Guess & Switch: a great team-building, group discussion idea.

Pastors Bruce & Andrea Vernon

My good friends Bruce and Andrea Vernon pastor Vineyard Community Church Logansport in Logansport, IN.

I have pastored the same church for 22 years and have seen growth, plateau and decline. Recently I have been looking for new ways to cast vision and deal with the strong feelings of complacency and fearful resistance to change among my leadership team.

In times past, we have done SWOT analysis, NCD surveys and other types of assessment tools as a team. Most of these generally get talked to death with no real results and some bad feelings among team members.  It usually doesn’t go well when you tell your leaders that your church isn’t as great as they believe it to be. The pastor takes an unpopular position if he or she suggests there might be some ministry the church needs to add, improve or eliminate.

Of course, health assessments and introducing change(s) in church elicits fears among people and is viewed as a threat. Change has the potential for new people to be added to the group and that could mess up the good thing we have going. Needless to say, all of these strong feelings and attitudes must be addressed by the pastor. How to do this is the trick?

I recently came across a fun group activity in a book I picked up entitled: Quick Team-Building activities for busy managers, by Brian Cole Miller.

I modified it some and introduced it in a leadership team meeting. Both the activity and the team discussion afterwards was an overwhelming success.


  1. divide group in half
  2. place each in opposite corners of room
  3. one participant from each team leaves the room.
  4. 4. They (the participants from each group that leave the room) agree on any object in the world. The object can be a rake, iron, roller coaster, baby oil, rose, etc.
  5. They return to the team opposite the one they left.
  6. Each team asks participant questions to determine what the object is.
  7. They can only ask questions that can be answered with yes or no.
  8. When a team guesses the object, that team wins that round.
  9. Now both participants who originally left the room, now join the winning team. ( don’t announce this until after the first round )
  10. Start again, play for 15 minutes or for however many rounds you desire.

Group Discussion Questions:

How did you feel when your team started dwindling? Nervous, threatened, more competitive, frustrated, how many didn’t try as hard.

How did you feel when your team started to grow? Excited, energized, confident, glad to be on winning team

How did you feel when you had to join a different team? Reluctant, not welcome, excited to be on winning team.

Facilitator comments:

Think about this team and the church:

What lessons can we draw from this activity?

  • Isn’t it less of a threat to grow than it is to dwindle?
  • Growing produces more positive feelings than dwindling. Do you agree or disagree? And why?
  • It takes working as a team to gain the winning edge.
  • We gain a glimpse of what guests and 2nd, 3rd time guests are feeling as they are trying to join the team.

They might feel like they are not welcome in the already established team. They may feel timid in joining in or sharing their ideas or gifts or abilities.

You can contact Bruce at: