Pastor Sees Board Games Influencing View of Church

Post a Comment » Written on March 4th, 2009     
Filed under: News
By Gustav Skogens

SARANAC, MI (March 4, 2009) – Pastors and professors often work on papers or develop spiritual disciplines when they go on sabbatical. John Madvig is going to play board games.

Actually, the pastor of Saranac Community Church will spend the summer creating a game. He hopes to incorporate innovative ideas drawn from the creative process and apply them to local church ministry.

MadvigThe variety of American board games can be a metaphor for how churches approach ministry differently, Madvig says. “I think that too often, the church is like the makers of Monopoly: put a new face on an old, proven game and hope people will buy it again,” he explains. “Meanwhile, others are putting their creativity to work, coming up with new and exciting solutions – that no one really expected from the church!”

Games also can provide insight into how people who don’t attend any congregation can perceive the church. Too often, he says, they have the same view of church as they do of traditional “bored games.”

Madvig will work together with his friend, Chris Handy, who he met working as a youth pastor at Hilmar Covenant Church in Hilmar, California. By introducing Madvig to some highly creative and nontraditional games he had designed, Handy inspired Madvig’s interest for board games.

Madvig looks to newer European games for fresh concepts. As opposed to traditional American, highly competitive, elimination-focused games like Risk and Monopoly, European games tends to focus more on relaxation, fellowship and face-to-face interaction between people, he says.

Players don’t get eliminated and then have to wait hours before they can play again. “They are fun all the way through,” Madvig says, “not just when you win.”

No decision has been made, but Madvig says the game probably will be built around Paul’s three missionary journeys. He wants a gaming experience that provides teaching moments and not “a standard Bible game were you role a dice, move your marker and answer a question.”

For those who want to try the newer board games out of Europe, Madvig recommends Ticket to Ride, Carcassone and the card game Dominion. They are good introductory level games with rules that are easy to understand and provide a different experience.

Madvig also suggests people visit the online Board Game Geek to learn more about European gaming.

A Louisville Institute Sabbatical Grant for Pastoral Leaders is funding the sabbatical.

(Editor’s note: Gustav Skogens is a North Park University student completing an internship with the Department of Communication.)

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