Gaming preacher Matt Souza

Experts wonder if the key to boosting church attendance lies in video game-based sermons. (Above: Souza streams a sermon to his followers).


You don’t need to remind Reverend Matt Souza that the Lord works in mysterious ways.

The 27-year-old Virginia resident spreads the good word not through traditional preaching, but through a thoroughly modern medium: online video games. A few years back, Souza started his own church, which he calls GodSquad.

Every Saturday night, Souza hosts a weekly sermon where he speaks to his followers through a headset – all while playing the latest popular video games and streaming the footage online. It’s far from an elegant production – he preaches from his living room at home, and usually wears jeans and a T-shirt. Souza knows most of his congregants by their online username only. And yet, he has slowly built a loyal following.

Converting the Un-Convertable

This accomplishment is all the more remarkable considering that his target audience – the gaming community – is largely made up of atheists, secular thinkers, and others who eschew traditional religion. But as it turns out, preaching to this group is not a fruitless task after all – evidenced by the thousands of viewers who tune in via popular online live-streaming platform Twitch to hear Pastor Souza’s weekly sermons as he blasts his way through popular video games titles, dropping Bible quotes left and right.

Souza seeks to reach people who might otherwise never encounter religion, and he believes deeply in his mission:

“If we believe as Christians we have a command to go to all the world and share God’s love with people, how do we share God’s love with people who don’t leave their house? I was thinking somebody’s got to try this, somebody’s got to go on what is normally known as a toxic website and start . . . sharing God’s love with people.”

In the span of a few short years, Souza has gone from a random guy talking about Jesus while playing video games to a full-time gaming preacher with thousands of followers.

A New Form of Preaching?

The Entertainment Software Association estimates some 2.6 billion people worldwide play video games, including nearly two-thirds of U.S. households. Given this potential reach, and the fact that many churches have been struggling to fill the pews, experts wonder if the key to boosting church attendance lies in video game-based sermons.

After all, your congregation is a lot more likely to attend services if they can do so from the comfort of their couch – especially if “church” revolves around playing their favorite new shooter or sports game.

What do you think? Do video games represent a perversion of religious teachings, or should they be embraced as a useful preaching tool for churches in the future?   

 

8 comments

  1. Dan Velez says:

    Excellent! Great way to get to the unreachable!!

  2. Memirsbrunnr says:

    When I am playing Call of Duty WW2 i often encounter a guy who does not play and only takes up a spot and stand in a corner thereby neglecting the team.thereby playing effectively 5 against 6. The last thing I and other players want is a person that is uttering an endless stream of hell and doom apocalyptic ramblings when i try to focus on the game due to the extra effort needed to put in to not loose.. The guy is neither an inspiration nor a positive influence. No player ever interacts with him except for yelling at him to play or leave (preferably the second ). Nearly all will mute him after 5 or 10 minutes of distracting agony. Unfortunately he can’t be kicked from the game, so he is a nuisance to all except for the opposing team who has an easier win.
    In short this sort of missionary work is cancerous in nature and definitely counter productive in 95+% of the players.
    Most people mute him anyways within 5 minutes of him entering the game.

    1. transhuman says:

      This is great. All of it is so true.

      What’s funny is you can tell when the other commentators are either really old, never gamed before, or are wildly religious cause they think this whole idea is good. Little do they know… most gamers are techy so they are probably atheist.

  3. Lori Mongillo says:

    Now that’s something to ponder. I guess time will tell as to how well it works. I wouldn’t care for it personally, but I’m sure there are many out there that are open to such a thing.

  4. Brien M Demartino says:

    You know, I am wondering why it is that we are called upon to make so many judgements? We are given so many extreme stories to “give our opinion” that it truly begs the question…”what are you fishing for”? Here is a perfectly benign story of someone trying to play a video game to communicate his belief to others. And yet, Memirsbrunner up there already thew out a negative response. In this arena, with all of us here, judgements do not matter. You either accept people for who they are or not. The rest is just a load of nonsense.
    Amen and have a nice day.

    1. Memirsbrunnr@RobV (@Memirsbrunnr) says:

      It is obvious you don’t know what computer games are and why people play them.. If you take them serious, you focus fully on the gam,e, like anyone who takes sport serious has no time to listen to preaching while playing it. my point it is counter productive, and most players I know are put off by the attempt , away from religion not towards is. In my experience, I have NO ONE ever seen reacting positively and unanimously people react negative.. There is a time and a place for missionary work, and during computergames people take bloody serious it is not, it works negatovely VERY negatively, the preacher is being seen as a troll.
      missionary work might be good when people play non seriuous games like candy crusk opr pokemon go.. 1st person shgooters are way to intense and fiocussed, to get this kind of NON PLAYING harrasment

      1. transhuman says:

        Agreed. Imagine you are Neo from the Matrix. You are fighting 100 Agent Smiths and while you are fighting you hear some annoying preaching off to the side. You look over and their is some guy staring at you holding a bible talking about the burning bush. You stop and look at him with a puzzled and annoyed look on your face… then an Agent Smith kills you.

  5. Carl Elfstrom says:

    I’ve never been into computer games, but if I was playing a game of chess and someone started preaching to me while I’m trying to concentrate and plan my next move, I’d probably pick up the whole game and throw it at him. There’s a proper time and place for everything. People play games for lots of reasons, which all have something to do with enjoyment. Most games require much focus and concentration, and if you’re seriously into it that’s what you’re trying to do. Keep religion in the church (and blogs like this). Preaching to people who are playing games is annoying and offensive, and it will lead far more people astray than not. That seems very obvious to me, and I can’t imagine why anyone thinks it’s a subject that anyone would care to discuss. I guess we’re just addicted to this blog and will talk about any subject they give us. I bet the ULC staff gets a good laugh at seeing us discuss such silly things.

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