Swedes' virtual church to bring online gamers to Jesus
David Landes · 16 Oct 2008, 18:14
Published: 16 Oct 2008 18:14 GMT+02:00
“We’re a gang of young people who believe we have to reach out to others our age with the message of Jesus," said Martin Sundberg to the newspaper Dagen.
Sundberg and his friend Joel Fransson got inspired to set up the Gamer Church after spending some time earlier year spreading the good word outside the massive Dreamhack computer gaming conference in Jönköping in central Sweden.
Standing on the street corner handing out copies of the Bible and bottle openers emblazoned with a likeness of Jesus to thousands of Dreamhack attendees, Sundberg had a revelation.
“Maybe it was God who wanted this to happen; for us to open our eyes to those who hadn’t heard the message,” he said.
An avid gamer himself, Sundberg wants to counteract what he sees as a widespread resistance to Christian faith throughout the gaming community.
That desire has made him one of the primary apostles in the fledgling Gamers Church movement, which now has 63 members.
While Sundberg has nothing against traditional evangelism, he believes that a virtual forum for Christian gamers is simply a way to adapt evangelism to modern times.
“Jesus had two words for his disciples: ‘Go out.’ In today’s postmodern society I don’t believe that an inwardly focused church works; I think we have to go out and meet people where they are,” he said.
“You may be the King of the Castle on the internet and have a high status there, but you are really lost when you go out in the city. There you maybe don’t dare to go up and talk to people who are interested in converting people to Christianity over coffee in the evenings.”
Sundberg also wants to encourage people to rethink their concept of what it means to be a part of the church.
“The church isn’t a building. A congregation is a fellowship, not an activity through which people have to show how strong they are,” he said.
As Sundberg sees it, Jesus didn’t want his followers to get hung up on religious rituals often associated with church memberships.
“Every church has its time,” he said, likening the revolutionary possibilities of the Gamer Church to those which accompanied the Lutheran reformation in the 1500s.
So far the response by non-Christians to the Gamer Church has been positive, according to Sundberg.
In the future, he hopes to create a more comprehensive website, as well as gain visibility at gaming conventions by entering Gamer Church teams in competitions.
“Right now we’re at the start of something we hope will be big,” he said.