While we are not quite there yet, it seems that we can finally see a light to the end of the COVID tunnel. Some of the things in our lives that have been on pause for over a year might be able to resume within the next few months. I know one of the things that I am most looking forward to is being able to sit across a table and play board or card games with other people. Board games are easily my favorite hobby, and I am really looking forward to sharing these games with more people again soon.
I love to play games with people and I enjoy teaching people a new game they have not tried before. However, I very rarely teach someone how to play one of my absolute favorite board games. The game is called Federation Commander, and I could play the game daily for the rest of my life and never grow tired of playing it. This game excites my imagination and fully engages me in the tactics and strategy of it. However, I realize that this game is not for everyone. It is played on a hex grid, with one inch by one inch counters. The game requires consulting charts regularly, and the rulebook is 108 pages long (yes, one hundred and eight, that was not a typo). On top of that, the game is about spaceship combat so it already has limited appeal.
While Federation Commander is my favorite game, it is not a game that I would use to introduce someone to gaming. In the past twenty years there has been a renaissance in board and card games. I believe that today there is a game out there for everyone. If they give it a chance, I think everyone could find a game that really appeals to them and that they will love. If I took someone who was beginning to explore this new world of gaming and threw them straight into the deep end by forcing what was my favorite thing upon them, the most likely outcome is that it will be a frustrating experience for all involved. There are incredible games out there, but if the average non-gamer’s first experience with these new games was Federation Commander it would probably leave them feeling like board games are too complex and not for them.
In churches we can have a similar issue. We have an incredible message of love, of forgiveness, and of redemption. We have the gospel of Jesus. However, we do not always do the best job presenting this. Instead we sometimes have a tendency to take one of our favorite parts of the faith and present that. Maybe it is a specific social issue that can be polarizing or maybe it is a topic, like the book of Revelation, which might be hard for a non-believer to relate to. When the way we speak about and introduce our faith to other people is based solely on what we find most interesting then we have a high tendency of not truly reaching the people.
The point of playing games is to have fun with other people, so when I teach games to new people I need to keep that in mind. I need to present games that I think they will enjoy. The point of church and Christianity is Jesus, and when we share our faith with others we need to present it in a way that speaks to them. It is not enough for us to say our doors are always open so that people can come to us and then figure it all out. We need to present the good news to people in a way that connects to them. This might be through acts of service. It might also be accomplished through putting our time and energy into something like vacation bible school that intentionally shares the gospel with children. May we seek to always remember that people do not need our most favorite side issue of the faith, what people need most is Jesus.