As the children’s music leader in my ward’s Primary organization, I’m always looking for a good game.
From the moment the last “amen” is said in sacrament meeting, church is aerobic for me. I am dashing around, gathering last-minute props and thumbtacks, being relentlessly peppy and waving my arms around — pretending I know how to lead music — to encourage more singing. I am beaming at and making eye contact with every kid — but never with adults, because then I would freeze up — to let them know I see them, I’m happy they’re there and I think their singing is fantastic. I am distributing silly hats, putting stickers on kids’ foreheads, discussing Jesus’ infinite love and singing with off-key enthusiasm. I wiggle with the children and do all the actions to every song because it’s a fact of human development that we all need a dance break between sitting still in reverent meetings.
The woman who plays the piano in Primary graciously endures my antics. She is highly-qualified. Her patience with my goofiness is a witness to her Christianity.
It’s plenty of fun, but this church job requires more preparation than any calling I’ve ever had — and I taught Gospel Doctrine for a while.
A few Saturday nights ago after an overbooked week, I found myself panicking because I did not have a plan for Primary singing time the next day.
In an act of low-prep desperation, I borrowed an idea from comedian Drew Carey, who is the king of improvisation. I enthusiastically announced to the Primary we were about to play the best game ever, The Game With Points. Drew Carey’s description of this game is “Everything’s made up and the points don’t matter.” I decided to let the children discover those rules as we played.
I told the kids on each side of the room they were Team No. 1 and Team No. 2, and then we started singing through my list of songs.
At first there was some anxious discussion of uneven amounts of kids on each team, and how could I not be concerned about that obvious injustice? This game was about points, I said, not fairness — so let’s sing.
After each song, I would praise something specific about a child. “Kayla doesn’t know that verse very well yet, but I saw her trying to figure it out, and singing every word she did know!” I’d exclaim.
Then I’d award an arbitrary and increasingly large number of points to that team. I took turns awarding points to each side.
The junior Primary kids were thrilled with the big numbers. The bigger kids started to pick up on the joke — “Award us a million points because I was very sincere!” — and that made it even more fun. I never knew what I was looking for until I saw it. One kid earned his team several million points for having expressive eyebrows while singing. The kids have never sung so well. We finished with infinity points and a lot of giggling for everyone.
The Game With Points was a huge hit, and it got me thinking about how much people just want to be acknowledged. In real life, most measures of success are arbitrary, and even though we act like we’re about to run out, there is no shortage of “points.” Telling folks you think they’re great is a near-magical way to perk them up. Loving them unconditionally invites divinity into your life.
A mindset of competition and scarcity is our cultural norm, but it’s not a particularly Christian attitude. There’s no condition or status that makes anyone ineligible for God’s love and grace, so we should be dishing up heaping helpings of it to everyone. There’s plenty enough for everyone.
Infinity points for everyone.