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UK News

Gaming and God: How a London vicar is reaching an online audience

by Tola Mbakwe

An Anglican priest, who's also a self-proclaimed "intense gamer", has been using his video gaming skills to connect with people who wouldn't usually attend a church service. 

Rev Simon Archer of All Saints Belvedere in south-east London has been live streaming himself playing video games throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

He told Premier Christian News it's all about using his passion for God. 

"It's not really been a conscious decision to actually combine the two as it's really been about thinking about my own passions and how I can use them to serve God," he said. 

"Part of my own theology is that we are called to be Christ wherever we are. So that can be at work, and that can be in clubs that you belong to, and that can be online amongst the friends that you play video games with. 

"One of the things I did notice through watching streams, and streaming myself and playing games, is this group is very disconnected from the Church. 

"It made sense that I did something there, which was not about trying to preach at people, not particularly evangelizing, but actually just being present that people could ask questions."

Rev Archer live streams himself gaming on his Facebook page Vicarious BIG. He invites people to watch, play with him or chat in between rounds of a game. 

He said the most common question he gets is "why did you become a vicar?". Others ask how gaming fits in with his Christian values, particularly because the game he plays the most, Escape from Tarkov, is a shooter game. 

"And that's okay," he said. "It's good to talk about these things, and I don't mind the difficult questions. 

"People ask about things they understand from scripture, or they might ask something about what it's like at church. 

"It's a really soft, comfortable place. It's what we'd probably call a soft mission area, where people just want to have a chat about stuff and it gives them the opportunity to ask these weird and wonderful questions. 

"But they can really vary, and some are really challenging, and I'm recording my studies and things like that to remember what the answers might possibly be. It's okay not to always have the answer."

Rev Archer said he hopes he can show the "human face of the Church" to people who are maybe skeptical of Christianity or just don't know much about it. 

"With this ministry, in particular, it's just that idea of asking those little questions and experiencing something of a Christian," he said. 

"We don't run around trying to push our beliefs on other people. But what we do is try to serve other people and care for each other. 

"That's our calling and hopefully that might push away some of those stereotypes and some of those misunderstandings that people have, and encourage people to speak to their local church."

Listen to Premier's interview with Rev Simon Archer here: 


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