Recently The Church Times ran an article about a board game festival that is happening in September. I thought it would be a good time to contact them with a little bit of information about what’s happening around the country with gaming ministry. Here is what I wrote.
Hi Church Times,
In regards to your recent article on board game outreach (page 6 this week’s issue) I thought I’d let you know of all the good work that’s being done around the country using board games and video games in ministry. On Facebook I’m part of a community of over 70 ministers and laypeople from all walks of Christianity who are involved in boardgame ministry. Here are some examples from that group:
Personally I’ve started a website called gamesforall.net which provides a resource for parents and worship leaders looking at boardgames and video games – explaining what the terms are, giving questions to explore the character of players and gives links to scripture to help players explore their faith through gaming. I will be producing a set of resources using games to explore parables and miracles soon.
I also received £1000 of the Scripture Union’s Good News Fund to set up a regular board game evening called Your Turn at Bispham All Hallows. It has over 30 regular attendees, only 2 of whom are parishioners. The families have started coming to other church events and off the back of it I have been asked by a local community centre, the high school and a primary school to run board game sessions for them where I am able to be open about my faith and offer prayers for things in their lives.
Rev Andy Gray has set up the dice cafe in Clitheroe which has become a self sustaining outreach, leading many people to his pioneer church as well as especially helping people with autism and aspergers to socialise and engage in scripture.
Mark Cooke from CAP has started introducing games on tables at CAP cafes at festivals and runs Airecon – one of the largest gaming conventions in the country with the largest open space for gaming in Europe.
Rev Ben Cook and Rev Alex Rayment started off running game nights in Cheltenham and Birmingham in 2015 and have come together to start the Shuffle and Play Podcast helping people identify awesome new games to try out. Ben’s club is The Games Cafe in Walmley which has an average of 40 attendees most of whom are unchurched.
Matt Young has been instrumental in running the Spring Harvest Holiday Board Games Week in France for the past 6 years, where the focus is gaming alongside worship.
Richard Gough runs Colchester Games Club in Kingsland Church Cafe in Colchester, which is set up as a low key ministry. The church does not charge for the room like they do other groups because it is run by Christians and members are invited to more formal stuff going on at the church. It has been great for breaking down barriers.
Nick Smith runs Table Top Champions in Skipton which has been a great success over the last 18 months! They have many great stories of people connecting, asking for prayer, overcoming loneliness and opening up about depression etc. Nick describes it as ‘true community ministry, open to all.’
Simon Douglas runs a club at Christ the King, Aldersley that will be celebrating its 1st birthday next week. They have on average 40 gamers a time, young and old, novice and experienced, social anxiety and other mental health issues, who have said “we are the most inclusive and welcoming group they’ve ever been part of”. Simon describes it as ‘low key, relational outreach.’
Daron Medway at Holy Trinity Weston is in the process of setting up a support group called Board at School that uses board games to help children at risk of exclusion in their local primary school.
Gaming has a potential to reach out to millions of people, both board and video games. I genuinely believe it has the potential to stand alongside things like sport/football ministry and it will have an even larger base of people it can reach as it doesn’t require any level of fitness. It’s also the only activity I have ever come across where a 9 year old and a 90 year old can do the same activity together for 2 hours and both come away saying they enjoyed every minute of it. Gaming opens so many doors, it’s surprising how often people will ask you about your faith and talk about their beliefs whilst you play games together.
If anyone would like support or information on how to set up a boardgame night or suggestions of games to try out then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org