The Geek Contextualization: Finding the Geeks

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Have you ever noticed how the gospel thrives in the most unlikely places? For example, in the first century, the gospel thrived not among the Jews, but the pagan Gentiles. Today, the gospel thrives not in the so-called “Christian” West, but in parts of Asia under heavy persecution.

So, today Geek culture seems like a very unlikely place for the gospel to thrive. But God has done stranger things. So here’s the question: How can you and I share the gospel within this community?

Here at Intersect, we started having this conversation with a recent post, “The Geek Contextualization: Putting the Gospel Where the Geeks Are.” This piece will now be the foundational discussion point for a series on how to engage this large, and growing, community.

In part one of this series, I provided a broad definition of the Geek culture. The truth is, Geek culture is difficult to pin down. Part of what makes the Geek culture so large, dynamic and full of life is that new niches, games, movies and characters are constantly expanding the culture and its fan base each and every day.

But just how large is this group? Answering this question is difficult, and very little research exists to quantify it. That said, here are a few things we do know:

  • Nearly 183 million Americans play video games, according to Game Church.
  • Comic Book distributor Diamond reports that they sold 98 million units in 2015.
  • 130,000 people attended a comic book convention in San Diego (SDCC) over a single weekend, and 170,000 people attended a convention in New York (NYCC).
  • Multiple states and other large cities host events annually with anywhere from 5,000 to 75,000 people per weekend.
  • And roughly 140 comic book movie adaptations have been released since 1978, according to Box Office Mojo.

The most staggering thing about these numbers is that they only represent a cross section of the Geek culture. Thus Geek culture has undeniably influenced American culture as a whole. Millions of people work, live and play in the Geek culture.

Yet only small numbers of them know the gospel and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Meeting the Geeks where they are offers your church an opportunity to be visible in your community.

So what are we to do about it? In part one of “The Geek Contextualization: Putting the Gospel Where the Geeks Are,” I outlined a three-step process for engaging the Geek culture as the church:

  1. Find the Geeks
  2. Contextualize and Engage
  3. Build New Communities

For this installment, let’s look closer at Step 1:

Step 1: Find the Geeks.
Get to know Geeks, both inside the church and out. Simply look for people with t-shirts of superhero logos, sarcastic tag lines or 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.

To be fair, finding Geeks probably isn’t as simple as finding funny t-shirts, sarcastic people or people arguing over Batman vs. Superman (though this isn’t a bad place to start). But churches and individuals must find the Geeks and begin relationships with them to begin learning the culture. To accomplish this, there are two groups you must identify and engage:

1. Geeks in the Church

The natural place to start is with Geeks in the church. In all likelihood, Geeks are sitting in the pews or chairs next to you every Sunday. I challenge you to find these Geeks, begin to engage them, learn more about what they find interesting and even consider mentoring/discipling them. Even if you don’t classify yourself as a Geek, you probably enjoy something from Geek culture; leverage this common ground to make some new friends in the church.

Depending on your church’s size and resources, you may even consider starting a:

The bottom line is to create groups or synergies around things that the Geek culture enjoys. These groups are no different than other affinity-based groups many churches have today; they simply look and feel a little different. They also provide wonderful opportunities for those outside Geek culture to mentor those inside the culture by providing accountability, stability, and a solid biblical foundation — all of which is vital before engaging non-believing Geeks. Don’t lose sight of this important step before turning to those Geeks outside the “safe walls” of your church building.

2. Geeks Outside the Church

Geeks inside the church are easy to find and probably the easiest to engage. After all, many are already believers and part of your organization. That said, it is equally important to get to know the Geeks around your community and engage in the things they value as well. Talk to the Geeks that attend your church. They probably hang out in these places in the community already and would be happy for you to tag along. Meeting the Geeks where they are offers your church an opportunity to be visible in your community.

Not sure where to look? I have you covered:

Finding the Geeks isn’t rocket science, so don’t over think the process. It may take time to engage the community and begin to understand what Geek culture is about. However, leverage the knowledge and experience of the Geeks already in your church. This step will create community, re-enforce the biblical foundation, deepen your discipleship relationship and offer opportunities to grow and learn together for the Kingdom.

Geeks need the gospel. Join arms with Geeks in your church, and prayerfully meet them where they are.

And don’t forget the most essential ingredient: Prayer. Prayer must be foundational to all our activities as a church — especially when we step into the fray of ministry and try new things. This is yet another opportunity for those who may not know their exact place in seeking out Geeks in culture, as prayer is foundational to the advancement of the Kingdom.

Geeks need the gospel. Join arms with Geeks in your church, and prayerfully meet them where they are.

In part three, we will discover how we can contextualize the gospel to Geek culture — along with the dangers we must be on the lookout for — as we continue “our journey down the rabbit hole” of Geekdom.

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Christopher G. Poirier

Chris studies North American Church Planting at Southeastern Seminary where he focuses on new and unique ways to engage culture. He and his wife Rebekah serve at Restoration Church in Wake Forest, NC. Chris also has worked in the technology start-up industry where he has published work in technology, disaster management and social media.

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