By Jacob Toman
Over the next several weeks I’ll be chatting a bit about hosting online events. We at Gospel & Gaming often partner with gaming communities and organizations using events as a means of building relationships between Christians and non-Christians.
Since the start of our mission in 2013 our family has planned both online and offline gaming events. Serving through events can be as simple as hosting one person over for dinner, and as complex as coordinating dozens of volunteers and hundreds of tournament participants.
The goal of a ministry event can vary, from providing for someone's immediate needs, to building long term relationships, or to sharing Christ explicitly. Regardless of the goal, there is a pattern we've developed and used for planning, executing, and evaluating a particular event. In this series I’m going to share a bit about how we at Gospel & Gaming plan events, participate in them, and evaluate post-event goals.
There are 3 phases to a successful ministry event:
Planning: prayer, brainstorming, and gathering.
Participation: administrating, managing, resolving crisis.
Post-event Feedback: evaluation, retrospective advice, and gathering input from event attendees as well as those who couldn’t attend.
The first phase focuses on preparing for an event. We have a set of questions that help guide our discernment in determining whether or not to pursue an event. This helps get us focused on the specifics, as well as the event’s goals and possible outcomes. There is no excuse for poor planning (note: this list is not necessarily chronological):
What sort of event should we pursue?
Face to Face?
What sort of people has God given us to pursue relationships with?
A particular age demographic?
A particular language group?
A portion of fans of a particular video game?
How can we be impactful for the Kingdom with an event?
Is there an opportunity to be explicit in sharing about Christ?
What would be hurtful in sharing Christ?
What will it take to put this event on?
What would this event look like done well?
Are others running these sorts of events?
Are there multiple languages present?
What is the desired outcome of this event?
What do we want people leaving with?
What do we want people to experience at the event?
What resources will we need for this event?
What monetary resources are needed?
What human resources are needed?
Who can resource this event?
Who would most benefit from this event?
Is this for a particular people group?
Are there multiple age demographics that would enjoy this?
There is a tremendous reward to serving others through events. I think that God gives each of us different satisfactions in events. There are at least 4 sorts of satisfactions we’ve observed from events. I’ll use the word picture of cooking here:
There are some who love to cook. They enjoy developing their own unique recipes and mixing different culinary techniques and styles. These folks gain the reward of being innovative, creative, and especially unique.
There are some who love to gather. You can’t cook without the needed ingredients. Someone needs to buy the needed parts for a great meal. These individuals gain the reward of empowering, equipping, and resourcing.
There are some who love to eat. They enjoy the taste of fine cuisine and dare to risk the taste of new adventures. These individuals gain the reward of daring, courage, and a satisfied appetite.
There are some who love to clean up after a meal. These individuals enjoy reflecting back on an event well executed while also seeing tangible results from their cleaning efforts. This sort of person gains the reward of fulfilled expectations, immediate results, and reflection.
Everyone gets slightly different satisfactions from planning an event. I love to plan events and see the fruition of planning during inspired moments of gamers gathering together, sharing in good food, good fellowship, and good friends.
Hospitality is one of my wife's strongest gifts. She loves to host events. Regardless of the location, if my wife has a chance to meet, greet, and entertain guests, she is at her peak.
For my own part, I enjoy seeing the logistics of all things play out well. I frequently joke that my ancestry is German, and as such, I am continually pursuing efficiency. While Amy loves to see the smiles on faces, I love to see plans executed, rules followed, and things happen in a timely and routine manner.
In all these areas we want to pursue God’s glory. For us this comes out in the excellence and the effort of the event. We engage with the tasks God has given us with all our effort, knowing that even when our level of excellence is lower than desired (due to our own mistakes and/or lack of experience), God will still use our work to advance his Kingdom.