Over at Think Christian Andy posted about how the online gaming community might become a new mission field as Christians start to form their own guilds and clans within these communities. I agree that online communities are becoming very prevalent and almost as important to some people as real-life communities, but I would hate to see Christian sub-groups form and start to divide “us” from “them.”
I am the the leader for a guild in the game Guild Wars called the Valiant Knights. Unfortunately most of the Christian guilds in this game are not very good and are generally laughed at by the rest of the Guild Wars community. It seems to me that the more effective ministry route is to join a guild that contains unsaved members and build relationships with them there. We don’t need to create more separate sub-groups of Christians — we need to infiltrate the unsaved communities.
Being a youth pastor and sharing about my “career” with other guildmates has offered many great witnessing opportunities. I’m often teased as being the “pizza party man,” even though I have yet to have a pizza party with my youth group. :-) I’ve earned their respect over the past 10 months and have had several great opportunities to sit in Teamspeak (voice chat) and talk privately with individuals about what they’re going through in life. It’s becoming very apparent to me that many people play games like this as an escape from real-life struggles, so I agree with Andy that it is an exceptionally needy mission field, especially with the millions who play Guild Wars alone. Instead of forming little groups of Christians, though, I hope to see Christians use these online communities to better learn what it means to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-15).
Posted on December 7, 2005