success of your group.

2. Teamwork

When I first became a youth pastor, we played this very game and it served as a pivotal turning point for our group. After playing, we sat down and talked about the importance of teamwork.

As I watched the game unfold, I was given specific instructions to say nothing, but simply observe. I watched as both teams struggle, argue, fight and ultimately battle to beat one another and accomplish the goal of reaching the other side. In my case, they had 30 minutes and one team was successful (with seconds to spare) and the other team was a mess. I really wasn’t sure how the discussion would turn out, but it wound up being quite fruitful.

Here are some questions that will help you extract some learning lessons:

How did you team work (or not work) together?

Compare how the team worked together when you started… midway through the game… near the end as pressure mounted.

How did teamwork play a part in the success/failure of your team to reach the other side?

Would you rather be treated well and not reach the other side or treated somewhat poorly and successfully reach the other side? (In other words, do the ends justify the means)

How can your group currently work together to accomplish a goal you have?

Remember to steer the conversation where it needs to go, don’t let it be a complaining session, especially for teams that struggled. Go bigger picture and the leadership aspect into the future success of your group.

3. Stewardship

The great thing about this game is that teams are given the same tools to accomplish the task, so it really boils down to how you use what you have… that’s stewardship!

While we often think about money when it comes to teaching stewardship, it’s really about managing the resources (time, talents/gifts, finances) that we’ve been given. In the parable of the talents, Jesus gave the same commendation to the each servant who multiplied the talents. His ire was reserved for the one who did nothing with what was given.

To illustrate this point, ask your teams the following questions:

How did you use your resources to accomplish the task?

What turned out to be a good/poor decision in the process?

How can using what we have help our group? How can it help the kingdom of God?

You can really elaborate on this point, but even a brief overview can help your group see the value of using what they have to move forward in the unique call that God has for your group. No matter what, make sure that no one is left behind!

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1 Comment

  • Hi Greg, thank you for the question. The info was printed incorrectly. It should be a 2×4 that is 8 feet long. Thanks for catching that!

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