This is a rule I first came across at Innroads Ministries* (www.innroadsministries.com). If you have ever been to an event run by religious organisations, particularly by churches you may have noticed that more often than not they will stop everything and having a moment to tell everyone their message.
As Christians this isn’t a bad thing. We are after all told by Jesus to go out and spread the Good News. However let’s look at this scenario:
You are partway through your master plan, the pieces on the board have been meticulously placed, you are just waiting for your turn to come round hoping that the person before you doesn’t get that one card you need, but then they make an unexpected change on their turn leading to the end game. It’s now neck and neck, but you have the card you need to win the game! You are just about to play it, the tension is palpable… EXCUSE ME CAN WE ASK YOU TO STOP PLAYING AND LISTEN TO OUR SPEECH PLEASE.
Frustrating isn’t it? Not only does it interrupt the flow and probably take the wind completely out of your sails, it also snatches your glorious victory from your hands. Many people would just switch off after this and whatever the message is will float right over people’s heads.
Not only that but why is a religious speech interrupting what people thought was a social gathering? If the event is advertised clearly as being whatever it is and a talk then that’s fine, but too often it’s crowbarred into all events.
This is very disruptive and is part of the reason I think many people avoid churches and religious events. They don’t want to have something they don’t really believe unexpectedly interrupting the fun times they are having.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t share your faith at these events it’s just very important that any conversations about God come up naturally and don’t interrupt the flow of things. By all means share your faith but don’t do it in a way that interrupts everyone’s event!
Now this next bit is mainly for those of us who are religious – but it can also apply to anyone who is trying to spread a message of any kind. People will not respond to someone they don’t know telling them what they should think.
I personally have a 4 stages of evangelism model I follow. Your events should follow this pattern. Successful stage 1s, lead to starting stage 2s and so on, based on engagement of the people attending. It’s one I’ve come to after reading the advice of Christian Vision for Men** and their 4 levels of evangelism as well as the Diocese of Blackburn*** steps to evangelism. It is something me and my good friend Andy Gray (the DJ Priest)**** have discussed many times and the steps someone has to go through to become a Christian are summed up well in this article: http://kidzministry.org/2018/03/29/how-to-make-disciples-4-steps-of-seeing-someone-come-to-faith-in-jesus/. I use these steps as a rough guide for my stages of evangelism, throwing in Association as well (people don’t often come to faith without knowing other Christians first.) It looks like this:
STAGE 1 EVENTS: Association – these are the social events that you put on as a church where you are providing something for the community. The aim is to build real relationships with people. There should be no mention of God or Jesus or anything unless someone brings it up. You are there to get to know people. God should be apparent through your actions without needing your words to back Him up. We’re told to do this in the Gospel:
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”
(Matthew 5:15–16, NIV)
And it is summed up well by St Francis who said ‘All the Friars … should preach by their deeds.’ Which means your actions can preach just as loudly as your words and has led to the misattributed quote of ‘Preach the Gospel, and sometimes use words’)
STAGE 2 EVENTS: Inspiration – these are the social events from stage 1 but with a speaker present. Someone to share their testimony or similar. Once you’ve built the real relationships in stage 1 you’ll find some people want to know more about this Jesus person who means so much to you, they are who you invite to these as they are open to knowing more. If people aren’t at that stage then they will not gain anything from a speaker.
“When you enter a home, greet the family, ‘Peace.’ If your greeting is received, then it’s a good place to stay. But if it’s not received, take it back and get out. Don’t impose yourself.”
(Luke 10:5-6, The Message)
STAGE 3 EVENTS: Declaration and Exploration – an event where people are given the chance to explore and declare their belief in God. There are many good courses for this such as Alpha, Start!, Christianity Explored etc.
The Jews received Paul’s message with enthusiasm and met with him daily, examining the Scriptures to see if they supported what he said. A lot of them became believers, including many Greeks who were prominent in the community, women and men of influence.
(Acts 17:11-12, The Message)
STAGE 4 EVENTS: Revelation – this is where worship comes in. Either through an existing service or by building a new service for the people who have come up through stages 1-3. It allows them to have their own relationship with God.
Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe because we have heard him ourselves, not just because of what you told us. He is indeed the Savior of the world.”
(John 4:42, The Living Bible)
Too often churches miss out steps 1 and 2 jumping straight to 3. The no preaching rule ensures you remain a stage 1 in your initial games nights. When you want to move to stage 2 then make sure you advertise it properly as having a speaker present, and limit the games to one’s relevant to what the talk will be about.
* Mike, Daniel, Jeff, TR and the team are amazing having been using boardgames in ministry for years now. I highly recommend listening to their Gamestore Prophets podcast and joining their Facebook group The Tavern, particularly if you want to know more about gaming and Christianity.
**CVM is a charity doing great work trying to make Christianity relevant to modern day men. www.cvm.org.uk
***The Diocese of Blackburn Vision 2026 team led by Rev. Dave Banbury came up with this.
****I have worked alongside Andy for over a year now looking to perfect boardgame ministry – and ministry in general. He’s a brilliant pioneer minister and you should definitely check out the rest of his blog at www.kidzministry.org