The Christian Tetris Effect

Have you ever stopped to consider the amazing power of Tetris? It was invented over 20 years ago, and since then has dominated the world like a cascading stack of colored boxes. It was voted the second best video in history, and it even has a medical condition named after it! I'm serious - it's called the "Tetris Effect," and I'm willing to bet that some of you reading this suffer from this cybersickness.

Basically, the "Tetris Effect" happens when after playing the game for an hour or so, you still have the taunting little images falling through the brainwaves in your head - so you keep playing a mental version of the game. Another way it shows up is when you are at a grocery store and you see some boxes that might fit together better to make a row. I even heard of folks who will gaze at a beautiful downtown skyline, and instead of admiring the glass and steel human achievement, are instead thinking about how the buildings might be turned in a Tetris like fashion for a better position.

The most recent sign of the Tetris Effect showed up on (of course) You Tube. Two wildly popular videos pay tribute to the game in very bizarre ways. The first video is a clip from a Japanese game show where contestants have a huge wall with a blank Tetris shape approaching them at a pretty good pace. The contestants have to get themselves into whatever shape is coming their way to fit through, otherwise they get bashed into a pool of water...or some liquid...ewww.

The other video is a 'human Tetris' that has groups of people in different colored shirts coming down church pews just like the real version of the game. The player rearranges the groups of people so they can make rows and disappear.

Again, cybersickness at it's best.

The video of the church Tetris, though, really got me thinking. I sometimes wonder if God is a Tetris fan? What I mean is - maybe He's looking down at all the folks in church who just come and sit, and He'd love to rearrange them so they could fit together and accomplish something. The reason I think this might be true is because of something I recently read in the Bible about an important part of the Christian life called 'spiritual gifts'. Here's what I read:

God's various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:

wise counsel

clear understanding

simple trust

healing the sick

miraculous acts


distinguishing between spirits


interpretation of tongues.

All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

Just like the different people in different colored shirts, every Christian is given a different special ability called a 'spiritual gift' from the Holy Spirit that we need to use at church and anywhere else we have an opportunity. When we don't use them, it's like a Tetris round where the pieces just fall where ever, and the game is over quickly.

So are you ready to pick up the 'Christian Tetris Effect'? Can you picture where you fit into your church or youth group with your spiritual gift? Here are some ideas for you:

Do you like to serve? Then find a place to serve!

Are you a good listener and encourager? Then let people know you're available!

Do you enjoy helping get things organized? Then let your youth leader know! (Believe me, he or she will be very glad to get some help).

The power of Tetris is great, but believe me, the power of learning where you fit in with your spiritual gifts and using them to help others is one of the greatest powers the universe has ever seen.

Ready to play?

Head: What you need to know about this truth

When a person trusts in Christ as his/her only hope of salvation, the Holy Spirit gives them a unique ability called a spiritual gift that should be used to help fulfill God's plan for the church and the world.

Heart: What you need to feel about this truth

You should feel amazingly special and responsible. Amazingly special because God chose you to accomplish a mission on earth through your spiritual gift. Responsible because this is one of the main purposes to your life, and you will be judged on how well or not so well you used your gift.

Hands: What you need to do about this truth

One of the best ways to have a discussion about spiritual gifts is to talk about how you would react in a specific situation. For example, if a server spills someone's meal all over the restaurant floor and a group of Christians are sitting nearby, each individual will react differently based on his/her spiritual gift. The gift of mercy responds by helping to clean up the mess, the gift of giving offers to pay for another meal, the gift of exhortation seeks to cheer up the server. The gift of administration delegates and organizes the whole matter to avoid confusion. The gift of teaching suggests some ways to make sure the spill doesn't happen again, etc. Your spiritual gift makes you sensitive to certain needs that others may not see. Another way to get educated and get help with discovering your spiritual gift is to complete a spiritual gifts inventory. Talk to your pastor, youth leader, parent, or a mature Christian adult about where to find one and how to interpret the results.


Lane Palmer is the Youth Ministries Specialist for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with to provide resources for youth leaders and students. Dare 2 Share exists to energize and equip teens to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries or the GameDay youth conference tour, please visit Send feedback to