Fall is just about upon us (here in the U.S.). And if you work with students, that means it is not just the season of one sport, but multiple sports.

Lots of junior high students are either playing or recently finished playing a variety of different sports.

Instead of allowing that to frustrate you as you try to plan your weekly programs and special events, turn that part of their culture into some fun with this game – Fall Sports Challenge.

The game sets up a lesson on “Following Jesus and Sharing the Good News” based on 1 Corinthians 9:19-27.

We’ll get you started with the lesson. But you’ll need to add a message of your own.

Enjoy the game!

Nick Diliberto, Junior High Ministry

Jr High Game: Fall Sports Challenge

Written by Mike Sheley


Topic: Following Jesus and Sharing the Good News

Bible: 1 Corinthians 9:19-27


  • Golf balls
  • Drinking cups
  • Putting Clubs
  • Footballs
  • Soccer balls
  • Small soccer goal/net
  • Volley balls


Depending on how much time you have and how many students you have, there is a lot of flexibility with how you modify this game. I’ll explain the basic version, then end with some options for modifying it.

Divide your students into two teams.

Have six stations set up for your students to compete in this relay race. If you can play part or all of this outside or in a gym, that would be even better.

Station 1: Golf

The first student must putt a golf ball a short distance of about 10 feet into a cup laying on its side. If this isn’t an option, then set up obstacles where it will require at least three strokes to get the ball to the goal

Station 2: Football

The second student must get a football from one place to another. In a smaller space, they must make a pass to a teammate. In a large space, you could have them kick it a distance of 25 yards or more.

Station 3: Soccer

The third student must kick a soccer ball into a goal or net. If that’s too easy or you have some really good soccer players, then give them multiple tries with a student acting as goalie – especially if you have one who really does play goalie!

Station 4: Volleyball

For this station, two teammates have 60 seconds to make the highest number of consistent bumps back and forth without letting any hit the ground. Keep track of how many each team gets.

Station 5: Cross Country

This is a race, but a creative one. If you are outside, find a playground or some fun objects that students have to run over, around or even under as part of your race course. If you are playing inside, we’re not saying they should run through the worship space, but be creative with where and how they have to run.

Station 6: Cheerleading

Finish the race as you should, with a cheerleading act of celebration: the human pyramid. Make sure you have some adults to spot students for safety. They have to create a pyramid at least three levels high and keep it there without any outside help for 10 seconds.


  • You can run this like a normal relay race where the first team to accomplish all of these tasks wins.
  • Stations: You can have all of these set up as stations so that teams can compete simultaneously and award points at each station for doing that challenge the best. Then the team is the one with the most points.
  • If you have the option to do these at an actual sports field and gym, that would add an extra element of fun. And it could be a way to form a partnership with some of the athletic staff at a local junior high school and your church.

Now, use the game setup to build a lesson of your own based on the following passage.


Sports are a huge part of our world and yours, right? Even if you don’t play sports, you probably have some friends who do. College and NFL football are in full swing.

There is a significant amount of athletic language in the Bible. Check out this passage from one of Paul’s letters to a church in a city called Corinth:

Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 (New Living Translation) 

Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.


When Paul talks about “running the race”, he is talking about following Jesus and sharing the good news of Jesus with other people.

[Build your own lesson here.]

[This game is designed to setup a lesson of your own based on the above passage and topic.]


If you liked this game, check out this…

Junior High Lesson on God’s Love


Mike Sheley is the Middle School Pastor at Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood, Indiana, where he oversees their ministries for 5th-8th graders.  He’s been in full-time youth ministry over 16 years with most of that time focused on preteen and junior high students.