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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Being a Missional Gamer Part One: Three Practical Tips

           When I first heard about “being missional” in the way I play my video games, the first thought I had was of the Priest of Talos in Skyrim: Standing in the public forum and shouting at the top of my lungs “gloom, doom, and Hellfire”. Judging by the reaction I had in my own mind, this isn’t an appealing idea. Needless to say it would not have the desired effect on the audience either, judging by the many creative ways players have come up with to dispatch the pesky preacher in YouTube videos.
            So what does it truly mean to be “missional” in our gaming? As gamers, how can we use what we do to glorify God and exalt Jesus?
            I think we begin by defining what it means to be missional. Being missional means that the way we live and the things we do have a purpose: the purpose of shining the light of the Gospel. This means that everything we do, from the trivial to the imperative, has this unifying purpose. This means as gamers, we have to view our gaming as having a higher purpose: sharing the Gospel with the lost gamers we associate with, and using gaming as a way to reach people we come into contact with every day. 
            But how do we go about this? How do we shine the light of the Gospel as we go about our gaming? Here are three very simple ways in which we as gamers can make what we do missional, and the first part of a series I will be doing on being a missional gamer. 

I.                   Check Your Attitude at the Door
The most basic way we can be missional, and the place we should start is our attitude. Gamers are often stereotyped as the guy screaming at his television every time he gets killed in Call of Duty. Unfortunately for many of us, this is precisely the way we act. We often scream and rant and say things while playing Call of Duty that we would never be caught dead saying at Church. We are sore losers. Even when the computer gives us a challenge that we have trouble getting past, the anger that it often brings out is far more than is worthy for something as trivial in the grand scheme of things as a video game. We need to be gracious in defeat, and watch the things we say during games. Our witness is severely hampered when we can’t control our tongue or our attitude, and we sound and act like everyone else. James 3 warns us about the dangers of the tongue, and Colossians 3:8 calls us to “put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”

II.                Build Relationships
Another way we can be missional is to build real relationships. The key is to understand that a lot of times, the relationships we build as gamers are shallower than those relationships we build elsewhere. With the exception of our “couch co-op” friends, most of the players we associate with are strictly online. Often all we know about them as people are their names and where they are from. This is not a firm enough basis to develop a real relationship. If we put forth the extra effort to really get to know them as people (and show an equal willingness to let them get to know us), we build the kind of trust needed to have real and honest discussions about the Gospel. The “marketplace” or “door to door” kinds of evangelism are great in the real world, but it’s much easier to leave a game, leave a chat channel, or delete a message than it is to physically walk away from someone. So evangelism in the dominating online realm of gaming is going to take a more relational approach to our evangelism. Integrating social media, and having LAN parties and game nights are some good practical ways to help build relationships.

III.             Play With Both Christian Gamers and Lost Gamers
The easiest way the Gospel can be shared is in a mixed group. Let’s just say that you and four friends are playing Call of Duty. If two of them are lost, and the other two are Christian friends, then you could simply have a short conversation about what God is currently doing in your life with your Christian friends. With a short presentation of the Gospel casually mixed into the conversation, then the two lost players got to hear the Gospel, and they got to see the best proof of the Gospel: its effect and continuing work in the life of the believer. This scenario is a simple example, and there are many other ways this could be done. But it is a very simple way to share the Gospel to your lost gamer friends.

These are just a few, very simple ways we as gamers can be more missional in our playing. We as Christian gamers have to start seeing the lost gamer culture as a mission field we occupy. Preach the Gospel and make disciples! Romans 10:14-15

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