Pastor Creates Community for Video Gamers

The popularity of video games is cross-generational, multicultural, and transcends class lines.

Since the arcades of the 1980s, Nintendo’s initial release of Mario, to the modern day computer games and release of the latest next-gen consoles, gaming has carved out a unique niche in our society.

Seemingly unimaginable two decades ago, individuals today are now able to make careers as professional gamers and the social media culture around gaming, whether sub-Reddit groups or Telegram channels, provide a platform for gamers to connect.

Viewing these new social developments as a unique opportunity,one pastor is seeking to combine his passion for gaming into a ministry. Breaking new grounds, Rev. David Petty organized CrossFire: faith + gaming as a ministry of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he serves as senior pastor.

“As a kid, I loved playing games. As an adult, I was often told that games were a waste of time, but that so many other ‘leisure’ activities were not a waste of time,” he said. “I came to realize that it was all about perspective.”

Gamers, he realized, form bonds around common interests, share insights that help other players, and offer support for each other, not dissimilar from church.

Petty said, “I found many gaming communities with a stronger sense of community than some of the local churches I had known.” 

This led Petty to contemplate the idea of a congregation composed primarily of video gamers. The result was CrossFire: faith + gaming.

Petty describes CrossFire as an affinity group existing in digital spaces for the purposes of connecting gamers from platforms like Facebook and Discord, to voice chat, to a live Twitch stream. Petty uses the ministry to have conversations with fellow gamers, give and receive tips, while also raising money for charity of the month. 

The group has even launched a podcast to expand its reach in both church and gaming spheres. The podcast, co-hosted by Petty and Russ Dornisch, focuses on topics such as healthy gaming habits, parenting and social justice. The podcast even included a Lenten devotional series. 

Comparing his work to church planting, Petty said, “Church plants aren’t successful because they have the most attractive logo or the most energetic preacher. They are successful because they create real and authentic community around people who have a shared goal.  

“I don’t ever want to be a social media influencer. I just want to see people connect with one another around the shared interests of their faith and a love of gaming.”

Thanks to Petty’s innovative approach to ministry has definitely been able to do that.

Source: UM News