Jesus Loves Gamers
This last weekend was Emerald City Comic Con, a huge comic convention that has called downtown Seattle home for the past 15 years. The event features celebrities, artists, writers, discussion panels, gaming opportunities, and several football field sized rooms full of vendors selling anything your geeky heart desires. Last year ECCC saw almost 90,000 people attend over the four days of the event, and this year’s numbers were expected to exceed that.
As a proud geek and comic book enthusiast, I entered the Con on Sunday morning feeling a tiny pang of guilt for skipping church, but excited for what the day had in store. The night before, I had decided upon a reasonable amount of money I could spend that day, vowing to not exceed my budget. But upon entering the exhibition hall, that number suddenly seemed less certain as I gazed upon the vast expanse of awesome in front of me. It seemed that Belinda Carlisle was right…Heaven really is a place on Earth.
As I began to weave my path through the endless vendor booths, I caught a glimpse of a familiar face in my peripheral vision. After a quick double-take, I looked to my right, and sure enough, there was my longtime friend, Jesus! But this wasn’t exactly the Jesus I knew. The face looked the same, but he was holding a gaming controller, and had giant headphones on with a microphone extending to in front of his mouth. “What in the world??” I thought to myself, as I began to walk in his direction.
As I got closer, I realized that Jesus’ image was on a huge banner for an organization called Game Church. Game Church is made up of a bunch of gamers who love Jesus, and are dedicated to spreading the Word of God through videogames. During online videogame sessions, players can talk to each other and interact while playing the games they love. This interaction usually consists of being sworn at by 14 year olds, but Game Church wanted to add a new conversation to the mix. They started talking to people about Jesus, and sharing the gospel with the other gamers in their chats! I wanted to call their strategy unconventional, but considering the location that was hard to do. After a great 10 minute conversation, I left their booth feeling energized, and asking myself an important question.
What unconventional evangelism strategies are out there waiting to be discovered?
The world today is vastly different than it was even five years ago, and certainly almost unrecognizable from what it was 50 years ago. And yet our evangelism strategies have stayed mostly unchanged during that same period of time. We build fancy churches and cross our fingers hoping someone will walk through the door and hear the Gospel. But is that really working? We need to go to where the people are, and interact with them on their playing field, even if that field is digital. What are the hot trends in entertainment, leisure, travel, dining, etc.? How can we meet people in those areas, and offer them the good news of Jesus Christ? Most importantly, are we even willing to do it “their way,” and not ours?
I don’t know the answers to all these questions. But as I exited Comic Con late Sunday afternoon with a backpack full of comics, shirts, stickers, buttons, and posters, the best thing I left with was a new hunger for the lost, and a desire to try something new to reach them.