‘Jesus for the Win’ Interview

INTERVIEW: MIKEE BRIDEGES

We talk with the man behind Gamechurch.com and the Jesus for the Win book.

 

So tell people who haven’t had a chance to pick up the book what it is basically about.

We’re called Gamechurch.com. We go to a bunch of trade shows. We’ll go to E3, Comicon. We’ll go to PAX. We go to Kamikaze and comic book trade shows. We have a booth there. It has some irreverent graphics in it. It’s called My Christ. Some people think we are making of fun of Him or making fun of ourselves but it causes everyone to kind of come to the table and ask what we’re doing. We tell people that Jesus loves them. We asked them if they want one of our Bibles. We made a gamer Bible. We took the Gospel of John and we sandwiched in commentary from the video game industry. We give that out.  We have given out 30,000 of them in a year. We give out shirts, lanyards. We’re like the kings of swag. Last year we got number two swag of all E3. We give out a lot of cool, weird stuff that you wouldn’t think a Christian outfit would do. That’s mainly what we do.

So how did the idea for the gamer Bible come about?

There is something out there called XXX Church. They go to porn shows. They do the exact same thing that we do. I met them at a conference and I told them I was going to steal their idea and use it for the video game industry. We also run a gaming center called the Armory in Ventura California seven days a week so we said why not do that for the video game industry. They have a Bible that they give out that is similar to ours. So we produced our own.

What was your role personally in the book?

I wrote a little bit. I am the director and founder. I found a couple guys that I thought could do a good job and we got together and created the entire thing from scratch.

Tell me a little about the Armory?

The armory is 31 PCs. There is an XBox 360 room, a PS3 room, a Wii room.  It’s open 7 days a week. It’s kind of like where our headquarters is. It’s for gamers. It’s not geared toward Christians. We do tournaments and over nighters. All the standard things that you would see in a LAN Center.

I read in the book that you guys did a thing there where if you memorize a Bible verse you could get a free hour of time. Is that something that you still do?

We do have that if somebody wanted to they could memorize something. We try to do it as unchurchy as possible. We need to discuss it, talk about what you have just learned and then you can get a free hour. If you write a paper on something from the Bible you get a free day, stuff like that. You’re not going to come in and we are going to jump on you and say hey memorize this verse. Even at our trade shows we make people come up to us. None of my staff is allowed to approach anyone. They are not  allowed to walk up to anyone and say, hey do you want this Bible. They have to be asked for it and then we’ll say yeah. I never want to be those guys on the corner that are yelling and screaming at them.

 

Do you see what you do as a ministry or is it just a business with a faith side?

No, it’s a ministry in the terms that Christians in America know and understand. They would call it a ministry. I’ve been a Christian all my life and I have found a lot of Christiany things bother me and always have. So I try to do things that are a little . That kind of goes back to Jesus. He didn’t run around and yell at people. They followed him around. They asked him questions. They asked him to dinner. They asked him to hang out and then when he was hanging out they would say tell us a story. What do you think about this thing. We take that approach. We are not there to run after somebody. If you ask me a question, I’ll answer it. Ministry, I think a lot of people take that to mean that they are going to go out and try to force Jesus on people. I’m just not into that. I don’t think it’s going to work.

What role do you think Christian gamers should be playing in the larger gamer community?

Well honestly, I think a lot of Christians need to shut their mouths. I think we try to put rules and regulations, basically what        Christianity has been doing basically since its existence, at least in the Western World. We’ve been trying to shame, scare, guilt,  people into having a relationship with Christ. I’m sorry I think a lot of Christians just need to really shut up. If we do that and we just play games with people they are going to just organically start talking about life. You are going to end up talking about who each other is and I think that leads into, I’m a Christian believer and that’s what I do. For me personally people are taken aback by that. I think it is a great way to open up doors to say I don’t really prescribe to that kind of Christianity. The freak out kind. It just opens up dialogue. I think video games being the largest media outlet in the world surpassing Hollywood and everything else, even sports is a great way to show up and talk to people about things.

What do you say to people that see a negative contradiction between playing video games and being a good Christian?

I think it’s self discipline and self-control. If you can’t go and see a rated-R movie, because you feel guilty about it, first I would ask why, then I would say don’t go. If you are an alcoholic, don’t go to a bar. If you can’t play video games, don’t play. If you don’t like     zombies, don’t play a zombie game. I get a lot of parents asking, my kid wants to play video games all day long. Well, don’t let him. Let him just play for four hours. No, you can’t have a computer in your room. No, you can’t just sit and play video games all day Saturday. You can play four hours and then you can give me four hours or whatever. Or parents, why don’t you play video games with your kids. Just watch and see what happens. What you talk about and how you can bond. There is so much that you can learn from playing   together. I think we as Christians, have just sort of written games off like we did when rock music first came out. It’s like oh my gosh, here comes Satan and let’s just burn all of our records. Tattoos are another one. Oh my gosh. Now days if you are in a rock band no one cares. Christian, secular band it doesn’t matter. Pastor Jim has tattoos so no one cares anymore. It’s the same with video games. I think it will go away too. I think in a few years it will catch up with the times and people will go, this is okay, in moderation.

 I read somewhere that at game conventions you guys have given away free beer along with copies of the book. What was the response from gamers when you offered them beer and a book with gamer Jesus on it?

The response has been crazy. Christians think what we are doing is awful. You’re just giving someone a cup of beer. You’re not giving them a pitcher of beer. It causes them to ask what you are doing. When they ask I just say that I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. That’s it. And I have free stuff.  If you want some stuff you can have it.

The non-Christians just laugh through the whole thing. We get more comments about the people on the outside than on us. What I mean by the people on the outside is the picketers saying you are going to hell because you are playing video games. They love us. Full on hardcore atheists will come up and ask us what we are doing and we will explain the whole thing. And people will say this is the coolest delivery of this message that we have ever seen. It’s getting mass attraction. 30,000 Bibles in a year and that’s not people standing on the street corner begging people to take them.  Those are people that have asked us for them. And beer is just a     catalyst just like video games are. They’ll come for it and want it and they’ll ask us what we’re doing and 90 percent of them will take a Bible with them. If a cup of beer does that, I’m stoked for it.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Just come out and hang out with us. We’re not looking for money or to convert you today. We do want Christians. If your target is Christians, we want them to populate the site but we want them to shut up. Just hang out with someone. Treat people like human beings. Christ will come. The Holy Spirit will do stuff. It will do work. And will give you an opportunity when it’s time to open your mouth. But until that time. Be quiet. Hang out and ask people questions. What kind of games do you play. We’ve had people go on there and say, you know what I hated God for 20 years and I don’t understand it. And then someone can go on there and say let me tell you my story. Let me tell you about the Christ that I know. Here’s my history with him. Here’s my testimony with Him. We got a lot of Christians that go on there and think they are there to help convert someone. The Holy Spirit doesn’t need your help. You are probably just making it worse. So, just be a normal person. Don’t try to be Christian Joe. Everybody just relax. God’s got this. We don’t need to get our underwear in a bunch. Just chill out. Hang out.

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Author: Sully View all posts by
Sully is the Editor-in-Chief of God Mode Magazine. He previously worked as an editorial assistant at Relevant Magazine and as Editor-in-Chief of XBox Buyer's Guide. He studied Journalism at UCF where he minored in Judaic Studies.

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