Gamechurch just wrapped up their Academy East conference not long ago, June 2-4, in Whippany, New Jersey. This conference is put together to teach and show others how to be more like Jesus to a culture that needs it, where God and geekdom intersect, and how this can all be used together for outreach, and discipleship. They had various speakers covering an array of topics such as the Founder of Gamechurch, Mike Bridges, Chris Gwaltney, the Director of Game Church talking about “Faithfulness in the Age of Metrics”, and The Director of Innroads Ministries, Mike Perna and his talk “Incarnational Gaming: The Unique Power of Game Tables and Couch Co-op”.
47 People were signed up this year, many of which knew each other on social media and online gaming but had never met in person. “To spend a weekend together in physical proximity is really weird but really cool.” – Chris Gwaltney. Many people become inspired to become game missionaries themselves, or hold their own game outreach events. During free time there tables full of swag to buy, as well as a many game tables set up for tabletop play, and some people even used their free time to head to an Escape room.
The following is a story I loved hearing from the weekend. I will let Chris Gwaltney tell it. “There were a few of us Gamechurch staff guys there early before the Academy started. We had some time to kill, so naturally we looked for the local game store. Its what nerds do. We found this place called Satellite Games. Turns out, it was this tiny little corner being rented out of a bookstore. I’m not kidding when I say it was about a 10 x 10 space for this game “store”. I’m also not kidding that it was the most efficient use of that space I could imagine! Jen (the owner) had a KILLER selection of games on like 3 bookcases. She knew her stuff too. She even took the time to teach us a game. It soon came up that we were with Gamechurch and were in town for our conference. Later on, she told us that they would be having an open gaming night that next evening. So we told her we’d be inviting the 40 some people from the Academy to come play. I think she was flattered, but didn’t really believe us. The next night, we arrived with around 20-30 of our folks and packed the place out. We also spent A BUNCH of money in her store. We even brought her some Gamechurch swag, which she proudly wore around all night. She was really overwhelmed by the support. She was posting on social media and tagging Gamechurch that she was “blown away”. We also found out that Jen will be at Gen Con and PAX Unplugged, both of which we will be at and will get to see her and hang out!
It was cool to have this as a very practical example of how we can be Jesus to people in this culture. Just show up and show interest.
I also thought it was really cool that a bunch of our people like bought her out of stuff. Obviously, they got some cool games out of it, but they were also being generous. I guarantee those games could be purchased for $10-15 less on Amazon”
Gamechurch also has a Canadian affiliate in Edmonton called ‘The Way Gaming’. In the past they have run activities at a couple conventions there, but those conventions has since banned any and all religious, political(etc) groups from exhibiting there. This had nothing to do with Gamechurch or The Way Gaming, convention runners like the organizations. There were circumstances with other groups that unfortunately ended with a mandatory “blanket” rule. The Way Gaming still runs their group out of their church in Edmonton and uses Gamechurch swag.
Academy West is coming this fall, Oct. 20-22, at the Gamechurch World HQ in Ventura, CA. If you register before September 20th the cost is $100 + $15 if you want a t-shirt as well. Gamechurch will also be at many other conventions around the United States including MCM Belfast in N. Ireland, Anime Expo in Los Angeles, Gen Con in Indianapolis, PAX West in Seattle, Dragoncon in Atlanta, Salt Lake Comic Con in Salt Lake City, New York Comic Con in NYC, PAX Unplugged in Philly, and possibly GaymerX East in NYC. There are also hopes for them to make it to Toronto’s FanExpo next year.