You weren’t always a board game reviewer; can you tell us a little about yourself and what your involvement in ministry has looked like over the years?
Well, I graduated from Pensacola Christian College (PCC) in December 2001, and by then I had
already been involved in youth ministry at my local church for a couple of years. Before attending PCC, I was also active in helping my church’s youth pastor in an assistant’s role in San Antonio, TX, too. In January 2002, my family and I moved to South Korea to teach Bible and ESL to Korean children in Kunsan. After a year and a half of that, I accepted a position at International Christian School – Uijongbu as a missionary teacher with the Network of International Christian Schools (NICS), during which time I also was the youth pastor at our local church. In 2009, I answered the call to be an Assistant Pastor at Bethany Baptist Church in Martinez, CA. Unfortunately, church finances didn’t allow me to continue there, and in 2010, we accepted a youth pastor/Bible
teacher position here in Homestead, FL at South Dade Baptist Church (SDBC) and Colonial Christian School. I left the teaching position to go full-time with The Dice Tower, but I am still the middle- and high-school youth pastor at SDBC.
When did you start with The Dice Tower and what has your involvement been over the years?
I first began working with Tom on the Dice Tower back in 2007 or 2008. When Joe Steadman and his family left Korea, I took his spot on the podcast as Tom’s co-host. When I left Korea in 2009, that’s when Eric Summerer took over the co-host spot. “Fate” brought Tom and I back together here in Homestead in 2010, which is when we started doing the Top Ten videos together with Zee Garcia, and Miami Dice, and a couple other things here and there. Then, in 2015, I decided to resign my teaching position and go full-time with The Dice Tower. Now, I’m responsible for 5 reviews/videos a week, compiling Throat Punch Lunch, Top Tens, Miami Dice, and various other responsibilities from time to time.
What is the Dice Steeple? What is the goal of this podcast?
The Dice Steeple is a podcast that I and my co-host, Dan King (GameBoyGeek), create together on
board gaming from a Christian perspective. Its goal, as Dan and I see it, is to begin bridging the gap between the differing world-views that already exist in our hobby through open dialogue on any number of subjects including, but not limited to, anything having to do with our hobby. We invite believers and non-believers alike onto the show so that we can highlight our similarities with the hope being that we will also at some point talk about our differences, too. We also have episodes that focus on a particular subject from a biblical viewpoint, and how that can apply to the hobby.
It is good to fellowship as Christians but should we always meet with fellow believers? Why might it be important get together or game with people of other faiths, cultures, or ideals?
I think it’s important to get together and/or game with other faiths, cultures, or ideals so that we don’t lose our point of current existence in this world. Think about this…when we got saved, why didn’t we immediately get transported to heaven? I mean, that would’ve been much more convenient for us, don’t you think? Matthew 5:13-16 is a pretty clear directive that Christ Himself gave. We are called on to be salt and light to the world around us, but if the salt just resides in the shaker, and the light stays under a bushel…well, we aren’t doing what we’ve all been called to do, as Christians. The Apostle Paul echoed these principles in I Corinthians 9:19-22, when he wrote that he was “made all things to all men, that (he) might by all means save some.” I don’t think that means that we should ambush people by inviting them to a game night, and sneaking in a Bible study. But I do think that we should be absolutely willing to spend time with non-believers while
asking the Holy Spirit to make us sensitive to those situations/opportunities that will arise naturally in which we can share the Gospel.
Why are games seemingly ideal for doing this?
Games are especially good conveyors of camaraderie. It’s hard, especially in our day and age, to find common ground with others without a catalyst of some kind. Everyone is always trying to pronounce how much different they are from everyone else, and this seems to be much more prevalent right now. Board games bridge those divides in a natural way by pulling on the somewhat inherent drive in all of to strive together towards a common goal, even if it is in competition. Co-op games are especially good at this, though, because they eliminate that competitive aspect, which can hinder that feeling of camaraderie.
Are all games good for Christians to play? Do you often find games that you don’t agree with? How can we be sure we are getting a game that we can agree with?
This is a hard question to answer for others. Personally, no, I don’t think “all games” are good for
Christians to play. I wouldn’t recommend Cards Against Humanity, Busen Memo, or Kama Sutra, but those are kind of obvious, right? I also wouldn’t recommend overtly violent games, either, like Chaos in the Old World, The Others, or even Blood Rage (depending on the setting/group of people, of course). The thing is that everyone has their own threshold of tolerance. For me, the extent to which the game includes the possibly offensive material has to be considered. Is sorcery simply the name they gave to a particular mechanism, or are players being asked to act and chant as if they are casting spells/incantations? That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. Everyone has their own convictions. Sure, I think there can (and should) be some definite lines that no Christian should cross, but I am not the one to answer that question for your readers. They have to come to their own conclusions based on their own interpretations of the Scriptures.
Do your family, friends, or youth group ever get tired of games?
Yes…sometimes. The thing my family and I run into is always having to play new games. That can
really get burdensome for them. Sometimes, they just want to play something that they don’t have to learn. Our game group, though, is pretty good about nearly always wanting to play the new stuff that needs to be reviewed, and that’s really helpful for us. Not only because we can get the game played, but because we also get to pick other gamers’ brains on what they thought about the game…and that can help us during the final thoughts sections of our reviews. Youth group is an entirely different thing. I can’t really play too many games with them too often. They want to have nights where we go outside and play more physically active games. Furthermore, the kinds of board games that they will be willing to play is usually the lighter fare.
If a church wants to start a game group/ministry what suggestions or hints can you give?
Priority one, include the Pastor in all aspects of the decision process, but especially in the kinds of
games to include. The last thing you want is for him to be blind-sided by an ‘over-saved’ (as per comedian Michael Jr.: if you don’t know of this skit, you need to go watch it…it has a Jeff Foxworthy “you might be a red-neck” vibe to it) church member about your group playing Wits and Wagers, which clearly endorses and encourages gambling (!!!). Give him the opportunity to have a say in what games you bring to game night. His perspective will include things about the members of the church to which you aren’t privy.
Second, decide early whether it is going to be a fellowship for believers, or an out-reach that will
include non-believers. If it’s a fellowship for believers, you’ll be free to have a devotional time, however short it may be. But if it’s an out-reach to include non-believers, having a devotional section carries the possibility of turning non-believers away, especially if you ambush them with it, and you’ll not see them again. It’s important to note that I’m not saying you shouldn’t speak to them about the Gospel. I’m saying that you shouldn’t bait and switch them into hearing the Gospel. They will resent you, and more importantly Christ and the next Christian to invite them to a game night at their church, for it…talk about burning bridges! Allow those conversations to happen naturally and openly. Don’t force them.
Thirdly, you may want to make sure that the people of the church realize that it isn’t a free baby-sitting program, unless that is part of your focus. If not, and families are invited, make sure the parents know you expect them to be there, too, not just their kids. And make sure the games played will be appealing and engaging to a wide variety of ages.
Finally, have fun. Running a game night at your church isn’t an opportunity for you to show-off how
much you know about this very microcosmic hobby, or how good you are at playing games. You need to go into teacher/facilitator mode, and anyone helping you run these events also needs to be in teacher/facilitator mode, too. Church game nights aren’t tournaments, and “winning” shouldn’t be your goal.
Lastly, who has the better game collection in the Dice Tower?
This is a highly subjective question, but I’ll have to go with Tom.