My name is Chris Poirier, and I am a geek. I proudly enjoy comic books, video games, movies, technology, board games and just about anything even remotely related.
What is Geek culture? “Geek culture itself isn’t new. It has always existed in various forms before we saw fit to name and define it,” states Anne Donahue a comedian and writer for The Guardian. “For some of us, escapism through pop culture provides an outlet that we need to keep our brains healthy and functioning. For others, it creates a sense of community. For most, it stimulates the last remnants of imagination left over from our years convinced we too could live off pizza in a sewer, fighting a giant rat.”
You could also narrow the definition to include topics based in technology (computers and the Internet), fantasy (Lord of the Rings and Narnia), science fiction (Star Trek, Firefly and Star Wars), gaming (video and/or board) and movie genres.
This culture has taken on new life in the past few years. What was something to be hidden in someone’s basement has been thrust into the wilds of public interaction. That said, many within the Christian community continue to view Geek culture as “different,” “strange” or even unchristian.
Yet Geeks aren’t a group to be excluded; they’re a people to be reached. Non-believing Geeks need a vision of the church that is different than people standing outside convention halls waving signs of condemnation at them, which is a sad (but accurate) account of how many Geeks view the church.
The church can engage these people through the unleveraged potential of the Geeks that are already within the church. We want to reach our fellow Geeks for the kingdom and change their perspective of the church. But we need your help.
The content of Geek culture (like many unreached cultures and/or people groups) tends to be fraught with violence, language, sexuality and other unseemly topics. As a result, we must approach this culture with caution and wisdom so that we don’t sacrifice our Christian ethics, morals and values. Yet, if we as the church want to engage lostness, we must step outside our fortress walls and comfort zones and engage the culture for the gospel — even if it might look and feel a little strange.
Practically speaking, here are three steps to engage the unreached Geek culture for the gospel:
Get to know Geeks, both inside the church and out. Simply look for people with t-shirts of superhero logos or sarcastic tag lines, or seek out individuals debating “canon” in the next comic book movie. As you get to know Geeks within the church, leverage their knowledge of what the culture is like outside the church. Allow them to open doors for you to build new relationships. You’ll not only engage a new group of people for the kingdom, but you’ll also increase the community within the church as well.
Many pastors and church leaders understand that we must adjust how we communicate the gospel in international missions (contextualization). What if we were to apply the same principles in communicating the gospel to people groups right in front of us? For our purposes, what if we put the gospel where the Geeks are?
To do so, we must refrain from simply avoiding this culture, and instead use the foundations of this culture as grounds from which we can proclaim the gospel. For example, many Geeks already have an understanding and an empathetic bent towards the impossible, concepts of honor, good versus evil and more. On these matters, we can find common ground. If we intentionally engage these communities (instead of merely trying to draw them to the church) and take advantage of this common ground, then we will open doors to have multiple opportunities for sharing Christ.
(If you want to see these principles put into practice, check out “Sharing Your Faith With Goblins.”)
Everyone is seeking community. That’s where life happens. So why not build community around something that some of your church members are already engaged in? Your church may already have Geeks, but the next step is to join with them to go into the world and find more Geeks. The love of all things Geek (Sci-Fi, Fantasy, comic books, video games, etc.) brings the Geeks together and opens the door for for we believers to talk about what we are passionate about as well, just in a new context. God created us to be social, to be in communion with one another, and creating community in preexisting subcultures where we can share life with believers and non-believers is key to moving the gospel forward today. (For a practical example, check out Game Church.)
How will you reach the Geeks in your community? Maybe you’ll open a comic book store, have a “Geek ministry,” play video games together, host a comic book convention or start a super hero Bible study. Maybe you’ll simply seek to love someone within this community.
Either way, taking these steps may be difficult and awkward. But engaging the Geek community will open doors for sharing the gospel, and it will give purpose to some already within the church. In everything, remember that God sent His only Son into the most unlikely places to redeem people that seemed different, strange and unseemly. The results changed the world forever.
I will say it again: I am a Geek, I am a member of your local church and I am not alone. Let’s together impact the world — including the Geek world — with the gospel.