“My brother just got busted for drugs.”
“I got in a fight and chipped a tooth.”
“Want to get together on father’s day? Since our dads aren’t around, thought it’d be cool to hang out.”
“Hey, found out my mom’s dating someone new.”
“I met this girl at sports authority.”
“I met this girl, I was thinking of bringing her by later.”
“I found out my mom has cancer.”
“I found out I can get into college up north. Even study overseas.”
“I’m getting married.”
“I met this girl overseas, I think she’s the one.”
“Hey, I’ve run into a jam, can I stay with you for while?”
“Hey, she’s pregnant!”
“Just found out we’re having a baby!”
“I found out if I have cancer.”
“Hey, man, just got word, he’s gone.”
My name’s Jeff. I’m a Christian. I’m a gamer.
I’ve been involved with the same gaming group for twenty-three years. I’ve only known the Lord for 11 of them. Until I began writing this I hadn’t really thought of how being in a gaming group is like being in a small group at church. That’s not to say that every assembly of d20-wielding, adventurers are going to get that close, but in my experience a lot of them do!
For my friends and I, gaming has been a warm campfire around which we’ve gathered for a long time. During those years we’ve seen each other grow, been in each other’s weddings, even seen one of us pass on to glory.
What am I trying say here? I sat down and wanted to hammer out a quick note on the importance of gaming. How it can be a great ministry opportunity if one were so inclined. But in thinking about this topic, it brought me back to my own gaming group. Those quotes at the top of the page? All things said around the table amid dice and paper and pencils and figurines. It seems cliche, but life was going on outside. As much fun as it is to swing a two-handed axe around shouting “To whatever end!”, being around those guys meant friendly faces, allies in a common struggle and a safe place to talk about anything.
And there’s the rub. A safe place to talk about anything? Oh ho, brave readers, not so fast. Could the topic of faith be allowed in such an atmosphere? Before I answer that with what should be an obvious; YES! Let me tell you my own experience.
I chickened out. I did the unthinkable. I accepted the Lord into my heart and my life, but rather than share my faith with the guys I considered brothers, I walked away. In my mind, gaming and all that went along with it, was a different life that had to be put down. Left behind. Case closed. Finito. Asta lasagna, don’t get any on ya.
I chickened out. Plain and simple. And it wasn’t until a couple of years later that I realized how dumb I had been.
One of the old gaming group had put out an invite to all of us for a birthday celebration. It had been too long and he thought it was a good idea to “get the band back together”. So we tromped up to San Bernardino. It was like no time had passed. It’s like that with good friends, right? Like riding a bike. Things were different to be sure. All of us were married save for one – the eternal bachelor, the Ed. Some of us even had kids. Little miniatures walking around with fresh little minds of limitless imagination. We conspired to schedule the first time we’d show them Star Wars together.
The good stuff mind you. The old stuff. None of this new poppycock. That’s right, poppycock.
Later that evening, sitting around the tactical monstrosity of goodness that is Axis & Allies, the guy who’d done the inviting made the announcement. “Hey guys, I just found out I’ve got cancer. Glioblastoma.”
And there it was, staring me in the face. My utter foolishness laid bare. All this time I could have been in his life and I had turned away. But I realized God had brought me around at the right time. He’d set my feet on the right course and helping me be there for my friend at the right time.
So I’ll lay it out for you. Is the gaming table a place to share your faith?
Yes, yes it is. But like with any ministry, it has to be done with the Spirit firmly ahead of you, blazing a trail. Around a table, rolling dice or a card game or even a little multiplayer on ye olde xbox, there’s an opportunity. It can be in the way you play, the way you talk, the way you listen. The next time you sit around the table, realize that God is there with you, probably laughing a little bit when you roll a natural 1 twice in a row…but more importantly, He’s there empowering you with the Holy Spirit to be ever watchful and ready to share the Gospel with the others at the table.
Here’s a few things that have help me in the past:
Pray before games.
Pray that God gives you opportunities to share your faith.
Pray that He fills your heart and mind with the right words.
Do a lot of listening. It’s tough when you’ve just launched into an encounter with a dozen trolls bearing down on you, but trust me; listen. Between sessions, maybe offering a lift to the gaming site; there’s going to be opportunities to listen to your group members.
Take the opportunity to talk about your recent activities at church. Not so much in a bludgeoning – I spend 8 hours straight studying the bible, what are you doing with your life – sort of way, but simply showing how being about the business of God brings you joy.
As this segment grows, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about how you can reach out to those around you at the table. And by talk, I really mean a conversation. If you’ve got ideas that have worked or ones that you’d like to try out, we’d be glad to hear from you. Drop us a line at the site!
Until the next time, brave sojourners!