An Odd Thought

This past Tuesday I had a rather random thought. Running a table top role playing game 1 has a number of similarities with pastoring. Even more random, I wondered if Running a TTRPG 2 might actually be good practical training for pastors in a venue where the real world stakes are low. Here’s some similarities I find between running a game and shepherding a congregation.

  • You plan a bit ahead, knowing everything you work on can be derailed, because those targets help keep you moving toward a goal.
  • The folks you play with will utterly shock you by the strange things they decide to do.
  • You expose the quirks in your own personality for the other players to see, trusting they’ll stay at the table.
  • You advise, chide, and drop hints to folks—hoping they take some steps forward—and continue walking with them when it all goes sideways.
  • You get to see the characters grow, and change as a result. Which alters the dynamics of relationships around the table.
  • Sometimes, players leave the game just because it doesn’t work to be at the table any more. It’s difficult for everyone, but new players come in.
  • You celebrate when players succeed, and help them negotiate another way forward when they fail.
  • Sometimes characters die, and you have to help the table deal with that.
  • You have to negotiate with players who want to play by slightly different rules.

All of the above are things pastors navigate each and every day. Sometimes to wondrous ends, and sometimes to a painful conclusion. The better we learn how to navigate these skills, the better we are able to love our congregants and guide them forward—even as we take part in the journey. It’s actually pretty cool.

  1. Hereafter referred to as TTRPG  ↩

  2. The person who runs a game is often referred to as a “Dungeon Master” (GM) or a “Game Master” (GM).  ↩