”I wouldn’t believe a word he says.”
”And you say you’re a pastor?”
”Who do you want to kill?”
Not typical comments you would expect to hear at a pastor’s retreat. And yet, more (and worse) can be overheard late into the night as we gather in a large circle in the fireside room of the Chalet.
A highlight of our annual pastor’s retreat is the rousing games of Mafia that we play after the evening worship. Sometimes we play other games, but this one is my favorite. The quiet and the vocal, pastors and wives, pros and new initiates are invited, encouraged (and even coerced) to play.
Mafia is a group game invented by a psychology student from Russia in 1986. It’s a kind of role-playing murder/ mystery game. One website described it as “good for discussing topics such as lying, deception, trust, good versus evil, etc. or just for a fun time.” I’ve found that we just lie and deceive for the fun of it. A number of sites will give you some background, rules and variations for this game. (check here, and here, and here, and here.)
Briefly, this game involves assigning the parts of mafia, sheriffs, doctor and townspeople to the people sitting in a circle. Playing a number of rounds (divided into days/nights) the mafia kill off the good townspeople at night while the remaining folks investigate, accuse, and arrest their suspects. Some tender-hearted players arrest suspects; more cut-throat groups lynch them.