Gamers Share God's Grace

Gamers Share God's Grace
Photo by Jakub Sisulak on Unsplash
“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?”
- Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

As Solomon concluded in Ecclesiastes, recreation is God’s gift to the people he created, a good thing to enjoy with humility and thankfulness. Playing games is an old and popular form of recreation, and these days the hobby can include gaming on a console, computer, phone, or around a table – alone or with others.

Gharrett Dursma, Jake Tuininga, and the rest of the founding members of Gamers with Grace are tapping into the community aspect of gaming to build each other up and bring glory to Christ.

Common ground

Gharrett says the two core values that brought Gamers with Grace together are pretty simple: “1: We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are saved by His grace. 2: We enjoy playing games of various types.”

When they first started meeting in 2020, Gharrett saw the group as just a handful of friends with those two things in common. But as people invited their friends and the word spread, it became evident that there were a lot of believers for whom gaming was a good way to connect.

“It’s cool seeing people make relationships/friendships that potentially might not have happened simply because they didn't get a chance to play a game with someone,” Gharrett says.

The group started growing far beyond their expectations and now includes more than 80 participants from Faith Bible Church, Indian Trail Church, Valley Bible Church, and others. They meet regularly to play a wide variety of games, from video games and board games to Nerf and disc golf.

They’ve also seen people growing spiritually from connecting with the group. People who come because they know one member of the group start to connect with others there and build friendships. They have a lot of fun playing together, and serious topics arise more naturally as people get to know each other.

Jake Tuininga and other members from the group gather to play board games.

“People share their prayer requests and follow up to see how those requests are going,” Gharrett says. “People share and ask challenging, thought-provoking questions, like ‘Why do we pray if God already knows our thoughts?’” Oftentimes, others will jump in sharing Scriptures to help answer the questions.

As the group grew, it helped some people reconnect into the church. Gharrett remembers one young man who used to keep a distance from everyone if he even made it to church on Sundays. Through connecting with Gamers with Grace, he began to re-engage with the Lord and the church. Now he’s been baptized and is getting involved with youth ministry at a sister church in Spokane.

According to Gharrett, “He says that a big part is because of the community of people from this group that came around him and the body of Christ loving him the way he is, and for the hobby he enjoys: gaming.”

Avoid the pitfalls

Enjoying games together is also a way that Gamers with Grace helps people for whom gaming has become a hindrance to their walk with Christ.

Growing up at Faith, Jake used to keep his gaming hobby separate from his church relationships. Having experienced dismissiveness from some Christians about his favored form of recreation, it was easier just to keep it to himself. But as an adult, that isolation only fed his tendency to run to gaming as an escape from difficult situations that arose in his marriage and family.

“What I found in my time playing games outside the church … is I would get far too involved in them for the sake of themselves, rather than for the sake of anything outside of it. I wasn’t pursuing Christ in my enjoyment of games.”

There are also other considerations for Christians who enjoy gaming. “The gaming community in the secular sense is filled with all sorts of immorality and crude talking,” Jake says. It’s easy to get wrapped up in that culture, and “that becomes what you think is normal and expected behavior.”

“Gaming is just a fun way to get people together... and fellowship with the body of Christ, and reach out to the lost that need a loving community.”
—Gharrett Dursma

Gamers with Grace shows it doesn’t have to be that way. Even though competitiveness and good-natured ribbing can be part of the gaming experience, members are careful to prioritize caring for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now, Jake sees gaming as something to help build community rather than keep in isolation. The group fills a spiritual need, helping people bring their entire lives—including hobbies and recreation—under the lordship of Christ.

Jake says they help each other keep gaming in its proper place. Rather than putting pressure on their commitment to the group, they’re always supportive of others who decide not to come to a game night because of a more important priority – such as marriage, family, or ministry.

“We are all looking out for each other, and if a brother or sister mentions that they might be giving too much time to gaming … we help hold them accountable to their goals,” Gharrett says. “We always are open to being called out (lovingly) if we ourselves are drifting in some way.”

Enjoying hobbies in a godly manner means “knowing where you’re weak, relying on Christ, and saying no to yourself if need be,” Jake says.

Jake now avoids playing video games by himself so he isn’t tempted back into the escapism he used to practice. He says anything people enjoy, including games, can become an idol and take the place of Christ in their thinking. “We should always run to Christ for comfort above anything else. That’s true of everything.”

Purposeful fun and fellowship

Because all sorts of people are interested in gaming, “what we play is all over the board (pun intended),” Gharrett says.

“Some of us are married, some of us have kids, some of us are single and in college, so we try our best to accommodate anything that is within those stages of life to allow people an opportunity to come and hang out.”

Some visitors to the group are surprised to find how much fun Christians can have together through gaming. Some have never seen Christians using the hobby to glorify God together rather than keeping it separate from church life.

Jake says, “Any hobby that you enjoy that isn’t sinful in itself, engage with people who you know about it. You might find that there are more people that are into it than you thought. And having open lines of communication and transparency about where you might struggle within that arena is something I’d highly encourage.”

Anyone interested in getting involved should reach out to Gharrett, Jake, Daniel Cobb, John Macias, Tyler Nebergall, Andrew England or their wives to see what’s coming up next.

“God is what is most important, and growing our relationship with Him,” Gharrett says. “Gaming is just a fun way to get people together and be able to have fun and fellowship with the body of Christ, and reach out to the lost that need a loving community.”

Lynn Yount

Lynn and her husband, Doug, lead a Growth Group. Lynn serves as a writer and editor for Faith Weekly and other church communications.

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