It’s called ‘Heroscape’. It’s a table-top board game that looks like a fantasy videogame. Imagine small figurines of dragons, robots and aliens on a 3D game board, duking it out in a last-man-standing battle. And for the past several weeks I’ve been playing it for 4 to 5 hours a week. Why, you may ask? Because the grade eight boys I work with love it. If you want to know how to connect with kids, find out what excites them.

But, what does this have to do with youth work or Jesus?

I’ll tell you. First, it has the appeal of a video game, but it requires real-life social interaction. We are building who’ve only recently entered the socially complex world of high school and often find it hard to make friends, is critical.

Second, developing relationship is the precursor to trust, which is a must if you’re going to move past ‘surface talk’.

Third, developmentally speaking, their brains are not ready for deep discussions. That will come later. But for now I’m spending time caring for them by engaging them in the things they love. We can’t rush through the small, but important steps. Video games to board games. From fun youth worker to trusted friend.

-Chris Hawthorne


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