Along with my regular posts at SeanMcDowell.org, I am now featuring some of my former students in the Biola Apologetics Program. This post is by my friend Timothy Fox, who helped me with both the Awana Advocates curriculum and the updated and revised Evidence that Demands a Verdict. He also blogs at Free Thinking Ministries and you can follow him on Twitter at @TimothyDFox.
From Gaming to God with One Simple Question
By Timothy Fox
I’m a lifelong gamer. The original Super Mario Bros. introduced me to the hobby, The Legend of Zelda got me hooked. (Yes, I’m that old.) Over the decades, I’ve seen video gaming go from a niche pastime to a global phenomenon, spawning communities of gamers across all genres. And like every culture and community in the “real” world, the gaming community needs the Gospel.
There is one massively popular genre that I think is especially ripe for spiritual conversations: multiplayer shooting games. This may sound odd, using games whose purpose is to kill as many people as possible to discuss Jesus, but please stick with me!
The Game-Changing Question
Sometimes the hardest thing about spiritual conversations is starting them, so it’s critical to have a good opening line and a game plan. There is one particular question, recommended by veteran apologists Greg Koukl and J. Warner Wallace, which is great for initiating spiritual conversations in a non-confrontational way. And it’s perfect for the multiplayer shooter scene, in which players can expect to die over and over in a gaming session. Christians can go from gaming to God with one simple question:
“What do you think happens when we die?”
At face value, there is nothing religious about this, and it’s something everyone thinks about at some point in life. While the query is simple, it is very deep, and its response will instantly expose someone’s worldview, connecting to topics such as the existence of the soul and the nature of all reality. This simple, non-confrontational question is an easy way to initiate a meaningful spiritual conversation.
Before asking this question, though, you should think of possible responses and form a basic strategy for each. As a bonus, provide examples of games which handle players’ deaths differently to help your friend see the range of possible answers: Do we have multiple lives, or is it game over when we die? Do we respawn at another time in another location as a completely different person? Do our past choices affect our new life post-death?
Don’t be discouraged if your friend replies “I don’t know” or ignores the question. Switch to a different topic or continue with your game. The question may stick with your friend and lead him or her to think about the afterlife and its implications for the first time. As long as we can get people reflecting on their worldview, that’s progress. And if your friend asks for your thoughts, you have a perfect opportunity to share the Gospel. All it takes is one simple question.
Every culture (and subculture) needs the Gospel, and the gaming community is no different. You may think initiating spiritual conversations is intimidating, but having a game plan and a simple opening line will definitely put you at ease. The one simple question, “What do you think happens when we die?” is a great way to probe a friend’s worldview, or simply to get him or her thinking about deeper, spiritual issues. Every personal encounter is an opportunity to share the Gospel, even gaming with friends.