Lately I have considered going to the High School to start a “games club” and doing ministry within the High school through games such as chess, Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, and other games such as those (also deemed as “nerd” games, see previous post). We’ve had a huge outcry against our Karate Ministry at church…can you imagine what would happen if I started a Dungeons and Dragons ministry? lol
So I’ve considered doing it outside of the church in the High/Middle school.
Today I ran across a post on a website that describes EXACTLY what I want to do. Read this and be amazed!
Back long, long ago… When Geraldo was doing his level best to make a name for himself by trying to demonstrate the suicidal tendencies of D&D players and MMS (Mad Moms Syndrome) had taken root all through out our fair land, I had my most memorable reaction to my playing.
One of the women at church whose son my best friend and I had invited over to play D&D one Sunday found out about the invite. She went to the pastors and begged them to intervene before our souls were utterly destroyed. They promised to look into the matter. The pastors had all heard the stories, but thankfully, being Methodist, weren’t going to take them at face value. That evening, Pastors Bill and Dan showed up at our house. They talked with my dad for a while, then called me downstairs. It was so odd, having these two ministers sitting there asking if they could borrow my D&D books for the week. My dad, who had never had a problem with the game, especially seeing as how my grades had shot up since I had taken it up as a hobby, told me to let them. I was afraid they’d be burned, but since I trusted them, I agreed. Turns out my buddy Mike agreed, too.
The next Friday evening, we got a call from Pastor Dan. He wanted to know if I could get my gaming buddies together and meet at his place for a game session. He would provide the refreshments, all I needed to do was bring some players. Again, I agreed and showed up with 4 or 5 guys in tow. Both pastors, the associate pastor, the assistant pastor, the youth pastor, and several church board members were there when we showed up. All I could think of was “This is an intervention”. How wrong I was.
I turned out that the assembled group had been passing around our books all week, and found nothing “Satanic” or “suicidally provocative” about these books. Most of the readers had found the rules as clear as mud (1st Ed was written at an almost post-grad level), so they wanted a demonstration to better understand what they had tried reading about. That’s why they wanted us game for them, so they could observe. We must have played for nearly 8 hours. It was more interesting than any of us expected.
All these highly educated people were astounded that a bunch of middle schoolers had developed such off-the-cuff math skills, advanced story-telling abilities, and used a college level vocabulary to discuss aspects of our game (Who knew that words like longevity, heirophant, and polymorph were supposed to be 6 years above our reading level?). A few of them even tried following along in the rule books or making up characters of their own. It was crazy, but they were so excited about the benefits that could be imparted that they seemed to forget all the negative hype that had been thrown around the media. By the time we left, it seemed that the church wasn’t going to worry about D&D any longer. What actually resulted was much stranger than I could have guessed as I fell asleep that night.
During church the next day, Pastor Dan announced that due to the concerns of several members of the congregation, they had fully investigated D&D and had come to a conclusion. They not only said that it was perfectly safe (“Those who decry it the loudest are those that understand it the least”), but that starting in two weeks, a regular D&D game would be held at the church every Saturday night, chaperoned by the youth pastor and any other interested parties, and that the church was ordering a complete set of the books so as not to force those running the game to transport a small library every week. Most folks looked vaguely confused as to why the church would bother making such a big deal about a game. Many more were upset that the “Satan game” had fooled such good men. I’m pretty sure the rest were as amused by the outcome as my father was.
There has been a role-playing group in the church almost every weekend since. They supported a gaming convention in the community center once a year for a long time until it got too big and was forced to move to a larger venue. There have been D&D themed weddings, trips to rennaisance fairs, geek-themed movie nights, and other gamer-friendly phenomenon ever since. Here, 25 years later, it now has a huge fellowship of gamers and the current pastors sometimes even let D&D references slip during their sermons. Who could have guessed all this would stem from one kid asking another kid, with a wack-a-doo for a mom, if he wanted to play an elf?
All because the church decided to investigate something and find that, hey, it’s not so bad after all! Amazing!