Board games, like any piece of popular culture, need not be separate from our identity as a people of faith.
We don’t need to torture scripture to “redeem” our favorite games or wring a biblical meaning out of every game’s basic theme. But we can approach games in a teachable spirit and ask God to show us something about himself in the gaming experience. We might be surprised by what he teaches us.
For one thing, board games can give us a glimpse of our roles in God’s kingdom. They can also show us what it looks like when God’s kingdom seems obscured or absent.
Board games also naturally facilitate fellowship and community. They are the very definition of in-person, communal activities. As a community group leader in my church, I facilitate a monthly game night, when folks come together to play strategy games like Ticket to Ride, Lords of Waterdeep, and Pandemic. It’s as much about being together as it is playing the game.
I’ve been writing about board games for some time at Think Christian. Here are five articles reflecting on the role games can play in our faith and fellowship, and how certain games show us a picture of God’s kingdom at work through his church.
There are a lot of cool board games out there, but a game is only as good as our ability to actually play it. A game that never makes it to the table—no matter how cool it is—does not fulfill its creative purpose. It offers no satisfaction, just discontent and frustration. Adding a game to a collection, therefore, becomes a spiritual act, one that ought to bear fruit for God’s kingdom.
Serving up a classic starship-and-crew story to delight the most ardent Star Trek fan, The Captain is Dead never fails to suck players helplessly (and perhaps haplessly) into the drama. Intellectually engrossing and emotionally immersive, this cooperative game is also spiritually instructive, calling to mind Paul’s commentary on spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12.
We can approach games in a teachable spirit and ask God to show us something about himself in the gaming experience.
This variation of Ticket to Ride is not only fun; it also reconnected me spiritually to my roots. I remembered that I came from somewhere—and not just a place. God often uses the ordinary to highlight the extraordinary. It should not surprise me, then, that God would illustrate the immeasurable worth of those who bear his image through such a common lens as a board game.
Scythe is a gorgeous board game that imagines an alternate, post-Great War history with an important lesson for local churches. Scythe lets players pursue any number of different strategies to win. What has this got to do with the missional church? When churches try to offer a ministry for every worthy cause, they are somewhat like the Scythe player trying to do everything, but ending up accomplishing very little.
In this cooperative card game, each player is a French soldier during World War I. The Grizzled focuses on the emotional, psychological, and spiritual toll the massed assaults, artillery barrages, and poison gas exacted upon the individual soldier. The aim of the game is for the soldiers to support their most vulnerable comrades. As it emphasizes small kindnesses over military triumph, the game reminds us of our duty to share the love of Christ.