Developer Community

This is Church (at the Game Developers Conference)

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Jose holds a sign up to let other’s know about Jesus

Jose lives by himself, and when he’s not working, he wears his “Jesus Christ Loves You” hat and jacket out to the heart of San Francisco, holding a sign that reads the same. I passed him a few times walking around San Francisco, as I attended this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC)– the premier developer event for this 40 billion dollar industry.

So what does it look like to love Jesus at the Game Developers Conference? Well, it kinda sorta looks like this:

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Game Developer Christians met every morning at 7:30 am to share and pray

Second from the left, that’s Kemp (the one and only). Prior to GDC, he emails to say:

Hey Sherol,

I have a somewhat wacky, strange, and possibly overly-religious idea.  What if we got together some of the believers in the industry and prayed sometime for the conference/industry/etc…  Or, as CAs, we got together every morning before the morning meeting?  Is that something you might be interested in?

Uh, well, I was ALL ABOUT it. Immediately, I forward to those I knew and also sent a mass email titled: “Anyone going to GDC who also happens to love Jesus?”

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deep in prayer

I’d say we had perhaps 14 people show up to morning prayer and I probably talked to about 20 Christians all together (counting those who were unable to make it). Two years ago, I wrote a blog post in regards to GDC feeling more like church than church did, but this year’s prayer meetings went far beyond what I could’ve imagined.

So, if you’ve ever asked yourself the question, “where are all the Christians in the game industry?” They were at the Moscone Center at 7:30 am every morning for that week. Ok, not all of them, but many of the younger ones. Aside from age (and gender), you see an encouraging diversity of believers (both ethnically and vocationally). We may all be working on games, but there is a huge diversity of gifts and talents that go into making these virtual interactions.

When people seek fellowship, they usually stick to what they feel comfortable with. Here at GDC, we were brought together by our trade, but connected through our faith. What I’m trying to say is: we were faced with fellow “believers” from varying directions in their walks with God. That word, “community,” would be constantly on my mind, as I had numerous conversations about faith each day of the conference.

I found that there were a few Christians I met who were not part of a “church family.” Mostly, it was a matter of just not being understood, not feeling accepted, or just feeling judged for being different. It seemed like it was far easier to worship outside the church than within. At the time, I felt a need to share about the importance of church and community, despite being such a huge critic of churches. I mean, if I could bear with it for the sake of making things better, than so should they!

Then I realized, that I’m just as judgmental as those people in church who make me feel uncomfortable. Long overdue, I was humbled by the clear conviction of the chip I’ve had on my shoulder. I have to give credit to Carl for all our conversations and helping me see all that (I hope he reads this).

A friend reminded me once that actions do in fact speak louder than words, and I realized that instead of convincing people they need community, I was overlooking God at work, making community right there at GDC. So, instead of telling you that you need church, I can be the church that you need. I thank God for these convictions, because they only make me far more appreciative and reverent towards the beautiful connections and friendships that love built at GDC this year.

Walking to Moscone, it was raining and really cold. I saw Jose standing with his sign and I decided to talk to him. That’s how I knew that he didn’t go to church and lived alone. He didn’t really want to say much to me, as I inquired about why he didn’t go to church. He said those details aren’t important. I continued to press him, I suppose, to show that Christianity is so much more than how he’s living. He said to me, “just the other day a woman came up to me, just like you to tell me about the Bible, but I’ve read the Bible, and I was once a Christian like you. I’m not like that anymore, and my message is simple.”

As far as street evangelists go, Jose is the opposite of this. I didn’t understand why I continued to talk to him as I stood in the cold rain, but I eventually realized that: I was his church. If Jose is truly alone, then, at least, I can be his friend. He said that he sees many people and might not remember me next year, so I had my picture taken with him. I told him that I’ll have this picture with me, in case he forgets.

I look him in the eyes, and I say, “thank you for your message to the people here.” I smile, and I’ll never forget the warmth of his smile in response.

9 thoughts on “This is Church (at the Game Developers Conference)

  1. Hey Sherol!

    Can you photoshop me into the pic there? I feel bad that I never made it up in the morning in time to meet with yall. It’s really awesome to see God at work at GDC, in San Fran and around the world. I’ve usually been one to argue the counterpoint to your notion that christians need to be in church. Lately, I’ve realized that it’s good to have a group of believers that you can relate with on a regular basis, whether it’s a formal “church” or just a gathering of geeks that love Jesus. I think somewhere along the way churches forgot that we are supposed to make ourselves like Jesus’s example, not already be there, nor claim that we are. My point is, we as the body of Christ need to recognize that we are just as much sinners as everyone else and that people are no better or worse than one another. The only thing that really truly makes a person better than another is that s/he has accepted a personal relationship with God through Jesus. And that is freely offered to anyone anywhere at anytime. So basically, there is no difference amongst humans. We are spirits stranded in a strange world of physical being. God may have finished creating everything in a mere six days with one day off afterward, but he is continually molding us to something better because he loves us and has created us for something more than this plane of existence. We are works in progress. I find it’s often the more “churchy” people that are so intent on becoming or finding someone that is perfect. We may become perfect in God, but not so long as we are bound to this physical world. If you are still looking for the perfect person on Earth, you’ve missed him by a couple millenniums(at least in human form). The whole good news point of the gospel is that we are so messed up beyond repair, but God loves us immensely just the way we are. It may take longer than humans have on this planet for us to fully understand and appreciate God’s grace. That doesn’t mean we can’t be like Jose and just accept it and love Him back!

  2. @Alan,

    Photoshop?…haha, what am I?…an artist or something? I don’t really know how to use Photoshop.

    (can’t wait to get my Wacom though :P)…

    I gotta say though, I wish I could have some (real) church right about now. I just feel so worn out by the world and so let down by the church. “Keep fighting” is all I can think of doing. Not to knock my current church though, because I really love them a lot!

  3. I remember seeing Jose, too. Except I didn’t say hi to him. But I did wonder whether he was crazy, or if he had a real . . . story. (I can’t believe I just used the Sherol word.) It’s encouraging to see your courage to talk to Jose and get to know him better.

  4. @Geoff, are you making fun of what I asked everyone each morning?!! I mean, I also study stories for my PhD work :P.. Still, story is a word that I cannot take full credit for.

    Hey, maybe next year, Jose’s “church” can grow by one more 🙂

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  6. Cherol,

    I saw your email about the Christian meetings at the Conference. I have not been able to attend the last two years due in part to obligations to my diocese, and this year, the conference falls squarely in the middle of midterm week.

    Please know that I am very proud of you for your courage to proclaim Christ openly to the world. Being Christian is a beautiful thing, and bringing God’s children together and showing priority to our relationship with God our Father is an amazing act of faith. You remarked on your blog that you felt fulfilled by the Conference experience more than you often do at Church; I think it may be the opportunity for fellowship, especially being able to mirror the life and spirit of the Holy Trinity, who is love given, and it is in this image that we are made. We are made to love as God loves. Continue to do this, and you will be ahead of 99% of the population. “If you love until it hurts, there will be no more hurt, only more love” Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

    I love you all, and I will be praying for you.

    Caritas.

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