In case you missed it, last week the world’s nerds were drawn to San Diego like metal to Magneto for the city’s international Comic-Con. I, too, made the annual trek to nerd mecca to get my fandom on. While the reveals (read: announcements) from the Warner Brothers and Marvel panels were spaz worthy, there’s certainly more to do at a con than just scream at screens.
The long lines provide ample time for attendees to spark up conversation with fellow fan boys and girls. Eventually, after hours (sometimes overnight) in the same line with the same group of people, the discussion will move from comics and movies to something a bit more substantial. Believe it or not, opportunities for outreach crop up in the midst of all the cosplay and chaos. Consider it the pros of attending cons.
Here are a few examples: A conversation about Man of Steel leads to a conversation about Superman’s Christlike characteristics. A discussion about Europa Report, a PG-13 sci-fi film (in theaters August 2) about the search for life on Jupiter’s moon Europa, leads to a discussion about how Earth is uniquely designed to support advanced life. Or, an uninvited sermon from megaphone-carrying Christian protestors leads to an exchange about the different approaches to sharing one’s faith.
These conversations might seem far-fetched, but I watched or participated as each one unfolded, and I did my best to give a gentle answer for the hope we have in Christ. Thankfully I wasn’t alone in this effort. Groups like FrontGate, the Christian Comic Arts Society, and Zondervan (promoting the forthcoming Christian graphic novel The Last Adam) also had a presence at the convention, and their intent was clear: to bring the Christian message to the masses of comic and pop-culture enthusiasts.
When asked why it is important for Christians to engage this community, Scott Shuford, chief engagement officer for FrontGate, comments “Jesus called us to make disciples, which means we have to engage the world just as He and the disciples did. We must be able to engage people within their current situations and specific cultures.”
He explains that, in the same way Paul engaged the Greeks by referencing their statue to the unknown god, we too must engage this community by taking part in their affinity for pop culture. In doing so, he says, we help “bridge the gap between their culture and Jesus’ holy culture––bringing the Good News in a way they could understand.”
In a sense FrontGate’s mission is a lot like ours at Reasons to Believe, except that we hope to bridge the perceived gap between science and faith, to demonstrate that the two are actually in harmony.
Considering that most sci-fi fans hold a high regard for science, it seems vital for Christians to have a firm understanding of the latest scientific discoveries if we hope to engage this community. (Here’s where catching up on Science News Flash can come in handy.) I was certainly grateful for the few nuggets of information I’ve managed to retain from listening in on the conversations at RTB.
No doubt I flubbed an answer or two while at Comic-Con. I’m not nearly as experienced as the guys. Thankfully, I’ll have another opportunity to connect with my fellow comic-geeks next year, and I look forward to the experience.
After all, we’re called to engage the culture and be a light unto the world—that includes the comic and pop-culture world. The only way we can impact this community, Shuford says, is “by developing relationships with people….One positive interaction with a Christian can ultimately change a life.”
That alone makes even the long lines for Hall H bearable.
Check out “Connecting Comics with Faith” for a list of previous posts that discuss how comics and pop culture relate to the Christian faith.
the June 7, 2013 podcast of Science News Flash for the latest update on scientists’ endeavor to find life on Europa.