Why & How You Should Support Geeks Under Grace

geeksundergrace

Besides writing for this blog and Sheep of Christ on the side, I am also a volunteer writer of Christian Living and editor for Tabletop at Geeks Under Grace. GUG just turned two-years-old this summer (2016), so we are still fairly new. But as of this month (August 2016), we have just reached over 18,000 likes on Facebook—over a dozen thousand Christian geeks we reach with the Gospel and geeky news and reviews on the things they love! What is the mission of Geeks Under Grace? Our current statement is that our mission is to:

Educate Christians on how to safely consume pop culture from our worldview.

Evangelize with the message of the Gospel by building bridges between Jesus and the geek community.

Equip Christians and churches to reach geeks with the Gospel.

Encourage Christians as they grow into a deeper relationship with Christ.

Why is our mission so important? As a geek myself, as I grew up I was bullied a lot and put down for my geekiness. Even my parents failed to understand the culture I was becoming a part of, but only for a time. This is the norm for geeks everywhere. For Christian geeks, no one really teaches us how we can glorify God with our geeky pursuits and how to properly interact with the pop culture we enjoy with our Christian worldview. At Geeks Under Grace, we not only seek to edify fellow Christian geeks that God loves their geeky personas, but we also reach them with the Gospel in light of this geekiness that has been missing in their lives and aim to teach churches how they can appropriately engage geeks in their congregations.

I started writing for Geeks Under Grace on October 22, 2015, and even though I’m not getting paid for it, I can say this is the best job I’ve ever had. I hope to write for them for a long time and I pray we become a largely influential non-profit organisation that reaches the masses of Christian geeks in the world.

With all that said, why and how should you support Geeks Under Grace, even if you’re not a geek?

GUGcoverphoto

Christian Geeks Are Often Misunderstood

It’s hard for people who don’t identify as geeks to understand who geeks are. The things they love appear as strange and alien to them, which we’ll get to in a little bit. Geeks are often ridiculed by society, but they’re no different than people who love sports. People praise these sports enthusiasts and shame the geek. Look at Pokémon Go, for example. People stereotype gamers as being lazy, fat, and sitting inside all day playing games and then complain they’re outside exercising and socialising with their culture while playing Pokémon Go. How is the sports enthusiast any different? While the sports enthusiast sits inside all evening and weekend indulging in sports while ignoring his family during football Sundays and occasionally attends sports games with his culture, the geek also spends a significant amount of time inside and ventures outside to socialise with his culture while playing an augmented reality game like Pokémon Go or go to geeky conventions like Comic Con, Gen Con, E3, and RTX. There’s a large, supportive, friendly community involved with being a geek.

Everyone at Geeks Under Grace is a geek and understands what it means to be a geek, both the struggles and the blessings. We especially understand the struggles, and the foundation of our mission is to “build bridges between Jesus and the geek community.” How do we do that? Well, with Christian fellowship. First John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” To get an idea of what St. John means by this fellowship, I sat down and had a talk with Pastor Steve Newton, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Canton, Michigan.

We looked at Acts 6:1, “Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.” To the Hebrew speaking Jews, Greek speaking Jews were social outcasts, and the Hebrew Jews treated them as such by neglecting them. We see another pattern of neglect throughout Scripture when the rich neglect the poor. Neglecting the social outcast is a common human condition, and God is against it. We neglect people because they appear strange or alien to us. Geeks are often neglected because they’re misunderstood—their culture is strange and alien to a lot of people, so we treat them differently than others we prefer to be around, like the geeky sports enthusiast. What is the opposite of geek? That which is common and deemed adequate by society’s consensus (i.e. sports culture versus geek culture). I think “neglect” might be too strong of a word, but it’s the only one I can think of that fits. By neglect I mean the geek is not often welcomed or included.

Geeks are the ragamuffins of society. Nobody wants to hang out with ragamuffins, but isn’t that what Jesus does? Jesus hung out with the lame, the poor, the sick, the blind, prostitutes, widows, tax collectors, and all sorts of other people. In Jesus’ time, tax collectors were some of the worst kind of ragamuffins. The Jews even questioned Him why He was associating with them. “And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ But when He heard it, He said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners'” (Matthew 9:10-13). The Pharisees were inordinately concerned with being pure, and they considered it impure to associate with tax collectors and sinners. Notice they also grouped tax collectors and sinners together. In questioning Jesus, He made it known to the Pharisees that they’re no different than a tax collector or any sinner, for they are all sinners. Jesus rejects rejection and embraces the rejected with acceptance—not of their sin, but as a creature of God created in His image.

Pastor Steve Newton at Grace Lutheran Church in Canton, MI

Pastor Steve Newton at Grace Lutheran Church in Canton, MI

During the interview with Pastor Steve, he said, “God loves variation. Look at the trees. How many kinds of trees are there? How many animals, birds, and fish are there? God loves it all. Even amongst humans you have Caucasians, African Americans, Asians, Filipinos… God seems to like variation.” He laughed and said, “I don’t know why, [but] human beings have a lot more trouble with it.” Just by observing nature we can see God’s creation is full of variation; He loves it! I made a note to Pastor Steve that not only are there a wide variety of trees, but there’s even a large variation of leaves. God could have made one single type of leaf, but He made hundreds, perhaps even thousands. There’s no reason for the different types of trees, leaves, nuts, and so on other than that God is a creative Being. God loves variation, and He loves the variation in His people. He loves the Christian who’s a sports fanatic, the Christian who loves cars, and He loves the Christian geek.

The Global Church Doesn’t Know How to Fellowship with Geeks

Moving back to Christian fellowship, I asked Pastor Steve, “What do you think is the key to good Christian fellowship as a congregation?” He chuckled and said, “It’s always the Sunday school answer: Jesus. I suspect what it is, is having experience that you’re a sinner too, and God still loves me. In the end, God just loves me. I love Him and as I love Him, I experience more love for others. It’s a response in God showing me that I’m a sinner and I’m no better than anyone else in God’s eyes. God doesn’t show favours, but it is in Christ that we are acceptable. God loves them, so I love them, and I’m willing to accept someone in spite of their rejection as an ‘uncool’ person. I guess the key is: the more you know God’s love for you, the more you have love for others. It’s a growth process.” Back when Pastor Steve was still dating his wife, there was a time when he was considering breaking up with her in order to avoid pain, assuming she wouldn’t want to be with a guy like him. He brought these feelings to his pastor, who told him, “There is no relationship with no vulnerability.” Pastor Steve continued, “And who made Himself the most vulnerable of all? Jesus did, on the cross. As you love and trust God, are you trusting God and taking a chance and saying, ‘This person may seem odd to me, but I’m going to trust God and be willing to be loving toward them’?”

Churches don’t know how to reach out to geeks, as if there’s some magic way to speak to them or relate to them on a personal level. There’s no magical formula to it. We’re not another species; I promise you that. As Pastor Steve touched on, the key is loving them as Jesus would love them, just as He loved the outcast tax collectors and all sinners—by spending time with them and building relationships with them. Every relationship has vulnerability, and we have to be willing to be vulnerable to geeks. But how does the individual church reach out to geeks in their congregation? I asked Pastor Steve the same question. He said, “To reach out better to anyone is to welcome. The fundamental appeal is to make someone feel loved and accepted. How do you do this with a geek? Let’s take the example of having a board game night. If there were more folks from the church involved, it would be more effective. By participating, they are allowing geeks to be a part of their life by doing what geeks like. What I’ve found as a pastor is that I find out what people are interested in and I find interest in their interests. If Steve listens to what they like to talk about, they’re more willing to talk to Steve. We as a church can do well if we do that with one another.” Reaching out to the Christian geek, then, is no different than how we reach out to other Christians who are like ourselves. You don’t have to necessarily have the same interests they have. Ask questions about their interests, why they like one thing in particular compared to another—for instance, say, why they like the Xbox One compared to the PlayStation 4. Take interest in their interests, even if it doesn’t interest you. That’s fellowship. By this you learn how to love one another and it no longer matters that your interests aren’t the same because the time you spend together is what matters.

Cody and his wife, Teah.

Cody and his wife, Teah.

Virtually all members in the Geeks Under Grace community know who Cody Armour is. He is the face of Geeks Under Grace and runs our Christian News Show on YouTube. As a geek, Cody loves playing video games and watching Marvel/DC movies and television shows. I asked him why he loves Geeks Under Grace, and he said, “Geeks Under Grace is a home for people like me. We’re authentically Christians and authentically geeks. I love being a part of a ministry that is rewriting the stigma that Christian traditions have created over the last 35 years.” That is, the stigma that geeks need to be treated like tax collectors and we must neglect them since they participate in sinful pop culture. At Geeks Under Grace, we are rewriting that history into one where the Church joyously and graciously welcomes geeks of all kinds. Cody is among the several dozen of volunteers at Geeks Under Grace who have a heart for Christ, a passion for ministry, and a love for all geeks. With Cody and the plethora of volunteers, Geeks Under Grace is marching forward, armed with the grace of God.

We Need Your Financial Help

As a non-profit organization, money is always an issue. Right now, we’re considerably small and don’t have a large net income. Like all Christian non-profits, we depend on the donations of the generous. I hate asking people for money, and when I say “hate” I really mean it. However, we have to face the reality that we need money to keep doing what we’re doing as a ministry, and that means depending on the donations of the generous few who support what we’re doing, even if they’re not a geek. Every now and then I donate to Christian charities that financially support Christians facing persecutions across the globe, even though I’m not being persecuted. Just as I don’t have to be in persecution to support those being persecuted, so you don’t have to be a geek to support Christian geeks. You can support them and love them by donating to us, which will help us tremendously in ministering to the thousands of current and future Christian geeks who learn a lot from our content. You don’t have to donate a lot of money to make a significant difference. Something as small as $5.00 a month helps us a lot. Let’s say all 18,000 people in the GUG community donated $1 monthly. That’s an $18,000 monthly budget! That’s an insane amount of money! That would be enough to pay our volunteers and continue to pursue other business endeavours, not to mention improving our website dramatically. So every little bit counts, even if you feel you’re not making a difference. Believe me, you are.

If you’d like to donate, no matter how much it is, please follow this linkThank you!

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