As Christians become more involved in the gaming space, questions arise as to how we can share the gospel of Christ while enjoying this genre of entertainment as well. I myself have been part of this growth and have seen websites or content creators come and go, while others have planted roots and have been steadily engaging with their audiences and seeing lives changed thanks to God transforming them. When it comes to streaming though, there has been a heavy increase in Christians, even pastors, joining the Twitch (or other streaming platforms like Youtube, etc) community and genuinely being a part of the conversation and the gaming world.
I say that because the church of Christ is quick to throw stones (John 8:7) at new technology or expressions of art. It can be music, TV, radio, the internet, all of it has had backlash from churches, preachers, and Christians because it’s all “from the devil”. Anything and everything can be used for malevolent purposes, it’s how you use it but not the tool itself. Like money, which is the root of all evils (1 Timothy 6:10) does not cause any evil as most of us are working every day for it! If it becomes a stronghold or idol in your life or you use it wrongly, then it becomes a problem.
A question I have had for some time after being more involved with streaming via Twitch is, if Christians who dedicate large portions of their day to streaming, would they be considered missionaries? What exactly is a missionary, and what constitutes someone falling into that category?
I decided to make a poll on Twitter and see what others thought, and the results were:
Overall it was sort of, which I hesitated to put because I wanted to get a more straightforward answer. I’m glad I put it though, because I can understand why some selected that one. You can click the tweet and see some discussion from others on their opinions. I want to dive a little deeper than just a poll, so let’s explore this topic and I will share what I think and I would like to know your conclusion in the comments as well!
What Is A Missionary? What Are “Missions”?
Short term missions, full-term missions, mission trips, missionaries, church missions, it sounds like we are joining the army and going off to field duty! Before I go into definitions, I want to state that I have never been on a mission trip, I do not consider myself an expert in Missiology (yes that’s a real thing). A missionary according to the dictionary:
A person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospital work.
A church or Christian/Catholic organization will send someone or a group out somewhere to share the gospel with the people who are living in that area. For example, they travel to another country outside their own or even within the country but to a different place and daily are working to spread the gospel of Christ to those people. The missionary is the person that is dedicating their life (or at least a set amount of time) to win as many souls to Christ as they can, or developing churches/ministries that will continue when they are gone.
What is a Streamer? Can Christians stream online?
Streamers are people who are sharing content live on different platforms, mainly Twitch or Youtube. Sure, there are plenty others, but those are two of the bigger ones, especially Twitch. Mostly, you are playing a game and others are watching you while you give commentary or just chat using a camera to show yourself, just the game screen, or with your own voice while you play. The style is up to the streamer, and everyone is different in their approach.
If you are not familiar with the genre, I would recommend going to Twitch and just spend an hour or so watching so you get an idea.
Christians are joining these platforms more readily to enjoy the world of gaming, while sharing their faith and hope in Christ to their watchers. It has grown to the point where there are pastors, groups, and even church services being held online via these platforms. So if you weren’t aware, now you can check out various streamers and what they are up to! Everyone has their own “flavor” on how they are interacting with their audience, so I recommend checking out a few of them to see who you like best.
Are Christian Streamers Considered Missionaries?
Here we go! The question that piqued my curiosity to write this article. I will go right out and say no, they would not be considered missionaries in the way the word is used. The term “missionary” is not found in the bible, but you can find people who fit the role even if the word wasn’t used. Like when Paul and Barnabas were”sent” out by the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel (Acts 13:1-13) or the times when Christ sent out His apostles or the 70 (Luke 10).
“What about streamers who are spending hours and hours, almost daily, gaming while talking about God or the bible? Aren’t they missionaries to gamers?”
2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:2-3
Well, then the same can be said about professors or teachers in schools who teach the bible, or a Christian musician, a Christian painter, Christian writer, or even a blogger like myself! Would I consider myself a missionary to the gaming community? Nope! I would say that I am a Christian in the gaming community, but that doesn’t qualify me as a missionary. Christians are called to tell others about the hope and forgiveness of sins through Christ, regardless what we are doing. I feel that it takes away from the dedication and effort that a missionary is doing by taking up that title.
My main purpose of even creating this blog, and everything else that relates to the Gaming & God brand is to tell others about God and how they can have a relationship with their Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, just like me when I was 17 in high school. Of course, I love video games and want to write about them and share that passion also, but the foundation is always God.
“What if someone wants to call themselves a missionary? Should we tell them not to? Is that OK?”
Personally I probably would not say anything unless they are throwing around the term with a lot of bravado and ego. Let’s be real, most streamers are playing from either their parents or their own home, comfortable in a real nice computer, air conditioning, food/water, and playing video games with a mic. Compare that to someone who leaves where they are living to go to either a foreign country, different city/village etc, live in a new home (often with their family in tow), while spending most of the day advancing God’s kingdom.
I would feel much more at ease calling them Christian streamers, or just streamers who are Christian. That debate is discussed in just about every form of entertainment, and I think it’s a waste of time to dabble into titles or who is what. Let’s just be sharing with others the good news, which is Christ.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he told them this about adapting to the environment he was in to witness to others.
19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23
If playing PlayStation or Steam on Twitch leads people to Christ while you are going through Destiny, Fortnite, Call of Duty or whichever other game, do it! I do it myself, even though I don’t stream that often. I try to stream on Mondays and Wednesdays around 5pm, but if I have other priorities I can’t jump on.
What do you think? Should Christians be called missionaries when they are streaming? If you want a much longer, detailed look into this topic I highly suggest listening to an episode of Pastors After Dark, a podcast from GMA (God Mode Activated). They are a group of gamers who love God and they have the Gaming & God approval for a safe place to interact with other gamers. You can hear the podcast below, or click here.
You can use our directory of streamers to find some you may like, or suggest the ones you follow in the comments!