Here’s why I, as a Christian Pastor turned Twitch Streamer, feel that playing M-Rated games on stream is a good idea.

This is the video version of what I said in this episode:

Unedited Script:

Last week, I made a, potentially, controversial decision for my Twitch stream and I wanted to let you know the thinking process behind it. Essentially, it comes down to the fact that I intend to go from a G-rated, or PG-rated Family Friendly channel – to a PG-13 rated Channel.

First, let me give a little background.

Most of you know that the whole mission of the Christian Ninja channel is to “build an open, encouraging, and meaningful online family through gaming, real talk, and God’s truth.” That’s the tag-line, that’s the mission, and that’s what I believe God has called me to do on this channel. So much so that I’ve actually dedicated my life to this ministry full-time – completely trusting that God will raise up supporters within the Christian community to catch my vision and support me.

BTW – if you want to know more about that, I’ve got a video on my YouTube channel explaining the whole thing, and I encourage you to check that out.

The Christian Ninja channel’s whole reason for being, the reason I’m on Twitch, the reason it’s my only focus, and I spend so many hours per day working on this, is to build a community. It’s that simple. I’m here to “build a community”. In other words, there are a lot of people on Twitch that need a loving presence in their life, and a group of like-minded people that will be their friends and “online family”. There are so many people on Twitch that are – in a word – lonely. Whether it’s because they are suffering with physical or mental illness, have been hurt or abused, are incredibly introverted or have social anxiety disorder, or just feel so different from others that they struggle to make friends. My mission, my goal, my hope is to make content that will be meaningful enough, interesting enough, even entertaining enough, that these folks will invite me into their homes – through my live-stream – so I can get to know them, show them love, introduce them to a loving community, and introduce them to Jesus.

Part of the reason I do this is not only because I believe God called me to, but because I know what it’s like to be in that place. I know what it’s like to be abused, ostracized, and alone. I know what it’s like to try to connect with people, only to have them turn around and smack me down so hard that it made it almost impossible to trust people again. I know what it’s like to try to escape into a fantasy world, to use entertainment to distract me from my pain, even to sink into suicidal depression. And this is all after I became a Christian, even when I was actually a pastor. And I know what it’s like to have someone come into my world, to see how beat up I am, to treat me gently, to be kind to me, to take the time to build my trust, to gradually pull me back from the brink, and connect me back – not only to people – but to God as well.

I think I have a unique perspective that not many people have because I’ve been through a lot – and I want this channel to be a place where I can help bring healing to others.

That’s why I say I’m trying to build an “online family”. I want the people who watch my channel to go from strangers who are just there to watch me game, or see what I’m doing that day, to my brothers and sisters who love each other like a family.

What’s interesting about this group is that, because almost all my connections are within the church and within Christian circles – and because I’ve been working to build a Christian support system – more than half of the people on my channel, most of my Discord, and the greater portion of my subscribers, are Christians. Personally, I see this as a great source of strength for my channel, because it means that when a hurting or lonely person comes across my channel and joins the community, they are immediately introduced to a bunch of people that not only represent God well, but can also talk about gaming, and DnD, and nerd culture with this person. And since they really get what I’m trying to do, they shower that person with love, support, kindness, and generosity. I’ve seen it time and again. I really am proud of the believers in my Twitch community.

 But – here’s the thing about my channel. Even though I’m a Christian, even though I was a Baptist pastor and preacher for basically the last 2 decades, even though I start every stream with a bible-verse, devotional, and prayer – I don’t see this as a (quote-unquote) “Christian channel”. To me, a “Christian Twitch Channel” is a channel that’s trying to gather Christian gamers and streamers together to hang out as believers with a common interest. And that’s awesome. I’m so thankful for the streamers who are there to give Christian Youth and Gamers, a safe place to chat, game, and connect.

But, that’s not the mission of my channel. My main goal – the reason I’m on Twitch – is to connect with the lost and lonely and hurting people, who don’t really have an offline community – especially not a church. I want to be their friend, their encourager, and their bridge to a loving, safe, and positive online family that gives them the space not only to explore their interest in video games, not only chat about whatever aspect of nerd culture they’re interested in, but to use those topics to bridge into exploring their spiritual side too. And to, eventually, gain enough trust to share the gospel with them.

Now, to be sure, I wear my Christianity on my sleeve. Being a Christian isn’t just something I do, it’s who I am. My relationship with Jesus affects every aspect of my being. He is the one who saved me, called me, and equips me, and so I want this channel to be as glorifying to Him as possible. That’s why each stream is dedicated to Him and begins with His word.

In other words, while I’m not a “Christian Twitch Channel”, I am a Christian with a Twitch channel. And that may sound like I’m splitting hairs, but to me, it’s an important distinction.

In my mission statement, I say that the method by which I want to create this “open, encouraging, and meaningful online family” is through “gaming, real talk, and God’s truth.” I think I’ve done an okay job at the last two. We do a lot of real talk and God’s truth. We chat about all sorts of topics: from our favourite foods – to our jobs – to theology, hot-topics, the news, and end of life issues.

But – and here’s where the potentially controversial part comes in – I think that to really be effective in reaching the people I’m trying to reach, I need to stop limiting my gaming to only E-rated and T-rated games. So many, if not most, of the popular games are M-rated, and those are the ones that many of the people I’m trying to reach are most interested in. And so, in order to reach them, I need to go where they are. And that means playing some M-rated games.

Now, I’m still going to shoot for family-friendly most of the time. I’m leaving the language filter on the chat – and I personally never swear or curse, so that won’t change – and, I will never play a sexually explicit, purposefully profane, grotesquely violent, or a game full of f-bombs. I don’t like those games, and they don’t represent me or what I’m trying to do, so they’re still a no-go. But, from this point on, I’m not going to be as strict on avoiding the M-rated titles.

For example, there’s a game called Batman: The TellTale Series, which is all about the more brutal side of the Batman story, and I believe it would not only be a popular game to play, but one that would allow for some interesting conversations to be had. But it’s rated M. Not for sexuality, but because it has some blood and language.

And, a while back someone on my Discord sent a video that was very meaningful to her – her favourite video on YouTube that she returns to often. It’s an artistic, poetic, exploration of spiritual topics that she wants to share. But because it had a couple swear words I said I wouldn’t play it. That’s bugged me for a while. It’s important to her, she wants to share with her “online family”, but I won’t show it because of a little language? Wouldn’t it be better to share it and then discuss it? Well, I couldn’t do that if I’m going to stay as a G-rated family friendly channel. But I can if I decide to go PG-13.

I know this decision is going to be controversial to some believers. I’m sure I’m going to get some questions. Maybe it’ll even cost me some supporters, but I honestly believe this is the right thing to do to share more love, more support, and connect with more people.

So, if you have any questions or comments about it, I would love to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to listen, and for all the love you’ve given me.