Mustard Seed Games
Why Play Christian Games ?
With many similar parables Jesus spoke to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything. Mark 4. 33-34
The expectations of what will engage and interest children have changed. We live in a visual, noisy, multimedia world; a world of interactive education and entertainment through TV, films and the computer. When we teach children about our faith we must do it in a way that will involve and interest them and reflect this experience. Children learn best when actively engaged not just watching and listening.
Playing games is one way of enjoying fun activities that teach but are not academic. All children and young people respond to games and are motivated to share in them. Jesus taught through parables as a way of engaging His listeners. In a similar way, we teach through games.
Within the Church
Games provide visual support and active engagement in learning. They can be used as part of structured lessons or as an activity to 'fill in' time at the end of the session as no preparation is required. They can also be used in youth groups and holiday clubs where the emphasis is on play, but with a purpose of teaching something of the Bible and Christian living.
Many children have poor academic skills or Specific Learning Difficulties such as dyslexia. It is important therefore, not to make our church classes seem like a school experience. Playing games linked to a lesson topic, is a great way to make time spent in Sunday school welcoming.
Many church groups need to cater for an increasing number of those who do not have English as a first language. Some groups include Special Needs children, young people and adults. Games are especially suitable for these groups, as they are highly visual, the rules can be adapted to suit the ability of the players and they do not need much English to play them.
The Family That Plays Together
Research has shown that there is a growing trend in families wanting to spend quality time together playing traditional games.
Ask adults to remember some of their happiest childhood memories and they will include those times when the family sat down and played games together. They remember the closeness of sharing a common activity. The warmth as their family chatted, shared memories and laughed together. That special feeling from having parents, grandparents or siblings joining together to share an activity.
Today, many adults rarely share such times with their children. Families can lead quite separate lives and often do not even eat together. Parents work long hours so that weekends and evenings become a frenetic whirl of activity. Television is a constant presence, stifling family conversation.
Children isolate themselves from parents to play endless computer games. Many of our current children’s toys and activities are based on TV and films, which often have unsuitable ‘adult’ themes. We live in a world where violence and the threat of danger are ever present. People are growing tired of the constant violence from TV, films and computer games around their children. We long for quieter games and activities that reflect our Christian life style.
Society is becoming increasingly secular and many of today’s values do not reflect Christian teaching. Additionally, many children are growing up in places where Christianity is a minority faith. Many receive no Christian teaching unless it is from the home or church. How special it would be to return to times when the family comes together to play games. It would be even more special to use this precious family time as an opportunity to teach children about the Christian faith, about what God values in their lives and to bring them into a relationship with a loving Father God.
The aim of playing Mustard Seed Games is: ‘That they might know that I am the Lord’. Exodus 31.13