The basics of Guardians of Ancora Innovative and immersive Bible engagement for 8 to 11s: digital and beyond Introduction Guardians of Ancora is a new digital environment for 8 to 11 year-olds that combines the excitement and creativity of a high-spec, online game with an immersive experience of Bible content and faith formation. Delivered initially via an app and free of charge, Guardians of Ancora aims to provide a fun, positive, social space where children can explore their relationship with God and the Bible. This project meets children where they are at with their interests, and is instinctively compelling for children, offering the wealth of God’s word freely, and potentially opening a doorway into a life with him forever. Overview Imagine a child who has never seen a Bible or understood about God discovering Guardians of Ancora as they search for free-of-charge games. Or hearing something about it at school from a friend who loves playing it. Guardians of Ancora is about far more than playing a game: levels of games, tasks and challenges engross and entertain, but they can also stimulate curiosity, and open up depths of interactive Bible exploration, experience of a faith environment, and opportunities to reflect and respond. Maybe through Guardians of Ancora a child will pray for the first time. Guardians of Ancora is a space for children who casually pass by as much as for those who mean business in their relationship with the Lord Jesus. Support for them may come from home, school or church group, but the core game-play will be world-class so that this is something children want to do for themselves rather than needing to be persuaded to do it. Growing in God should be a delight for them, not a chore. Technology and timeframe Children will be able to access Guardians of Ancora through a tablet, initially. There will also be mini-games that can be played completely separately as an app that would need to be downloaded on to a smartphone (including iOS and Android). The first of these, Firebugs of Ancora, is now available (in the first instance for iPad, potentially for iPhone and other smartphones later), and is in the App Store free of charge. You can download it here. The full public release of Guardians of Ancora was launched in June 2015 and is available for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire tablets. The app is updated regularly, to provide more depth and breadth of biblical and game content. Guardians of Ancora Bible engagement ‘Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.’ John W Gardner (1912–2002), US Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare In Bible reading we have given children enough ‘cut flowers’ – ‘Here’s the Bible. It’s hard, so let me tell you what it means.’ Whilst there is definitely a place for direct telling or teaching, digital approaches now open out a vast range of interactive and exploration opportunities that have not been available before. Guardians of Ancora is in forefront of applying new, online learning principles to the area of faith formation, Bible engagement and prayer. Bible engagement involves encountering and exploring its events and words, and meeting and experiencing the God who is revealed through them, in such a way that the engager is: informed about the Bible story and God, and influenced by what they now know; spiritually nurtured and formed as a person of faith; and transformed, personally and socially, in thought, emotions and action. Gauging impact Guardians of Ancora is sponsoring research by Christian Research into if, how and where it is possible to create a means of measuring indications of faith. Running parallel with game development, this research has worked internationally with more than 45 theoreticians and practitioners in the areas of children’s spirituality and faith formation, and is continuing with focus groups with children, parental adults and church leaders and workers. The research outcomes will be applied into the game, enabling Guardians of Ancora to track and gauge the effectiveness of the faith-building experiences, without distracting from the game play or distorting the data. Guardians of Ancora and you Here are some ways for people to keep up to date with Guardians of Ancora and to help them start to talk about it too, with children, parents, leaders, teachers and ministry networks: Updates: Invite parents, leaders and teachers to sign up for news and updates on this website, and also do it yourself, of course! Like: Follow Guardians of Ancora on Facebook and invite those on your own friends list to like it too. Watch a Bible Play Module environment walkthrough on YouTube. Promote: Enthuse about Firebugs of Ancora, available free of charge from the App Store now, with its supporting website. Watch a trailer on YouTube. It will be available for other devices later. Pray: Guardians of Ancora needs substantial funding from now onwards. Please pray for trusts, major donors and ministry organisations to catch the vision. Presentations: If you know of any major ministry conferences, events and other gatherings related to children’s ministry, consider attending to present this exciting initiative. If that’s not possible, videos, PowerPoints, fliers etc. will be available for you to send to the event yourself.