Magazines 2022 Sept - Oct Chess in the city

Chess in the city

29 August 2022

Cranbrook Alliance Church has come up with a creative way to love our neighbours


Cranbrook Alliance Church


To build connections and fellowship


Chess club that meets weekly in the church and in summer at a city park for "focused chess in social warmth."


Tournament chess boards are around $20. "It’s not going to break the bank." –Hans Dekkers

Chess club founder and church member Hans Dekkers explains:

The idea was very simple. I realized there was no chess club in town. By hosting a club like this, you’re touching a group of people who have a shared passion, but have never found each other. When we meet with people over chess, we build relationships. Many people these days (and especially so after Covid) are lonely. The Lord loves it when people come together. Not everybody is a missionary, but everybody can build relationships.

We’ve been running the chess club for more than six years. If you looked at all the home groups in our church, we would beat them for the frequency with which we meet. We rarely miss a meeting. Our oldest member so far was in his mid-80s. Our youngest has been around eight.

We have people from different walks of life – blue collar, high professionals, accountants. We have people who have been fortunate to live a structured and successful life, and we have people who had to live through very tough times and have been beaten up by it. It’s quite a blend. That is very healthy and important. One gentleman comes all dressed up. Chess club is his highlight. "This is my church," he says.

It’s extremely important as we carry the love of Christ into this world, that we do that without agenda. There is nothing in our actions or interactions that sees anyone else as lost or someone I need to save. I won’t tweak my conversations to lure them into faith. I do hope they will come to know the Lord, and if I see a natural opportunity to weave the gospel, or aspects of God’s truth into it, then I seize it.

Not everybody is a missionary, but everybody can build relationships.

Chess is a fascinating game. It teaches you the consequences of your choices and it does it in a very dramatic way. A single unwise move will wreck you. A simple pawn, which doesn’t seem very valuable, plays an important role. There are life lessons.

When I shared the idea with our lead pastor, he said yes. An idea like this requires leadership understanding that wherever people are together, in a harmonious way, Christ is in their midst. It builds society, community, belonging and acceptance. Just think of Psalm 133: "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

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