This Post originally appeared July 29, 2008
Over the last couple of days I have been getting my thoughts together about my day at San Diego Comic-Con. Comic-Con is the largest pop-culture,super-hero, fantasy, gaming, comics, freak-show extravaganza in the USA. This year I believe it attracted over 175,000 people. All of the major movie studios, video game companies, comic companies and basically anyone who creates media in America use this as a platform to push their product. It is unbelievable.
If you have never been to this event, you should go at least once in your life if just to people watch. As I walked around on the last day of the convention I continued to ask myself, "Who is going to reach these people for Jesus, and more importantly how?" Now, I'm not talking about people like me who are just fans of a lot of this stuff, but about the people who LIVE for this stuff. The people deeply immersed in this world of make believe and fantasy. How do you get to them with the gospel? I don't think the traditional church is going to quite do it. Do you think wolverine guy at the top of this post would relate to that? I don't know the answer to this question maybe you do and I would love to hear it.
I can comment on some of the things I saw there, things that the church needs to plug into to reach teens, kids and adults who are living in this world.
Passion- People at Comic-Con are passionate about what they are into. Passionate enough to spend hours and hundreds of dollars making their own costumes. Many even dress up their little babies! They drop some major bank on merchandise and collectors items and will wait in line forever to catch the latest buzz about a new movie or a game. It is a yearly "religious" pilgrimage and their level of commitment is amazing. They prepare all year for this, and this event is just an extension of who they are the rest of the year. Are we this passionate about our faith, Jesus and the church?
Community- You can write some of these people off as socially awkward (you might be right) but I can tell you that I felt a genuine sense of community and friendliness amongst most of these people. They spoke a common language, they shared heroes, there were smiles everywhere and people seemed very genuine. If you asked a question about a particular movie or comic someone always jumped in and answered you and tried to help. It was refreshing. Maybe these people aren't afraid to be themselves with each other? Do we share these things as a church?
Imagination- The creativity was amazing and not just from the media makers but from the crowd. From art, to film, graphics, design, costumes, figures, and fantastical worlds it is a tribute to the creative spirit. Do we make our teaching creative? Do we give students chances to be creative?
Hunger for Story & Heroes- People are dying for good stories. For new worlds full of risk, adventure, courage, redemption, struggle and victory. They look for heroes they can connect with, heroes who inspire them to be better than they are. People want compelling narratives, and larger than life heroes. This is where we have failed so miserably as a church but where we have so much potential. We follow the ultimate hero and have such a great story to tell, one that can be told in so many creative ways.
Emptiness and Loneliness- As I walked around I couldn't help hearing and seeing people that had in many ways failed relationally or socially in this world and so were drawn to fantasy worlds where they could be someone else or live vicariously through a character. This is not unique to the "nerds", for there are plenty of popular people at a bar somewhere doing the same thing through alcohol instead of star wars, or another "hook-up" instead of another comic book. It is all the same song, just a different tune. There is a deep pit of loneliness in our culture, of emptiness brought on by losing ourselves in things that will never truly quench our thirst. Does the church offer significance? Significance for the here and now not just salvation for someday? I wonder.
Maybe the geeks have something to teach! Listen up church.
With great power comes great responsibility.