Why would people go to a café not just to eat or have coffee but to play a game? In her article Ms. Schank wrote that what is driving this trend is the “need to connect with people in a public/private space, the need to have a meaningful interaction that doesn’t involved the use of emoticons, and perhaps the need, in an increasingly complex world, to work with family and friends toward a clear goal.” Jon Freeman is a former neuroscientist who left the research world to open a board game café in New York. He said, “Adults who spend all day sitting in front of a computer want to spend time with people. It’s really about people having like-minded shared experiences. We’d lost access to that, and places like board game cafes have opened up access.” Sherry Turkle, MIT sociology professor, says board games are appealing to many today because many in our society are starting to lose the ability to interact and have personal conversations, and the games provide a context to have interaction.
In Romans 12:5 Paul wrote, “in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” God knew our need for connection with others because he put it in us. Relationship is part of his triune nature and he created us so that relationship is a part of our nature as well. In Eden he said it was not good for the man to be alone, so he created the marriage relationship to meet the need for connection. God has given us first family, then the church to provide the human connections that we must have to be whole. The board game café will likely appeal to many people, but in the end it won’t be the answer to their real need. They long for something deeper. What they need is the body of Christ. This says to me that I need to first be even more grateful for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Our church is full of flawed people, who, like me, are far from perfect, but people I can and do truly connect with at a deep level. It is far too easy to take them for granted, and this we must never do. They are a gift from God.
Second, as I think about this need for connection, it occurs to me that I should do all I can to make sure that my church provides what people long for. The way I can do that is by making sure that I connect with others in the church. I cannot control what other people do, but I can make sure that I am fully engaged in the life of the body, available to other people and that they can count on me. The church has enormous potential to be the community that all people long for, but it will only fulfill that potential if we in the church pay the price of actually loving others, being committed to them, thus making possible the network of relationships all of us want. All of us in the body need to make the effort to ensure that the church provides what board game cafes will never be able to give.