By Ben Kieffer
I’ve been a part of Gospel & Gaming for over two years now and I’ve learned a lot about gaming and gamers. The goal of Gospel & Gaming, like with any ministry, is to meet people where they are and share the Gospel with them. In this day and age, ‘where they are’ is playing games.
I grew up in a church that supports missionaries and we often heard about their work in other countries. I thought it was amazing how they went to another country to serve people and tell them about Jesus, but our pastor and many of the missionaries who came to our church would always tell us how the work of sharing the Gospel is not just for them, and you don’t have to go overseas to do it. They encouraged the adults to talk to their coworkers about Jesus, and led Bible studies and Sunday school classes on ministry in the workplace. In youth group they told us to be praying for our classmates, that we could tell them about Jesus and invite them to the church.
It made so much sense. Adults spent their days at work, kids spent their days at school; so, tell people about Jesus where you meet them.
The model was great but it left a gaping hole in the area of our lives known as “free time” or “recreation.” This is the time we fill with movies, TV, coffee, naps, meals, and of course…games. We play board games, card games, video games, online games, mobile games. With technology today, we have the opportunity to play games in every little gap of free time we have, and many people do.
Gamers need the Gospel because gamers are people. People are gamers because, well, it satisfies many of the desires we have. As humans we all have desires to explore, to accomplish things, to create things, to work with others on a team, and to develop relationships. Games provide us with the opportunity to do all of this in a relatively low risk environment. We can triumph in battle without actually getting shot at, we can design a car that in real life would cost an impossible amount of money, and we can connect with people over a shared passion who we might never meet otherwise.
So, when we say we are seeking to talk about Jesus and why he matters with gamers, we’re saying we want to minister to people: people made in the image of God with all the dignity that affords them, and living in a fallen world with the depravity that comes with it.
There are some people who have made an idol of gaming, like there are those who have made idols of money, alcohol, food, or gambling. That does not mean that when a foodie comes to Jesus, we convince them to stop eating. We seek for them to know Christ, and help them orient the other aspects of their life around him. They will still eat. Gamers will still play games. It is good for us to enjoy food and games in recreation. The question is whether or not it is done to the glory of God. There are people who idolize food, and there are also people who live healthy lives. A healthy life, I think, means that our priorities are in order. God does not have a problem with us finding joy in his creation; he himself called it ‘good’. But our main source of joy is to come from him, and what we do in our lives (including recreation) will then be put in the proper order.
Some people view all gaming as an addiction, a waste of time and potential. While it is true that there are people who dive into a game and rarely come up for air, there are other well adjusted, productive members of society who enjoy their games in their free time. I would say that anyone, regardless of their work, their recreation, or their addictions, is made in the image of God and can benefit from knowing him more.