Faith & Fandom
Destiny, Gamechurch, and Community
For those that know me, I’m a gamer. I’m not big on endless amounts of multiplayer combat or letting Call of Duty seduce me into shooting random people in the face for hours (only occasionally). For me I’ve always been story driven. When I game I like to be immersed deep into a story and live there for a while. Even though I’ve had the ability to play online for a while I rarely ever did. Just get in, get the story, and move on with my life. Then came Destiny. Easily one of the most hyped, and most financially successful video games of 2014, Destiny changed things up for me. I actually had no intentions of even playing Destiny but my friend/GameStop manager Sammy posted on Facebook the night before release about getting it, so I pre-ordered it at the last minute and picked it up on midnight release. And just like that, Peter Dinklage’s soothing voice was guiding me into an adventure that would eat away hours of my life.
First let me say this, I fully acknowledge Destiny’s shortcomings. A lot of hype, very little detailed story, and endless grinding to level up, yeah I am aware, but I love where the game succeeds, and I love what it brought. Somewhere in the first couple weeks of Destiny’s release I got to a point where I was just sucking at life. I was at a checkpoint where I couldn’t progress any further and got slaughtered every time I tried ( It wasn’t even that hard but I had progressed in the story without effectively leveling up so I was just outmatched by my own impatience. ) I was ill equipped for the battle, and too stubborn to quit the mission. Destiny is designed (like life) that it’s impossible to face portions of it alone, and none of my friends were playing the game. So out of desperation I reached out to a resource I hadn’t fully tapped at the time. Recently, I had become aware of an organization called “Gamechurch.com” that ministers to the geek and gamer community on a missionary level all across the world. I had been lurking in their Facebook community of “Gamechurch City,” but had rarely actually interacted.
To me, this is such an accurate picture of where so many of us stand with how we live our lives as believers. We feel like we can fully do it on our own and that all we need is us and Jesus. We think that we can handle our faith without actually having to deal with the annoyance, frustration, and messiness of interacting with other people. Or like in my lurker status, we hang around in the “Church” community, identifying with a group of people, but rarely doing anything more than attending.
So finally I dove in. I posted a fearfully desperate request for people to join me in my crusade against the darkness. I dropped my Xbox handle (ninjashepherdh if you wanna play sometime), and watched as people quickly responded to help me in the work of the traveler. Within the first day after that I began playing with and interacting with people- People I would never interacted with before from the founder of Gamechurch, to people in the U.K, to people over the United States. I met people that I actually connected well with and even made legitimate friends (shut up Janice). I also manhandled the problematic mission I was struggling with and continued to play with people for weeks on end (for the record though as I write this I’ve yet to manage taking on Vault of Glass or Crota’s End). During our gameplay we didn’t just strategize about weapons classes, loot caves, or farming for helium, we actually delved into life issues. We had various discussions on marriage, gave counsel, supported each other, got in each other’s lives, and the fellowship just grew. It didn’t just stay solely with Gamechurch people either. It spread to other friends on XBOX, and then lead to more interaction over social media. Because of the response in game I became more active in the Gamechurch community because it was something I believed in.
I gave my 1st book away for free, and even began buying some of their gamer bibles to give away when I set up my booth at Cons, which reached more people than my book alone did for sure. This is something that all took place because I was struggling to beat a video game and made a Facebook post. Think about what could happen if we took a step forward in getting involved in the
community that God designed for His people to dwell and function in? The Church is meant to be the ultimate form of community bonded together by the love of Christ and held together by His spirit. Imagine if we actually all stepped forward and invested in being the Church instead of attending a church and living in community instead of living with a superficial societal association. In the second chapter of Acts we see what it looks like when God’s people live in community;
“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:41-47)
I’ve been a part of the Church for over 20 years and have been working in a church or para-church ministry for almost 15 years and I’ve rarely seen the community of believers look like that, or even have that kind of attitude or commitment. On the contrary I’ve seen this kind of devotion to community across gaming consoles. I’ve added more friends on XBOX than I have in my personal life, I’ve had deeper conversations with strangers over my headset than I’ve ever have in public places. I fail in that area as a pastor, but we all do as the Church. When the Church began they shared everything with each other, cared for each other, met each other’s needs, and devoted themselves to fellowship and community as an equal priority to worship. We have to be willing to step out of our comfort zones, to associate with people who are diverse from us, to make ourselves vulnerable and invest in the lives of others not because it’s convenient or beneficial, but because it’s what we are designed for and what Jesus commands us to be. If we would rise up and stop lurking in the shadows of the steeples, we have the chance to truly become the community we are meant to be.
In all honesty if it wasn’t for the people I play with, Destiny wouldn’t have been that great of an experience and I would have traded it in towards Batman: Arkham Knight. There were plenty of people who were disappointed and felt it didn’t live up to the hype, which is sadly the same reaction so many of us get from attending a church. But with Destiny or the Church being in community is what makes it an experience worth continuing. When we move from only sitting in pews to actually experiencing community, discipleship, and fellowship the Church seems so much more real in our lives and to others. Too often we lose sight of this. As “The Speaker” tells us “The stories tell of a golden age long ago, when our civilization spanned the system. It was a bright and hopeful time. But it didn't last. Something hit us. Knocked us down and tried to stamp u`s out. No one knows exactly what, but we do know this: very few of us survived” I feel like the Church is leaning in this direction and as guardians of the light, if we want this to change, it’s time for us to raid together.